Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Shane Bieber gets a chance to work his magic
The Indians are about to unveil an intriguing arm in their ongoing search for a fifth starter. Control master Shane Bieber is set to make his debut Thursday.
In today's look at the waiver wire, we're going to look at players who either just returned to the majors, or are about to. Whether they are prospects getting a chance, or veterans coming back from injuries, here are five names to target this week.
Shane Bieber, SP, Indians (15 percent owned)
When your rotation is as good as the Indians', you don't really need a fifth starter. It's a luxury when you've got Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger at the top. There are more pressing concerns.
Still, the Indians finished Memorial Day weekend just two games above .500, and that No. 5 spot in the rotation bears some of the blame. Between Josh Tomlin and Adam Plutko, the Indians have gotten a 6.52 ERA from their No. 5 starters, which means there's a chance for someone to take the job and run with it. Plutko faltered Monday against the White Sox after a solid first two starts, and now it could be prospect Shane Bieber who gets a chance. He'll start for the Indians on Thursday against the Twins.
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Bieber wasn't a big-time prospect coming into the season, largely due to a lack of projectability. He doesn't have great stuff, with scouting reports noting a fastball that sits more in the low-90s, and without the kind of swing-and-miss stuff you typically want from a right-handed pitching prospect.
Of course, that hasn't exactly mattered so far. In 46 career starts as a professional, Bieber has a 2.19 ERA, including a sparkling 1.10 mark in 10 starts split evenly between Double-A and Triple-A. He isn't a strikeout machine, but his 23.9 percent career strikeout rate plays up because Bieber doesn't walk anyone.
Bieber has walked just three more batters than I have this season, which is to say … he's walked three batters. In 65 1/3 innings. He walked 10 in 173 1/3 last season. Despite being just a slight above-average strikeout pitcher, he has a 16.3:1 K:BB ratio. He's also allowed only 11 homers. He won't beat himself, in other words.
Whether the stuff plays up enough in the majors remains to be seen, though we have seen success from similar approaches in the form of Daniel Mengden and Miles Mikolas this season, so I'm not quite as skeptical as I might have been before this season.
There's an opportunity here, for sure, and Bieber's skill set has worked out for him so far. Maybe there isn't ace upside, but there doesn't need to be for him to be worth a speculative add in Fantasy.
Beyond the fact that they are both set to come back from injuries at around the same time, Ervin Santana (finger) and Carlos Rodon (shoulder) don't have much in common at all. Rodon is the risky, upside play, a potential ace who just hasn't stayed healthy or thrown enough strikes to live up to his calling. Santana, on the other hand, is the solid veteran who has posted an ERA under 4.00 in four of the past five seasons — he had a 4.00 mark in 2015 — but won't rack up the kind of strikeout numbers to really have ace upside. No matter how they get there, both can be useful Fantasy options who are worth owning in most formats, and with Santana set to make his second rehab start and Rodon ready for his third, both could be just weeks away.
We've seen some good things from Nick Kingham in his time in the majors, as the 26-year-old has two quality starts in three tries, with a 3.44 ERA and 21 strikeouts to just two walks in 18 1/3 innings of work. The Pirates haven't been able to find a place for him in the rotation, but Ivan Nova's finger injury will give him another opportunity. Hopefully this time, Kingham sticks.
The Rockies' handling of their young players has been one of the more frustrating storylines of this season for Fantasy players, but it looks like one of their young gems could be getting an extended shot again. Ryan McMahon was called up from Triple-A Saturday, and was in the starting lineup three games in a row, going 4 for 12 while playing three complete games in a row. McMahon hasn't done much to force his way into the lineup yet, but we know the talent is there — in 92 career games at Triple-A, he's a .345 hitter, with 17 homers and 28 doubles. If the Rockies finally stick with him for an extended period, he has a chance to be an impact bat, and he's now just two appearances away from gaining second base eligibility. If you're looking for an upside play to stash, this is as good a bet as any.
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