Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer. Win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now!
Lincecum, once one of the best pitchers in baseball, had arguably been the worst to keep a full-time job over his past four seasons as a starter. From 2012 through 2015, 72 pitchers threw at least 600 innings, and only one had a worse ERA. Hip injuries had sapped Lincecum of his effectiveness and with his 32nd birthday looming this Wednesday, it didn't seem like there was much reason to be interested beyond his name.
And that still may end up being true. However, his surgeon thought Lincecum may be able to regain his past form following a procedure to repair a torn labrum and impingement in his left hip, and maybe that's what we're seeing. Because Lincecum was mowing batters down in his Triple-A warmup stint, and is on the verge of making his return to the majors.
Pitching competitively for the first time since last June, Lincecum made three starts for Triple-A Salt Lake over the past few weeks. He went five innings in each of his first two starts, allowing five runs with 11 strikeouts and five walks between the two starts, before turning in his best work in the finale Sunday.
Pitching against Fresno, Lincecum took a no-hitter into the fifth, and finished off seven innings of one-hit ball, with eight strikeouts and only one walk in the outing. He finished off his minor-league run holding opposing batters to a .362 OPS, while throwing a strike on 60.3 percent of his pitches; he sported a swinging strike rate of 11.4 percent.
Look, this is just Triple-A, and isn't necessarily indicative of anything. Going through the box scores of his starts, Lincecum didn't face more than two MLB-caliber hitters in any given start, so his pretty numbers may not be a sign that he's back to his ace level. There are several other pitchers out there on waivers I would rather pick up -- including two more coming up in this column -- but at the very least, it's nice to see some signs of life from Lincecum.
In all likelihood, Lincecum isn't going to challenge for an ERA title or make a late push for Cy Young consideration, but he was competent enough at Triple-A to at least put back on your Fantasy radar.
Blake Snell, SP, Rays (58 percent owned)
The Rays gave Snell a taste of the majors early in the season, and he was impressive in that outing, striking out six in five strong innings against the Yankees. He will get another chance Thursday, and this one might stick because the Rays are expected to move Matt Andriese to the bullpen moving forward. With service time considerations out of the way, the Rays can afford to keep Snell up, and he has the talent to be their best pitcher moving forward. Control issues crop up at times, but Snell has been overpowering at Triple-A, striking out one-third of all batters faced this season, with a swinging strike rate of 15.3 percent. He hasn't walked more than three batters in any start since May 4, and he has a 4.5 K/BB ratio in that time, a nice improvement given his persistent issues. Young starters always have their ups and downs, but Snell has now pitched more than 100 innings at Triple-A with a 2.68 ERA, so it doesn't seem like he has much left to prove. He has a chance to be a real difference maker, and is worth adding in all formats.
James Paxton, SP, Mariners (56 percent owned)
Just in case you were thinking 100 MPH might be flukey, Paxton's velocity spike seems to be the real thing. Paxton put together his second strong start in a row Saturday, and again touched 100 while averaging 98.1 MPH with his fastball. He garnered 13 swinging strikes in the outing, giving him 33 over his past two starts; his previous career-high for a two-start stretch was 24, back in April of 2014:
It's not just that Paxton is throwing harder, of course; he is also changing up his pitch selection, relying much more on his 98 MPH fastball and 91 MPH cutter, while mixing in a changeup and curveball selectively. The results, even in three starts, speak for themselves, and with Felix Hernandez expected to need another four weeks to recover from his calf strain, Paxton looks like a must-own Fantasy pitcher at this point. He should be the top pitching priority on waivers right now.
Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (39 percent owned)
Anderson hardly looks like a can't-miss bat, and he didn't exactly show off in the first series of his career, going 2 for 9 with two strikeouts. However, he brings a rare commodity with his ability to swipe bases, and that alone makes him worth a look in Fantasy at this point. In 55 games at Triple-A this season, Anderson stole 11 bases, and that was actually a slower pace than in 2015; he stole 49 in 125 games at Double-A Birmingham the previous year. Anderson doesn't have the best plate discipline, so he needs a high batting average to post a passable on-base percentage, and that's a lot tougher to do against major-league pitching and defense. Still, with his speed, if Anderson can hit .280, he can be a useful Fantasy option in category-based formats, and is worth a look if you have a specific need.