Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Tyler Mahle, Reynaldo Lopez open eyes in season debut
Looking for some young pitchers with upside to add? Chris Towers has some targets to add on the wire.
One of those baseball aphorisms you may have heard of is "There's No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect." It's obviously not literally true – there are dozens of pitching prospects on every team! – but it's a useful reminder that, as hard as it is to predict anything in this game, predicting what someone who throws a baseball for a living will do in six months is nearly impossible, let alone with a five-year window.
Still, talent and pedigree matter, which is why we get excited anytime a pitching prospect gets the call. And if that prospect manages to hold his own against a real life major-league lineup? Well, that's usually going to lead the waiver-wire column. Here are two to start:
Tyler Mahle did a whole lot more than just hold his own against the Cubs in his Monday, as he held them to just one run in six shutout innings. Mahle, a 23-year-old who got four starts for the Reds last season, struck out seven and walked two in the outing, and even though the Cubs haven't quite hit their stride yet, this is still a lineup anchored by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
Mahle probably doesn't have ace upside, and it's worth pointing that out. He is more of a control artist than a pitcher who is going to overpower lineups over and over, but he has more than enough stuff to hang in the majors. The fastball averaged 93.4 mph Monday and touched 96, and he showed faith in both of his breaking pitches in the outing. We only got nine swinging strikes from Mahle Monday, but if he controls the strike zone and limits hard contact, there's still value in that.
Don't go dropping Danny Duffy or Marcus Stroman for Mahle after one bad start. However, if you took a flier on someone like Michael Wacha or Julio Teheran late in your draft, Mahle has enough upside and looked interesting enough Monday to be worth the add.
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When you watch him pitch, Reynaldo Lopez is an easy player to get excited about. The fastball touches 99 and sits 96, and the changeup can be a real swing-and-miss offering when it's on. It was on Monday, as he limited the Blue Jays to one run on two hits over six innings, with six strikeouts and 13 swinging strikes on 99 pitches. My only trepidation comes with the fact that we've seen him throw nearly 100 innings in the majors, and the results have been completely pedestrian so far. That may be unfair – am I penalizing him relative to Mahle for making the majors before him? – but it's hard to shake those worries. Still, he's a talented prospect with electric stuff, and he reminded us Monday night that he's well worth a roster spot in mixed leagues.
Brian Anderson entered the season as just about the fringiest kind of prospect imaginable: A corner infielder who probably projects as a long term start only on a bad team. Well, the Marlins are a bad team, so he's getting a chance to start, and he's taking advantage of it. He showed in the minors last season he can bop 20-plus homers without selling out his contact skills, hitting .275 with a strikeout rate below 20 percent. He has hit safely in each of Miami's first five games, including his first career homer Monday. He has more walks than strikeouts through five games, and is showing he isn't overmatched, if nothing else. He's more of an NL-only player, but in a 15-team Roto league, there's enough here to make him worth an add.
Colin Moran has more prospect pedigree than Anderson, but he hasn't been nearly as good so far this season, so that's why he drops in below him. Sorry, Colin. Monday was Moran's first big game for the Pirates, as he clubbed his first homer of the season, a grand slam. The former No. 6 overall pick took a big step forward last season, going from a career-high of 10 homers in 2016 to 18 in just 79 games at Triple-A. He's never had any trouble making contact, and the hope is that playing in the majors – where the ball flies further than it does in the minors – will help him sustain last year's gains. It's no guarantee, but Monday was a start. I would add Anderson over him at this point, but both are solid speculative adds in deeper leagues.
It's always nice to see Hanley Ramirez swinging the bat well. After going hitless on Opening Day, he has gone 4 for 13 with two extra-base hits in his last three, including his first homer of the season Monday. We know how good he can be when he's right – he had 30 homers and 111 RBI with a .286 average in 2016 – and he's healthy enough to play first base pretty much full time at this point, having logged his fourth appearance in five games there Monday. With one game left to add corner infield and first base eligbility, Ramirez is a lot easier to fit in your lineup.
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