Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: We have to talk about Jordan Lyles, and Alex Reyes too
Heath Cummings said presumed journeyman Jordan Lyles did enough on Tuesday to warrant attention.
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I'm generally OK with ignoring a one-off performance from a demonstrably bad pitcher. It's a long season. Bad pitchers are going to going to have good performances, but I also have a rule: If you strike out 10-plus batters and don't allow any runs, we're going to take a look at you. This is not something bad pitchers do very often, even in today's game.
It has happened 24 times this season, and before last night, Trevor Richards was the only pitcher to do it who was irrelevant in Fantasy. Jordan Lyles might make two.
Coming into 2018, Jordan Lyles had thrown 681 innings in the major leagues. He had a 5.43 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. His career K/9 was 6.2. Even considering half of his career was spent pitching for the Rockies, that's definitively bad. After starting the year in the bullpen, he has now made two starts for the Padres this year and has allowed one earned run. He has stuck out 16 and walked just two. What happened to Jordan Lyles?
There are a couple of changes that jump out right away. Lyles is throwing his fastball harder than ever (94.3 mph) and less often than ever (44.1 percent). He's greatly increased the percentage of time he's throwing his changeup (18.4 percent) and curveball (26.6 percent). The results speak for themselves, but the underlying numbers look better as well. Lyles has a career high 11.3 percent swinging strike rate.
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Now there's plenty of reason for skepticism. Our sample size of Lyles being bad is much larger than our sample of him pitching well. But if he can keep the velocity and swinging strike rate up he may just be a decent starting pitcher, pitching in a good park, who is SPARP eligible. That type of pitcher deserves to be more than 12 percent owned. Especially since he looks like a two-start pitcher next week.
One non-waiver wire note: The Rockies may just be a bottom-five offense outside of Coors. On the road this year they have a .291 wOBA (27th), a .289 OBP (26th), and a .381 SLG (25th). Stream against them at will.
We haven't talked enough about Alex Reyes, and he's coming. Reyes hasn't pitched in the majors since his sparkling debut in 2016 when he struck out 52 batters in 46 innings and posted a 1.57 ERA. He's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and has made two minor league rehab starts. In 8.1 innings he's struck out 18 batters and he's yet to allow a run.
Reyes has more upside than any young pitcher we've gotten excited about this year, and our Jim Bowden believes he's coming back soon, and as a starter.
I have a hard time imagining a league where Reyes shouldn't be owned and he's available in more than a third of CBS leagues. Before you finish this article go see if he's available in yours.
Devin Mesoraco hasn't been good or healthy in a long time. More than three years, in fact. But he's a catcher, so the bar is a lot lower, and he now has two home runs in his past three games. We were hopeful the trade the New York would lead to more playing time, and after Tuesday he has started four times in the last week. More games like Tuesday and that should continue.
Mesoraco had a pair of hits, three walks and scored four runs on Tuesday night, which was just enough to make me harken back to that 2013 season in Cincinnati. In that year he hit 25 home runs in 114 games, posted a .273 batting average and walked nearly 10 percent of the time. I don't expect that again, but his ownership suggests he's available in a lot of two-catcher leagues and he shouldn't be much longer.
Jaime Barria's ownership (19 percent) is slowly creeping up and I certainly understand the hesitation. Even after striking out seven Astros on Tuesday he owns a 7.11 K/9. That's not good at all. He also doesn't get a lot of ground balls (41 percent). In today's environment a pitcher without strikeouts or ground balls, he is probably going to find trouble eventually. So how has he done this?
Barria has (so far) limited hard contact at an elite level and continued to show the great control he had throughout the minor leagues. His FIP is encouraging (3.27) but the rest of his peripherals still suggest an enormous amount of regression. At this point I'm not sure I care because his next two matchups (at Toronto, at Dettroit) aren't difficult, and he's slated to be a rare two-start pitcher for the Angels in the next two weeks. At the very least, add him in a bench spot in deeper leagues and see where this goes.
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