If he didn't already have your attention, Tuesday's start was enough to get it.
Not only did Yusei Kikcuhi strike out 11 but he did it against the Dodgers. He did it with a season-high 17 swinging strikes, and in fact, his past three starts have yielded his best three swinging strike totals. They correspond to a jump in velocity. He's been between 95 and 96 mph in those three starts after averaging between 94 and 95 in his first four.
It all adds up to what looks like a corner turned for a player who already had his share of enthusiasts after underperforming his expected stats so drastically last year. After Tuesday's start, his xFIP this year sits at 3.24, a mark better than Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish. For those worried about Kikuchi's 4.30 ERA, that'll bring it down to size.
He's available in 43 percent of CBS Sports leagues, which seems shockingly low to me. But let's see who else is out there.
Robbie Ray SP
TOR Toronto • #38 • Age: 29
If you haven't picked up Robbie Ray yet, what are you even doing? He once again averaged almost 95 mph on his fastball Tuesday, continuing what's already been his hardest-throwing season on record. It was his third start in four with at least nine strikeouts. He has issued precisely one walk during that time, and I reiterate: This is Robbie Ray we're talking about. The story for him has always been how overpowering he could be if he stopped walking so many. Well, it's happened, and sure enough, this is shaping up to be his best season -- which is saying something when you think back to his 2017.
Nick Senzel CF
CIN Cincinnati • #15 • Age: 25
His 3-for-4 performance Tuesday gave Nick Senzel multiple hits in back-to-back games and 14 hits in his past nine. A look at his batted ball profile suggests it might just be the start of something, too. With a strikeout rate of 13.1 percent and a line-drive rate up around 25, he's doing what he needs to do to be a top performer in batting average, and in fact, his .299 xBA is in the 90th percentile. His .451 xSLG suggests more power could be coming, too.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #73 • Age: 26
With each passing start, it gets harder to leave Adbert Alzolay out there -- or at least it should, but I've been pushing him for a while now without much change to his roster rate. The hang-up I assume is the 4.50 ERA, but with the swing-and-miss potential he's showing as he makes his new slider a bigger part of his arsenal, that number is bound to come down. His 18 swinging strikes Tuesday brought his season rate to 14.9, which is the same as Gerrit Cole. The Cubs seem to be letting him go deeper into games, too. Two of his past three outings have been six innings.
SEA Seattle • #49 • Age: 30
Fifth time has to be the charm. Granted, it seemed obvious after his third blown save and elementary after his fourth, but having blown a save for the fifth time Tuesday, serving a three-run homer to Gavin Lux, Rafael Montero doesn't belong anywhere near a save situation, right? He wasn't necessarily being positioned for the save this time, actually working the eighth inning, which is even more reason to believe the Mariners are transitioning Kendall Graveman to the role. He's been the guy manager Scott Servais has trusted in higher-leverage situations for a while now.
TOR Toronto • #68 • Age: 28
Finally, enough injuries have befallen the Blue Jays bullpen that Jordan Roman will get the chance we presumed he'd get at the start of the year, picking up his first save Tuesday. Of course, he allowed two baserunners before closing out the win and generally hasn't looked as dominant as he did last year. Still, Julian Merryweather isn't coming back from a strained oblique anytime soon, and Rafael Dolis' strained calf doesn't have a clear timetable either.
Logan Webb SP
SF San Francisco • #62 • Age: 24
Aaron Sanchez's strained biceps has given Logan Webb another shot to secure a spot in the Giants rotation, and this time, he put his best foot forward with a 10-strikeout effort against the Rangers. The newly refined changeup that got so much attention this spring finally showed up, accounting for nine of his 14 swinging strikes. He'll need a couple more of these outings to be a high-priority pickup, but in leagues where you're having to scrounge a little harder, he remains interesting.