The biggest news of the weekend was Adley Rutschman being called up. He was easily the top prospect in the minors with Bobby Witt and Julio Rodriguez already having moved up, and his arrival has been widely anticipated for weeks.
So widely, in fact, that he was already rostered in 86 percent of CBS Sports leagues when the announcement came. He's up over 90 percent now -- and rightfully so. I'veabout my expectations for him and why he should already be regarded as a top-10 catcher in Fantasy.
But clearly, he's not available enough to feature in Waiver Wire, so instead, I'll highlight some of the weekend's biggest performers, beginning with another recent call-up.
Nolan Gorman 2B
STL St. Louis • #16 • Age: 22
Considering the big concern about Nolan Gorman was his 34 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A, it's encouraging, if not terribly meaningful, that he has just one strikeout in his first three big-league games. Of course, he wasn't in the starting lineup for one of them, but he still got two at-bats, entering after the left-handed starter had been removed. He has yet to homer but is 5 for 10 with two doubles and has made the sort of high-quality contact that you'd expect from an elite power hitter. He faces a big test this week with strikeout artists like Kevin Gausman, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes on the schedule, but if he passes it, you can feel confident in him sticking around.
CIN Cincinnati • #21 • Age: 22
That's three strong starts in a row for Hunter Greene, a turnaround that began with him upping his slider usage to about 50 percent. He was all sliders and fastballs in this one, the latter averaging 100.1 mph. That velocity helps, but it's clear he's learned that his slider is actually his better weapon at this level. Control remains an issue -- he had a combined nine walks in his previous two starts -- but he's not getting hit like he was earlier this season. He's usable right now and worth adding in the hopes he unlocks even more of his potential.
Martin Perez SP
TEX Texas • #54 • Age: 31
I don't believe in Martin Perez. You shouldn't believe in Martin Perez. But passing over a guy with a 1.64 ERA a quarter of the way into the season is some real galaxy brain thinking. It's not like he's being pulled after 4-5 innings every time out. Friday's start makes six in a row of six-plus innings -- emphasis on the plus. The best Astros hitters all got a fourth look at him and still couldn't get anything done. He has made some slight tweaks to his arsenal that has him generating ground balls at a higher rate than ever, so between that and the deadened balls, I don't know, maybe he's figured something out. Skepticism is warranted, but stranger breakthroughs have happened.
HOU Houston • #53 • Age: 25
Cristian Javier has already proven to me he's more than capable as a starting pitcher. In 23 career starts, he has a 3.60 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 9.6 K/9. His longest stretch as a starter came in 2020, and he's only improved as a bat-misser since then, currently boasting a 12.9 percent swinging-strike rate as compared to 8.7 percent that year. The bigger questions is whether the Astros will keep him in the role this time instead of bouncing him between the rotation and bullpen, but starts like Friday's can only help. With no timetable for Jake Odorizzi's return, Javier's 2.87 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 this year deserve to be taken seriously.
Zach Eflin SP
PHI Philadelphia • #56 • Age: 28
The most impressive part about this performance for Zach Eflin is that it came against a genuine offensive juggernaut. It's not like he caught the Pirates at the right time. Of course, one great start against a prime opponent doesn't make up for seven years of a 4.50 ERA and 7.6 K/9, but he did make a change in this start that could point to better days ahead. He threw his best pitch more, doubling his typical curveball usage, and it ended up being responsible for 12 of his 19 swinging strikes. The season-long whiff rate on it is 45 percent, so it looks like a genuinely elite pitch. There's no telling, of course, if he sticks with this approach, but if he does, you'll be glad you picked him up now.
Josh Rojas 3B
ARI Arizona • #10 • Age: 27
Anytime Josh Rojas does a thing, I'm reminded of those incredible numbers he put together in his final minor-league season, batting .332 with 23 homers, 33 steals and a 1.023 OPS in 2019. The thing he did this time was hit three home runs Friday at Chicago. It was one of those days when the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field, but all three of them traveled more than 400 feet. Of course, he's gotten only one at-bat since then because of a bruised hand, but it sounds like only a day-to-day injury, His launch angle, hard-hit rate and strikeout rate are all improved this year, and he's also running a bit, having stolen three bases in just 15 games following his early IL stint.
Aaron Ashby SP
MIL Milwaukee • #26 • Age: 24
Freddie Peralta leaving Sunday's start with shoulder tightness is of course bad news for the Brewers, but it does open the door for Aaron Ashby to claim a regular turn in the starting rotation. So far, he has bounced between the rotation and bullpen with mixed results, but the upside is considerable, as his past two appearances show. Between them, he has a combined five perfect innings with nine strikeouts, his velocity jumping back to last year's levels after lagging early. His slider is a whiff machine, and he's an elite ground-ball generator as well. By the time Peralta is back, the Brewers might prefer to bump Adrian Houser instead.
Matt Barnes RP
BOS Boston • #32 • Age: 32
For all of the Red Sox's mixing and matching at the end of games, manager Alex Cora has expressed his preference for defined bullpen roles and desire for Matt Barnes to reclaim closing duties. The 2021 All-Star took a step toward making that happen Saturday, recording his second save of the season and first in exactly a month. He had been reduced to low-leverage situations because of laggy velocity, but it's been back to 2021 levels over his past four appearances. Barnes could lose all the momentum with one bad outing, especially since Cora hasn't made any declarations, but if you're looking for a prospective saves source, he's back in the mix.
PIT Pittsburgh • #59 • Age: 22
Roansy Contreras got a chance to work in relief for the Pirates earlier this year and ended that stint with consecutive three-inning appearances in which he struck out five. After a five-start stint in the minors, he's on his way back -- presumably to fill a rotation spot this time. He certainly has the arsenal for it, his slider and curveball just as capable of generating whiffs as his fastball, the spin rate on each tracking as elite. It's no wonder he had a 2.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 12.7 K/9 in 13 starts between Double- and Triple-A last year. Durability and supporting cast could both be an issue, but it's worth taking a shot at the upside.
TB Tampa Bay • #59 • Age: 29
This latest start Saturday was the first time it occurred to me that the Rays might actually use Jeffrey Springs as a conventional starter rather than just an opener. And if that's the case, the underlying numbers offer plenty of reason for excitement. He had 16 swinging strikes on just 80 pitches in this one, giving him an overall swinging-strike rate (15.2 percent) that would rank seventh among qualifiers, ahead of even Carlos Rodon. His changeup is one of the best of its kind, and he also has a breaking ball to give hitters something else to think about. It remains to be seen if the Rays keep extending him from here, but as things stand, he has a 1.32 ERA and 0.81 WHIP.