robbie-ray-1400-us.jpg
USATSI

Happy Thursday, everyone! It was a loaded slate on Wednesday with almost every team in action, but we didn't exactly get a lot of run support. It was a night for the pitchers, a potential bounceback night that could be the start of a turnaround for Blue Jays SP Robbie Ray. Despite being drafted as one of the first 5-10 pitchers off the board this past spring, Ray hasn't exactly pitched like it in his new home after his breakout 2021 -- at least until Wednesday night.

You got the feeling from watching even an inning that Ray may be on to something. Ray delivered six innings of three-run ball against the A's with seven hits and one walk allowed. I know that's not the prettiest bottom line, but Ray added eight strikeouts and a whopping 24 induced swinging strikes on just 95 pitches. His slider and fastball each generated double-digit swinging misses on their own.

Ray has now delivered eight strikeouts or more in four straight games and he has also induced at least 17 swinging strikes in each game over that span. The underlying metrics, outside of the rise in walk rate, suggest that this is the same pitcher that Ray was during his breakout. Now is the perfect time to buy before it's too late. If you need a big-time SP to anchor your rotation, Ray serves as one of the more viable options to pursue.

We'll dive into more of the action from Wednesday, including a few pitchers slated for two starts on next week's schedule that you'll want to beat the waiver wire for now, but first, make sure you're all caught up with everything going on from the Fantasy Baseball Today team over at CBSSports.com/Fantasy/Baseball. Scott White dropped another waiver wire highlighting Joc Pederson's big day as well as a pair of SPARPs who should be rostered nearly everywhere. You can find that here

And of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify

Beat the waiver wire for these two-start SPs

It's never too early to start prepping for next week and you can beat your league's waiver wire now by scooping and stashing these starting pitchers to then throw into your starting lineups next week, as they are slated for multiple starts.

Aaron Ashby: If you play in points leagues, you can nab Ashby as a SPARP, but even in Roto leagues he makes for a great stash after a strong outing against the Padres given the level of competition he faced. Ashby threw 5 2/3 innings of one-run (unearned) ball and only allowed four hits and three walks against San Diego. He struck out nine batters on just 91 pitches and his fastball was up to 96.5 mph. Ashby has quietly put together a strong season so far with a 2.91 ERA and 66% groundball rate. He is just 47% rostered with starts against the Padres and Cubs next week.

Dylan Bundy: Although not the flashiest of names, Bundy is coming off a solid start against the Tigers ahead of next week's schedule where he's slated to go twice. Bundy held the Tigers to one run over 5 2/3 innings with five hits and one walk allowed. He struck out six batters with 14 swing-and-miss pitches. He's just 43% rostered and draws the Tigers and Blue Jays next week.

Jakob Junis: Leave it to the Giants to revive the career of just about any starting pitcher, it seems. Junis delivered his first quality start of the year against one of the hottest lineups in baseball when he limited the Mets to just two runs over six innings. Junis only allowed three hits and one walk while adding four strikeouts. He narrowed his focus and used two pitches on 80% of all pitches -- the slider and the changeup -- and this could be a nice mix for him moving forward. Junis takes his 2.76 ERA and 50% groundball rate into next week where he draws starts against the Phillies and Marlins. He's just 12% rostered at this time.

Calhoun stays hot

Rangers OF Kole Calhoun was one of the hottest hitters in baseball last week, and after cooling off a bit to start this week, he's back. Calhoun went 3-for-4 on Wednesday and added a two-run homer, a double and three runs scored in a 7-2 win for Texas. He's now batting .254 with seven homers, 16 RBI and 15 runs scored. This was also the second time this season he collected three hits in a single game.

Pitchers staying hot

Lucas Giolito: The White Sox ace limited a tough Red Sox lineup to just five hits and one run over six innings. He also added seven strikeouts in this one and generated 17 swinging misses. Giolito has been a lot of the same from what we've seen of him the last couple of seasons, but he's finding even more success keeping the runs off the board. He takes a 2.63 ERA (with a 1.27 WHIP) into his next start. 

Cristian Javier: This could be a true breakout season for the Astros hurler, who dominated on Wednesday to the tune of nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Javier is generating swinging misses at a higher rate than we've grown accustomed to -- he piled up 20 of them on Wednesday. He now carries a 2.43 ERA and 0.97 WHIP into his next start.

News and lineup notes

Every night the Fantasy Baseball Today team dives into all of the happenings around the MLB from top performers to injuries, trades and more. The podcast is a must listen for any diehard, if I do say so myself. Tune in to the podcast to hear the FBT crew expand on the news and notes below.

  • Ronald Acuña was scratched Wednesday due to right quad tightness. 
  • Kris Bryant was once again placed on the IL with a lower-back strain, retroactive to Monday. 
  • Giancarlo Stanton was placed on the IL with ankle inflammation. 
  • Joey Gallo was activated from the COVID IL and batted sixth Wednesday, going 0 for 3 at the plate.
  • Taylor Ward has now missed four straight games. He's yet to be cleared to throw or play the field with that shoulder injury. 
  • Lance Lynn said he'll begin a rehab assignment this weekend and will make three starts before joining the White Sox. That sounds like a mid-June return. 
  • Jack Flaherty will face live hitters Thursday. He remains without a timetable for now. 
  • Willson Contreras has missed four straight games while Jazz Chisholm has missed two in a row. Both are dealing with hamstring injuries. 
  • Joe Ryan was placed on the COVID IL. Devin Smeltzer will start in his place Thursday. 
  • Anthony Bender was placed on the IL with a back injury, retroactive to May 23.
  • Jeff McNeil was removed due to a left knee contusion. 
  • Andrew Heaney plans to throw three simulated innings during a bullpen session Thursday. He's on the IL with left shoulder discomfort. 
  • Ramon Laureano will undergo a CT scan on his sore right hand Thursday. 
  • Aaron Civale was placed on the IL with left glute soreness. Konnor Pilkington will start Thursday against the Tigers. 
  • Yan Gomes was placed on the IL with a left oblique strain.
  • Jonathan Loaisiga was placed on the IL with right shoulder discomfort.