The Wire Troll: Rotation Help Edition
Drew Smyly has overcome a rough first start. (NBC Sports)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy baseball. We’re nearly done with April, the weather is heating up again, and we’ve got a bevy of pitching options for you. Access that wire!
This week, Fernando Tatis Jr. played his first MLB game since 2021; Max Scherzer has been slapped with a 10-game suspension for having a foreign substance on his hand; and Mookie Betts played shortstop for the first time in his big league career — perhaps adding to his positional eligibility depending on your league rules.
And now, let’s get to this week’s…
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Picks
Joey Lucchesi, SP, New York Mets (ESPN: 0.7 per cent; CBS: 2 per cent): Just under two years ago, we recommended Lucchesi after an injury to Jacob deGrom created an opportunity for him. After that, things were going well for Lucchesi for a few starts (even bagging his first win since 2019), before he needed Tommy John surgery. Well, he’s finally healthy and has been recalled with Carlos Carrasco (elbow) hitting the IL. Given how well Lucchesi performed at Triple-A to begin 2023 (1.15 WHIP with over a K per inning) and how dominant he was in his debut with the Mets on Friday (seven shutout innings with nine Ks), he’s worth a look in NL-only leagues, especially considering that he’s shown nice strikeout capability over his career (9.3 K/9).
Drew Smyly, SP, Chicago Cubs (ESPN: 1.7 per cent; CBS: 8 per cent): Almost a year ago to the day, we pimped Smyly, but things didn’t go so well until he rewarded us with a fantastic August. All told, last year was probably his finest showing in nearly a decade thanks to his command bouncing back. This year, Smyly has been generally good, overcoming a beatdown in his season debut to toss three solid efforts, including a near perfect game on Friday that ended in the most heartbreaking manner (see video below). Many believe Atlanta overpaid him in 2021, yet he somehow racked up a career best 11 wins, and then consolidated that with a better year last season. So don’t sleep on Smyly.
Brandon Pfaadt, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (ESPN: 3.7 per cent; CBS: NA): Arizona finally tired of Madison Bumgarner, DFAing the struggling veteran, and it sure sounds like Pfaadt, No. 89 on our Top 100 Prospects list may ultimately get a chance to replace him in the rotation (even though it was Tommy Henry who was recalled for now). Pfaadt was in the mix for the fifth starter’s gig this spring and probably deserved the job, but Arizona opted to give him more time to marinade in the minors. So far at Triple-A, some homer issues have clouded an otherwise stellar showing, but he’s looked better each start, so it just seems like a matter of time before he takes his rightful place in the D-Back rotation. Stash Pfaadt now before it’s too late.
Joey Wentz, SP, Detroit Tigers (ESPN: 0.2 per cent; CBS: 3 per cent): Another Tommy John surgery survivor who has worked his way back, Wentz pitched pretty well in his MLB debut last year, but is off to a rough start so far, going winless in three outings. However, he’s only pitched poorly in one of those games, with one decent start and one strong one. Sophomore southpaw Wentz has potential — he was the team’s No. 8 prospect before undergoing TJS — so is another young starter that could surprise this season.
- Washington reliever Hunter Harvey had a rough outing in his appearance on April 14, but bounced back big time on Friday, striking out the side, and has looked solid this season beyond that. He currently leads all pitchers in terms of the spin he gets on his four-seam fastball even though opponents are batting .294 against the pitch. Harvey emerged as a solid reliever last year, and should repeat that performance if he can address the wildness he’s shown early on. Friday’s brilliant performance was a good start.
- Cubs OF prospect Brennen Davis is starting to show signs of life after a slow start. He was hitless in the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader to snap a three-game hit streak, but still managed to get on base (HBP) and swipe his first bag of the season. Be patient here, folks. Davis needs the reps after an injury-ravaged 2022, but love his potential.
- Diamondback infielder Josh Rojas has had multiple-hit efforts in two of his last three four, driving in four runs during this stretch while scoring a run in five of the last six. His extra-base pop keeps regressing and his walk rate has dipped, yet he somehow has a career best in OPS. Give Rojas a look in mixed leagues.
- Max Muncy is back to being a must-own Fantasy asset. On Thursday, he homered, swiped a base and drew a pair of walks, giving him eight free passes over the last three games. Muncy has always been a great OBP league player, but has taken that to a new level this season — and is hitting better after scuffling to a .196 BA in 2022.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
The group originally known as Sagittari changed their name to Delirium in 1970. They are best known for the classic 1972 single “Jesahel,” covered later that year more famously by Shirley Bassey.