Everyone has one of those weeks at some point during the baseball season. For me, it happened this week. Seven days ago, I was feeling great about my pitching staff in a 14-team league. Since then, I’ve seen Brandon Morrow go to the DL with the always troubling ambiguity of shoulder soreness, and Drew Smyly likely suffer a torn labrum which would require season-ending surgery. My once-strong rotation is now in need of reinforcements.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that help abounds on the waiver wire. One of the best pitching prospects in baseball is set to make his debut this week, and another top prospect should be following close behind him. No fantasy owner likes turning to the wire to replace an injured starter, but most of us will have to do it at some point. It pays to be prepared.
Noah Syndergaard, Mets (Mixed: $7, NL-only: $15)
The next big Mets pitching prospect is set to make his debut Tuesday against the Cubs in Chicago. After sputtering in his first two starts this season for triple A Las Vegas, Syndergaard has put his electric repertoire on display in his last three outings. In those starts, the 22-year-old righty has allowed two runs on 11 hits and two walks in 22 innings while striking out 27 batters. Syndergaard entered this season ranked as the No. 9 prospect in baseball according to Baseball Prospects, and No. 11 by Baseball America’s rankings. He can be a frontline starter, and the Mets could eventually have one of the most fearsome 1–2 punches in the majors if he reaches his potential and slots alongside Matt Harvey. For the time being, he should be owned in fantasy leagues of all formats. Dillon Gee is on the DL, so Syndergaard will get, at the very least, two or three starts with the Mets. There’s a strong chance he proves himself too valuable to go back to the minors.
Marco Gonzales, Cardinals (Mixed: $3, NL-only: $8)
Gonzales, the No. 50 and No. 52 prospect respectively according to Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, is the obvious candidate to replace Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals’ rotation in the long term. Unfortunately, he’s been dealing with pectoral soreness that forced him to the DL. He’ll make his return over the weekend and could be in line for a promotion by the end of May depending on how the muscle responds. Gonzales spent time at three different levels of the minors last year, amassing a 2.43 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 117 strikeouts in 122 innings. He pitched well enough to earn a cup of coffee with the Cardinals at the end of the year and nearly won a spot in the rotation this spring. He can be an asset in deeper mixed leagues once he gets into the rotation.
Alex Colome, Rays (Mixed: $5, AL-only: $11)
Colome has pitched well in his two starts this season, surrendering a pair of runs on seven hits and striking out 10 batters while walking none. One week ago, it appeared that Colome might not be long in the rotation. Unfortunately for the Rays, Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly suffered season-ending injuries, and that means Colome will likely stick in the rotation for the rest of the season. The 26-year-old made 15 starts at Triple A Durham last year, posting a 3.77 ERA, 3.25 FIP and 73 strikeouts in 86 innings. Colome should be owned in all deeper mixed leagues.
Jung-ho Kang, Pirates (Mixed: $5, NL-only: $13)
Kang is among the hottest hitters in baseball over the last 10 days or so, going 9-for-22 with a homer and three RBIs in his last seven games. Kang began the year as a backup infielder at multiple positions, but with both Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison struggling, he should see more time at short and third. Kang is now slashing .318/.367/.455 in 49 plate appearances this season after belting 40 homers in South Korea last season. Simply put, the Pirates can’t afford to have his bat on the bench. As he continues to earn more playing time, he should get increased looks from fantasy owners in mixed leagues.
Cory Spangenberg, Padres (Mixed: $3, NL-only: $7)
Spangenberg has started six consecutive games for the Padres, going 7-for-20 with five walks and three steals. Jedd Gyorko has been terrible this season, and Will Middlebrooks has scuffled at the plate since the end of April. Spangenberg can play both second and third, and is likely to continue starting at one of those spots so long as he’s getting on base. Yangervis Solarte is similarly versatile and has also been swinging a hot bat, but he’s a much better hitter against lefties. Just as importantly, he’s been hitting second in the San Diego order in his starts. If he sticks toward the top of the order, he could provide his fantasy owners with run-scoring upside at two shallow positions.