Atlanta Braves young hurler Mike Soroka is a must add and play in this week’s waiver column plus two start rankings.
Mike Soroka (SP – Atlanta Braves)
Ownership: Yahoo 37% ESPN 17% CBS 79%
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka was called up from a minor league rehab assignment on April 18th and has impressed in two starts since. The 21 year old top prospect is one of many young arms the Braves have used in the rotation, but the one that looks to have the best chance to stick. Soroka’s arsenal plays better as a starter than it does in the bullpen and has shown that with 10.2 innings, 13 strikeouts, and two earned runs combined in starts against the Reds and Diamondbacks. Soroka has found success with an elite 55.2% ground ball rate and miniscule 6.9% fly ball rate, albeit in a very limited sample. I don’t expect the strikeout numbers to remain this high, but neither will the walk rate, as Soroka has always been a good control pitcher and his 4.22 BB/9 is well above his career average. Soroka should be a solid starter for all formats as long as he remains healthy and should be owned in all 12 team leagues and deeper.
Griffin Canning (SP – Los Angeles Angels)
Ownership: Yahoo 18% ESPN 2% CBS 19%
Los Angeles Angels number two prospect Griffin Canning will be getting called up to start on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays at home. Canning was a second round pick out of UCLA in 2017 and dominated in AA with a 1.97 ERA and 9.66 K/9 before struggling in AAA. This season he has been off to a great start early on with a 0.56 ERA and 9.56 K/9 in 16 innings at AAA, showing enough to make the Angels believe he can be a boost to their underwhelming rotation. The 22 year old righty offers a mid 90’s fastball, two average breaking pitches, and a developing changeup. Canning does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground with a ground ball rate over 40%. He could be a helpful stream in deep leagues this week against Toronto at home and a speculative add in standard 12 team mixed.
Pablo Lopez (SP – Miami Marlins)
Ownership: Yahoo 10% ESPN 5% CBS 36%
Another one of the young upside arms in the Miami Marlins rotation, starting pitcher Pablo Lopez is coming into his own as the season progresses. Lopez currently sports a 4.44 ERA in five starts this season with a 9.91 K/9. The ERA comes with a 2.83 FIP and 3.51 xFIP, meaning he had gotten a bit unlucky to start the season. The 64% left of base percentage has room for improvement as well. But things have recently turned in favor for Lopez with two good starts including six shutout innings against the Cleveland Indians with six strikeouts. One of the better indicators is his 49.3% ground ball rate. Strikeouts and ground balls are what you want the most out of your starting pitchers in fantasy, and Lopez has shown good potential in those areas. Lopez might just be the best starter in the rotation behind Caleb Smith, and should be owned a lot more than he is. I’m picking him up in any 12 team leagues and deeper. Wins will be hard to come by but he should start putting together some quality starts given his profile.
Sonny Gray (SP – Cincinnati Reds)
Ownership: Yahoo 53% ESPN 30% CBS 78%
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray looks to finally be regaining some of his dominant form he had when he was a Cy Young contender with the Athletics with a 3.65 ERA and 11.31 K/9 in five starts. He’s gotten a bit unlucky with only a 59.3% strand rate, 2.00 FIP, and 2.71 xFIP. Last season was mostly a disappointing season in New York with a 4.90 ERA in 23 starts for the Yankees. Gray attributed the struggles to the pitch mix the Yankees wanted him to use, notably the slider. It’s the slider that has actually found his success this season, as his whiff rate has jumped from 39.1% to 52.9% generating 30% more strikeouts with the pitch, using it 33.3% on two strike counts. He’s also opted to use the four-seam fastball over the sinker, which has also been much more effective. If he can continue the success with the strikeouts along with the 54% ground ball rate, he could end up as a top 30 starting pitcher on the year as long as he remains healthy. He’s a pick up in all formats wherever available. Gray gets the San Francisco Giants at home this week so I would start him confidently.
Vince Velasquez (SP – Philadelphia Phillies)
Ownership: Yahoo 30% ESPN 14% CBS 56%
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez currently sits at 9th in the MLB with a 1.99 ERA among starters with at least 20 innings. Velasquez has always been an intriguing pitcher with his strikeout upside but hasn’t managed to put it all together. He made 30 starts last season and put up a 4.85 ERA, but seemed to have gotten unlucky with a 3.75 FIP, 4.12 xFIP, and 66.8% left of base percentage. Velasquez has yet to give up more than two runs in any start this season but I wouldn’t get my hopes to high for a breakout just yet. The underlying metrics say that regression is coming with only a .228 BABIP against, 3.97 FIP, and 4.27 xFIP. It is encouraging that he has gone at least five innings in each of his last four starts, with his most impressive outing coming in Colorado with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings and two earned runs. I expect this hot start to continue for Velasquez this week with a good matchup against the Detroit Tigers. He is a good stream in 15 team leagues and someone to keep an eye on in shallower leagues.
Two Start Streamers of the Week
Jakob Junis (Kansas City Royals) 4/30 VS TB, 5/5 @ DET
Junis was on his way to his best start of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday before being removed from the game after taking a comebacker to the hand with six strikeouts in six innings and one runs scored. He gets those same Rays at home this week on Tuesday before going to Detroit to face one of the worst hitting teams in the league. Junis struck out eight Tigers in six innings on April 4th.
Mike Soroka (Atlanta Braves) 4/29 VS SDP, 5/4 @ MIA
Aside from being a good pickup, Soroka should be started in any league he is owned in this week as he gets the San Diego Padres at home on Monday, then goes to Miami to for a great matchup against the Marlins on Saturday. The matchups don’t get much better as both teams sit in the bottom nine in team average and in the bottom six in strikeout rate, with the Padres being the most strikeout prone team.
Two-Start Pitcher Rankings
- Trevor Bauer – 4/30 @ MIA, 5/5 vs SEA
- Justin Verlander – 4/29 @ MIN, 5/5 @ LAA
- Blake Snell – 4/30 @ KC, 5/5 @ BAL
- Luis Castillo – 4/30 @ NYM, 5/5 vs SF
- Patrick Corbin – 4/29 vs STL, 5/4 @ PHI
- Zack Wheeler – 4/29 vs CIN, 5/4 @ MIL
- German Marquez – 4/30 @ MIL, 5/5 vs ARI
- Chris Paddack – 4/30 @ ATL, 5/5 vs LAD
- Mike Soroka – 4/29 vs SD, 5/4 @ MIA
- Kenta Maeda – 4/29 @ SF, 5/5 @ SD
- Kyle Freeland – 4/29 @ MIL, 5/4 vs ARI
- Eduardo Rodriguez – 4/29 vs OAK, 5/4 @ CWS
- Brad Keller – 4/29 vs. TB, 5/4 @ DET
- Frankie Montas – 4/29 @ BOS, 5/5 @ PIT
- Zach Davies – 4/29 vs COL, 5/4 vs NYM
- Jeff Samardzija – 4/29 vs LAD, 5/5 @ CIN
- Jakob Junis – 4/30 vs TB, 5/5 @ DET
- Rick Porcello – 4/30 vs OAK, 5/5 @ CWS
- Jordan Lyles – 4/30 @ TEX, 5/5 vs OAK
- Jhoulys Chacin – 4/30 vs COL, 5/5 vs NYM
- Adam Wainwright – 4/30 @ WSH, 5/5 @ CHC
- Spencer Turnbull – 4/30 @ PHI, 5/5 vs KC
- Julio Teheran – 4/30 vs SD, 5/5 @ MIA
- Michael Wacha – 4/29 @ WSH, 5/4 @ CHC
- Clay Buchholz – 4/30 @ LAA, 5/5 @ TEX
- John Means – 4/29 @ CWS, 5/5 vs TB
- Anibal Sanchez – 4/30 vs STL, 5/5 @ PHI
- Tanner Roark – 4/29 @ NYM, 5/4 vs SF
- Nick Margevicius – 4/29 @ ATL, 5/4 vs LAD
- Michael Pineda – 4/30 vs HOU, 5/5 @ NYY
- Jake Odorizzi – 4/29 vs HOU, 5/4 @ NYY
- Jason Vargas – 4/30 vs CIN, 5/5 @ MIL
- Manny Banuelos – 4/29 vs BAL, 5/4 vs BOS
- Adrian Sampson – 4/30 vs PIT, 5/5 vs TOR
- Ivan Nova – 4/30 vs BAL, 5/5 vs BOS