Lucas Giolito (SP) CHW - This statement probably won't make sense until the end of this comment, but it's often hard to tell when something is a "thing" and not statistical noise. I'm in the process of trying to figure that out with Lucas Giolito right now. 8 starts ago, Giolito all of a sudden started throwing about 1 1/2 mph faster than he has been for the past season and a half....more like he did back in 2016 when he was finishing his tear through the minors. 3/4 of his starts since then have seen an avg FB velocity higher than anything he showed from 2017 or early 2018. Friday, Giolito allowed 2 hits over 7 innings to the Rays, marking the 3rd time in the past 5 starts that he's allowed 2 or 3 hits over at least 6 innings. He's also fanned 20 in his last 25 IP, a marked increase in K rate. Now, the question is: are we seeing an improved level of performance, or a blip? I think the key here is in the GB rate. Giolito was a GB-heavy pitcher all the way through the minors, but has had much less success maintaining that style in MLB. The two starts in the past 8 where he was knocked around were his two lowest GB rates of the batch, but the Houston start and Friday's outing were by far the highest, and they were easily the two in which he looked most effective. I think the answer here is that he is likely turning a corner in the adjustments that he needs to make to be successful at this level. I believe that the ship has sailed on his potential as a #1 starter...the stuff doesn't look tight enough to me, and the control hasn't progressed anywhere near the level that would require. However, I could see him pitching to an SP5 or streaming level the rest of the way here, with an eye toward a mid-rotation ceiling. It may not be the news White Sox fans and dynasty owners of Giolito are looking for, but it's a lot more optimistic than we've had cause to be over much of the last 18 months.
Renato Nunez (3B) BAL - Even though folks have been talking about Nunez for most of this decade, he's still just 24 years old, so keep that in mind with the rest of this info. Nunez was blocked by the emergence of other hitters (read: less aggressive and/or better defensively) in Oakland, but he's currently the top choice at the hot corner in Baltimore and is 8-17 with 4 doubles over the past four days. This is a guy who hit 32 homers in 126 games at AAA last year while playing his home games in the worst home park for HRs at the AAA level: he has power. He's also maintained surprisingly high averages given the biggest negative in his game, which is his overly aggressive nature at the plate. A 37% chase rate and nearly 16% swinging strike rate are cover-your-eyes bad, but the K rates don't really match up with that, suggesting that he can scale down his swing to a point. I know there seem to be a plethora of guys that can man the corners and potentially hit .250-.260 with 25-30 homers right now, but you can add another to the bunch. I think there's solid potential here, but unfortunately of a saturated type....probably only worth a claim in deeper leagues right now.
Chance Adams (SP) NYY - Adams is coming up to make his big-league debut Saturday at Fenway Park.....not exactly easing him in there I guess. Adams has missed bats throughout the minors with a plus fastball and decent slider, but the control is spotty and the GB rate is average at best, so I'd be very skeptical that he can provide an impact for anyone down the stretch. I'd consider him a slightly greater version of Domingo German right now, and while German does have an xFIP ERA of 4.00 and posted solid K numbers, the results were very inconsistent. Add in the fact that he's likely only up for one start to fill in for Happ and would only stay if he pitches extremely well Saturday (and perhaps not even then), and I don't see the value in burning a roster spot here in redraft leagues.
Jonathan Villar (2B) BAL - For a guy in the midst of his prime (age 27), Villar's career curve looks like a player in his mid-30's the past few years, with declines in almost every meaningful metric since his excellent 2016. A scenery change may be just what the doctor ordered for him, and lo and behold he's ended up in a rebuilding (again!) Baltimore as one of the pieces in the Schoop deal. The O's are firmly in "player eval" mode right now, so he may not play every day, but it looks like he'll bat leadoff and play most of the time, and they've already given him the proverbial green light on the bases according to Buck Showalter. He's 5-10 in his first few games and is saying all the right things.....if he plays a lot he could easily revert to 30-40 steal form with a decent average, which is clearly a player that needs to be owned. I believe that he's worth a speculative pickup in just about all formats.
Ryan Borucki (SP) TOR - Borucki won again on Friday with his 6th QS in 7 starts, going 8 innings and allowing just 4 hits to the Mariners with 0 walks but only 2 K's. I'd add to the "unsustainable" chorus, but his FIP ERA was actually lower than his ERA coming into the game.....the crazy part is the HR/FB rate of 0. Borucki has had phenomenally low HR/FB rates at every step of his career, so after 430 or so innings of that, I'm inclined to believe it's some sort of a skill. He sort of reminds me of Brent Suter with a better changeup...I think there may very well be enough here to make him a viable SP5. No, he's not a sub-3.00 ERA guy in the long run, but the ability to avoid homers with decent control is extremely valuable in today's game.