As we approach the end the first full week of baseball, let’s take a look at some guys who are having hot starts and are still widely available (less than 50% owned). I’m writing this as I’m watching the Saturday night games, so stat references are adjusted at least up to that point. For upcoming matchup projections, I’m referring to the Roster Resource Schedule Grid and Probables.
Matt Shoemaker – 30.7% Owned (14 IP, 7.94 P/IP, 111.2 Total FGPTs)
Favorable matchups against the Tigers and Orioles may be contributing to Shoemaker’s resurgence so far, but the numbers don’t lie – no earned runs, 15 Ks, and just seven baserunners (0.50 WHIP). Tougher tests are coming, as he’s scheduled to start Tuesday against Boston.
Jordan Zimmermann – 13.8% Owned (13.2 IP, 7.31 P/IP, 99.9 Total FGPTs)
Since signing a $110M deal with the Tigers before the 2016 season, Zimmermann has been hurt a lot and bad when healthy, but he’s looked great so far in starts against the Jays and Yankees. Just one earned run allowed, 10 Ks, and eight baserunners (0.59 WHIP) have him riding high into a Tuesday start against a very anemic Cleveland offense at home.
Trent Thornton – 9.3% Owned (10.2 IP, 7.28 P/IP, 77.6 Total FGPTs)
Acquired from Houston in a November trade, Thornton wasn’t (and still isn’t) on a lot of people’s radars. He never graced a top-100 prospect list despite solid skills and multiple pitches in his repertoire, due in part to unremarkable strikeout rates and xFIPs that show he was better than some of the surface-level numbers. But his strikeout numbers are way up in his first two big league starts (15 Ks against Cleveland and Detroit), and his pitch mix caught Jeff Zimmerman’s eye last week, so the Toronto staff may have made an important tweak or two. All that being said, Pitcher List’s Alex Fast didn’t express much confidence in Thornton’s last start (per Saturday’s podcast). With a couple off days this coming week, Thornton is slated to get Tampa at home on Friday.
Christian Walker – 22.8% Owned (8.3 P/G, 53.1 Total FGPTs)
After nearly four full seasons at AAA, peaking with a 32-homer breakout in 2017, a Paul Goldschmidt trade and a Jake Lamb injury have now cleared the way for Christian Walker to take over the first base job in Arizona. Coming into tonight, Walker was hitting .304 with three home runs. Walker’s being snapped up quickly, so if you want shares now is the time to get in.
Rowdy Tellez – 26.2% Owned (4.4 P/G, 35.2 Total FGPTs)
Tellez is seeing a jump in ownership as the beneficiary of a trade that sent Kendrys Morales to Oakland. Hopes are high that Tellez can continue to bring the pop he showed in 23 big league games in 2018 (.614 SLG) to an otherwise unimpressive Toronto offense. In limited action this year he’s teeing off in the 92nd percentile in exit velocity, giving us more reasons to believe in the power.
Dwight Smith, Jr. – 7.2% Owned (4.6 P/G, 32.1 Total FGPTs)
Until further notice, Smith appears to have the left field job in Baltimore and has been batting second. He showed good plate discipline and contact skills in the minors with about a 15/15 power/speed mix. If you’re not buying the early Alex Gordon on base percentage jump, Smith could be worth a look as OF depth.
(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)