Tony Cingrani will make his highly-anticipated first major-league start Thursday. Most fantasy owners are already aware of Cingrani, even though he only has five major-league innings under his belt. A recent start, in which he struck out 14 batters in six innings, caught fantasy owners’ eyes. Once it was announced Cingrani would take the place of the injured Jonny Cueto, he quickly became one of the most added players this week. If you play in competitive non-keeper leagues, it might be tough to find high-upside pitchers on your waiver wire. One way around this, if you’re patient, is to target the next Tony Cingrani. Basically, you’re taking a shot on a talented minor-leaguer, in the hopes that he finds a job in the majors soon. If you’re looking for the next Cingrani, you might want to consider adding Chris Archer and Danny Hultzen.
|Chris Archer||Starting Pitcher||Tampa Bay Rays||16%||2%||0%|
Owners should know a little about Chris Archer, as he’s been a top prospect and has already made his major-league debut. Archer competed for the team’s fifth spot in the rotation, but was edged out by Jeff Niemann and Roberto Hernandez. Niemann is now out for the year after shoulder surgery, and Hernandez hasn’t been a high-upside pitcher in the past. It’s Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, that owners need to worry about. He hasn’t posted strong numbers to begin the year, but he’s managed to strike out nearly a batter per inning thus far. Given the Rays’ recent success turning Fernando Rodney around, there’s a chance his elevated strikeout rate means something early on. Both his FIP and xFIP indicate that he’s been better than his 5.70 ERA.
Still, if Hernandez has one or two more difficult starts, the team could be tempted to call up Archer. The only thing Archer needs to work on in the minors is his control. He’s been a strong strikeout pitcher in the past, even showing swing-and-miss ability in his brief major-league run last season. If he can cut down on those walks, he could be an effective starter now. There’s at least a decent change he’s up in May, but that depends on how Hernandez performs.
|Danny Hultzen||Starting Pitcher||Seattle Mariners||19%||1%||0.2%|
Danny Hultzen doesn’t have the much talent in front of him. Erasmo Ramirez was thought to be a threat to Hultzen making the majors, but Ramirez has been sidelined with a triceps strain this year, and has yet to pitch. With Brandon Maurer struggling to open the year, there’s an opportunity for another pitcher to claim the team’s fifth spot. Conveniently, Hultzen and Maurer have been pitching on the same day, so he’s a natural replacement if Maurer gets demoted or injured. The only other threat to Hultzen’s job is Jeremy Bonderman, who has a 5.28 ERA in Triple-A right now.
After a disastrous run at Triple-A last season, Hultzen has rebounded in the early going this year. Through three starts, he’s shown much improved control, which was one of his biggest problems once he reached that level last year. Hultzen was supposed to move fast after he was drafted, and has mostly pitched very well in the minors. It seems like Maurer is a poor start or two away from losing his spot. Hultzen is as good a bet as any to replace him.
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