The first place Cincinnati Reds called up a pair of lefthanded starters over the last two weeks or so to replace the injured Homer Bailey (following a Sam LeCure cameo) and Aaron Harang, and both bring some fantasy potential.
The first, and more permanent of the two is 23-year-old Travis Wood, who grabbed some headlines over the weekend by taking a perfect game into the 9th against the Phillies. His minor league career consists of lots of strikeouts (8.4 K/9), a good amount of ground balls (43.1% ground balls), and more recently very few walks (2.6 BB/9 over the last two seasons), three skills you want every young pitcher to possess. Wood has already made three starts for the Reds, sandwiching a pair of gems around one clunker.
The second of the two is 26-year-old Matt Maloney, who was acquired in the Kyle Lohse deal a few years back. His minor league career is similar to Wood’s in terms of strikeouts (8.7 K/9) and grounders (42.8%), though his track record of good control (2.7 BB/9) is quite a bit longer. In seven career big league starts over the last two seasons (two this year), Maloney has seen his strikeout rate dip, which is not unprecedented.
Baseball America rated Wood and Maloney as the team’s 7th and 8th best prospects coming into the season, saying both were back of the rotation candidates that lacked the pure stuff to be more. I’m a sucker for strikeout lefties, and both of these guys have the ability to post low- to mid-4.00’s ERA with enough wins and enough strikeouts to be serviceable fifth or sixth starters on a fantasy squad. I wouldn’t start them against high caliber offenses, but the NL Central offers enough weak competition to make the duo useful for the duration.
Thirteen of Cincinnati’s first 19 post-All Star break games are against the Nationals, Astros, Brewers, and Pirates, so there’s some decent matchups coming up. Wood is owned in 13% of Yahoo! leagues, Maloney still 0%.