Welcome to the first edition of the deep league waiver wire of the 2019 season! In this weekly column, I’ll present to you two players owned in 10% or less of leagues on CBS that deserve your attention in deep leagues. Sometimes, my recommendations are also worthy of considering in shallow leaguers, which is exciting! I’ll share such thoughts in those situations.
Matt Moore | SP DET | CBS 5% Owned
I’m so embarrassed, it was difficult for me to finish typing his name in a recommendation column. The former top prospect has been positively atrocious over the past three seasons, with escalating ERAs that nearly reached 7.00 last year. Furthermore, he’s a member of the Tigers, a team that doesn’t figure to provide him with a whole lot of run support. So why on Earth would I recommend him? It’s certainly not because he threw seven scoreless innings during his first start of the season. That’s meaningless to me.
Instead, I’m interested because of one trend…
When Moore first arrived, he was a flamethrower, averaging about 95 MPH with his fastball. But that didn’t last more than a season, as his velocity immediately dropped nearly two miles per hour, which was followed by another decline into the high 92s. In 2016, his velocity rebounded (at least according to Pitch Info, as his Pitch Type velocity was much lower at 92.8 MPH), but that, too, proved temporary, as it dropped right back down to a career low of 92.3 in 2017, before rebounded marginally last season, despite spending nearly half the season in the bullpen.
All of a sudden this season in his first start, his velocity is back above 93 MPH and given that velocity increases as the season progresses, could result in his highest season velocity since his first full season in 2012. His curve and changeup always remained solid enough in generating whiffs, but if his fastball could return to being a real weapon, his secondary offerings could play up and he’s back to being the strikeout artist we once thought he would become. It’s odd this would all happen suddenly at age 30, but stranger things have happened.
Obviously, it’s just one start, but velocity stabilizes quickly. Yes, I’d still be super nervous to roster him, but in an AL-Only league, any signs of upside are welcome and worth throwing a couple of FAAB units at.
David Hess | SP BAL | 5% Owned
An Orioles pitcher now?! Say hello to David “Say Yes to the Dress” Hess. The 25-year-old won a spot in the Orioles rotation by default, as he certainly didn’t earn it given his 4.88 ERA/5.08 SIERA last season. But so far, in one start at least, he made the Orioles feel good about their decision by tossing six and a third shutout innings. Again, not important, but what is, is the velocity.
Last year, his fastball averaged a mediocre 92.3 MPH. This year over his eight innings, he’s already at 94.1, which is a massive jump for a starter this early in the season. Was he ever at this velocity, saw a recent decline, and now it’s merely rebounded back to what it used to be? I have no idea. But it’s noteworthy because at least now his velocity has jumped above the league average (92.4 MPH).
Over his first two outings, the fastball’s whiffiness has improved, as it has generated a 10% SwStk%, and excellent mark. Unfortunately, his slider has been horrible, so the fastball hasn’t actually led to more whiffs overall so far. But the sample is tiny, so the velocity increase is what we really care most about.
Hess was never a strikeout guy in the minors, except for a small 45 inning sample at Triple-A in 2018 when he posted an acceptable 23.3% mark. The question here is even with the added fastball velocity, is his slider and changeup mix good enough to vault him into respectability. I don’t know that answer, but he’s a far better bet to succeed throwing 94 rather than 92.
I much prefer Moore to Hess, but he remains a dart throw if you have some bench spots available in your AL-Only league.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.