Tyler Duffey & Tom Wilhelmsen: Deep League Wire

The pickings feel slim with just one more week of August ahead of us, but fortunately, the fantasy dumpster is always crawling with something of use. Whether you’re looking to outfit your team with a couple of spare parts or just want to plug holes in the aftermath of a firesale, here are two players who can help your cause.

As usual, the players mentioned in this space are better suited for mono leagues, and the ownership percentages are by way of CBS.

Tyler Duffey / SP / Minnesota Twins / 9%

The statline doesn’t look so pretty in three starts: 4.60 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 16 hits in 15.2 innings. But he’s also struck out 16 batters, and since we’re always on the lookout for guys who can help us with punchouts, he deserves a look under the microscope.

Duffey, 24, was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 June amateur draft by the Twins as part of the team’s strategy to draft relievers and convert them to starters. He made the transition smoothly enough, advancing steadily through the team’s minor league system and making his MLB debut on Aug. 2 when Tommy Milone was briefly placed on the DL. The right-hander’s fastball doesn’t crack the mid-90s, but he does have a curveball and changeup with above-average whiff rates, as well as an ability to generate lots of ground balls.

But the most encouraging attribute of Duffey’s coming up through the system was his control: he maintained a puny 4.9% walk rate over 427.1 minor league innings. That’s why there’s hope the command issues he’s suffered through so far — he allowed five walks in his second start against the Indians, who, I’ll note, lead the AL in BB% — are nothing more than a mirage. His F-Strike% is in fine shape, and he was walk-less in his victory on Thursday against the Orioles, so there’s reason to hope the control will sort itself out.

As for his short-lived MLB debut, a two-inning, six-run punishment doled out by the Blue Jays, well, he’s hardly the first hurler to get torn up in the Rogers Centre since Troy Tulowitzki came to town.

Strikeout-per-inning results are not going to be the norm for Duffey the rest of the way, but a solid SwStr% should carry his Ks to respectable territory, and pitching at Target Field will help keep a cap on the long balls. And he probably has a rotation spot as long as he pitches well; ankle surgery has put Ricky Nolasco out of the picture, Phil Hughes’ back injury doesn’t sound like it’s getting better and Jose Berrios, a potential September call-up, has already thrown 148.1 innings in his age-21 season, pouring cold water on the likelihood he’ll pick up starts next month.

With the Twins just 1.5 games out of a wild card spot, expect the team to continue giving Duffey opportunities to pick up wins and make him worth a look in plenty of AL-only formats, with some possible mixed league appeal as well.

Tom Wilhelmsen / RP / Seattle Mariners / 8%

Fernando Rodney was mercifully released by the Mariners the other day, and as the Mariners float corpse-like into September, Rodney’s late-inning lieutenants, Carson Smith and Wilhelmsen, have moved up in the team’s bullpen to close out games. Although Smith has enjoyed a breakout rookie season, he’s been leaking oil the past few weeks, blowing three games this month and leading Lloyd McClendon to have him set up Wilhelmsen’s save against the White Sox on Sunday.

That outing went well enough for McClendon to announce that the right-hander would also save Monday’s game, and while the Mariners, mauled by the A’s, will make us wait at least another day to observe the bullpen’s workflow, we’ll recall that Wilhelmsen, 31, served as the team’s closer back in 2012 and 2013. The first year was a resounding success, as he earned 29 saves with plenty of strikeouts, but the second year not so much: the strikeouts plummeted, the walk rate soared, and things got so dire that he was eventually demoted to Triple-A.

But he’s remained a mostly effective late-inning reliever since then, and while the 4.5 BB/9 this year is an obvious concern, he still provides nearly strikeout-per-inning results with a fastball averaging 95 mph. An official change in roles has yet to be announced, but Wilhelmsen’s experience makes him a trusted and attractive option to McClendon if he’s lost confidence in Smith, while his past success in the ninth inning and ability to deliver solid strikeout results makes him an easy add for owners hungry for saves.

Karl, a journalist living in Washington, D.C., learned about life's disappointments by following the Mets beginning at a young age. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has contributed to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Hardball Times Annual. Follow/harass him on Twitter @Karl_de_Vries.

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What say you of Tyler Duffey’s three short starts..improved results, but steadily declining velocity? Purposeful, or potential injury?



Not the author, but I would throw out the first start since it was his debut. Pitchers are usually so full of adrenaline in their first start that they almost always throw harder.