Michael Fulmer: Grab him now
The Tigers insisted on receiving pitching prospect Michael Fulmer in return for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes last season, and good for them. What Fulmer has done in his first taste of major league hitters is pretty amazing, and he is fast becoming one of the best young starting pitchers in the game.
On Sunday, Fulmer shut out the Yankees on 2 hits, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts over 6 innings in the Tigers 4-1 win. The win moved his record to 7-1 with a 2.52 ERA, 3.56 FIP, a 1.14 WHIP and a 52-19 strikeout to walk rate in 53.2 innings thus far. Over his last five starts, he has given up just one earned run....ONE....on 13 hits, 10 walks and 30 strikeouts over 34.1 innings. He isn’t this good, but if he can get his walks under control, he has shown the skills to be one of the top 30 starters in the game.
For some reason, he is still available in about 25% of leagues right now, which makes little sense to me with the way he has pitched over the last two to three weeks. The time to grab him is now. Don’t wait.
Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion had a big weekend vs the Orioles and on Sunday he went 2-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored and an RBI in the Blue Jays 10-9 win. On Saturday, Encarnacion went 3-3 with 2 walks, 2 home runs, 2 runs scored and 5 RBI. After a slow month of April, a month where he hit just 3 home runs, he is quietly moving up the power rankings. He is now hitting .247-.327-.490 with 15 home runs, 32 runs scored and 54 RBI, and just like that he is on pace for nearly 40 home runs and 130+ RBI. Some American League team is going to sign him to a big contract next offseason. Astros maybe?
Matt Moore was once one of the best pitching prospects in the game, but injuries and inconsistent performance has changed his ultimate ceiling in the big leagues. On Sunday, he showed us why he was deserving of such praise, as he dominated the Astros, shutting them out on just two hits, a walk and 10 strikeouts in 7 innings in the Rays 5-0 win. He is now 3-4 with a 5.05 ERA, 4.60 FIP, a 1.38 WHIP and a 73-23 strikeout to walk rate in 76.2 innings. Hitters are squaring the ball up on him more than ever this season yet his peripheral stats indicate he should be pitching with much better results. He puts up too many 4-5 run starts that it is hard to own him right now.
As I write this Roundup, I am watching the Dodgers-Giants Sunday night game, and Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias is turning in his best outing of his short career. Though five innings, and 77 pitches, Urias shut out the Giants on 2 hits, a walk and 6 strikeouts in a scoreless game. If you have been paying attention to his performances since his call up, it appears he is getting more and more comfortable in the big leagues, as he has improved over this last three starts after a dreadful major league debut. After giving up 8 runs on 13 hits, 5 walks and 7 strikeouts in his first two starts, Urias has given up just one earned run on 5 hits, 2 walks and 13 strikeouts in 9 innings over his last two starts.
Update: After completing that paragraph, Urias came back out for the sixth inning and gave up a single to Joe Panik, after striking out Denard Span for his 7th strikeout of the game, and a home run to Brandon Belt, so he left the game down 2-0. Still, it was his best start as a big leaguer, and he is showing he belongs. It will be interesting to see what he can do once he gets his pitch count higher and he can pitch 180-200 innings per season.
Like Matt Moore, Mariners starter James Paxton was once one of the better pitching prospects in the game, but injuries have limited him to 30 career starts coming into the 2016 season. On Saturday night, he made his third big league start of the season, and it was a gem. He tossed six shutout innings vs the Rangers, giving up just 6 hits, walking 2 and striking out 7 in 6.1 innings of work. He has been completely dominant in his last two starts, after a horrific first start where he gave up 8 runs, 3 earned runs, and 11 base runners in 3.2 innings vs the Padres. He owns a 24-4 strikeout to walk rate in 16 innings of work, and is owned in just 15% of leagues right now. If you are in ned of a starter with high strikeout potential, there are worse options than Paxton right now.
I am going to have to cut this Roundup short, but please let me know in the comments section if there is someone you would like me to write about in future Roundups. I will do my best to write more this week, even if they are a little shorter than usual.
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