Tim Adleman - SP, CIN
Owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues
When their Opening Day starter Raisel Iglesias landed on the disabled list in late April, the Reds turned to Tim Adleman, a 28-year-old right-hander who has pitched very well in Cincinnati's system since signing out of an independent league two years ago. He's a good story and could be a sneaky steal for fantasy owners that are digging deep for pitching help.
Adleman caught some attention in 2014, his first season after rejoining the affiliated ranks. Splitting time between the rotation and bullpen in Single-A and Double-A, he posted a 3.72 ERA with a solid 77-to-27 K/BB ratio in in 87 innings. In 2015 he switched to starting full-time and improved to a 2.64 ERA in 150 frames.
The righty didn't make much of an impression in spring training this year, coughing up 17 hits in just 4 1/3 innings, but he went to Triple-A and won two of his first three starts, putting him at the top of the line as an injury replacement. The shoulder impingement that put Iglesias on the shelf isn't believed to be too serious, but the Reds are taking it cautiously with him and he just started a throwing program over the weekend. He's still weeks away at least. That should give Adleman ample time to continue an audition that has started out quite well.
Through his first three big-league starts, he has registered a 3.38 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 16 innings. There's nothing all that incredible about his pitch arsenal -- he features a low-90s fastball with decent movement along with a solid curve and change -- but he demonstrates the poise you'd hope to see from a 28-year-old who has been around a bit longer than your typical rookie.
In the early going, Adleman's approach has kept hitters off-balance and allowed his relatively modest stuff to play up. His 10.4 percent swinging strike rate is second-highest among Reds starters, trailing only Dan Straily, and he's done an excellent job of getting ahead in the count (71 percent first-pitch strikes).
He may not have the big ceiling or prospect luster of some other options on the wire, but Adleman looks like a veteran on the hill and has handled each assignment quite well since being called up. He figures to stick around for a while so it's worth finding out if he can keep it going.
Dillon Gee - SP, KC
Owned in 6% of Yahoo leagues
With their starting pitching looking like a mess over the first portion of the season, the Royals are searching for reliable answers in the rotation. Perhaps Dillon Gee, who spent several years as a staple for the Mets, can help provide some stability.
After inking a minor-league deal in December and winning a roster spot in spring training, Gee spent the first several weeks of the season as a long reliever in the Kansas City bullpen, posting a 2.61 ERA in seven appearances. When multiple arm injuries struck the club's starting corps last week, sending both Kris Medlen and Chris Young to the disabled list, Gee was bumped up a role he's very familiar with, having started 103 games during his six seasons in New York.
The last of those seasons, 2015, was a rough one. Injuries and a continued decline trend pushed him to the minors for much of the year, explaining why he couldn't land an MLB deal over the winter despite his lengthy big-league track record.
But Gee is looking much sharper this year in Kansas City. His velocity is up, especially on the slider which is clocking at a career-high 86 MPH while being used more than ever. His strikeout rate is higher than it has been since 2012 (his career year). While it might be tempting to attribute those increases to pitching in shorter relief stints, he has routinely been three or more innings in his appearances so that dynamic isn't as pronounced.
Even if his K-rate declines a bit, Gee stands to benefit from the support of Kansas City's premier defensive unit.
He narrowly missed a quality start in his first turn as a member of the rotation on Saturday, allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings. It's not totally clear how long Medlen and Young will be out but if he so much as holds his own during his time as an injury replacement Gee should have a chance to remain in the rotation. The Royals are pretty desperate for quality innings from their starters, who have combined for an ugly 4.71 ERA up to this point.
If some encouraging early indicators prove legit, there's no reason Gee can't be one of the team's better contributors in that capacity.