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Deep Pickups 6/23: Pitchers

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Tsuyoshi Wada - SP, CHC

Owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues

Wada was originally signed by the Orioles as a 30-year-old free agent out of Japan back in 2011. His outstanding performance in the Japanese Pacific League, where he had gone 33-13 with a 2.29 ERA in two seasons prior, earned him an $8 million deal with the O's.

Unfortunately, the left-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2012, and never ended up throwing a pitch in the majors during his two seasons under contract with Baltimore. He latched on in 2014 with the Cubs, where he finally broke through to the big leagues, putting up solid numbers as a 33-year-old rookie (3.25 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 57-to-19 K/BB in 69 innings).

He re-upped for another year with Chicago and while he once again opened this season on the disabled list, this time with a hamstring injury, he finally got healthy and joined the club in mid-May, replacing Travis Wood's vacant rotation spot. His production since stepping in has been good enough to merit attention in deeper leagues.

In six starts this year, Wada has a 3.68 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 30-to-11 K/BB ratio over 29 innings. He struggled initially, posting a 4.84 ERA over his first five starts while failing to complete six innings in any of them, but received a vote of confidence from his manager Joe Maddon and followed up with his best outing of the season, delivering seven shutout innings at Cleveland in his latest start.

Wada works mostly in the high 80s with his fastball, but makes up for the lack of velocity by deploying a deep mix of pitches and keeping hitters off balance. He has always been relatively effective at missing bats and is averaging more than a strikeout per inning this year. He is better against lefties but has been able to keep righties at bay (.256 career average). He also has yet to allow a stolen base in the majors, and while that might not directly benefit fantasy owners it does help him control games.

Given his lack of experience in the big leagues and continuing growth, Wada offers more untapped potential than almost any other 34-year-old pitcher you'll find. He also has the backing of a Cubs offense that has been pretty good at scoring runs.  

Matt Wisler - SP, ATL

Owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues

Mike Foltynewicz enjoyed a nice run initially after being called up by the Braves in early May, unleashing a powerful mid-90s fastball to rack up 38 strikeouts over 36 innings with a 3.96 ERA over his first six starts, but he hit a wall in June and was demoted by Atlanta last week. Called up to replace him in the rotation was Wisler, a highly touted prospect who came over in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to San Diego just before the start of the season.

Wisler had been ranked by Baseball America as the No. 44 prospect in baseball prior to the 2014 season, and moved up 10 spots to No. 34 this year after reaching Triple-A as a 21-year-old in San Diego's system. He has also been named a Top 100 Prospect by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus each of the last two years.

Compared to Foltynewicz, Wisler is more of a polish/command guy, and those types of pitchers tend to play better during their initial exposure to major-league hitters. Sure enough, Wisler enjoyed a tremendous debut last Friday, hurling eight innings of one-run ball against the Mets while allowing six hits and no walks.

The 22-year-old managed only two strikeouts in the outing, but he does figure to post decent K numbers over the course of time, even if he lacks Foltynewicz's upside in that department. Wisler can touch the mid-90s with his heater, and complements it with a solid slider and changeup. He averaged 8.4 K/9 in the minors, where he was young for each level he played at while rising rapidly after being drafted out of high school in 2011.

Because he has consistently been able to avoid walks at every level, Wisler tends to pitch deep into games and almost always comes away with a decent WHIP. His lack of experience could lead to some growing pains, but he's more equipped to gain traction in the big leagues than most rookies his age.

Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to NBC Sports Edge's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.