Mike Bolsinger - SP, LAD
Owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues
He might not be the flashiest starter around, but Mike Bolsinger keeps on getting it done for the Dodgers.
His fastball rarely reaches the 90s, but the 28-year-old righty mixes in a heavy dose of quality offspeed to keep hitters off balance, and that has proven to be a workable formula since Los Angeles acquired him from the Diamondbacks prior to the 2015 season.
Last year, Bolsinger quietly ranked third among Dodgers starters in ERA behind the dynamite duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, putting up a solid 3.67 mark in his 21 starts at the big-league level. His chances have been limited this year due to a season-opening oblique strain and increased depth in the LA rotation, but Bolsinger is back now and had been pitching well until his latest hiccup.
A rough outing against Colorado on Monday night pushed his ERA up from 4.20 to 5.75, but Bolsinger has put up solid peripherals outside of an inflated homer total. In 20 frames he has notched 19 strikeouts for a rate that closely mirrors his 8.1 K/9 average in 161 MLB innings heading into this season. His effectiveness in the whiff column might seem surprising given the low velocity but it's always been a skill for Bolsinger, who averaged nearly a strikeout per inning in the minors.
The right-hander's job security in the Dodgers rotation looked shaky for a while, but with Alex Wood sidelined by troubling elbow soreness and Hyun-Jin Ryu stuck in rehab limbo, the grasp has tightened. Bolsinger is a solid bet to remain entrenched for the next month at least, and probably for longer if he can maintain the production that he has provided dating back to the start of last year.
As long as he has his starting spot, Bolsinger needs to be on the fantasy radar, especially in deeper leagues where owners are hungry for strikeouts anywhere they can be found. Don't be fooled by the mid-80s fastball -- Bolsinger can help you there.
Christian Friedrich - SP, SD
Owned in 5% of Yahoo leagues
The Rockies drafted Christian Friedrich 25th overall in the 2008 draft. After many years of trying to make it work, they finally released him this past February. That was probably just as well because the lefty never had any success with Colorado, departing with a 5.61 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in 100 major-league appearances.
Following his release, and a brief flirtation with the Angels, the 28-year-old inked a minor-league deal with the Padres. It was a savvy move to rejuvenate his career, providing Friedrich with the opportunity to pitch in baseball's most pitcher-friendly climate rather than its most challenging.
Friedrich made a few solid starts in the minors before being called up in May to join the San Diego starting corps. Expectations were very low considering his spotty MLB track record, but since his call-up the southpaw has been a very pleasant surprise with a 3-1 record and 2.57 ERA in his first four starts.
We shouldn't be making too much out of this small-sample success, especially given the iffy control that he has displayed, but Friedrich has a few noteworthy things going for him. He has always shown a decent penchant for missing bats, with an 8.9 K/9 rate in the minors and 168 strikeouts in 195 big-league innings. And of course he now has the opportunity to pitch home games at Petco. Far less talented hurlers have produced with the help of this park's favorable environ.
In this case, the talent is there. Friedrich has a good pedigree and a pitcher's frame at 6'4" and 215 lbs. At 28, he's young enough to offer a glimmer of upside. And while his future might ultimately be as a reliever, the rebuilding Padres have plenty of incentive to keep him locked into the rotation for now to find out what they've got. Rotation-mate Drew Pomeranz is an example of a big southpaw who turned a corner after escaping from Coors so maybe the Padres are hoping for similar results here.