Marcus Stroman - SP, TOR
All Stroman did in the minors was dominate. Acquired in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Duke University, the right-hander immediately began racking up strikeouts. He whiffed 23 hitters over 19 innings in between Single-A and Double-A in his pro debut, averaged 10.4 K/9 with a 3.30 ERA last year in Double-A, and was blowing hitters away in Triple-A this season before being called up to Toronto.
In seven starts for Buffalo, Stroman had posted a 3.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and sensational 45-to-9 K/BB ratio in 35 innings. He had allowed only one home run.
Stroman initially joined the Jays as a reliever in early May, but moved into the rotation later that month and has had immense success since making the switch, going 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 32-to-8 K/BB ratio over 36 frames. As a starter, he has held opposing hitters to a .222/.269/.348 hitting line. Yet, he presently remains unowned in more than 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues and almost 95 percent of ESPN leagues.
To be sure, Stroman doesn't fit the traditional prototype of an overpowering starting pitcher. At 5'9" and 185 lbs, he's definitely undersized. Yet he brings an impressive repertoire highlighted by a mid-90s fastball and quality breaking stuff, all of which he commands very well.
That's the kind of stuff that plays even in the rugged AL East and in a tough home park, where Stroman has put up a sparkling 2.20 ERA in five starts.
The 23-year-old is pitching extremely well right now, and that's backed up by a lengthy track record of outstanding performance in the minors. Grab him and strap in for a big second half.
Tyler Matzek - SP, COL
As most fantasy players are aware, any Rockies pitcher comes with a built-in disadvantage: he has to pitch half of his games in the hitter's haven known as Coors Field.
In spite of that, some pitchers from Colorado do manage to be valuable fantasy assets, especially in deeper leagues and when utilized on a situational basis. Matzek has shown some signs of being a potentially decent piece in that respect.
Once a highly regarded prospect after being drafted with the 11th overall pick out of high school in 2009, Matzek has seen his stock drop over the years due largely to control problems (he has averaged a whopping 6.0 BB/9 in 106 minor-league starts). He's shown some improvement over the past couple seasons, however, and was pitching well enough as a 23-year-old in Triple-A this year to get the call when Eddie Butler went down for the Rockies.
Since jumping up to the majors, Matzek's results have been surprisingly good. He hurled seven shutout innings against the Braves in Colorado in his big-league debut, and overall has managed a solid 4.24 ERA in four starts. He has also issued only six free passes in 23 innings of work.
Keeping the walks in check will obviously be the biggest key for the young lefty, who has enough stuff to hold his own if he keeps it in the zone.
He obviously comes with a fair amount of risk for various reasons, but players in NL-only leagues might consider picking him up and trying him in some road matchups, at least initially, to see if he can ramp up the strikeouts and keep the solid numbers coming.