|Name||Position||Team||ESPN Own %|
|Dylan Cease||SP||Chicago White Sox||37.3|
|Cole Irvin||SP||Oakland Athletics||16.3|
|Shane McClanahan||SP||Tampa Bay Rays||19.4|
|Luis Garcia||SP||Houston Astros||3.9|
|Framber Valdez||SP||Houston Astros||29.2|
|Nate Pearson||SP||Toronto Blue Jays||21.3|
1. Dylan Cease | SP | Chicago White Sox
This isn’t the first time we’ve been down this road with Dylan Cease. At this point, however, it’s impossible to not roster him. His start might be overshadowed by that of Carlos Rodon, but he’s been pretty solid in his own right. Through 30.1 innings pitched, Cease has a 2.37 ERA with 40 strikeouts and just two home runs. His biggest issue is his command, as he’s also surrendered 15 walks. Nonetheless, his FIP is still at just 2.81. His Average Exit Velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, XSLG, K%, Whiff%, and Chase Rate have all been in the 70th-percentile or higher. His spin rates and movement have been absolute bonkers, which has led to the increased ability to induce weak contact or make hitters swing and miss. Really, the only knock has been the walks. If he can maintain this movement and find a little more zone control, he’ll be nearly untouchable.
2. Cole Irvin | SP | Oakland Athletics
I keep leaving Irvin off this list, and he keeps pitching well. Over his last four starts, Irvin has given up just four earned runs and struck out 29 over 25.1 innings pitched. Even with a .323 BABIP, opponents are hitting just .232 and OPSing .568. Some of his advanced metrics, such as a 17th-percentile Average Exit Velocity and a 17th-percentile Whiff%, indicate that some regression is likely in order for Cole Irvin. However, I recommend you pick him up for the following reason: His next handful of starts could come against Minnesota, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle, Seattle, and Colorado. That sounds an awful lot like a pick up and trade high candidate to me after continuing to look good for a few more starts.
3. Shane McClanahan | SP | Tampa Bay Rays
Stop me if you have heard this before, but there’s another Tampa Bay pitching prospect that has come up and got the job done in replacement of the higher-profile names. His name is Shane McClanahan, and he’s Tampa’s number-four prospect, and he’s worth taking a look at. The flame-throwing lefty has shown every bit of the nasty stuff that has so many Tampa fans excited about his presence on the major league roster. He’s given up seven hits and two earned runs over his first eight innings in the big leagues, while striking out 10 and touching triple digits with his four-seamer and eclipsing 90 with his slider. The one concern, particularly in points leagues where Wins are important, is Tampa Bay might restrict his innings to the degree that he rarely goes five complete innings to qualify for a win. Should he get a longer leash, however, as the season develops, he could be a real asset on your fantasy team if he can keep up his early season success.
4. Luis Garcia | SP | Houston Astros
Here’s your two-start streaming option for the week. No, this isn’t Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, or Forrest Whitley. This is yet another promising young pitcher coming up through the Houston farm system. Signed as an international free agent in 2017, Garcia has looked promising thus far in his young major league career across 37 innings in 2020 and 2021. So far this year, Garcia has a 3.28 ERA in 24.2 innings pitched, with 28 strikeouts to nine walks. At just 24 years old, Garcia is striking out batters, generating swings and misses, and is far above average in terms of Average Exit Velocity. What more could you ask for? In addition, he’s lined up for two starts against the Angels and against the Rangers over the weekend. Be wary, however, as he’s a prime candidate to leave the bullpen with the return of Framber Valdez.
5. Framber Valdez | SP | Houston Astros
Now let’s turn our attention to one of the other promising young stud pitchers in the Houston organization. Valdez really seemed to establish himself as a quality major league pitcher in 2020, finishing with a 3.57 ERA in 70.2 innings with 76 strikeouts and 16 walks. What was generally going to be a hype-train express headed into 2021 ended abruptly when he fractured his finger in spring training, forcing those eager to draft him to hold off. He’s throwing off the mound, however, and by all accounts is ahead of schedule in his rehab. As far as the reports go, Valdez could be facing live batters relatively soon, which would put him on track to return possibly in the month of May.
6. Nate Pearson | SP | Toronto Blue Jays
Much like Valdez, Nate Pearson could be eyeing a 2021 season debut as early as this month. In fact, Toronto’s number-one-overall prospect is ahead of Valdez in terms of his quest to debut for his respective major league club. On Tuesday, the 4th of May, Pearson appeared in his first start with the Buffalo Bison, striking out eight and allowing one earned run across 3.2 innings of work. He threw 78 pitches, 53 of which were for strikes. This was his first game action since 2020, as an adductor sprain prior to the season shut him down for a bit. Chances are, by the time you read this, you can look up how his second appearance has gone. Needless to say, the promising rehab debut indicates that Pearson could be joining the major league roster relatively quickly. There’s a reason he is Toronto’s number-one prospect, and he won’t be on the free-agent list for very long.