Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 8:30 AM EST.
8:05 PM EST. Reynaldo Lopez went 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA in 44 innings for the Nationals last year. This high-upside prospect struggled with first-pitch strikes and control in his MLB debut but upper-90s fastball translated just fine with 8.6 K’s/9. It’s not just the quality of the stuff that registered Lopez near even with Lucas Giolito (another top prospect) at the time of the trade for Adam Eaton, but that Lopez’s stuff was actually translating to game performance. Armed with a dangerous four-seam fastball, curve and changeup combo, Lopez has passed Giolito by as the first of Chicago’s pitching haul from this past year to reach the majors and in Lopez’s case, it could be to stay. While he’s slightly undersized at 6’0” and 185 pounds, he attacks hitters with his plus-plus four-seamer that works 96 MPH and touches 100. His low-80s, 11-to-5 curve flashes plus at times but his control of the pitch still lags. Lopez rounds out the arsenal with an average change that he sells well and has improved the consistency in his delivery over the past two years. There’s still some risk in the command profile that could push Lopez to the pen, where his stuff allows for an easy closer projection, but he’s done enough for the South Side to give him plenty of reps in the rotation to see if he can stick. There’s #2 starter upside if his change and command come around. Lopez was called up last week and threw a strong six innings against the Royals. There is risk with all young starters but this one has poise and also has 50 MLB innings under his belt.
Tyson Ross is as big a risk as Lopez (perhaps even bigger) but it’s Ross and the Rangers that are spotting a significant price here. Ross has thrown just 38 innings for the Rangers this year and has a horrible BB/K ratio of 25 walks issued against 29 K’s. His first-pitch strike rate is 48% and his 7% swing and miss rate does not support the 29 K’s in 38 innings. In his last start, Ross had a 2% swing and miss rate with a 46% first-pitch strike rate. Ross’ 6.69 xERA does not qualify to be the fourth worst xERA in MLB because of a lack of innings but it’s still the fourth worst. Ross recently came off the DL to start against the Astros on August 12. He walked five batters and struck out two in that start and was pulled after five. Prior to that, he hadn't made it out of the fourth inning in over a month. With a WHIP of 2.13 over his last three starts and one worthy outing in eight tries this year, Ross may win here but that’s of no concern to us. We’re going with the best of it by fading a starter in trouble that has provided his backers with one of the weakest profiles and return on investment in the game.
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Chicago +138 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.76)