Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 PM EST
Walker Buehler is not a secret anymore after showing off his stuff for four starts and creating quite a buzz in Los Angeles and around the league. This prized prospect was handled with care, but dominance in the minors eventually led to a brief MLB trial last year and a subsequent call-up this year after L.A.’s rotation was hit by the injury bug. In all, Buehler has struck out 34% of batters faced, while displaying a strong groundball tilt. An obvious long term gem but one that is only averaging 5.1 innings per start, as the Dodgers bring him along slowly. This is not a fade against Walker Buehler but a fade against a Dodgers’ squad that is seeing BB gun pellets right now. The Dodgers have made Wei-Yin Chen, Homer Bailey, Matt Harvey, Tyler Mahle and Eric Lauer all look like Chris Sale over the past few games. They are hard pressed to push across two runs and now they’re favored in this range against a quality starter on the road? The Dodgers have also lost five in a row and eight of nine.
Caleb Smith was not a highly touted prospect, but he did start increasing his strikeouts in 2016 and he's maintained a 13% swing and miss rate over 58 career innings so far in the majors. He has improved his first-pitch strike rate in 2018, and his control rate should improve. In fact, over his last five starts, it already has: 65% first-pitch strike, 3.04 xERA. He's showing pretty solid platoon splits too, as he he has posted 11.6 K’s/9 vs. LHB, and 12.2 K’s/9 vs. RHB.The 26-year-old Smith doesn't have the track record, prospect pedigree or pure stuff (93 mph fastball) to be this good, and yet, the underlying skills back up his performance so far. 58 IP isn't enough to declare him a success story just yet, but he is definitely a pitcher on our radar, and one worth speculating on. Smith is a late bloomer with all the underlying numbers to support what he’s doing.
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