We are into the eleventh full week of the 2023 MLB and fantasy baseball seasons. This past week brought some interesting developments on the pitching front, as Jacob deGrom is done for all of this season and Alek Manoah will look to work out his issues in Florida. It’s not easy to find pitching right now, but here are five names that may be able to give your staff a spark.
Don’t look now, but Angels right-hander Griffin Canning is starting to gain steam. The former second-round pick notched his third win in four starts on June 11, when the 27-year-old struck out seven over five innings against the Mariners. Canning can get himself in trouble at times, as he tends to miss over the plate as opposed to out of the zone. However, he does have hit-and-miss stuff and a knack for getting ground balls.
Canning will evade the Angels’ upcoming four-game series this week against the Rangers and will likely throw again this coming weekend against the Royals.
Astros starting pitcher J.P. France may not be the sexiest option, but he’s efficient. The 28-year-old won his second game of the 2023 season on June 10, as he struck out six over 6.2 IP in what was a rather odd start for France. The former MSU hurler walked six batters against the Guardians, just two less than his walk total over 27 innings last month. On the season, France is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA and 35 strikeouts over 40.2 IP.
Houston has a reputation for spitting out quality MLB pitchers, and France looks to continue that trend. The 28-year-old doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but it does have movement and he knows how to use it.
Last week, we picked D-Backs left-hander Tommy Henry as our favorite for a “vulture” win. It didn’t work out well. Even though Arizona’s offense did come through, Henry’s command problems prevented the 25-year-old from getting through five innings. This week, our pick is Reds right-hander Ben Lively.
The 31-year-old has not been great in recent weeks, as he allowed 12 earned runs over his last two starts (13.2 IP). Lively is set to face the Royals on June 14, though, a better matchup for the right-hander.
Red Sox left-hander James Paxton made this list last week, and he sparkled in his lone start of the week. The 34-year-old struck out nine over seven strong innings on June 6 to notch his second win on the 2023 campaign. Through his first 26 innings, Paxton is 2-1 with a 3.81 ERA — inflated after he yielded five runs on May 24 — and a 36:9 K:BB ratio. Paxton’s 12.5 K/9 rate is third-best since his return, as only Spencer Strider (14.4) and Hunter Greene (14.5) have higher rates (min. 20 IP).
What’s even more promising is the fact that Paxton’s fastball velocity is up — and it’s lasted through the later innings. Consider this last call on the 34-year-old.
After a stint in independent ball last year, Brewers starter Julio Teherán began 2023 with the Padres organization before he inked a deal with Milwaukee in late May. Since then, the 32-year-old’s been surprisingly one of the better pitchers in the game. Among pitchers with at least 15 innings thrown from May 25 — the day the Brewers signed the righty — through June 10, Teherán owned the league’s ninth-best ERA (1.48), although he went 1-2 in that stretch.
It’s a shame that Milwaukee could not take advantage of what’s been a renaissance for Teherán. Still, the past few weeks have been a positive development for the two-time All-Star. The 32-year-old’s made significant more use of his sinker, as that pitch’s 40.5% use rate in 2023 is much higher than the 22.7% rate it sported four years ago with Atlanta. Don’t expect the ERA to stay that low, but Teherán’s effectiveness thus far has turned him into a legitimate option in fantasy.