The Final Stash 9/1: September Pitching Prospects

Hello, Reader, welcome to the final Pitching Stash for the season. Though the name is no longer apt, it is still time to roster prospects for your final push (as needed). We’re in September so even as I write this article there will be plenty of call-ups after publication – so today’s Stash will attempt to include every pitcher you should (or not) be on the lookout for this September (well, at least 30 of them). If you’re reading this, welcome to the playoffs.

Potential Starters

Josh James (Houston Astros): I have pitched Josh James for a month or two now and his time seems to be here. Lance McCullers Jr.‘s will be relegated to the bullpen (upon return from injury), opening a permanent spot has opened up in the rotation. Charlie Morton will miss at least one start, opening another. James will be up in September as he’ll need to be on the 40-man roster in the offseason anyway. James has a 3.23 ERA with 171 strikeouts in 114.1 innings. James has the potential to be one of two must owned pitching prospects this fall. Author’s Note: Josh James is getting his first start Today.

Touki Toussaint (Atlanta Braves): Touki Toussaint is the 1b to Josh James‘ must own status. Toussaint was phenomenal in his only start in the MLB this season and although he is competing with Bryse Wilson for starts once rosters expand, Toussaint is the clear favorite with more time in Triple-A with better results and Wilson has begun taking reps in the bullpen in preparation for his place in the fall. Toussaint has a 2.38 ERA with 163 strikeouts in 136.2 innings. Atlanta is starved for quality pitching – Toussaint is the guy.

Jonathan Loaisiga (New York Yankees): Honestly, I am not sure if this one is cheating, but Jonathan Loaisiga is in the minors rehabbing a shoulder injury and should be back in September. Unlike teammate Justus Sheffield, New York is not having Loaisiga work out of the bullpen. Loaisiga would appear to be in line for some starts, likely moving Lance Lynn back to the bullpen.

Matt Hall (Detroit Tigers): It is hard to say whether Matt Hall will end up a starter or a lefty reliever – but after getting stretched out in Triple-A during the second half of the season, he’s earned his shot. Since starting back as a starter on June 22, Hall has a 1.73 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. Detroit has space for Hall now and if they were able to pull off a Francisco Liriano trade yesterday, then Hall should be the first look at a starting role in the worst division in baseball.

Shaun Anderson (San Francisco Giants): A likely call-up in September is Shaun Anderson who has spent most of the season in Double-A where he excelled until July when he was promoted to Triple-A. Anderson has not found the same level of success in Triple-A as he had a few inconsistent starts weighing his overall numbers down. The Giants are in a tough division, but Anderson would be worthy of a streaming start.

Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates): If Mitch Keller gets the call in September, it will be as a starter. It is still unclear whether the Pirates would want to start Keller’s timer, but given Keller should spend a good chunk of time in Triple-A in 2019 – the team has the flexibility to give him a look after throwing a 1.17 ERA with 21 strikeouts over his past four starts. Despite a rocky start to Triple-A, Keller has reasserted himself as one of baseball’s top pitching prospects.

John Means (Baltimore Orioles): A bit of a darkhorse pick, John Means has a 3.42 ERA with 86 strikeouts in 105.1 innings in Triple-A this season. Means has been the best pitcher in Baltimore’s Triple-A system and despite his low pedigree has earned a shot at starting this fall to show Baltimore what they have in Means. Baltimore may prioritize other pitchers (cough, Luis Ortiz), but Means would be the only Baltimore pitching prospect I would feel comfortable streaming if the matchup is right.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

Justus Sheffield (New York Yankees): Justus Sheffield‘s position this fall is pretty well established — he will work out of the bullpen. Sheffield has been a starter all season with a 2.48 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 108.2 innings. New York has begun to work him in the bullpen in Triple-A to prepare him for his fall role. Despite this relegation, Sheffield still has a chance for an occasional spot start as the bottom of New York’s rotation is shaky at best.

Bryse Wilson (Atlanta Braves): With Touki Toussaint getting the first look at starts, Wilson may begin his September call-up in the bullpen. He has a good shot to work in a few spot starts, but will not get them as reliably as Toussaint. Wilson will be worth a spot start if an opportunity arises.

Max Fried (Atlanta Braves): Atlanta is working with a lot of starter options that will likely be in the bullpen (Max Fried isn’t even the last one in this list). Fried has 10 appearances in the MLB and has started in five of them – Toussaint and Wilson will likely get priority although a spot start cannot be ruled out for Fried who has a 3.14 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 28.2 innings.

Taylor Widener (Arizona Diamondbacks): After a full season in Double-A, Taylor Widener is ready. If called up, Widener should serve as a middle reliever, but has a very real chance to spot start if he shows capable early on. Widener has a 2.68 ERA with 171 strikeouts in 134.1 innings in Double-A ball this season — he has yet to see any work in Triple-A or above. Robby Ray and Zack Godley have ERA’s above 4.50 and although the Diamondback’s hold on the NL West is slim – Widener could prove himself more capable in a stretch run and give the Diamondbacks some sense of whether he’ll be of value in a playoff role (relegating either Ray or Godley to the bullpen in the playoffs). Widener has a massive ceiling if he gets a shot this year. Jimmie Sherfy is probably the safer pick for playing time in 2018 as he played in September last year, played some this year, and dominated in Triple-A this season, but let’s go big or go home.

Enyel De Los Santos (Philadelphia Phillies): With two starts and an appearance under his belt, Enyel De Los Santos has thus far underwhelmed in the MLB despite an otherwise acceptable 2.63 ERA in Triple-A this season (although a 4.04 FIP). De Los Santos has tapered off significantly as the season progressed, but should be on Philadelphia’s roster when rosters expand. De Los Santos should have a bullpen role in September, but given his previous starts and the unpredictability of most of Philadelphia’s rotation, De Los Santos could sneak in a spot start.

Ryan Weber (Tampa Bay Rays): The most consistent Tampa Bay starting pitcher this season – well, he’s about as close to a decent starting pitcher, starting in 18 of 25 games. Since June, when Tampa Bay made him a full-time starter, Ryan Weber has posted a 2.94 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. It is difficult to determine whether Tampa Bay will give Weber the nod after his success, but he could be worth a spot start if he gets the chance.

Cole Irvin (Philadelphia Phillies): While Enyel De Los Santos has the edge for a spot start, Cole Irvin was named the International League Pitcher of the Year after pitching a 2.67 ERA with 126 strikeouts in 155.1 innings. There could be some sneaky value here, but expectations are low that Philadelphia gives him a spot start given the team is still three games out of the second wild-card spot.

Jose Mujica (Tampa Bay Rays): This one is a real long shot, but Jose Mujica with only seven Triple-A starts is the best Triple-A starting pitcher this season (sorry, Ryan Weber). Mujica is only 22 years old and has a 2.70 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. It is a stretch because Tampa Bay will want to try out a litany of other pitchers with a longer track record at higher levels, but of any Tampa Bay pitching prospect with a chance of a call-up, I’m keeping a speculative eye on Mujica.

Kyle Wright (Atlanta Braves): Atlanta has begun working Kyle Wright out of the bullpen – indicating that he should get the call in September and as a reliever. Although he could sneak a spot start he has Touki Toussaint and Bryse Wilson ahead of him. Wright has been stable and moving quickly through the minors – he should provide a high floor as a reliever in September.

Rosterable Relievers

Colin Poche (Tampa Bay Rays): Probably one of two relievers I would roster in a dynasty league, with a 0.84 ERA with 107 strikeouts in only 64 innings. Colin Poche‘s ability to generate strikeouts is second to none and would serve a useful role in most rosters during a playoff run. He is a future All-Star closer.

Dean Deetz (Houston Astros): Moving to the bullpen in 2018, Dean Deetz broke out this season. Deetz has a 0.72 ERA on the season with 62 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. Houston will want to bolster their bullpen and Deetz will help do just that.

Ian Hamilton (Chicago White Sox): For Chicago, Ian Hamilton has been one of the team’s biggest breakout stars (and looking to be their future closer). Hamilton threw a 1.74 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 51.2 innings and with the exception of one blow up, has been remarkably consistent all season.

Zack Brown (Milwaukee Brewers): The winner of the Southern League’s Most Valuable Pitcher, Zack Brown could be in line for a call-up after dominating Double-A with a 2.44 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 125.2 innings. Brown will likely work out of the bullpen as Milwaukee’s lineup is pretty set.

Additional Comments

Jesus Luzardo (Oakland Athletics): GM David Forst stated in an interview on Tuesday that Oakland has no plans to call up Jesus Luzardo. Luzardo was scratched on Tuesday and would appear to be done for the season, coming in about 15 innings under his scheduled 120 inning limit.

Shawn Armstrong (Seattle Mariners): I just missed out on Shawn Armstrong with Seattle calling him up this past week. While he doesn’t qualify for the list – I wanted to make mention of him in my additional comments. Armstrong threw a 1.77 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 56 innings (49 appearances). He will be a good bullpen arm for the Mariners this September.

Kolby Allard (Atlanta Braves): Although there is a case to be made for Kolby Allard getting some form of playing time, his three appearances have left me doubtful for his success in 2018 (still pretty high on him in dynasty). He will likely serve as a bullpen role and may be minimally effective.

Forrest Whitley (Houston Astros): Forrest Whitely has largely been off the 2018 radar because of his suspension and inconsistent play. Whitely was placed on the disabled list this past week and will eventually be headed to the Arizona Fall League and should not have an impact in the MLB in 2018.

Luis Ortiz (Baltimore Orioles): Despite playing only 26.2 innings in Triple-A, Luis Oritz should see playing time this fall for Baltimore. A center trade piece returned in the Jonathon Schoop deal, Ortiz presents a low strikeout – high groundball pitcher that may have some fantasy value, but in the AL East and such little experience above Double-A, I’m avoiding.

Sandy Alcantara (Miami Marlins): Sandy Alcantara may have been the gem in the Marcell Ozuna trade, but he will not be worth his salt as a starter this season. Although he had success in his one MLB start, it came by scraping by tight situations. He has been below average in Triple-A and unworthy of a fantasy roster spot.

Luiz Gohara (Atlanta Braves): Luiz Gohara has not pitched well at any level this season. If he called for a bullpen role when rosters expand, avoid. Avoid even if he manages an unlikely spot start. Gohara does have significant upside, but until he can prove to have any amount of consistent success – he isn’t worth the risk of rostering.

Brandon Woodruff (Milwaukee Brewers): Since 2016, Brandon Woodruff has not managed a successful season at any level. This season he has shifted between starter and bullpen to little effect. It will likely be more of the same, Woodruff probably will not be worth a spot start when he inevitably gets a shot in September. Woodruff is also ineligible from the list, but is often treated like a prospect so I thought he was worth noting.

Trevor Oaks (Kansas City Royals): Despite being the best pitcher for the Royals in Triple-A this season, it doesn’t amount to much when the overall system is so terrible. Trevor Oaks has gotten a few chances in the MLB so far this season and has not impressed. A 4.91 strikeouts per nine in Triple-A leaves much to be desired — he would make a risky spot start even against a terrible White Sox or Tigers roster.

Julio Urias (Los Angeles Dodgers): Yes, Julio Urias will be back soon after finishing his last step in Triple-A after missing all of the season (and most of 2017) recovering from a tear in his anterior capsule. Yes, the Dodgers bullpen is a mess right now, but Urias won’t benefit it – not in 2018. If you see his name floating around, know it is because of his pedigree – not because of his relevance in 2018.

Brennen Gorman

A lifetime Tigers fan (oh boy) getting ready to watch some good minor league baseball for the next few years. Liquor lawyer by trade, consumed by baseball statistics for pleasure? Yep. Seems about right.

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Comments


Tom

Love James’ profile, but doesn’t it seem like the Astros have given Framber Valdez the first shot at McCullers’ rotation spot? I can see James getting a couple spot starts, but it’s tough to drop someone useful when there doesn’t appear to be a spot open for him. Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Brennen Gorman

Houston is starting Josh James today, so I figure this is the team giving him first crack. If he performs well, the Astros won’t have much cause for concern. Although Valdez may have performed well in his last two starts, there are plenty of warning bells going off that his success is not sustainable or repeatable down the stretch.

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