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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

It's funny how the Hotpage themes emerge. For sure, this week it is pitchers making their debuts this week, many of whom we are more than interested in.

So, let's start at the top, with St. Louis hurler Michael Wacha. Drafted just a year ago out of Texas A&M, Wacha tossed 21 innings over three levels, going 0-0, 0.86, with 40 punch outs and a ridiculous 0.571 WHIP. At Springfield this year, Wacha simply added on, going 4-0, 2.05 over 52.2 innings, with an 0.949 WHIP. What more can I say than one start into his Major League career, Wacha is 1-0, 1.29, with an 0.286 WHIP. He is a rookie hurler, but on a team that should support his development. If available, you want him.

Tampa advanced Chris Archer, a fifth-round pick in 2006 out of Clayton High School in North Carolina. Archer is 47-44, 3.96 over 769.2 innings, with 5-3, 3.96 totals at Durham this year over ten starts. The Rays started Archer Saturday and he allowed seven runs and five hits over four innings, not adding much to the 1-3, 4.60 totals he posted last year over 29.1 innings. I would go for Alex Torres (of whom I wrote last week) who came in to finish off the Tampa game yesterday after Archer was pulled.

Arizona recalled Tyler Skaggs, drafted by the Angels in 2009, but spoils of the Dan Haren swap that also brought Patrick Corbin to Phoenix. As a minor leaguer, Skaggs is 31-22, 3.25 over 440.2 innings, with 483 strikeouts. He has a good ratio with 392 hits and 130 walks, good for a 1.185 WHIP. Last year, Skaggs was 1-3, 5.83 over 29.1 innings with the D-Backs, but was pretty good in his start vs. Texas last week, going six innings and allowing just three hits, earning a win with no runs surrendered. Again, not a bad gamble at this juncture of the season.

Then there are the Nationals, who started right-hander Nate Karns, picked first in 2006 in the 10th round by the Astros, then after spending time at Texas Tech, in 2009 by Washington in round 12. Karns has three seasons and 40 starts, along with 216.1 innings under his belt, with an 18-8, 2.70 mark and 262 strikeouts, just 140 hits with 98 walks, good for a 1.100 WHIP. At Harrisburg this year, Karns is 4-2, 4.60, over nine starts and 45 innings (55 whiffs, 41 hits, 18 walks, and a 1.31 WHIP).  Karns is probably a short-timer in Washington for now, and might be good in the future, but probably not now.

The same can probably be said of Mike Kickham, the Giants plug-in starter of the week. Kickham was 3-4, 4.33 at Fresno with 54 strikeouts over 54 innings; however, the 22 walks he has allowed suggest the control issues that have been Kickham's bane so far. At Richmond last season, Kickham surrendered 75 walks over 150.2 innings, and has allowed 3.8 walks per nine innings. Chad Gaudin, especially on the heels of his strong start Sunday, will probably be the better option.

Miami recalled Jacob Turner, the Tigers' first round pick in 2009 (#9 overall) whom the Fish acquired for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante near the trade deadline last year. Turner logged three starts with the Tigers last year (he actually debuted in 2011 for Detroit), going 1-1, 8.03 before the trade, then 1-4, 3.38 over seven starts and 42.2 innings for the Marlins. Turner did not make the cut when the team broke last April, and was 3-4, 4.47 over ten starts and 56.1 innings at New Orleans this year. As with Jose Fernandez, Miami has very little to lose by giving Turner the ball at the Major League level, but he will not deliver like Fernandez now. Or maybe ever. Just not as dominant.

Let's close with a few hitters, starting with the new second sacker in Seattle, Nick Franklin. A first round pick by Seattle in 2009, Franklin has .287-46-172 over 394 games, posting a strong .324-4-20 at Tacoma over 39 games, knocking a pair of dingers his first game as a Major Leaguer. Franklin is a great gamble in a deep AL-only format, especially if you are a Dustin Ackley owner.

OK, for all of you on the steroid watch, Yasmani Grandal is now back on the Padres roster. I won't wax on about Grandal: you know who he is. The dude can hit. And, he is a catcher. If, for any reason Grandal is available in your league, grab him.

Finally, there was a Sunday buzz with the news the Dodgers were advancing their Cuban property,Yasiel Puig. The 22-year-old hit .355-5-15 last year with eight swipes over 23 games, also chipping in 12 walks to 15 whiffs (.442 OBP). Puig played 40 games at Double-A Chattanooga this year, going .313-8-37, with 12 steals over 40 games and 47 at-bats. Puig kept his on-base totals fairly strong with 15 walks to 29 whiffs (.383 OBP) and though his time in the Majors is projected to be short (till Matt Kemp returns), if Puig is available, grab him. Especially if you can stash him.



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