Second chances are indeed a great thing (not to mention third opportunities) and a cluster of players moved into some kind of limelight this past week, trying to recapture previous skill.
Let's start with the two guys--one local, one formerly--I probably know the best with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
The Angels, whose pitching staff looks like a bedraggled collective of refugees from the Battle of Austerlitz, took the big bite and signed former Giant Tim Lincecum to a one-year $2.5 million deal. I have written a lot of times of how much I have seen of Lincecum at a micro level, tracking his pitches over a good 50 games over the years.
No question about how good Lincecum was, but similarly, there is no question that some combination of velocity loss, inability to adjust to hitters not biting on his slider, coupled with what looked like a loss of confidence led to a 4.68 ERA over 614.6 innings since 2011. In 2010, Timmy led the league in strikes, but 2012, he led the league in earned runs and has not scored a WHIP under 1.315 over these past four seasons. I wish I could recommend Lincecum, who was as fun and exciting a pitcher in baseball from 2007-11, but has been among the worst since. Sorry all, just cannot go there.
Similarly, I have thought Cain, still a Giant, had also succumbed to the toil of innings and adjustments and confidence. But it looks like he might have regained some stuff, posting a 1-1, 1.71 record over his last three starts with a 1.095 WHIP and 17 punchouts over 21 innings. Cain's fastball was ringing in at around 92 against the Cubs last Saturday. I still have some concerns with Cain, but he is more than worth a gamble, and is likely available in most leagues and formats thanks to a few mediocre and injury-plagued seasons.
If you ever wondered how ephemeral pitching skills can be, let's look at another Angel, Matt Shoemaker, who was solid for a couple of starts (1-0, 1.38) after his first game this year, then was as bad as can be over his next three starts (0-2, 17.41), prompting a demotion. But Shoemaker has returned in his last pair of outings, going 1-0, 2.19 over his next 12.3 innings. Again, Shoemaker comes with the potential to be clobbered, but he also had a solid 2014-15 with a 24-13, 3.74 over 271.3 frames with 240 whiffs and a 1.146 WHIP, meaning the skills appear to be there.
Another hot arm belongs to Alex Wood of the Dodgers. I have always been a fan of Wood, who really established himself with the Braves in 2014, going 11-11, 2.71, with a 1.141 WHIP over 24 starts and 171.6 innings. Wood struggled a little in 2015, and was then part of the crazy giant Braves/Dodgers/Marlins swap and his 1-3, 4.06 record might look iffy to a lot of owners. However, over his past three starts, the southpaw is 0-0, 1.96 over 18.3 frames, with 27 punchouts and an 0.818 WHIP. The Dodgers are indeed the best team at developing and working with hurlers in my view, and ideally the team might well have unlocked Wood's skills to the next level. Do track the lefty, who makes for a solid fourth or fifth starter on any roto squad and could look good as a cheap DFS gambit before the world notices.
One more under-the-radar hurler has to be the Brewers' Junior Guerra, a 31-year-old Venezuelan signed by the Braves in 2001 who has posted a minor league line of 5-12, 3.72 with the Braves and then Mets until 2008, and then fled to the Mexican and Carribean Leagues along with the American Association until 2015, when the White Sox took a shot and signed the righty. The Brewers claimed Guerra off waivers during the off-season, and over his last two starts, he is 2-0, 2.08 with an 0.923 WHIP and 15 whiffs over 13.3 innings. Guerra is now 3-0, 3.96 and could be another quiet replacement on your roster.
Turning to a few hitters, Jimmy Paredes, who hit .275-10-42 for the Orioles as a utility player last year, began 2016 on the DL with a wrist injury, came off the DL and was promptly released. Paredes signed with the Jays and whacked a homer his first game back, suggesting maybe his wrist is stronger than Baltimore realized. The issue for Paredes is second base will belong to Devon Travis when Travis returns from the DL in the next couple of weeks, and Darwin Barney is hitting .338-2-6 as bench support. Still, Paredes can play all over and in a deep format is worth a look.
The Reds' Adam Duvall just banged his eighth homer over the weekend, pushing his line to .264-8-17, which is pretty good, albeit with a .297 OBP. Duvall strikes out a lot (39 times over 39 games) and does not walk much (just six this year) but the former Giant is showing good pop with a .543 slugging percentage. The right-handed hitter could make a good choice in an NL-only format, and might be a good low end DFS selection depending upon the matchup.
Another guy I had hopes for is Robbie Grossman, still just 26, but now on his fourth team. Drafted by the Bucs in 2008, Grossman has posted a solid .379 OBP as a minor leaguer and a .329 MLB mark to go with .243-12-66 totals over 193 games played for those four squads. Grossman is a switch-hitter, has decent speed (131 minor league swipes) and has to have some good seasons in him once he has a chance to play every day. I am not sure this will happen with the Twins, but do track the outfielder and his playing time.
Please feel free to comment to your heart's content below, and don't forget you can hit me up @lawrmichaels.