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3 Starting Pitchers Quietly Beating Tough Starts to the Season

Ranger Suarez, Christopher Sanchez, Gavin Stone, Luis Gil, Javier Assad, Tanner Houck and even Spencer Turnbull. They’re all great pitchers, and wow, have they drastically exceeded pre-season expectations. But for skippers who missed out, that doesn’t bring a whole lot of comfort. And if you’re anything like me – perhaps also bummed out every time Jared Jones throws a gem – you’re anxiously watching for the next diamond-in-the-rough.

And the best place to look for that breakout arm? Waivers, as always. At this point of the season the wire is filled with pitchers who – as a result of tough starts out of the gate – remain unclaimed despite solid production recently. That means there are a number of pitchers who are both at the top of their game AND are available. Doesn’t that sound great? So without further ado, let’s explore: Three southpaws, all of whom are beating rocky starts but have been overlooked, breaking out right now.

3 Starting Pitchers Defying Early Struggles that Demand Your Attention

Trevor Rogers, MIA

Rogers owns a 4.87 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 1 W, and 64 K over 81.1 IP (16 starts) this season. That’s in the wake of an injury-riddled 2023 that saw the southpaw throw only 18 IP and a rocky 2022 campaign where he finished with a 5.47 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and 106 K over 107 IP. As a result – struggling again this season – it’s hard to be overly optimistic about the 26-year-old.

However, it’s important not to forget that Rogers was an All-Star in 2021. Finishing second to Jonathan India in Rookie of the Year balloting, Rogers put together an impressive 2.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 7 W, and 157-K campaign over 133 IP. Standing a tall 6’5″ on the mound, the potential he has as a starter is clear. So the question simply becomes: Can he go back to what he once was?

Bottom line, it’s hard to say. Looking at Rogers’ savant numbers, they’re actually quite poor and don’t inspire a great deal of faith. But, on the other hand, take a look at his last four starts:

  • June 9th: 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 5 K vs. CLE (ND)
  • June 15th: 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 3 K @ WSH (L)
  • June 21st: 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K vs. SEA (ND)
  • June 27th: 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 4 K @ PHI (ND)

He’s faced three first-place teams plus a half-decent Nationals squad and has held his own. Granted his lack of W is reason for pause (he’s collected just one on the season playing for Miami) as are Rogers’ inflated numbers against RHB. But given his all-star ability and his consistency of late, Rogers could very well be moving past a less-than-ideal first-half. Skippers should attempt to look past his inflated numbers and monitor closely from here.

Jose Quintana, NYM

Imagine: The New York Mets, a year removed from trading Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at the deadline, make a surprise run for the third wild card and get deep into October. Rejuvenating baseball in Queens, behind Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and a healthy Kodai Senga is none other than emergent team leader and plucky veteran (not to mention Opening Day starter) Jose Quintana. Pitching like the dominant southpaw he once was and quickly becoming a fan favorite across baseball, Quintana pitches his heart out down the stretch while chasing a playoff berth, living a dream and finishing out his career with a bang.

It probably won’t happen, but who knows? The reality is that despite a tough start to the season (4.57 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 3 W, 65 K over 82.2 IP) Quintana has been sharp lately. Just take a look at his last four starts:

  • June 9th: 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 1 K  @ PHI (ND)
  • June 15th: 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K vs. SD (W)
  • June 21st: 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 8 K @ CHC (W)
  • June 28th: 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 7 K vs. HOU (ND)

Save for a so-so outing against Houston and a tough start at Citizens Bank earlier this month, the numbers from Quintana have been encouraging. In the last month, his strikeouts have been up and the Mets have been playing relatively well. Ultimately, while it’s difficult to endorse a 35-year-old lefty whose best days are probably behind him, Quintana did have a stellar 2022 (2.93 ERA, 32 GS) and a pretty solid if injury-laden 2023 (3.57 ERA, 13 GS). Now that he’s heating up, Quintana has probably earned a chance, right? Definitely watch and consider adding the veteran while he is hot.

Hogan Harris, OAK

Starting this season in Triple-A Las Vegas, Oakland’s No.23 prospect Hogan Harris struggled to a whopping 10.59 ERA and 2.06 WHIP in five April starts. However, after three May starts (with two big-league relief appearances in between) Harris saw his line lower significantly (7.67 ERA, 1.77 WHIP) and got the call for good.

And boy, baseball is a funny game. Exceeding expectations with a crisp 3.18 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 31 K over 39.2 IP, a look into Harris’ last six starts since being called up on May 30th reveals a lot.

  • May 30th: 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 7 K @ TB (ND)
  • June 7th: 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K, vs. TOR (ND)
  • June 12th: 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K @ SD (ND)
  • June 18th: 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K vs. KC (W)
  • June 23rd: 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 K vs. MIN (L)
  • June 29th: 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 1 BB, 3 K @ AZ (L)

Except for a blip against Arizona, Harris has been very consistent since taking on a role in Oakland’s starting rotation – and he’s faced some solid teams in Kansas City, Minnesota and San Diego. It’s not clear if this kind of production is sustainable – his Savant and MiLB numbers would suggest otherwise – and it’s difficult to move on a A’s pitcher because of the lack of W, but he’s certainly beating a tough start and forcing the hand of some managers. In deep leagues, give him a look.

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