It's been quite a roller coaster ride for Jack Flaherty, both over the past few years and even over the course of the first six weeks of the 2023 MLB season. The once-ace got off to a decent start, allowing just three earned runs in his first three starts despite some struggles with his control, but he'd been roughed up since then, giving up 24 runs over 24 innings in his past five starts entering Monday.
Many Fantasy players surely gave up on Flaherty, whose roster rate was down to 70% entering play Monday. Flaherty was notably frustrated when asked about his diminished velocity in his previous couple of starts, and I, for one, was ready to give up on him.
And then Monday happened.
Flaherty turned the clocks back in an 18-1 win over the Brewers, tossing seven brilliant, shutout innings in his longest start in over two years. He struck out 10 in the outing, his first double-digit strikeout game since September of 2020, and he walked just two while allowing three hits. It was the best results we've seen from Flaherty in years – and there's something kind of funny about this performance coming in Willson Contreras' return to catching after the Cardinals seemingly made him the fall man for their rotation's struggles.
Flaherty averaged 93.7 mph with his four-seam fastball, up from 92.1 in his previous outing and right in line with his season-high back in early April, and he had all of his pitches working in this one. He got at least four whiffs with his fastball, curveball, and slider, and limited the Brewers to just an 81.9 mph average exit velocity on 13 balls in play.
This was what we were hoping to see from Flaherty now that he's past the litany of shoulder injuries that have largely derailed his past few seasons. Whether it was for real or not remains to be seen, and I have my doubts. When his velocity was up earlier in the season, he was walking everyone in sight, so that isn't necessarily a panacea. But this was, really, the first sign of the ace Flaherty once was, and we'll take any reason to be optimistic at this point.
At the very least, Flaherty saved himself from getting cut by countless Fantasy players this week. And, in the 30% of CBS Fantasy leagues where he's available, I'd say this was enough to make him worth adding again – just in case.
SD San Diego • #52 • Age: 32
Wacha was one of the standouts of Monday's action, as he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and ended up allowing just one hit and one walk over seven shutout innings against the Royals. Most impressively, he struck out a career-high 11, racking up 18 swinging strikes on the way. It was a legitimately impressive showing, much more so than his previous two starts, which also had pretty good results. He's doing a good job limiting hard contact and his changeup has been pretty great, but I'm still not sure Wacha needs to be rostered in more than 64% of leagues, which is where he's at now. If you do want to take a flier on him, at least make sure the likes of Eury Perez, Louie Varland, and James Paxton aren't already rostered.
SEA Seattle • #29 • Age: 26
I'm surprised that Raleigh's roster rate has shrunk enough that he could realistically be featured in this column, but Monday's game showed us why he probably needs to be rostered in all leagues – at least all leagues with two catchers. He homered twice and went 3 for 4, with three batted balls with an exit velocity over 107 mph. He's not far off from last year's 27-homer pace, and his .320 expected wOBA actually outpaces his actual .308 mark, so you could argue he's been better than his results so far.
COL Colorado • #9 • Age: 25
As a general rule, if you have any interesting skills as a hitter, we're going to be interested in you if you play for the Rockies. It feels like it's been a few years since that's actually worked out, but I'll throw Brenton Doyle out there after his two-homer game Monday. He's hitting .250 with an .836 OPS, four homers, and six steals in 17 games, and that power-speed combo is pretty intriguing in Coors Field. He's worth a look in deeper five-outfielder leagues.
Michael King RP
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #34 • Age: 28
It's hard to suggest Michael King is the Yankees closer when Monday's save was his first in nearly two weeks, but it was nice to see them turn to him for a four-out save against the Blue Jays just three days after he gave up three runs against the Blue Jays. It shows a level of trust, and while the Yankees ninth inning still feels pretty wide open – Wandy Peralta got two saves over the weekend – King is worth speculating on if you've been chasing saves in deeper leagues.