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While it certainly may not seem like it, the 2015 MLB All-Star Game is less than a week away, and I think if there was an All-Star Game for Fantasy Baseball columns, Deuces Wild would undoubtedly be listed within the starting lineup this season in its rookie campaign. With that being said, hello all and welcome back to the column that could. As always, I am the exuberant Matt Zylbert and this is Deuces Wild, your weekly informative look at a couple of under-the-radar pitchers who are about to embark on a notable ascension. If you’ve been keeping up with the program on a weekly basis, you’ll note my hit-percentage has been insanely good considering the names I’m hyping up well before they break out (Jesse Hahn, Mike Montgomery, Chris Heston, Kyle Gibson, Tsuyoshi Wada, Chris Young, Matt Wisler, Andrew Heaney, etc.), so let’s try and keep it going with two more names worth picking up just before the break that could spark a second-half run.
Taylor Jungmann – Milwaukee Brewers (Trending UP)
I actually wanted to cover this Brewers rookie right-hander weeks ago shortly after his debut, but six starts into his first season in the big leagues, he still might be unknown enough that you can sneakily acquire him either through the waiver wire or via trade. In any case, Taylor Jungmann is someone that absolutely commands the attention of every Fantasy owner out there, especially if he’s a free agent, as in just a handful of assignments thus far, he’s already proven he can be a useful commodity for years to come.
First off, Jungmann (which is pronounced YOUNG-min, by the way) has the pedigree that you’d want in a pitcher that might be on the verge of taking off. The 25-year-old right-hander is a former first-round pick; Milwaukee took the former Texas Longhorn with the 12th-overall pick in 2011, and that was actually the year he won the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy, which is annually given to the national college baseball player of the year. To put into perspective how significant this award is, here are some other recent winners of the accolade: Kris Bryant (2013), Anthony Rendon (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008), and David Price (2007). Uh, that’s pretty good company.
Interestingly, Jered Weaver also won this award (In 2004, if you were wondering), and I mention that because if you’ve watched Jungmann pitch, you’d note the striking similarities in the deliveries of both Weaver and Jungmann. Yes, Weaver isn’t really the upper echelon Fantasy pitcher that he used to be, but it’s miraculous that he’s even still relevant these days based on his low velocity, and a main reason for that is because of his deceiving delivery. Well, Jungmann utilizes the same type of crossfire pitching motion, except he throws much harder, being able to touch the mid-90s with his fastball, which should help to ensure that his success continues for a significant period of time. Since Jungmann hasn’t had a bad outing yet, it might be safe to say that opposing lineups just haven’t figured him out and there’s no reason not to think that will continue coming out of the break.
Most importantly, Jungmann has simply been getting it done since being summoned from Triple-A Colorado Springs. He’s 3-1 in six starts thus far with a 2.43 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, while teams are hitting just .228 opposing him — and that’s even with a .271 average on balls put in play. Furthermore, Jungmann has maintained a 6.57 K/9 rate, a mark that figures to go up based on his minor league track record regarding strikeouts (8.19 and 8.94 K/9 in each of the past two years at Triple-A, respectively). He also keeps the long balls to a minimum, having surrendered only two home runs in his 37 innings of work.
Every way you look at his season across the board, it just appears Jungmann already seems very polished, which is why I’m so confident he can keep it up throughout the rest of his freshman campaign. As for another underrated component of his skill set, he does not get phased mentally. Check out some of the opponents he has gone toe-to-toe with: Max Scherzer, Francisco Liriano, Cole Hamels, and Jacob deGrom. Jungmann has already faced all those guys in just a few weeks of big league service time, all while never backing down, and he ended up churning out a strong performance in each instance. Without a doubt, this is someone that should be owned in all deep or semi-deep Fantasy leagues, probably even standard ones as well, and I assure you that you’ll definitely be pleased with his presence in your Fantasy rotation.
Carter Capps – Miami Marlins (Trending UP)
Yes, I’m trying my hand at a reliever here, which is a first in the brief three-month history of Deuces Wild, but since I’m such a big advocate of Carter Capps, it would only be appropriate that I shill him in this column before he becomes a big commodity in the Fantasy community.
He’s not closing, so don’t rush to your waiver wire just yet and scoop him up — well, that is unless you’re in a league that utilizes set-up men that score holds, or in case you need an extra arm to rack up some significant strikeouts because that’s what Capps is all about. In fact, through 23.1 innings of work this season, he has 45 strikeouts. No, that is not a typo. The man is literally averaging just about two strikeouts per inning… per inning! And honestly, based on what he’s exhibited since he first came up in 2012, it’s not all that surprising that Capps has been so dominant in his second season with the Marlins.
As I mentioned, the flame-throwing right-hander debuted a few years ago, and while his strikeout rate has always been high (although never this high), there was still something Capps needed to figure out to stay in the Major Leagues. He didn’t really excel with his first team, the Mariners, even posting a 5.49 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in his first full season with the club in 2013. Even after being dealt to Miami prior to the ’14 campaign, he still wasn’t able to sustain his standing in the bullpen, registering a 3.98 ERA in 17 ballgames.
Since being recalled this season from Triple-A New Orleans, however, it appears Capps has figured it all out. He’s fixed some kinks in his delivery, now utilizing a bit of a funkier motion that also involves a unique toe-tap, and obviously, the results have been scorching up to this point (1.54 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .173 BAA, 7.50 K/BB). Considering how Capp routinely throws in the high-90s, with an inane ability to reach triple-digits, it’s hard to imagine him falling off this path, thus meaning that the 24-year-old is on the verge of taking off.
I read a piece on Capps the other day that actually equated him to this year’s Dellin Betances, which I actually think is a fabulous comparison. But here’s the beauty of it: so far, Capps has actually been more electrifying than Betances, who had one of the all-time great seasons for a late-inning reliever last season (not to mention he was an All-Star and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting). The fact that Capps has actually been superior to that just speaks wonders about his potential, and how great he can be when the day comes that he is summoned to be a closer. While that hasn’t happened yet, he can still be useful if you’re looking to slot in a non-closer into your lineup every week for a cheap source of strikeouts, while also getting quality work towards your team ERA and WHIP. In a lot of ways, Capps can be a valuable Fantasy reliever right now, and we’re only just scratching the surface. His inevitable ascension as a top reliever will certainly be worth watching.