You couldn't ask for a better debut than the one Tanner Bibee delivered Wednesday, striking out eight over 5 2/3 innings with an impressive arsenal of pitches that included a lockup slider. Just look at some of the takes on his eight strikeouts:
In all, the Rockies watched 13 of his sliders go by for strikes. They whiffed on seven. He threw 40 in all, so that's CSW% of 50 percent, and we've so far discussed only the one pitch. He also threw a fastball that peaked at 98.5 mph and a changeup that paired effectively with it, even if it was little-used.
But for as good as Bibee was in his debut, you could argue that another pitcher who's available in at least a quarter of CBS Sports leagues was even better Wednesday. Here's what MacKenzie Gore did against the Mets:
Let's talk about it, shall we?
WAS Washington • #1 • Age: 24
MacKenzie Gore might be the priority target over Tanner Bibee on a day when both of them turned heads because, well, at least we know he's sticking around. It's also becoming increasingly clear that his stuff will indeed play. His fastball regularly touched 97 mph Wednesday, and he was just blowing it by the Mets, generating 12 of his 19 swinging strikes on that pitch alone. The most surefire indicator of a high pitcher ceiling is an ability to get whiffs on the fastball, and Gore has delivered on that twice in a row, generating nine of his 18 whiffs on the fastball last time out. He struggled with control in that one and has all year, but he's also up to 11.7 K/9. You can't let the walks scare you away from the upside.
Tanner Bibee SP
CLE Cleveland • #61 • Age: 24
Tanner Bibee locked up the Rockies with his slider in his big-league debut Wednesday, generating 13 called strikes and seven swinging strikes with that one pitch. The big question now is whether he gets to stay in a rotation that already had five healthy arms. Manager Terry Francona at least confirmed Bibee will be with the team for a few days while they try to figure out their rotation plans. Part of the reason they face this dilemma is because they got an equally impressive debut from Logan Taylor Allen on Sunday, and he too remains on the roster. The simplest solution would be to option Peyton Battenfield, or they could also move on from Zach Plesac finally. But even if we learn tomorrow that Bibee is going down, you have to think it won't be for long.
TOR Toronto • #16 • Age: 32
Yusei Kikuchi's redemption tour continued Wednesday against the White Sox with him striking out eight over 5 2/3 shutout innings. Four of his first five starts have seen him surrender no more than one earned run, giving him a 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. The common thread for the four good starts is that he threw his fastball about one-third of the time (36 percent in Wednesday's outing). In the one bad outing, he threw it closer to 50 percent of the time, which is similar to last year's usage. It's a pitch that's gotten hit hard throughout his career, and fading it for more changeups seems to be having the desired effect. Kikuchi is still giving up hard contact overall, which should rightfully give you pause, but he wouldn't be the first pitcher to overcome that.
Joey Gallo LF
MIN Minnesota • #13 • Age: 29
Another home run Wednesday gives Joey Gallo seven for the year -- and remember, he's already missed 10 days with an intercostal strain. Can you imagine the Gallo from the Yankees and Dodgers having a stretch like this? He was completely hapless. Now, his strikeout rate is down about 10 percentage points, occasionally even dropping below 30 percent, and his barrel rate is closer to where it was from 2017 through 2019, when he was one of the most prolific home run hitters and widely regarded as a Fantasy asset. Whether he can keep it going is anybody's guess, but it's not crazy to think he could recapture his lost form or even become more disciplined (as all the data currently shows) at age 29. Time to buy in again.