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Moseley's Injury Opens The Door For Joe Wieland

Right-hander Dustin Moseley missed a big chunk of last season with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, but the news is much worse this year. The 30-year-old suffered "extensive damage" and "changes to the labrum" in his right shoulder in his first start of the season last week according to manager Bud Black, when he allowed five runs in five innings to the Dodgers. Last night, the Padres pulled right-handed pitching prospect Joe Wieland from his start for Triple-A Tuscon after just two innings. Baseball America's J.J. Cooper confirms that Wieland was lifted from the game and told he's headed to San Diego to fill Moseley's rotation spot. As you'd expect, he was thrilled when he got the news.

The Padres have yet to confirm the move, but it appears that Wieland will make his big league debut against the Dodgers this Saturday. San Diego acquired the 22-year-old from the Rangers in the Mike Adams trade last summer, and Baseball America went on to rank him as the seventh best prospect in baseball's third best farm system. "Wieland profiles as a classic No. 4 starter, but his exquisite control suggests he could be a No. 3," wrote Matt Eddy in the subscriber-only scouting report, and he's not kidding about the exquisite control. Wieland walked just 21 batters in 155 2/3 innings last year, a 1.2 BB/9 and 3.4% of the hitters he faced. Just for some perspective, the best walk rate in the big league last year was Josh Tomlin's 3.2%. No one else was below 3.5%. 

Based on the batted ball data at First Inning, Wieland is a bit of a fly ball pitcher and that plays right into his home ballpark. He's a four-pitch guy - upper-80s/low-90s fastball, curveball, slider, changeup - with very strong strikeout rates in the minors, including an 8.7 K/9 and 24.4 K% last season. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS system thinking Wieland can muster a sub-4.00 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning as a big leaguer this season, and that guy is rosterable in a standard 12-team mixed league with 5x5 scoring. As with any extreme strike-thrower, the risk is too many pitches in the strike zone resulting in lots of hits allowed. Hits have a way of turning into runs, though I still don't think it's crazy to expect a lower ERA than ZiPS projects given Petco Park. Wieland is certainly more usable in fantasy than Moseley, a low-strikeout ground ball guy.

Assuming he starts at Dodger Stadium this weekend, Wieland's next start would come at home against the Chase Utley and Ryan Howard-less Phillies. A date with the Nationals in Petco would follow next. That's three straight pretty favorable matchups, making Wieland a nice early-season waiver wire add. I wouldn't count on him or any Padres' hurler to provide many wins, but he's capable of a lowering your ERA and WHIP rates while chipping in a handful of strikeouts. For a spare rotation piece, those are pretty solid traits. Most fill-in types will kill the rate stats and boost the counting stats, not the other way around. 


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