When you are searching for help on the waiver wire, should you prioritize long-term upside, even if it comes with some volatility, or should you focus on players with a higher likelihood of being useful, even if they aren't likely to be superstar?

It's an age-old question in Fantasy Baseball, and it's one perfectly captured by two of the best pitching performers from Monday night: Edward Cabrera and Reese Olson. Olson is the safer pick, while Cabrera, of course, is the wild card here. 

Olson quieted the mighty Rangers lineup on Monday, striking out eight and walking just one over 6.1 innings of work, his first quality start of the season. It looked like the run Olson went on at the end of last season, when he struck out 35 over his final 35.2 innings while sporting a 1.51 ERA, as he rode his slider and changeup to 15 of his 16 swinging strikes. It was a strong start, and a reminder of how good Olson was at the end of last season.

But it had nothing on what Cabrera did. 

Making his first start since being shut down in the spring with a shoulder injury, Cabrera worked six excellent innings against the Giants. He limited them to just one run on five hits while striking out 10 and, most importantly, walking just one. He had 17 swinging strikes, including at least four on each of his changeup, curveball, and slider, and threw 68% of his pitches for strikes – that was just 59% last season

The story on Cabrera has always been fairly simple: If he could just avoid walks, he'd be an ace. He has three legitimate swing-and-miss pitches, and the irony is, he tends to have pretty good command of all three of his non-fastball pitches; throwing the four-seamer and sinker for strikes consistently has been his biggest issue, by far. That wasn't an issue Monday, in part because he shelved the sinker, but he also threw the four-seamer in the strike zone 53% of the time, and when he missed, he tended to miss up, where he could hope to get whiffs. 

If you're asking me who I feel more confident will have a good start the next time they take the mound, I'd probably go with Olson. He's had his own issues throwing strikes at times, of course, but that wasn't really a problem in the majors, and his stretch to close out 2023 was a stretch of consistency we've never really seen from Cabrera.

But if you're asking me which one I would rather add this week? Well, there's really no question it would be Cabrera for me. I'm all about chasing upside, and Cabrera simply has an absurd amount of upside – if he keeps his walk rate to even 8%, he might be a top-24 pitcher in Fantasy. I don't think Olson could ever get to that level for long.

So, yeah, Cabrera should probably be the biggest priority on waivers coming out of Monday's games. I can't guarantee that he'll be a must-start Fantasy pitcher moving forward, of course; in fact, I might even bet against that. But he has a ceiling few pitchers can compete with, and I'm definitely going to prioritize that over Olson. 

Monday's standouts 

Tyler Glasnow, Dodgers vs. WAS: 5 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K – Baseball is a funny game. The last time out, Glasnow struck out 14 in what was arguably the most impressive pitching performance of the season by anyone. So, of course, he went out this time and scuffled against the Nationals. Naturally. There was nothing concerning in the underlying numbers here, so I'm writing it off as one bad start. 

George Kirby, Mariners vs. CIN: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K – It might seem odd, seeing as he didn't walk anyone in this outing, but my biggest takeaway from this start is that Kirby is better when he's not so insistent on throwing everything in the strike zone. He's a terrific pitcher, with arguably the best command in baseball, but he too often struggles to put batters away because he pitches in the strike zone too much. In this one, he threw 52% of his pitches in the zone and, would you look at that, he bounced back from his worst start of the season, when he threw 58% of his pitches in the zone. This was, apparently, a point of emphasis for the Mariners pitching coach in working with Kirby between starts, and hopefully he'll be able to carry that success with him moving forward. 

Aaron Nola, Phillies vs. COL: 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER,1 BB, 9 K – The best thing about this start is that Nola's velocity was up after a few down starts in poor weather. I was never too worried about him, but it was still nice to see him take care of business against an opponent he should handle with ease – that hasn't always been a sure thing with Nola in recent years. 

Zach Eflin, Rays vs. LAA: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K – It's been a weird start for Eflin, who has made some minor pitch-mix changes that haven't necessarily worked out for the best. He simplified things in this one, and though he didn't get a ton of whiffs, it's hard to argue with the results. Eflin's command remains impeccable, and I have faith in him and the Rays figuring out the right pitch mix to rediscover last year's success, but maybe he won't be quite as consistent while they figure it out. 

Sonny Gray, Cardinals @OAK: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K – That's two starts with 11 strikeouts, no walks, and no earned runs allowed over 11 innings of work. I was a little worried that Gray might get off to a rocky start after his spring hamstring injury, but he's picked up right where he left off last season, and while his track record tells us we should expect some bumps in the road along the way, you're just keeping him in your starting lineup moving forward. 

Joe Musgrove, Padres @MIL: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K – Because Musgrove dealt with a shoulder injury last season, I can't bring myself to entirely dismiss another slow start from him. But he settled in after a really rough couple of innings to open Monday's start, so I'm certainly not panicking here, and might even consider a buy-low opportunity if one presented itself. 

Kutter Crawford, Red Sox vs. CLE: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K – Crawford didn't have his best stuff in this one, especially with his sweeper, which he threw just 10% of the time after it was his most-used pitch at 35% through the first three starts. And yet, he still managed to hold his own against the Guardians, and that's impressive in its own right. I'm pretty impressed with what we've seen from Crawford, who has shown multiple ways to get through opposing lineups in the early going. That's a good sign. 

Kyle Harrison, Giants @MIA 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K – You expect a pitcher's strikeout rate to drop from the minors to the majors, but Harrison is an especially extreme case; he had a 37% strikeout rate in the minors, compared to just a 22.4% rate through his first 11 career starts in the majors. Even against the lowly Marlins, he managed just seven whiffs on 85 pitches, as he continues to be one of the most fastball-heavy pitchers in the game. He hasn't had the feel for his breaking balls yet, and maybe that's the path to unlocking some more strikeout upside. But I've been underwhelmed by Harrison enough that I'd drop him for either Cabrera or Olson. 

Frankie Montas, Reds @SEA: 2 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 1 K/Luis Gil, Yankees @TOR: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, 6 K – I don't have a ton to say about either of these guys individually, so I'll just add them to the list of guys I'd drop for Cabrera or Olson (or any interesting pitcher who might be available on the wire. Montas just doesn't seem to have the same stuff after his shoulder injury, while Gil just doesn't have the command to work as a starter consistently. 

Ben Brown, Cubs @ARI: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K – If I thought Brown was going to be in the rotation for good for the Cubs, I might drop Montas and Gil for him; honestly, I still might do it even without knowing if Jameson Taillon is going to replace him in the rotation when he returns. Brown's curveball looks like a really good pitch, and while it's pretty much all he has aside from a four-seamer, he now has 14 strikeouts to just three walks over his last three outings, and looks like a useful option if he stays in the rotation. 

Michael Lorenzen, Rangers @DET: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 4 K – Lorenzen made his debut for the Rangers and was about as underwhelming as expected. Look, he's fine in a pinch, but Lorenzen has never been a must-roster player outside of a few months last season, and I don't expect him to be one moving forward. He's a quintessential streamer. 

Kirby Yates, RP, Rangers – As expected, it was Yates working the ninth inning for the save Monday with Jose Leclerc operating as a middle reliever. It sounds like the Rangers want to get Leclerc back in the ninth-inning role at some point, so if Yates is going to take this job and run with it, he needs to do it quickly. He's worth an add, but don't be surprised if he only gets one or two more chances, unfortunately. 

Mike Trout, OF, Angels – Trout is so back. He absolutely demolished a homer Monday, and absolutely demoralized poor Phil Maton in the process, and is now up to seven homers in 16 games. The most impressive thing about his season so far is the 18.8% strikeout rate, his lowest since 2017; the second-most impressive thing might be the two steals, matching his season-high since 2019. Please, just stay healthy. 

Cedric Mullins, OF, Orioles – Given the glut of talented young players in their organization, there's real pressure on Mullins to hit to hang on to his job. And he's doing it, with his fourth homer of the season Monday bringing his line to a .265/.321/.551 through 16 games. Mullins has his best expected wOBA (.320) since 2021 in the early going, so there's no reason to expect he's going to start losing playing time anytime soon.