Each week I look at the collection of starting pitchers owned in under 20% of leagues (consensus Yahoo/ESPN ownership from Fantasy Pros) with a few extra sub 10% discount options at the end, pointing out the options to consider if you need an extra arm or two at the end of your staff.
Let’s highlight my ten favorite starting pitcher options that may be available on your waiver wires, ordered by ownage %:
Homer Bailey (Oakland Athletics, 19%) – In September, scrutinizing expected matchups is critical and Bailey could have a favorable schedule across your fantasy playoffs, save for a date with Houston next week. In the short term, he gets the Tigers one start after flexing a fantastic splitter against the Yankees. There’s upside for more than a strikeout per inning against one of the worst lineups in the game, and those that are looking for a strong option to close the season should be excited for his pair of starts against the Rangers and Mariners.
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Alex Young (Arizona Diamondbacks, 19%) – With a date against the Dodgers looming, owners are looking in the short term for solutions other than Young, but they may miss out on a productive arm through the end of the year. The Diamondbacks as a whole have a weak schedule in the closing weeks, with Young currently slated to face the Reds, Mets, Marlins, Cardinals, and Padres down the stretch. Not to say that Young is fully capable of excelling across all these matchups, but I’d wager Young helps more than hurts as he brings his finesse pitching to mediocre bats.
Jordan Lyles (Milwaukee Brewers, 19%) – Since shifting from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee, Lyles has only helped fantasy teams. He’s surrendered just 3 ER, collected 14 strikeouts, and earned a pair of wins, yet still hasn’t earned the trust of the majority of owners. With his next two starts coming against the Nationals and Diamondbacks, there’s still value to be had, using his curveball down and the zone and confidently elevating to earn whiffs. Lyles could be an arm to favor not just in the short term, but through your fantasy playoffs.
Aaron Sanchez (Houston Astros, 18%) – After we were paid in full for our hype of Sanchez donning an Astros uniform via six no-hit innings, I’m shocked to see a sub 20% ownership rate for the newest slinger in Houston. Yet here we are, ready to reap the rewards as Sanchez features a great matchup ahead in Baltimore. Our hopes of Sanchez packing his low fastball usage on his international flight came to fruition, maintaining a near 50% fastball usage as he pumped curveballs and changeups galore. It’s a step in the right direction and while a full-on breakout shouldn’t be expected through the final weeks of the year, a winning team behind him as he faces middling to poor lineups should return productive outings for your fantasy squads.
Griffin Canning (Los Angeles Angels, 19%) – Let’s look at the recent performances of Canning. He had a pair of poor performances dealing with the stress of losing his teammate, including a six walk effort that has every indication of an outlier, a strong return-to-form outing against the Mariners, a horrible two-inning relief appearance the night before his scheduled start forced by extra-innings, then six innings of brilliance last time out against the Tigers. Canning is back on track and ready to perform in the final two months, using a pair of breaking balls to earn whiffs (13.6% overall swinging-strike rate!) and elevating properly with heaters to carve up a lineup. Get him before someone else does.
Anthony DeSclafani (Cincinnati Reds, 17%) – Tony Disco’s season marks of a 4.12 ERA and 1.28 WHIP aren’t winning over many owners, but maybe his current 8-game trend will: 3.07 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 27.5% strikeout rate, and 5% walk rate. He’s had to endure teams like Milwaukee, Houston, and even the Cubs twice during the successful run, displaying his best heaters and sliders of the season. There’s a chance it could come crashing down when he hosts the Rockies this weekend, but his upside could be worth the risk.
Zach Plesac (Cleveland Indians, 18%) – It makes sense for owners to be out on Plesac. After a hot start to his career, his last two starts have been all kinds of disappointing, failing to toss four full frames in each, while allowing 10 ER and collecting just five strikeouts. Still, Plesac has had plenty of time to correct his mechanics, even returning nine strikeouts in six frames of 3 ER ball in Triple-A during the All-Star Break. With a start against the Tigers tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised if Plesac is scooped off the wire as soon as this evening’s late hours. Act now before they do.
Sandy Alcantara (Miami Marlins, 16%) – With teammates Jordan Yamamoto and Elieser Hernandez getting all the attention, Alcantara is still an option for those looking for a high upside gamble off the wire. Alcantara’s biggest criticism has never been his stuff – a 95 mph fastball paired with two secondary pitches each earning close to a 15% swinging-strike should do the trick – but rather his raw command that suggests inconsistency and rampant volatility. However, among shadows of his unpolished control – three games of at least four walks in his last five – Alcantara has returned just six earned runs total in those five outings. He’s fanned a batter per inning across his last three starts as well, suggesting that the inevitable development may be happening right in front of us. Alcantara is sure to have his fair share of peaks and valleys ahead, but the toughest starts could be behind him.
Julio Urias (Los Angeles Dodgers, 18%) – With the news of Rich Hill relegated to serve his inevitable time on the IL, the Dodgers have a trio of options to consider replacing their lanky southpaw. The likely candidate to seize the rotation spot is Urias, an arm often viewed as a staple of Los Angeles’ future rotation. It’s been a rocky few years for Urias though his tumultuous career should not overlook his ability as a starter. His repertoire featuring a well-commanded heater matched with a deceptive slider, big curveball, and solid changeup illustrates an arm that can pay dividends the moment the Dodgers allow him to comfortably toss five frames. We may have to wait a game or two to get there – he’s slated to “open” tonight’s affair with the Giants – but his opportunity for innings could stick around through the summer.
Dylan Bundy (Baltimore Orioles, 19%) – I introduced Bundy to this weekly column last Thursday and Bundy took another step forward over the weekend, pulling in more favor from owners and just barely staying under the 20% threshold. The secret to his success may be his improved slider locations at the bottom of the zone, featuring fewer mistakes in the heart of the plate. The more Bundy can do to prevent hitters from sitting heat the better (Bundy’s heater is returning an abhorrent -10.3 pVal this season) and keeping his sliders down will help punish those out in front. Meanwhile, look for Bundy’s changeup to take steps forward as the pitch could unlock the final gear in Bundy’s machine. If the pitch returns to its 2016 levels, there could be legitimate production heading owners’ ways this season.