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 %:
Jerad Eickhoff (Philadelphia Phillies, 18% owned) – The last three weeks have not treated Eickhoff well. His last five starts have returned a 7.40 ERA (8.38 FIP!), 1.36 WHIP, and a paltry 16% strikeout rate and this suggestion may seem misguided. The good news is Eickhoff still has a strong pair of secondary pitches in his curveball and slider and there’s a chance he can return to his earlier self – the one who recorded just five total earned runs in as many starts. It’s not a sexy play and comes with a good amount of risk, but don’t ignore the chance he turns it around in a big way.
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Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds) – There’s good reason to be repulsed by Mahle in standard leagues. He’s allowed four earned runs or more in five of his last eight games. Mahle is wildly prone to the longball with his current 1.60 HR/9 sitting lower than 2018’s mark. His pair of secondary pitches are far from consistent, leaving his strong fastball on its own often in outings. Despite all these shortcomings, Mahle still possesses the upside to carry his 25% strikeout rate through the season with an impressive 5% walk rate that will tamper his WHIP to an acceptable level. And hey, there’s a chance his deuce and split-change develop further and Mahle improves to his current 3.71 SIERA. With his excellent strikeout rate sticking through it all, that’s worth a shot.
Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds, 12%) – It’s rare to see an arm with a 3.51 ERA and comparable SIERA and FIP this wildly available, but Mahle and his fantastic 26% strikeout rate are out on many wires and ready to join your squad. Paired with a fantastic 5% walk rate, Mahle has the peripherals to back up what has the makings of a breakout 2019 campaign. I’m not entirely convinced that his new curveball and splitter combination is enough in his back pocket to complement his excellent high-four-seam approach, though nine games of success should be enough to convince those in need to take a chance, especially after he survived his latest test against the Dodgers.
Reynaldo Lopez (Chicago White Sox – 15%) – You’ve heard it before, but it still rings true: you never know what you’re going to get from ReyLo. His four-seamer is a strong pitch on its own, but it falters if batters don’t have to respect his slider or changeup. The blueprint is there – four-seamers jamming batters in both boxes with sliders and changeups low to steal strikes and miss bats. The latter is the troublesome area as Lopez fails to hit a 30% O-Swing on either his breaker or slow ball for the year. Every start could be the one where it all clicks into place indefinitely, or it could be another one where we shake our heads in disappointment.
Note: This week and moving forward, I’m going to focus more on the sub 20% and sub 10% owned arms as I expect many of the sub 30% arms are snatched up in your leagues.
Wade Miley (Houston Astros) – This list is barren compared to previous weeks, due to our favorite choices impressing and a larger emphasis on pitching needs due to a multitude of injuries. That makes someone like Miley a considerable option as he offers a strong chance at a Win whenever he takes the hill. The Houston offense will support him and his ability to induce weak outs often can push him into the sixth frame. Don’t invest for strikeouts, but if a 1.25 WHIP, 3.70 ERA, and a handful of Wins fits, Miley is your guy.
Reynaldo Lopez (Chicago White Sox – 18% owned) – Fanning fourteen batters in one game should be enough to warrant a pickup in deeper leagues, disregarding the solid performances in each of his previous two outings. Lopez is notorious for his erratic nature, often returning clunkers after starts featuring seven scoreless frames, though his brilliant performance may be a turning point. With the Red Sox ahead, if Lopez can produce with both his slider and changeup, he’ll be well off this list next week. Now could be your last chance to take a shot.
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, roughly ordered from top to bottom:
Trevor Richards (Miami Marlins) – When digging at the bottom of the barrel, I love chasing individual pitches. Richards’ changeup is as elite as you’ll find, boasting a 24% swinging-strike rate, 52% O-Swing, and a paltry .151 BAA across the 174 he’s thrown in 2019. With the slow ball’s usage above the 35% mark, expect Richards’ strikeout rate to stay afloat well past 20%, while his ratios should help more often than not. His fastball is still questionable, but with his recent ability to elevate the pitch, Richards should be able to avoid the disasters and allow owners to frequently feast.
It’s time we talked about the pitcher that just doesn’t make sense.
Trevor Williams is an anomaly. We like to focus on peripheral numbers to get a better sense of how a pitcher is performing and Williams’ under-the-hood numbers since July 2018 paint a mediocre arm:
Yet across seventeen starts since July 11th, Williams is flaunting two ridiculous numbers:
1.60 ERA & 1.08 WHIP
Williams’ repertoire consists of a seemingly mediocre 91 mph fastball, a changeup that returns a 7% swinging-strike rate, and a slider with a career middling .260 BAA. These are pedestrian numbers for a three-pitch mix, yet 100+ frames have returned only 18 earned runs.
It doesn’t make a lick of sense and I love when something doesn’t make sense. It means there’s something interesting to talk about.
So let’s talk about it.
Each week I look at the collection of starting pitchers owned in under 30% 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.
Note: This week, I’m going to focus more on the sub 20% and sub 10% owned arms as I expect many of the sub 30% arms are snatched up in your leagues, including Mike Minor, Michael Pineda, and Max Fried.
Caleb Smith (Miami Marlins) – I refuse to believe in the current 10% ownership listed for Smith, but until he’s universally praised, I’ll be forced to mention him weekly. Smith’s taken a step forward with his heater, sitting just under a 10% swinging-strike rate with his four-seamer, while earning a 17%+ swinging-strike rate on both his slider and changeup. Those worried about his future schedule should look at the teams he’s faced thus far – Mets, Braves, Phillies – and note the 2.65 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 32% strikeout rate he produced regardless. There may be some issues on the road with his history of longballs, but his strikeout potential (14.3% overall swinging-strike rate!) paired with a 3.26 FIP should not be ignored.
Trevor Richards (Miami Marlins) – You already know about Richards’ elite changeup, a pitch that held a 24% swinging-strike rate in 2018 and has picked up where it left off across 112 already thrown this season. You may not know that his four-seamer has shown signs of improvement thus far, returning a fantastic 11% swinging-strike rate in its small sample. It may be a flash in the pan for the 91 mph heater or it could be a tweak in approach to squeeze the most out of a weak offering. Richards is far from a lock for a breakout campaign with this questionable fastball and mediocre breaking balls, though now is the time to get in as Richards’ development continues.