Waiver Wire Week 1.5: 10 Starting Pitchers To Consider Under 15% Owned

Each week through the season, I’ll be looking at the collection of starting pitchers owned in under 15% of leagues (consensus Yahoo/ESPN ownership from Fantasy pros) and pointing out the options to consider if you need an extra arm or two at the end of your staff.

It’s a weird first week of Fantasy Baseball, and there are already plenty of intriguing choices on your wire. Let’s highlight my ten favorites.

Kyle Gibson (Minnesota Twins) – It still feels a little weird endorsing Gibson, but after a solid eight-game stretch to close out the 2017 season, Gibson continued his fantastic swing-and-miss ways, earning 16 whiffs in his start weekend start against the Orioles. While we should note the free-swinging the Baltimore lineup, inducing not a single hit paired with missing bats should dictate a pickup in the short term.

Mike Minor (Texas Rangers) – I was glad to see Minor’s velocity sitting around 92/93 against the Astros as it’s an improvement from his 2014 days where he regularly tossed 90mph. The pitch’s command wasn’t ideal, but he wasn’t making massive mistakes and kept the powerful Houston bats at bay for the most part. His secondary options flashed potential, including a changeup that got a nod of approval from Jose Altuve and a slider that consistently stole strikes. This could be a ramp toward much better days, and I’d consider Minor if only for a stash.

Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds) – There’s plenty of love being thrown Mahle’s way after dominating the Cubs lineup, spotting fastballs on both sides of the plate while sprinkling sliders and changeups in all counts. I don’t see a Top 50 player here, but his fastball is good enough to make him a competitive option in most games, warranting a close look.

Reynaldo Lopez (Chicago White Sox) – I didn’t know what to fully expect from Lopez in this outing as I’ve been calling for more curveballs given its near 17% whiff rate in 2016. What we saw against the Jays was instead a heavy dosage of changeups and…sliders. The pitch was coming in around 85mph, essentially axing to 78mph deuce from his repertoire. It’s worked so far, paired with a heater that consistently touches 97mph, and Lopez should be finding his way onto 12-teamers if out there.

Jakob Junis (Kansas City Royals) – Like Reynaldo, I didn’t fully know what we’d see in Junis’ 2018 debut. Also like Lopez, I wanted to see his curveball getting featured in the mix and that didn’t happen. However, he showcased a two-seamer with plenty more movement than we saw in 2017, and it made for a difficult day in a Tigers uniform. Considering the excellent slider in Junis’ arsenal, we have a proper 1-2 punch that can do damage all on its own ala Lance McCullers, Chris Archerand Rich HillIt’s not ideal and we may see a shift to more curveballs and changeups (a pitch exclusively used against lefties), but definitely, an approach that warrants an add.

Trevor Williams (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Williams isn’t someone who is going to be flashy with strikeout numbers, but like Gibson, he was able to pitch to contact well enough to produce six no-hit innings over the weekend. Yes, it also came with five walks, but there have to be some warts down here. I don’t see a lava floor here like my five-year-old self, which makes this a decent ratio-chase.

Andrew Triggs (Oakland Athletics) – There are two things Triggs does well: induce grounders with a bowling ball sinker and get whiffs via a breaking ball with tons of lateral movement – a product of his low arm angle. Don’t expect much more than that, but these talents can churn out surprisingly decent outings.

Homer Bailey (Cincinnati Reds) – One of the more underrated performances of the opening weekend was Bailey’s 6.0 IP, 1 ER performance against the Nationals. He’s shown that he can command well in the past, but injuries have held him back plenty, preventing him from getting into a consistent rhythm. With the difficult matchup out of the way, I’d consider trusting in Homer Bale against the Pirates and Phillies next.

Chris Stratton (San Francisco Giants) – It wasn’t a sterling outing for Stratton against the Dodgers, but he can still be a decent backend option, wielding a solid curveball that will do it all – steal strikes early, induce outs, and miss bats late – and a slider that has its moments. There’s a big reliance on fastball command for a success on a given day, but Stratton can pull it off more times than not.

Caleb Smith (Miami Marlins) – You might not know about Smith. I sure didn’t care for him until his start over the weekend, but he impressed me as he induced 15 whiffs in 5.1 frames against the Cubs. He has an approach akin to Jimmy Key way back when, darting the low outside corner with two-seamers and changeups, forcing right-handers to lean out and take awkward swings. I’m hesitant to proclaim this the start of a surprise breakout, but it makes for an interesting flier as he’s set to face the Phillies next.

Nick Pollack is the founder of PitcherList.com and has written for Washington Post, Fantasy Pros, and CBS Sports. He can be found making an excessive amount of GIFs on twitter at @PitcherList.

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I picked up Junis after reading that he added a knuckle-curve toward the end of last year and having a nice run to finish the year last year.

That said, he benefited greatly from the weather in his start. I caught a couple innings over lunch and literally almost everyone was wearing a balaclava/face mask. Even if it wasn’t technically “raining”, it was misty/foggy and I’m sure damp. Temps were in the low 40’s I think. Wind blowing in. It truly looked like the most miserable possible baseball weather just short of them actually postponing the game. In fact, today’s game actually was postponed. The weather greatly helped both pitchers.