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 been another week of Fantasy Baseball, and the waiver wire has shifted. Let’s highlight my ten favorites, roughly ordered from top to bottom:
Jaime Barria (Los Angeles Angels) – Barria is owned right at the 15% threshold and I’m making an exception this week as I need to push the idea of owning Barria to those even in twelve teamers. Across his last four starts, Barria has returned a 1.93 ERA with a 26.4% K rate, 3.3% BB rate, and 0.94 WHIP, all while facing the Astros, Yankees, Rangers, and Rockies in Coors. His impetus for success is a slider that has seen its usage grow from 26% to 36% in those four outings while returning a 20% whiff rate and 45% marks in both zone and O-swing. That’s the makings of a money pitch and with an elite tool in his arsenal that he’s throwing over 35% of the time, Barria should able to provide value in plenty of leagues.
Zack Wheeler (New York Mets) – After showcasing a significant velocity uptick in his previous three outings, Wheeler took a step back Wednesday against the Orioles, dropping from the hints of 97mph down to just 94.5mph. However, it’s possible he swings back up moving forward, retaining the 25% K rate and 3.60 ERA (3.17 FIP!) over his last six games. If you can stomach a game against the Braves next, Wheeler gets the Diamondbacks and Dodgers after that could pay off well.
Luiz Gohara (Atlanta Braves) – There’s plenty of mystery surrounding the future of Gohara in the Braves’ rotation, though you have to imagine he gets a shot in the near future. Don’t let his relief appearance on Tuesday turn you off to the power lefty as he had just moments returned to the states after not pitching for 12 days including a stint on the bereavement list. He still has the same debilitating slider, mid-90s heater, and developing changeup, turning him into the pitcher here with the highest ceiling. Take a chance.
Jalen Beeks (Boston Red Sox) – You may be reading this after Beeks has already made his impression in a Red Sox uniform, but as of now few owners have jumped headfirst into Beeks, waiting to see if his 30%+ strikeout rates from the minors carries over in any way to the majors. He doesn’t carry a dominating breaking ball, instead relying on a fastball/cutter combination and sequencing to tallying the punchouts in Triple-A. It doesn’t speak to high-upside value right away and mixed with the natural growing pains of prospects, we could be in for a tumultuous start to Beeks’ career (not to mention, the question of his longevity inside the rotation). Nevertheless, scouring the waiver wire is all about upside, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another arm that showcased 56.1 frames of 35.4% strikeouts and just 6.2% walks in Triple-A this season.
Dereck Rodriguez (San Francisco Giants) – Let’s imagine for a moment that Jeff Samardzija won’t be back until the final week of June. That’s three starts ahead against the Nationals, followed by back-to-back dates with the Marlins that would go to Rodriguez, and that might be something to capitalize on. In his sole start last weekend, Rodriguez was able to elevate heaters up to 95mph for whiffs, while utilizing his curveball heavily inside the zone and out. His changeup does enough work as well to make it a fine third option and suddenly you have a decent arm that could produce – even against a tough Nationals offense. There could be something here.
German Marquez (Colorado Rockies) – As long as you pick your matchups wisely, you should be able to benefit from Marquez on your squad. His 4.38 ERA is inflated by a trio of outings that totaled 18 ER, coming against three Top 10 offenses (Brewers, Cubs, Braves) all inside Coors. His other nine starts? A 2.29 ERA. Don’t get greedy with Marquez and you can benefit your numbers across the board.
Brandon McCarthy (Atlanta Braves) – Out of 12 games this season, 3 have been 5 ER or more, while seven have been 2 ER or fewer. That may be enough for you roll with McCarthy as a better-than-coin-flip scenario, especially with the Braves providing a good amount of offense behind him. It’s not pretty and you won’t be excited to own him, though as boring as he is, he should help more than hurt in the long run.
Jimmy Nelson (Milwaukee Brewers) – It’s the trio of DL stashes at the end, with Nelson clearly at the head of the list given his fantastic numbers to close out the 2017 season. There is still risk regarding how he responds to a torn labrum and it’s no lock that he will perform up to his old self, but even a hint at last season’s numbers will provide dividends to owners who invest in this stash.
Carlos Rodon (Chicago White Sox) – The innings we’ve seen from Rodon in his career are not what we’re hoping to get coming back as he’s never had a season feature a sub 4.00 ERA or a sub 1.30 WHIP. Still, we’ve seen stretches where Rodon is able to get swings with his slider, limit the walks, and make the ratios digestible for the strikeout upside. To expect that out of the gate would be foolish – part of the reason he comes at the cost of free in many leagues – though to ignore the ceiling may not be a wise move either. If you are in dire need of a heavy strikeout play, Rodon may be the wire add to make as he returns to face the Red Sox this weekend. Rest for the first start and maybe it will work out after.
Shelby Miller (Arizona Diamondbacks) – You may be confused by the hype surrounding Miller as his numbers don’t point to a pitcher that can make a large splash when he returns. What may be lost is how he bumped his fastball velocity from 93mph in 2016 to 95mph in 2017 before going under the knife. Normally it’s tough for pitchers to replicate their velocity when they return from TJS (exceptions have included Yu Darvish and Jose Fernandez), but it may be in your best interest to take a flier and see how he looks when he returns in the next few weeks. You may have yourself a backend starter as a result.