Waiver Wire Week 11: 10 SP Targets

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 %:

Under 20% owned

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.

Dylan Bundy (Baltimore Orioles, 18% Owned) – Yes, that Dylan Bundy, but his last eight starts carry numbers that will surprise you. Its 3.47 ERA is very serviceable, batters are swinging-and-missing at a fantastic 13.4% clip, and he’s keeping hitters off the basepaths with a 1.16 WHIP. The secret may be gaining the feel of a changeup he’s lost since the 2017 season, a pitch that nullifies the hittability of his heater when on point. The jury is still out if this can carry through the summer, though there may be some hidden gold here.

Tanner Roark (Cincinnati Reds, 18% Owned) – Did you realize that Roark has fanned at least six batters in five of his last six games? He’s also held a 2.94 ERA with a 2.65 FIP in that time, facing a tough schedule along the way – Cubs twice, Dodgers, Nationals, and A’s included. Will it stick? The 27% strikeout rate will likely fall, but those needing volume with a chance of wins and not a destruction of their ratios could do plenty worse than putting faith in Roark.

Trevor Richards (Miami Marlins, 18% owned) – Don’t look now, but Richards has found his changeup and fastball combination again, returning a 12%+ swinging-strike rate in three straight games, while allowing just 2 ER in that time. This could fade in-and-out from start-to-start, but the Miami starter is currently locked in and could provide cheap production for teams needing a boost in strikeouts.

Anibal Sanchez (Washington Nationals, 11% owned) – Since returning from the IL, Sanchez has excelled in his two starts, allowing just one earned run and fanning fourteen. He can thank the return of his 2018 cutter, a pitch that earns Sanchez strikes often, allowing him to properly setup his split-changeup as a chase pitch. It’s a formula that may go in-and-out through the season, but he’s locked in at the moment, warranting a pickup.

Under 10% Owned

Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds, 10% owned) – After surrendering six earned runs against the Cubs, Mahle responded with eight strikeouts and three earned runs against the Nationals, suggesting a rise in ownage rates across leagues. Yet here we are, with Mahle sitting at just a 10% ownership rate, despite fanning at least eight in three of his last five games. With a good shot to stave off the Phillies, Mahle could continue to provide dividends in his followign start at home against the Rangers for owners willing to roll the die.

Jose Urena (Miami Marlins, 9% owned) – It’s not your major upside play like Mahle or Bundy, but Urena has been a steady arm for those jumping onboard after three rugged starts to open the season. It’s a 2.95 ERA and 1.16 WHIP across the nine starts that followed, averaging over a sturdy six frames per start. The strikeouts won’t come – just three of those nine came with 5+ punchouts – but the consistent quality starts, volume, and low ratios are sure to help.

Pablo Lopez (Miami Marlins, 6% owned) – At this point, it would be shocking if I didn’t include PabLo in this weekly column. Lopez earned favor from owners on Tuesday against a tough Milwaukee offense, though his curveball and changeup weren’t the top of the line pitches we’re looking for them to be. Still, with a better fastball, Lopez was able to produce and could continue taking steps forward. For the price of free, Lopez’s ceiling is still very tantalizing.

Josh James (Houston Astros, 7% owned) – With Colin McHugh relegated to the pen, Forrest Whitley dealing with a shoulder injury, and Corbin Martin demoted to Triple-A, the Astros have looked to Framber Valdez to start in the short term. However, it’s no secret that James holds a plenty higher ceiling and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Houston looking to James in the near future to take over the spot in the rotation. With his electric heater, a fantastic changeup, and strong breaker, James would make an immediate impact as a starter. In the meantime, his role in the pen will help week-to-week, even if it is far from the same volume. This is a highly league dependent move, but consider James among all options.

Mitch Keller / Alex Reyes / Dylan Cease (Prospects) – A variety of prospect arms will continue to earn a spot in this article as we near the prime time for exciting young arms to make their jumps to the majors. Keller could be an option to replace Nick Kingham in the rotation and is well worth the add when he returns. Reyes is being groomed for a rotation spot in St. Louis and carries a massive ceiling. Cease’s triple-digit heater demands respect from fantasy owners the moment the White Sox allow him to take the number five spot from Dylan CoveyKeep your eye on all of them – and the likes of Zac Gallen and Jesus Luzardo while you’re at it – and consider a stash if you have the room.

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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Pirates Hurdlesmember
3 years ago

Alas, the Bucs, in their infinite wisdom, would rather see Rookie Davis start baseball games.