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:
Marco Estrada (Toronto Blue Jays) – This could be nothing, but it could be something as Marco Estrada has dominated in his last two starts, allowing 3 ER in 12 frames against the Yankees and Orioles, posting a wonderful 15/1 strikeout per walk ratio. His fastball has been toxic through the season, but has performed wildly better in these starts, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, a corner has been turned that could spell better days. One more great start will exile him from this weekly article, and this might be your only chance to act.
Jonathan Loaisiga (New York Yankees) – Many are writing this off due to Loaisiga’s lack of experience in the minors – just six starts about Single-A (all in Double-A!) – but I would be looking to grab right away to wait-and-see. The Yankees are hurting plenty with Masahiro Tanaka out for weeks and Jordan Montgomery down for the season, while Domingo German’s hold on a rotation spot is far from tight. Meanwhile, Loaisiga sports a mid-to-upper 90s heater with a power curveball and solid changeup, boasting 30%+ strikeout rates and sub 3% walk rates. That mix of overpowering stuff and control could spell fantasy relevance from day one. Grab this now before the hype builds and worst case scenario, you drop him for another option quickly.
Nick Kingham (Pittsburgh Pirates) – With Ivan Nova returning from the Disabled List, the Pirates elected to send Kingham back to Triple-A and I was broken-hearted. It’s a bit like the turmoil of Mike Clevinger from 2017, as Kingham will be a very serviceable starter in all mixed leagues once he is comfortably slotted in the rotation. Expect him to return with the next opening and making an instant impact, but you’ll have to pay the price of an uncertain roster spot as we simply don’t know when that will be
Chad Kuhl (Pittsburgh Pirates) – While Kingham doesn’t have a spot, Kuhl holds onto the #5 spot and is still maintains his lottery pick status. His breaking stuff isn’t in question – a slider with a 20% whiff rate and a curveball he trusts to steal strikes constantly – and while he brings elite velocity (95.2mph sinker!), he struggles mightily at avoiding the longball, already surrendering 8 HRs across 604 sinkers thrown. He has the blueprint for success, but we’re still waiting for the execution. It could show up tomorrow and help you win your league, or we could be waiting for years and taking you down in the process. Should you take the gamble? The choice is yours.
Jimmy Nelson (Milwaukee Brewers) – We’re only a few weeks removed from never having to read me write another blurb on Nelson as he’s still sitting on plenty of waiver wires as a potential DL stash. Nothing has changed from previous weeks, still presenting intriguing upside given his dominant 2017 breakout season. As long as you have the roster spot, Nelson is a worthy DL stash as we wait-and-see what how he looks out of the gate.
Zack Wheeler (New York Mets) – While his Tuesday night date with the Braves was far from ideal, Wheeler still maintained his 96mph+ velocity that has gotten some of us excited. Slowly and surely, Wheeler’s upside is coming out and with more innings under his belt, Wheeler could mold into a serviceable starter even in 12-teamers.
Anthony DeSclafani (Cincinnati Reds) – Tony Disco is far from a sexy play, but he has the arsenal and skill set to pull off a sub 4.00 ERA without a horrendous WHIP. That alone should make him serviceable in deeper leagues, if not some 12-teamers. There may be a few more bits of rust to shake off before he gets there, but don’t ignore Desclanfani if he’s healthy. There’s value to be had here.
Ivan Nova (Pittsburgh Pirates) – There are three Pirates pitchers here today, but don’t let that make you ignore Nova who hasn’t been added after returning from the DL. The overall numbers aren’t pretty, but if you’re able to select your matchups, Nova has the upside of going six clean innings, while recording 8 and 9 strikeout games already this season. He won’t win you your roto league, but he could provide a boost in deep H2H matchups.
Dylan Covey (Chicago White Sox) – Did you realize that Covey is sporting a 3.61 SIERA (2.22 ERA!) and 61.7% groundball rate through five staand nad 28.1 IP? It is a small sample and I don’t expect it to carry for a while, but it’s not out of the question that the groundballs stick around as he’s switched from a four-seamer/sinker mix to near exclusive sinker approach. With grounders intact, it’s fathomable a secondary pitch steps forward to improve upon his low 8.4% whiff rate and suddenly you have the makings of a rosterable 12-teamer option. It’s a risk, just don’t ignore the possibility.
German Marquez (Colorado Rockies) – I call it the Rocky Mountain Way where you should feel comfortable rolling with the Rockies starters against weak teams in Coors and average opponents on the road. If you’ve followed this through the year, it would mean you’d have benched Marquez for three starts against the Brewers, Cubs, and Braves, reducing his ERA from 4.79 to 2.95. If you have the luxury to play the matchups, Marquez will serve you well.