Waiver Wire Week 13: 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

Julio Urias (Los Angeles Dodgers, 18%) – With the news of Rich Hill relegated to serve his inevitable time on the IL, the Dodgers have a trio of options to consider replacing their lanky southpaw. The likely candidate to seize the rotation spot is Urias, an arm often viewed as a staple of Los Angeles’ future rotation. It’s been a rocky few years for Urias though his tumultuous career should not overlook his ability as a starter. His repertoire featuring a well-commanded heater matched with a deceptive slider, big curveball, and solid changeup illustrates an arm that can pay dividends the moment the Dodgers allow him to comfortably toss five frames. We may have to wait a game or two to get there – he’s slated to “open” tonight’s affair with the Giants – but his opportunity for innings could stick around through the summer.

Mike Leake (Seattle Mariners, 17%) – First of all, I’m amazed Leake is owned in 17% of leagues. At the same time, he’s allowed just six earned runs in his last three games, facing strong opponents in the Astros, Twins, and Athletics thanks to a cutter that he’s suddenly used close to 30% of the time after averaging around a 20% usage prior. The pitch is limiting batters to a .243 BAA this season as it finds the zone over 60% of the time and there may be something here that helps AL-Only leagues and the occasional stream for those in 12-teamers.

Tanner Roark (Cincinnati Reds, 15%) – Do I love Roark? Not particularly, but we’re searching for deep value and Roark’s low 15% ownership rate means he could help out teams in need. His 3.63 ERA has been more serviceable than anticipated, especially as he sports a career-best 23% strikeout rate. The low 0.6 HR/9 should climb in GABP, but even a 4.00 ERA with his strikeout ability may help those in deep leagues.

Sandy Alcantara (Miami Marlins, 12%) – It’s a risk to chase Alcantara’s raw ability, but the young Marlin (aren’t they all?) has put it together across his last four starts, returning an impressive 1.88 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He can thank an improved slider, helping him earn a 11% swinging-strike rate in that time. He may turn back into a pumpkin soon but there might be another start or two left before midnight strikes.

Michael Pineda (Minnesota Twins, 10%) – We talked a lot about Pineda in the preseason and collectively gave up on him after a rugged April and May IL stint. However, Pineda’s surrendered just 1 ER in each of his last two starts facing the Mariners and Red Sox and we may want to start creeping up in our seats. There may be something there in his split-changeup that helps him keep batters from lacing his fastball (maybe the 1.67 HR/9 falls?) as his slider will continue to be the pitch he turns to as a putaway offering and keep his strikeout rate comfortably above 20%. Don’t count Pineda out just yet.

Under 10% Owned

Jason Vargas (New York Mets, 7%) – I know, I know, he’s not supposed to be good. But given that he’s not hurt and still on the hill, Vargas should be started until he hits that wall. It may happen against the Cubs, it may happen in a month. What we do know is that he’s on one of his patented hot streaks – 2.39 ERA across his last nine starts, failing to allow more than 3 ER in a single game – and it’s about time you got some of that sweet sweet production.

Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds, 7%) – I’m a bit shocked at Mahle’s low ownership, even having his teammate Roark owned in twice the number of leagues. While I don’t believe in Mahle having a massive breakout season, Mahle is very capable of holding a strikeout per inning through the full year, while boasting an ERA under the 4.00 threshold. It hinges on consistently getting his curveball over the plate and allowing him to feature high fastballs deep in counts (i.e. pitching backward) and while that ability may come-and-go, his four-seamer sets a foundation that will hold him back from a cataclysmic floor. He deserves to be ineligible for this weekly column.

Anthony DeSclafani (Cincinnati Reds, 7%) – Sticking with Cincy, Tony Disco, on the other hand, does not have the same fantastic heater, but carries a little more hope in his secondary stuff than Mahle. The overall 4.22 ERA isn’t pretty, but allowing just 1 ER in each of his last three games surely is, and there’s enough upside here to chase while DeSclafani shouldn’t fall too hard if it doesn’t go his way.

Tommy Milone (Seattle Mariners, 7%) – This may surprise you – it certainly shocks me – but Milone has fanned at least six in five of his six games this year. It’s wild, ludicrous, and very much real as he’s improved his changeup and slider this season. Now slated for a date with the Orioles, Milone seems like a clear grab for the weekend as we continue to play the “one start at a time” game with Milone. This could fall apart in a hurry, but there could be some magic remaining to take advantage of first.

Jose Suarez (Los Angeles Angels, 2%) – With Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill both on the IL, Suarez has stepped in and has featured above average stuff in his time. The southpaw features a strong changeup and good “get me over” curveball that can help him keep the strikeouts flowing at the risk of some crooked ratios. For an arm that is the cost of free, there may be room for Suarez as a streaming option – like today against the Blue Jays – or for a true roster spot on deep squads.

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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4 years ago

Skaggs, Merrill Kelly, Trevors Williams and Richards, and Pineda are on my waiver wire. Who would you pick up first?

4 years ago
Reply to  Turgid

Nick ranks all the SPs each Monday at his site called Pitchers List

4 years ago
Reply to  Turgid