Waiver Wire Week 14: 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

Sandy Alcantara (Miami Marlins, 16%) – With teammates Jordan Yamamoto and Elieser Hernandez getting all the attention, Alcantara is still an option for those looking for a high upside gamble off the wire. Alcantara’s biggest criticism has never been his stuff – a 95 mph fastball paired with two secondary pitches each earning close to a 15% swinging-strike should do the trick – but rather his raw command that suggests inconsistency and rampant volatility. However, among shadows of his unpolished control – three games of at least four walks in his last five – Alcantara has returned just six earned runs total in those five outings. He’s fanned a batter per inning across his last three starts as well, suggesting that the inevitable development may be happening right in front of us. Alcantara is sure to have his fair share of peaks and valleys ahead, but the toughest starts could be behind him.

Dylan Bundy (Baltimore Orioles, 19%) – It’s hard to truly buy into Bundy, the arm seemingly can’t quite put it all together despite featuring a phenomenal slider, fueling a near 25% strikeout rate and 13% overall swinging-strike rate. The strikeouts will still be there and there’s a chance Bundy can get back on the right path after surrendering 9 ER across his last two outings against the Mariners and Padres. Look for his changeup to develop and his fastball to find the edges to hint at better days ahead.

Adrian Sampson (Texas Rangers, 12%) – There’s a bit of a risk trusting Sampson at this point. He had a pair of studly starts armed with the best slider we’ve seen out of his back pocket all year, then he stumbled a bit against the Red Sox and Indians before recovering for a 1 ER effort against the White Sox. It comes down to that stellar slide piece and his changeup to do everything they can to mask the mistakes of a mediocre heater, but there’s a chance we see a few more blissful nights as Sampson gains his mysterious strength and avoids disastrous fastballs.

Eric Lauer (San Diego Padres, 11%) – It’s far from an exciting pickup, but Lauer may be able to help your squads. The Padres southpaw has returned just one ER in five of his last seven games, and 2 ER or fewer in eight of his last eleven. That’s significant and while it comes with a sub 7.0 K/9, playing matchups with Lauer could return a needed boost in your ratios.

Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals, 10%) – Despite sprinkling performances that suggest retirement is around the corner, Wainwright has been surprisingly beneficial this year, nearly matching his 22% strikeout rate from his injury-shortened 2018 season, even featuring five games with at least eight strikeouts – 33% of his starts thus far. It’s been all kinds of shocking and it’s possible these moments of bliss will outweigh the expected doom and gloom in the final three months.

Under 10% Owned

Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds, 9%) – Mahle is a veteran of this column, having owners shy away from his 24% strikeout rate based on a 4.35 ERA rooted in his 20% HR/FB rate. It’s understandable, but we can imagine Mahle acting like a 3.80 ERA arm as he gets more comfortable featuring curveballs for strikes, allowing his fastball to stay elevated and splitters below the zone as chase pitches. It should get better for Mahle in the second half and he can finally remove himself from this article’s purgatory.

Homer Bailey (Kansas City Royals, 8%) – I know, I’m surprised to see Bailey here, too. Thing is, Bailey has showcased impressive velocity above 93 mph lately, helping him limit teams to one total run across his last three starts. In all six games above 93 mph, Bailey has fanned at least six and maybe, just maybe, he can be beneficial in that deep AL-Only league.

Jason Vargas (New York Mets, 6%) – We were wondering if Vargas had him a firm wall after failing to survive five frames in each of his last two starts, but after yesterday’s brilliant ten strikeout effort, Vargas has now tallied eleven straight games of 3 ER or fewer. Wild. His changeup was as deceptive as ever in Wednesday’s dominance of the Phillies and it’s hard to turn away from such a hot stretch when your staff is lacking.

Vince Velasquez (Philadelphia Phillies, 6%) – We’re entering the short-term solutions area and after Velasquez pitched five strong innings against the Marlins last week, he’s getting another chance on Friday in a repeat matchup. It could be more of the same, allowing Velasquez to be fully two-pitch with his four-seamer and slider, avoiding the need for a proper pitch-mix, barely touching the third turn of the lineup. It’s cheap production that you may be searching to find.

Austin Voth (Washington Nationals, 1%) – Voth got his first 2019 chance in the majors last weekend and shocked us all when he sported a 94 mph heater – 2.5 ticks higher than his 2018 mark. The pitch dominated the Braves for 12 whiffs on just 61 four-seamers thrown and there may be something here for the foreseeable future. With the Tigers ahead for the weekend, I’d stream Voth and take it one game at a time. If that fastball is still legit, you may not have to quit.

We hoped you liked reading Waiver Wire Week 14: 10 SP Targets by Nick Pollack!

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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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John W.
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John W.

love these posts, thanks!