Each week I look at the collection of starting pitchers owned in under 30% 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, roughly ordered from top to bottom:
Under 30% Owned
Zack Wheeler (New York Mets) – Wheeler is finally getting proper time in the Mets rotation and he’s developing into a dependable arm, featuring a 2.73 ERA with a 27% strikeout rate and 9% walk rate across his last four starts. A 13.2% over whiff rate and a double-digit mark in each of these starts is a product of both increased velocity (97.1mph average four-seamer!) and an increased reliance on his slider. Get on board before your entire league catches on.
Joey Lucchesi (San Diego Padres) – Now a full three games back from his DL stint, there’s no reason not to buy into Lucchesi, who is still boasting an impressive 3.26 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 25% strikeout rate in 12 starts. Expect him to go deeper as he’s fully stretched out after missing a month of ball, turning him into a serviceable addition to any 12-teamer roster.
Nathan Eovaldi (Tampa Bay Rays) – After enduring the Mariners, Yankees, and Astros, Eovaldi was served easier opponents in the Nationals and Marlins and took advantage, allowing just 2 ER while recording 14 strikeouts and just three walks in 12 frames. There’s little reason he can’t replicate his success against the Mets and Twins to close out the first half while turning into a consistently solid play in the closing months.
Matt Harvey (Cincinnati Reds) – Here’s a fun stat: 2018 Fastball Velocity as a Met = 93.1mph. 2018 Fastball velocity as a Red = 94.9mph. Something has clicked for Harvey in Cincinnati and while his overall whiff rate is still just 8.5% in that time, he did hold a 17.7% last time out against the Brewers as he boosted his slider usage to a remarkable 26.5% clip. A 3.86 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in ten starts doesn’t hurt either.
Jeff Samardzija (San Francisco Giants) – Samardzija has been all kinds of disappointing in his 2018 campaign, though a second DL stint may have been the reset button he needed. Don’t forget, 2017 showed us an impressive 20.4% K-BB% with a 3.63 SIERA and 3.61 FIP. Remember, it’s only been eight starts for Samardzija this year and it would be too soon to call 2018 a lost season for the veteran arm.
Tyler Anderson (Colorado Rockies) – You’re going to have to monitor Anderson’s opponents as you shouldn’t trust him against good offenses at home and strong teams on the road, but there’s plenty of room to exploit his fantastic 12.3% overall whiff rate that has led to three straight games of at least eight strikeouts. Pair that with a digestible 1.22 WHIP and 23.4% soft contact and you have an arm that’s worth the pick up.
Carlos Rodon (Chicago White Sox) – You’re not going to be anxious to grab Rodon off the wire, but five starts into the season should not define the southpaw for the entire second half, as he brings sizeable strikeout upside via a massive slide piece. He’s allowed just two walks or fewer in four of his five starts and teams needing to chase a high ceiling may want to consider Rodon. Don’t count him out for a strong run.
Under 10% Owned
Nick Kingham (Pittsburgh Pirates) – It was a terrible opening start for Kingham’s return to Pittsburgh’s rotation, but don’t let a wildly unfortunate start against the hottest offense over the past month (the Dodgers) make you overlook Kingham. I wrote about his talents last week, which in short detail an arm that carries two putaway offerings and a well-commanded fastball. Pick him up while you still can.
Shelby Miller (Arizona Diamondbacks) – Miller has been far from enticing in his first two starts, surrendering 11 total ER in just 8.2 frames. However, Miller’s hype in 2017 came from a velocity spike from 93.0mph to 94.9mph and in these two horrid 2018 outings Miller has been sitting at a cool 94.5mph with his heater. This could stick as he figures out his cutter leading to production down the road.
Mike Fiers (Detroit Tigers) – I’m a bit surprised that I’m in any way endorsing Fiers, though he’s boasting a 2.68 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over his last seven starts, including a start against the Yankees and two versus the Tribe. He also has the benefit of the Rangers over the weekend that could fill a short-term hole. Don’t expect it to last, but there may be some value here.