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
Jeff Samardzija (San Francisco Giants) – His 6.42 ERA will not last. His 1.67 WHIP will not last. He will have a strikeout rate above 16%. I think it’s best for us to forget about what has happened to Samardzija so far this year, throw it out, and ask what t expect moving forward. Is a sub 4.00 ERA so hard to buy into? A 1.30 WHIP or lower? How about a 20%+ K rate? It all seems very plausible to me, making him playable in 12-teamers, especially those in QS leagues as he will be given a longer leash than most.
Zack Wheeler (New York Mets) – Wheeler had a tough start against the Phils, but he still produced 8 strikeouts with his fastball still elevated at 96+ mph. He’s still working out the kinks with his secondary offerings to find the perfect complement to his great four-seamer but there’s still value to be had until then.
Anibal Sanchez (Atlanta Braves) – I’m surprised to be in any way endorsing Sanchez, but there’s something to be said about his new cutter that’s helping him induce 24% soft contact and earn an impressive 23% strikeout rate. Yes, regression is coming, but with both his FIP and SIERA still under 4.00, you should be willing to take the chance.
Matt Harvey (Cincinnati Reds) – It’s no secret anymore that Harvey is exhibiting a velocity boost since putting on a Reds uniform. The results have followed, including allowing 2 ER or fewer in each of his last four starts despite the tough schedule of CHC, @ATL, MIL, @CHC. The strikeouts are still in question, but with the velocity, his floor has risen setting up development for the secondary stuff.
Vince Velasquez (Philadelphia Phillies) – Let’s make this easy. Velasquez has a 28% strikeout rate. If you’re hurting for pitching, you’re most likely hurting for strikeouts. Velasquez will continue to get strikeouts and is back in the rotation. Easy.
Joey Lucchesi (San Diego Padres) – Lucchesi hasn’t been quite the same since returning from the DL and he’s still fine-tuning his Churve, though if you wait for him to show up, you won’t get a chance to own a sturdy arm in a 12-teamer.
Joe Musgrove (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Musgrove hit the DL, returned and gave you nine strikeouts against the Nationals. He’s a control guy with occasional strikeout upisde (don’t get used to those high K games), making for easy production off the wire if you play the matchups.
Carlos Rodon (Chicago White Sox) – It seems as though owners are well aware of Rodon’s floor – six walks allowed just two starts ago – and while his slider hasn’t been quite the pitch that we want it to be, don’t ignore his ceiling of double-digit strikeout games. He hasn’t eclipsed seven yet, but in just seven starts, it’s too early to rule it out.
Under 10% Owned
Nick Kingham (Pittsburgh Pirates) – It was a much better start this time around against the Phillies than the Dodgers and I believe Kingham is much closer to this ability moving forward. He gets the Brewers on Friday – I’m for it – and I’m surprised he still qualifies for this tier.
Felix Pena (Los Angeles Angels) – With Garrett Richards possibly losing the rest of the season, there’s more room for Felix Pena to get starts and that should be intriguing for those in deep leagues. He’s carrying a 13% whiff rate in 22.1 frames, which should be enough reason to at least give him a chance if you’re starving for pitching help.