Waiver Wire Week 17: 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

Zach Plesac (Cleveland Indians, 18%) – It makes sense for owners to be out on Plesac. After a hot start to his career, his last two starts have been all kinds of disappointing, failing to toss four full frames in each, while allowing 10 ER and collecting just five strikeouts. Still, Plesac has had plenty of time to correct his mechanics, even returning nine strikeouts in six frames of 3 ER ball in Triple-A during the All-Star Break. With a start against the Tigers tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised if Plesac is scooped off the wire as soon as this evening’s late hours. Act now before they do.

Jordan Lyles (Pittsburgh Pirates, 16%) – Lyles has been bad. Really bad. Even before his latest back-to-back 7 ER clunkers, Lyles held a 6.93 ERA and 1.54 WHIP across five starts. Before the two disasters! This doesn’t sound like much of an endorsement and it isn’t a massive one, but for those in deep leagues, this horrid stretch could be a blessing, allowing a high upside player to become dramatically cheap. The talent is still there for Lyles to be strikeout producer without killing your ratios, if you can believe it. Even during his struggles, Lyles still sported an 11% swinging-strike rate and a trip to the IL in between removed all rhythm he had. If you want to invest for the later weeks, now may the time to do so.

Jeff Samardzija (San Francisco Giants, 15%) – I can’t say I’m a big fan of Samardzija – I call him Loose Lips as he sinks (champion)ships – but you can’t ignore 4 ER in three starts including yesterday’s nine strikeout performance in Coors. Samardzija leaned heavily on cutters (over 40% usage!) and had a ton of success inside the zone, earning 32/38 strikes with the pitch. There may something here that sticks and make a worthwhile add, at least for the Mets ahead.

Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals, 14%) – It’s wild to say, but Wainwright has a sub 3.00 ERA across his last seven starts, fanning at least six in all but one. He’s done so while increasing his cutter and curveball usage at the cost of heaters and it could be around for a little while longer. It’s not the most believable narrative for the rest of the year, but there are worse gambles to take in the middle of July.

Spencer Turnbull (Detroit Tigers, 13%) – Turnbull returned from the IL last week to little fanfare and owners are hesitant to jump on board. I understand it and Turnbull may need another start or two to get his momentum back…or he could hit the ground running against the Indians Wednesday evening. There is another gear left to hit with Turnbull via his curveball and slider as his fastball features enough cut-action to set a good foundation for strong secondary offerings. You’re looking for upside and there are few better choices than Turnbull. Just be wary of the floor as we may be waiting until next season.

Logan Allen (San Diego Padres, 12%) –  Allen is slated to start Tuesday evening, a start that should end positively as he faces the weak Miami lineup in spacious Marlins Park. Allen’s repertoire speaks better than the clunker against the Giants during the last start, boasting low-to-mid 90s velocity and a pair of solid secondary offerings in his slider and changeup. With the Padres moving Matt Strahm to the bullpen, Allen could see a good amount of starts in the second half, providing sneaky value.

Jakob Junis (Kansas City Royals, 11%) – We saw what Junis can do Monday night against the White Sox, punching out ten as his slider was ridiculous. The slide piece confounded Chicago batters, earning 15 whiffs on 35 pitches, good for a 43% swinging-strike rate. That has to be worth a speculative add, right? That slider is the reason Junis gets to pitch in the majors as the rest of his repertoire is mediocre at best, though if he’s feeling his slider, you can expect the strikeouts to continue piling up against the Indians next time. Let’s see what happens.

Under 10% Owned

Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds, 9%) – Mahle took another understandable hit in ownership after his last start returned 6 ER and 12 Hits in 4.1 frames…in Coors. He still sports a strong fastball that he elevates effectively, while is developing curveball can pay dividends when earning strikes early in counts. The upside is there to chase with Mahle, something that can be hard to come by this deep in the wire.

Tommy Milone (Seattle Mariners, 5%) – He’s not the sexiest name out there, and even after failing to replicate the excellent strikeout numbers of his first seven games, Milone carries impressive numbers that may continue through the second half. A 3.40 ERA with a strikeout per inning through 50+ frames is nothing to ignore and as long as the Mariners continue to use him with an opener, the Win chances will be increased. Don’t neglect the possible value of Milone.

Tyler Beede (San Francisco Giants, 2%) – If there were ever a time to jump on the Beede train, it would be now. Beede is fresh off a 6.2 IP start with seven strikeouts against the Brewers where he threw 22% sliders. Beede threw 13% sliders in his 1 ER the start prior and through under 5% in all other games this year. Why does this matter? Beede earned 50% Called Strikes + Whiffs with the pitch in the Brewers (30-35% is average for a breaking pitch). In other words, it was fantastic. If Beede continues to feature the pitch as his primary #2 pitch, it could be the complement he’s been looking for his 94 mph heater, turning him into a strong play. Make the add and see where this goes.

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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Ah, “the Beede train.” Good one.