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
Anthony DeSclafani (Cincinnati Reds, 17%) – Tony Disco’s season marks of a 4.12 ERA and 1.28 WHIP aren’t winning over many owners, but maybe his current 8-game trend will: 3.07 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 27.5% strikeout rate, and 5% walk rate. He’s had to endure teams like Milwaukee, Houston, and even the Cubs twice during the successful run, displaying his best heaters and sliders of the season. There’s a chance it could come crashing down when he hosts the Rockies this weekend, but his upside could be worth the risk.
Jakob Junis (Kansas City Royals, 17%) – Junis has expressed plenty of volatility over the years, though when Junis’s slider is cooking, he can go on some ridiculous stretches. We’re in the middle of a groove right now, with 23 strikeouts and just 3 ER total across his last 20 frames in three starts. He’ll be missing his Friday start against the Indians as he heads to paternity leave, though keep an eye on Junis’ matchups, which could include the Jays next week. It’s sure not to last through September but get the value here while you can.
Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox, 15%) – I’m a bit amazed to see owners giving up so quickly on Cease, even if his three starts thus far have spelled a 6.19 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. The skills are still there – an overpowering fastball, a good slider & changeup to set up batters, and developing curveball – and the White Sox will give him the opportunities to develop and figure himself out in the bigs. Skip him for the Twins next, but don’t let another owner snatch him up for the Mets to follow.
Jose Urquidy (Houston Astros, 13%) – The Astros have found yet another solid arm in Urquidy, who had a field day against the Rangers last weekend, punching out nine through seven strong innings. Armed with a low-to-mid 90s heater, an above-average breaker, and a changeup that earns whiffs at a 21.5% clip, it’s hard not to be a little excited. He may not be able to lean over 40% of the time on the slow ball in the future, but with a solid pitch mix, decent command, and whiffability, Urquidy could provide plenty of value pitching for a winning team. Urquidy gets a date with the Cardinals Thursday evening and he could pay off right away.
Tyler Beede (San Francisco Giants, 13%) – I expected to be out on Beede following his recent start against the Cubs where he surrendered 4 ER across 10 hits in 5.2 frames, but he’s pulling me back in. Why? He recorded 20 whiffs en route to seven strikeouts. Yes, his fastball command still needs polishing to limit mistakes and batters comfortable hacking in the box, but his slider and curveball are destined to miss plenty of bats in the upcoming weeks, giving Beede the chance to legit production at the cost of free. Don’t blindly start him, but definitely consider him in the mix where strikeouts are at a premium.
Dinelson Lamet (San Diego Padres, 10%) – The volume will take some time to arrive, but Lamet should still be owned for his ability to rack up the Ks in a hurry. His slider is looking even better than its 2017 counterpart, with its 25% swinging-strike rate seven points up and BAA dropping to a paltry .086 across 150 thrown thus far. The concern lies in locating heaters to set up the wicked slide piece effectively, while his changeup is far from polished enough to become a consistent third offering. Still, at just 10% owned, Lamet could be the best shot you have at a Top 50 option down the stretch still sitting on your wire.
Under 10% Owned
Danny Duffy (Kansas City Royals, 7%) – Did you realize that Duffy had his second-highest fastball velocity of the season in his last start? You know, the one where he fanned eleven Braves, earned a 13% swinging-strike rate, and had a great slider? It can be hard to buy into Duffy for consistency, though this outing in Atlanta was the third of four games allowing 2 ER or fewer and his fifth Quality Start in six games. I’d avoid in shallow leagues, but give Duffy a deep league consideration.
Dario Agrazal (Pittsburgh Pirates, 4%) – Do I by Dario’s 2.25 ERA through five starts? Not in the slightest. It comes with a .241 BABIP, 88% LOB rate, and 8.8% HR/FB as he’s holding a K/9 that looks like a solid ERA at 3.86. It all points to a 6.20 SIERA and it’s weird to bring this all up in a waiver wire targets article. We’ve seen arms overperform for long stretches in the past – even on the Pirates via Trevor Williams – and while it is sure to come to an end, there may be some last value to squeeze out before Dario hits the wall. It’s only for the deepest leagues, but maybe it sticks around a little longer.
Asher Wojciechowski (Baltimore Orioles, 3%) – Few owners have jumped at Wojciechowski and it doesn’t quite add up, possibly because they’ve misspelled his name searching on the wire. It would explain overlooking an arm that made the Red Sox look silly over the weekend, fanning ten with a phenomenal curveball and dotting heaters on the edge. His new cutter this year is an effective strike-earner and among a wire of little upside, chasing Woj seems like worth the risk against the Angels Thursday evening. We could be off the ride soon, but you may want to pick him up before the game. If it’s more of the same tonight, he’ll be flying off waivers tomorrow.
Pedro Payano (Texas Rangers, 1%) – Here’s a name I didn’t expect to ever discuss at length. Payano followed an opener in his second game in the majors and returned an impressive 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BB, 7 Ks line against the Mariners and you should take note. His fastball comes in around 94 mph with a ton of life, his curveball missed a ton of bats, and his slider + changeup can be used to get strikes in the zone. It’s not a bad repertoire to play with and while he’s sure to go through your typical growing pains as he refines his fastball command and works his secondary pitches properly, there could be some sneaky value to be had along the way. Pick your spots right and you could be getting in before the rest.