Waiver Wire Week 19: 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

Griffin Canning (Los Angeles Angels, 19%) – Let’s look at the recent performances of Canning. He had a pair of poor performances dealing with the stress of losing his teammate, including a six walk effort that has every indication of an outlier, a strong return-to-form outing against the Mariners, a horrible two-inning relief appearance the night before his scheduled start forced by extra-innings, then six innings of brilliance last time out against the Tigers. Canning is back on track and ready to perform in the final two months, using a pair of breaking balls to earn whiffs (13.6% overall swinging-strike rate!) and elevating properly with heaters to carve up a lineup. Get him before someone else does.

Trevor Williams (Pittsburgh Pirates, 18%) – I’m not one to endorse Mr. Williams a whole lot, but I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow after seeing him fan seven batters in each of his last two games. His slider has looked plenty better, earning 8 whiffs on just 22 thrown last time out, elevating him to an overall 18% swinging-strike rate against the Mets. Now he gets the Mets for a second time tonight and it could be more of the same. Williams with a strikeout rate + his above-average ability to earn outs in the field could return a constant producer in the final weeks.

Jakob Junis (Kansas City Royals, 15%) – Junis was cruising for two starts with his elite slider until hitting Paternity Leave and losing his rhythm last week. Then last time out, he was back on point, with his start ruined after heading out to start the eighth inning. Don’t let the 4 ER count steer you away, Junis is pitching plenty better than the first half of the year and make sure to eye him for your squad…soon. Just sit out his next start against Boston, first.

Jordan Lyles (Milwaukee Brewers, 13%) – A move from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee isn’t favorable regarding home ballparks, but a better team behind him paired with an easier schedule should certainly aid Lyles down the stretch. His low curveball/high heater approach fits with the Brewers’ mentality and now with Pittsburgh (reunion!) and Texas up next, Lyles could be a sneaky play for a two-start week.

Dinelson Lamet (San Diego Padres, 10%) – Do owners not like strikeouts? Sure, it’s a 5.09 ERA, but an 11.74 K/9 cannot be overlooked despite the ratios in a small sample. Lamet will be slowly let off his leash as the season progresses, shifting from 4/5 inning games to 5/6 shortly, allowing him to give you quality starts and continue to boost your strikeout numbers. Sure, his command isn’t spectacular and maybe that ERA settles around 4.00, but there are few that can pump Ks this frequently on your wire.

Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox, 10%) – Cease was well-hyped before his MLB debut and it’s surprising to see many already moving on. Give him more time to flourish and you will be rewarded. It’s a 96/97 mph heater that will keep his upside alive, a good-and-still-with-another-gear-to-hit slider that he turns to for whiffs and called strikes early in counts, while his curveball and changeup are developing consistency. He shouldn’t be blindly trusted, but with the Tigers next after Thursday’s strong seven-inning start against the Mets, you should feel confident at least in the short term.

Aaron Sanchez (Houston Astros, 10%) – The shift from Toronto to Houston easily benefits Sanchez, who has already been confirmed as the starter on Saturday for the Astros. While I wouldn’t expect dramatic shifts out of the gate – there simply isn’t enough time to truly tweak his pitches – I anticipate Houston to reinforce Sanchez’s recent shift from sinker-heavy to more curveballs and changeups. After all, Sanchez’s last start returned ten strikeouts as he threw the fewest rate of fastballs of any start this year. Houston surely is on board with this change and it could turn into a big summer for Sanchez.

Danny Duffy (Kansas City Royals, 10%) – Duffy has been dancing in-and-out of effectiveness, but for those in deeper leagues looking for a possible QS machine, Duffy’s recent growth with his slider and changeup may return deep starts that help your team. Not a strong play for 12-teamers save for the rare stream, but among a dearth of options in deep leagues, Duffy could pull a rabbit out of a hat for your team.

Under 10% Owned

Pedro Payano (Texas Rangers, 3%) – Payano impressed during a seven-strikeout game against the Mariners, but failed to repeat against the Athletics in his most recent start. His repertoire suggests good days ahead, though, with a low-to-mid 90s heater, a curveball that misses plenty of bats, and sliders + changeups to find the zone constantly. For those in need of help this weekend, consider Payano as a stream against the Tigers, though you may want to move on for his following start against Milwaukee.

Elieser Hernandez (Miami Marlins, 2%) – With Trevor Richards shipped to Tampa Bay and Zac Gallen to Arizona, Elieser looks locked in as a starter through the end of the year. His performances haven’t jumped off the page, but Elieser fanned at least six in five straight starts to kick off his MLB career and his sixth still returned just 1 ER despite the low strikeout count. His slider is destined to fall under swings constantly, and movement in-and-out with heat and a decent changeup could spell sneaky value. Play the matchups right and this may work out well.

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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