Waiver Wire Week 2: 10 SP Targets

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

Corbin Burnes (Milwaukee Brewers) – It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Burnes back on this list – you’ll see a lot of repeats from last week – after he fanned twelve Cardinals in his season debut. His fastball features plenty of cut-action at 94 mph, with a deadly slider that missed bats near a 25% clip in 2018. There is some concern about his volume and weakness to the longball, though his upside is far too tantalizing to leave on the wire.

Brandon Woodruff (Milwaukee Brewers) – Paired with Burnes in Wisconsin is Woodruff, who sailed to five strikeouts and two earned runs in his five-inning 2019 debut. His fastball was impressive both in the zone and out, while his slider was a stronger secondary pitch than I anticipated. There is a decent amount of upside here as Woodruff gains more trust to go deeper into games as the season progresses and continues to polish his breaking ball and changeup. There’s an air of confidence as well that Woodruff’s talents prevent him from a cataclysmic floor.

Michael Pineda (Minnesota Twins) – It may take a moment to get full production from Pineda, though he looked strong in his return from Tommy John surgery, collecting five strikeouts and just two baserunners in four frames. The Twins will limit him in the opening weeks, though with his fastball velocity back to his former days and his slider looking like the breaker of old, Pineda could boast a 25% strikeout rate without ratios that destroy your week. It’s rare to find that ability on the wire.

Trevor Richards (Miami Marlins) – Armed with a phenomenal changeup, Richards has produced back-to-back quality starters, hosting both the Rockies and Mets in the first week of games. Tougher opponents will follow, though he boasted a 13%+ swinging-strike rate in both outings, even missing more bats with his heater than changeup in Wednesday’s affair. If that fastball continues to avoid disaster, his changeup will steer him to the majority of fantasy rosters by mid-season.

Domingo German (New York Yankees) – With Luis Severino still weeks away, German should be owned in the short term to take advantage of his impressive swing-and-miss ability. German’s 15% swinging-strike rate was easily matched during his season debut, earning 16 whiffs in just 79 pitches thrown. There will be some stretches of turmoil due to an inconsistent changeup, though the strikeouts should be there as long as he’s on the hill.

Under 10% Owned

Aaron Sanchez (Toronto Blue Jays) – Sanchez is slated to start just moments after this article is live, favorably matched up against the Cleveland offense in an outing that could force his ownage rate to soar like a Joey Gallo moonshot. Sanchez’s velocity has returned from his early seasons and after his solid night against the Tigers, Sanchez could take a step forward with his curveball and changeup this evening. The ratio upside is there and there is still room for his strikeout rate to rise as he continues a healthy season.

Caleb Smith (Miami Marlins) – We’ve seen a collection of impressive performances through the first week and throw Smith into the pile following his five innings against the Mets – eight strikeouts, one walk, and two hits are sure to raise an eyebrow, especially when his fastball held a 21.5% swinging-strike rate. There’s a need for more polish to trust him start-to-start, but now’s the time to buy in as Smith’s strong repertoire opens up the possibility of a true breakout year.

Pablo Lopez (Miami Marlins) – I’ve given Lopez a large amount of love this preseason as an undrafted arm who could provide sneaky value. With increased velocity from last season and two secondary pitches to earn whiffs, Lopez looks prepared to take a leap in 2018. There are questions of fastball command, though its new 94mph velocity masks mistakes, while his changeup keeps plenty of batters honest. There is less volatility here than that of his teammates Richards and Smith, though the upside is a touch lower given the lack of an overpowering offering.

Anthony DeSclafani (Cincinnati Reds) – Tony Disco showcased outings last season where he went all-in with his slider, throwing the pitch over 40% of the time and having success. In his first start of the year, however, he surprised us with a heavy dose of curveballs in his mix…and earning double the whiffs of his slide piece. With a mediocre fastball weighing him down, the rise of a curveball could bring DeSclafani out of fantasy purgatory, providing value for those in desperate need of strikeouts.

Frankie Montas (Oakland Athletics) – Revitalized by a new splitter, Montas heavily impressed over the weekend, suddenly exhibiting K potential following a season of a 15% strikeout rate. With the new third option under his belt, Montas’ 97 mph sinker plays up, while he can focus on throwing his slider for strikes. While I’d prefer mixing a four-seamer up in the zone to pair with the splitter’s heavy drop, there’s plenty of opportunity for Montas to develop into a stable option through the year, especially for those in quality start leagues that could benefit from quick outs generated by the sinker (at the risk of getting BABIP’d). Monitor Montas closely to see if his splitter is for real.

We hoped you liked reading Waiver Wire Week 2: 10 SP Targets by Nick Pollack!

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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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Freddy Peralta?


Ownership % ust be too high.