Waiver Wire Week 21: 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

Jordan Lyles (Milwaukee Brewers, 19%) – Since shifting from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee, Lyles has only helped fantasy teams. He’s surrendered just 3 ER, collected 14 strikeouts, and earned a pair of wins, yet still hasn’t earned the trust of the majority of owners. With his next two starts coming against the Nationals and Diamondbacks, there’s still value to be had, using his curveball down and the zone and confidently elevating to earn whiffs. Lyles could be an arm to favor not just in the short term, but through your fantasy playoffs.

Anthony DeSclafani (Cincinnati Reds, 18%) – A 4.51 ERA on the year and 13 ER recorded in his last three starts do little to encourage an endorsement, but I have two words for you: Pirates & Cardinals. Tony Disco faces these two division rivals in his next two starts and armed with a strong slider and improving four-seamer, DeSclafani is primed to take full advantage of his matchups and should not be ignored – don’t forget, he does have a 24% strikeout rate on the year.

Spencer Turnbull (Detroit Tigers, 13%) – Turnbull’s Thursday outing against the Mariners left owners wanting more, returning harmful ratios without a satisfying Win. However, he fanned eight in five frames on the back of a great 93 mph fastball and comfort with both his curveball and slider. This is more of a long term play as he’s currently slated to face the Astros and Twins twice in the next three weeks. If you’re searching for the off-the-radar upside play that could pay dividends in September, Turnbull may who you’re looking for.

Vince Velasquez (Philadelphia Phillies, 14%) – If you believe that Velasquez isn’t nearly as good as his recent seven-earned-runs-in-four-games stretch suggests, we’d be good friends. He faced the Giants twice, the Diamondbacks, and Tigers in those matchups, didn’t showcase the overwhelming strikeout upside we’re accustomed to, and the heavy reliance on his slider sure isn’t a blueprint for success. However, Velasquez’s production could continue as he feasts on weak opponents, including the strikeout susceptible Padres Friday evening followed up with a lovely evening in Miami. His ceiling is unlikely to be hit across a full season, but this isn’t about the long haul.

Joe Ross (Washington Nationals, 11%) – It’s the second week for Ross in this column, as the former 1% owned arm has jumped after his impressive 6.2 frames against the Reds where he allowed just one earned run. There is some worry for his next start against the Cubs and Max Scherzer expected to return next week, but if he beats Erick Fedde for the #5 spot in the rotation, Ross could be a decent back-end streamer against the Pirates, with upside to contend for an indefinite roster spot. His sinker/slider combination is back in style, even with a greater mix of curveballs as well that could help nullify his fastball’s mistakes. Keep an eye on this one past the Chicago start.

Under 10% Owned

Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates, 9%) – Keller is finally back in the bigs and he showcased legit stuff in his date with the Angels. His fastball sat 96/97, turning often to curveballs early before leaning on his slider to get important outs in his final frame. Expect his breakers to take a larger spotlight moving forward – especially the slide piece – positioning Keller as a possible September breakout arm. There may be some stumbles in August, but the stuff dictates promising days ahead.

Mike Montgomery (Kansas City Royals, 7%) – Pop quiz: What is Montgomery’s best pitch? Over the years, his signature offering has been a big curveball, yet in his last start, Montgomery’s cutter and changeup took center stage, propelling him to a ridiculous twelve strikeout night against the Tigers. Tonight’s affair with the Mets could turn sour, but if he displays the same feel for his secondary pitches, this could carry over through the summer. I’m all for picking him up now before the outing and playing it from there.

Adrian Houser (Milwaukee Brewers, 6%) – Like Montgomery, Houser had himself a remarkable weekend, fanning ten batters as he overpowered the Rangers’ lineup with fastballs. His secondary stuff doesn’t possess a deadly threat to keep batters on their toes, but with a well-commanded heater that misses bats often, Houser has a strong foundation to suddenly become a major splash. It’s a very small sample and Friday’s start against the Nationals may take him out of relevancy conversation quickly, but if his slider takes a bigger role, we may have legitimate value on our hands.

Dillon Peters (Los Angeles Angels, 6%) – I’m not in love with Peters’ stuff as much as many others above, but we can’t ignore his recent three-game stretch averaging nearly seven innings per start with 19 strikeouts and a 3.66 ERA. The kicker comes through the teams he faced – Indians, Red Sox, and his best start coming against the Pirates this week. There could be something here that allows Peters to act as a notable streamer in the coming days, though don’t get too enamored – his fastball is average and his breaking pitches aren’t enough to carry him when his great changeup falters.

Elieser Hernandez (Miami Marlins, 1%) – It’s been a rough schedule for Elieser, facing the Braves and Dodgers back-to-back in his last two games, yet he’s collected 14 strikeouts in just 12 twelve innings, and his recent implosion of 4 HRs against the Dodgers can be brushed aside given the lineup and inflated HR/FB rate. It doesn’t get easier right away with another game against the Braves, but don’t forget about Elieser. He has a strong three-pitch mix including whiff inducing sliders and changeups. Play the matchups up correctly and you’ll come out ahead of your leaguemates.

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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Don’t forget, Velasquez can play a good left field.