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
Alex Young (Arizona Diamondbacks, 19%) – With a date against the Dodgers looming, owners are looking in the short term for solutions other than Young, but they may miss out on a productive arm through the end of the year. The Diamondbacks as a whole have a weak schedule in the closing weeks, with Young currently slated to face the Reds, Mets, Marlins, Cardinals, and Padres down the stretch. Not to say that Young is fully capable of excelling across all these matchups, but I’d wager Young helps more than hurts as he brings his finesse pitching to mediocre bats.
Mike Montgomery (Kansas City Royals, 13%) – While waiting for Young to get his strong matchups, how about a dose of Montgomery? After disposing of the Athletics Tuesday evening, Montogmery has his sights on the Orioles and Marlins next, two generous dates that could pay quick dividends. His explosion of twelve strikeouts will likely not be repeated, coming on the back of his changeup and cutter working effectively in-and-around the zone, but he doesn’t need both pitches to succeed. With his cutter returning against Oakland, the pitch could carry him through his next starts easily, even if the changeup doesn’t return to an elite level.
Logan Webb (San Francisco Giants, 12%) – While I’m a bit skeptical that his fastball can avoid getting laced regularly, Webb’s secondary pitches – a breaker and changeup – are good enough to be considered for a roster spot. It’s all about the matchups in the final month and boy, is it nice for Webb. His next four starts could be the Padres, Cardinals, Pirates, and Marlins, possibly making it difficult for you to send him back to the pool after each outing. Don’t rule out the chance for another seven strikeout performance in the near future.
Joe Ross (Washington Nationals, 12%) – This article is often a mix of sustainability and short-term solutions, with Ross slotting into the latter. He gets a date with the Marlins on Saturday and those looking for a weekend stream should consider acting now to make the add now, as it will be slim pickings Saturday and Sunday. Expect his sinker/slider combination to find the zone often and rack up close to a strikeout per inning, and have no regrets sending him back to the wire shortly after. Those still around in mid-September may want to circle back for another repeat against Miami near the 22nd.
Sandy Alcantara (Miami Marlins, 11%) – Alcantara is a bit of a risky play, but his raw stuff may reward trusting owners in September. With a two-start week of the Pirates and Royals on the horizon in concert with a follow-up date with the Giants, Alcantara could be a popular target in the coming days. His peripherals are far from enticing, but they overlook his innate volatility, extremes that include a seven-inning gem against the Braves last time out. Alcantara may be putting it together just in time.
CC Sabathia (New York Yankees, 10%) – The price on Sabathia has dwindled through the year, due to injury and how fantasy owners are wisening up to his low IPS and general lack of production. However, this may be the time – and the last time, for that matter – to buy back in. After this weekend’s start against the Athletics, Sabathia is bound to accumulate plenty of wins, facing weak offenses in the Tigers, Jays, and Rangers through the end of the year. With the Yankees focused on the playoffs, expect Sabathia to get extended in these games, possibly throwing the final innings of his career as he may be left off the playoff roster. Take advantage.
Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox, 10%) – This mention of Cease is more of an “on-the-radar” play as his next expected outings against the Twins and Indians are a bit too risky for my liking. However, if Cease showcases some of the same ability from his last start of elevating four-seamers and featuring sliders, changeups, and curveballs for strikes, he should be marked on your calendar for his starts against the Angels, Mariners, and Tigers thereafter. There’s plenty of upside to be had here for the price of free in most leagues.
Under 10% Owned
Pablo Lopez (Miami Marlins, 9%) – Now back from his lengthy IL stint, Lopez has a chance to perform to his talent level. With the Marlins well out of contention, PabLo will be let loose to take full advantage of his time on the hill, and while a start against the Nationals on Saturday should be avoided, he could be well worth your while against the Royals, Brewers, and Diamondbacks after. It’s no lock that he’ll polish his changeup and curveball by next week, but keep him on your radar if you’re searching for starts.
Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates, 8%) – Of all the names here, Keller has the biggest chance to soar in ownership rates across the next two weeks. His repertoire suggests hints of dominance, featuring a pair of deadly breaking balls he throws with confidence and a mid-90s heater that touches 97 mph. With a nine strikeout performance at his back, Keller has a tough date against the Phillies tonight, though it’s the Marlins directly after and he’ll be a popular pickup overnight. This could be the start of a run that pushes you into your fantasy championships.
Framber Valdez (Houston Astros, 4%) – This is a bit of a speculative option as we’re still unsure when Framber’s next start will be, or if he even gets another this season. However, the Astros are sure to introduce a proper fifth starter next week if not immediately this weekend given their lock for the playoffs and likely desire to rest their veteran starters. If Framber gets his “next in line” start, it would be Saturday against the Jays, followed by the Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Mariners, and Angels through the end. With half of his last six starts coming with 7+ strikeouts, Framber could return some surprising production down the stretch.