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
Homer Bailey (Oakland Athletics, 19%) – In September, scrutinizing expected matchups is critical and Bailey could have a favorable schedule across your fantasy playoffs, save for a date with Houston next week. In the short term, he gets the Tigers one start after flexing a fantastic splitter against the Yankees. There’s upside for more than a strikeout per inning against one of the worst lineups in the game, and those that are looking for a strong option to close the season should be excited for his pair of starts against the Rangers and Mariners.
Reynaldo Lopez (Chicago White Sox, 18%) – Reynaldo has already started by the time this comes out and I highly recommend watching his performance closely. If his fastball velocity is above 96 mph or his slider and changeup are working effectively, ReyLo could be a bargain through the final weeks. Today’s overall line doesn’t matter – it’s the Indians and not a clear start – but three of his last four outings come against the Royals and Tigers. There could be some legit production to be had for free.
Mike Montgomery (Kansas City Royals, 17%) – If you’re simply looking short term, heavily consider Montgomery for his Sunday outing against the Miami Marlins. Monty’s cutter and changeup have been effective in recent starts, helping him rely less on his curveball and mediocre fastball. Don’t hold on for the tough outings to follow, but if you’re searching for value now, Montgomery is your man.
Merrill Kelly (Arizona Diamondbacks, 15%) – Across the full season, Kelly has a 91.8 mph fastball. Across his last two starts, he’s averaging 93.3 mph, each above any game thrown this year by the Arizona starter. The increased velocity induced a nine strikeout effort over seven frames against the Padres, and here’s the best part: he faces average or below-average teams across his final four starts of the year via @NYM, CIN, @SD, and STL. This could be the stable production you need.
Under 10% Owned
Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox, 8%) – Fresh off an 11-strikeout performance, you’d imagine a higher ownership rate, but many are still cautious of the rookie’s sustainability. It’s a reasonable worry and Cease could hurt owners through the rest of the season as his fastball command goes in-and-out. He’ll be given every chance to prove otherwise, however, with his next three starts coming against the Angels, Mariners, and Tigers. Hopefully his ability to feature sliders, changeups, and curveballs for strikes will carry over and reward bold owners.
Danny Duffy (Kansas City Royals, 7%) – Like Montgomery earlier, Duffy is purely short term as the Royals have a rough go of it down the stretch. However, Duffy is slated to get the Marlins on Saturday, one start removed from pushing his fastball velocity to 93.4 mph – a season-high. This could be a sneaky play to steal a playoff victory.
Framber Valdez (Houston Astros, 5%) – It’s been a tumultuous season from Framber, impressing in his return to the rotation only to get lit up by the Jays last week. His floor is turning owners away, but the ceiling may be worth the spin of the wheel as he gets as good of a schedule as anyone down the stretch – Mariners, Athletics, Rangers, Mariners, Angels – and with the Astros likely wanting to ease their rotation into the playoffs, expect Framber to get all the chances he needs to strike gold.
Asher Wojciechowski (Baltimore Orioles, 4%) – We had a fun moment when Wojciechowski broke onto the scene in July, but his low ownership tells the tale of disappointment since. It may be coming around, though, as his slider and curveball performed well in his last start against the Rays. It’s the perfect time, too, with the Woj getting served dates with the Rangers, Tigers, and Jays. It’s unclear if he’ll have his breaking stuff refined for each evening, but he’s a good gamble for those in need of a strikeout boost.
Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds, 3%) – Mahle was a popular sneaky breakout pick earlier in the season, but he struggled and after injury, was sent to the minors as Cincinnati filled their rotation. Now that Alex Wood is dealing with back trouble once again, Mahle is starting Friday evening against the Diamondbacks with the Mariners likely to follow. His strong fastball led to a 24% strikeout in 20 starts this year and could be serviceable through September.
Dillon Peters (Los Angeles Angels, 3%) – My final pick for the road goes to Peters just for his start Friday night against the Chicago White Sox. He doesn’t have a repertoire that speaks to a high ceiling, but think of Aaron Civale in his way to get through a good matchup effectively. Many are ignoring Peters as an option and those in desperate need of another stream this weekend – and maybe a Win! – should consider him.