Waiver Wire Week 3: 10 Starting Pitchers To Consider Under 15% Owned

Each week through the season, I’ll be looking at the collection of starting pitchers owned in under 15% of leagues (consensus Yahoo/ESPN ownership from Fantasy pros) and pointing out the options to consider if you need an extra arm or two at the end of your staff.

It’s been another week of Fantasy Baseball, and the waiver wire has shifted. Let’s highlight my ten favorites, roughly ordered from top to bottom.

Andrew Triggs (Oakland Athletics) – Did you realize that Triggs hold a 25.8% strikeout rate? What about a 58.1% groundball rate and 25.6% soft contact? How about his 3.32 SIERA? Okay, this is a really poor style of telling you information, but it does illuminate how quietly Triggs is performing out of the gate in Oakland. Sure, his 9.1% walk rate and 9.4% whiff rate are questionable, but you’re going to have warts and I’d gladly chase his batted ball profile mixed with strikeout upside.

Mike Minor (Texas Rangers) – Minor is back again, despite getting roughed up by the Astros last week. It’s hard for me to discredit him plenty after facing one of the toughest offenses in the league, while Seattle and Oakland are next in line. Given enough time, I can see Minor getting more comfortable with his repertoire as he features higher velocity than his time as a starter back in 2014. My colleague Ian Post wrote a fantastic GIF Breakdown of the stuff he brings to the table, and he’s well worth the investment off the wire.

Trevor Cahill (Oakland Athletics) – Cahill may not actually make this list if I made it tomorrow as more players become aware of his studly shutout seven innings with eight strikeouts against the ChiSox Tuesday night. I can see owners repeating his name wondering why they recognize it only to think “hey, wasn’t he really good for a moment last year?” That was a stretch of seven starts to begin 2017 with a 3.27 ERA, 29.5% K rate, and 1.21 WHIP. While you shouldn’t be expecting a replication moving forward, he has the ability to miss bats with his curveball while keeping batters off balance with a lively two-seamer and solid changeup. There’s value to be had here.

Nick Tropeano (Los Angeles Angels) – He missed the entirety of 2017 with TJS after being an intriguing sleeper option after producing a 23.0% K rate and 12.5% whiff rate across 68.1 IP in 2016. His breaking ball (Slider? Curveball?) was the catalyst with a fantastic 24%+ whiff rate in 2016, and with his first start back against the Royals, that number exceeded 20% again, leading to a stellar 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks line. This is far from what to expect and he’s a massive risk tomorrow against the Red Sox, though keep an eye on him. This could turn from a streaming option to a back-end starter quickly.

Vincent Velasquez (Philadelphia Phillies) – I’m actually a little surprised to see Velasquez as an option in the heavy majority of leagues, even not as a big fan myself. Without the strong secondary pitches, Velasquez is sure to have his valleys, but with one of the better fastballs around, his peaks can be massive. His last two starts have combined for 13 strikeouts, two walks, and two earned runs in 12.2 IP – not a sample to get behind, but more of an expression of a ceiling to chase. Don’t start him against strong offenses, feast on the average and below average, and this will work out well.

Luiz Gohara (Atlanta Braves) – Stashes aren’t the most popular of moves in fantasy, but Gohara looks ready to be an arm that will help your team by the middle of May. He had a rehab start on Tuesday and while it wasn’t impressive, given another few weeks, he could start producing results at the big level. He comes with an overpowering fastball and a slider that earned a 24.3% whiff rate across 140 thrown in 2017 – and he didn’t have the best command of it! – suggesting that he can be successful even if he doesn’t take the next step with his changeup. It’s only a matter of time before he gets picked up in your league, you may want to consider it now.

Jimmy Nelson (Milwaukee Brewers) – With Gohara, there’s Nelson, another productive stash as he should help your team through the second half of the season. It’s an easier stash given his DL eligibility, though his return will be later in the year – think June/early July – and it’s still hazy as to how productive he will be. Yes, Nelson went on a tear to complete his 2017 season, though returning from a torn labrum may hold him back from repeating his 2017 breakout. Nevertheless, the risk is worth the gamble if you have room for another on your squad.

Chris Stratton (San Francisco Giants) – It’s a familiar list last from last week, with over half the names returning as they made a home on the wire. Stratton’s outlook hasn’t changed, still acting a possible streaming option with a glimmer of hope to become a sturdy arm if his curveball gets a larger spotlight. His slider has potential as well, and monitor its consistency moving forward, while his heater is good enough to set up his secondary pitches. Don’t anticipate greatness but he should be in consideration for a roster spot.

Andrew Heaney (Los Angeles Angels) – Like Tropeano, Heaney returned for the Angels this week, though his road has been a little rockier with just six starts since the end of 2015. He profiles to be an innings eater, though he shocked with seven strikeouts to his name in his 2018 debut. His curveball has earned whiffs every step of the way – 23.3% career whiff rate – while he has featured great fastball command in the past. There may be some growing pains here as Heaney finds a rhythm, but there is upside to be had that could label him a Top 60 starter.

Daniel Mengden (Oakland Athletics) – I don’t see Mengden becoming a staple of staff. At the same time, he’s known to go on stretches where his fastball command is on point and he’s able to throw his curveball in the zone for strikes. Now could be that time as he’s fresh off a fantastic 8.0 IP 1 ER outing against the White Sox. At 3% ownership, Mengden could be a sneaky play in deeper leagues in the short term.

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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I like Triggs. I agree with you on Triggs. I even picked him up (prior to this article) because CHW at home isn’t an all bad stream to take a shot at.



My bad – I picked him up to stream too, and I’m simply uncanny at picking up a pitcher just before their worst start of the year.