Waiver Wire Week 6: 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.

Note: This week and moving forward, I’m going to focus more on the sub 20% and sub 10% owned arms as I expect many of the sub 30% arms are snatched up in your leagues.

Let’s highlight my ten favorite starting pitcher options that may be available on your waiver wires, ordered by ownage %:

Under 20% owned

Reynaldo Lopez (Chicago White Sox – 18% owned) – Fanning fourteen batters in one game should be enough to warrant a pickup in deeper leagues, disregarding the solid performances in each of his previous two outings. Lopez is notorious for his erratic nature, often returning clunkers after starts featuring seven scoreless frames, though his brilliant performance may be a turning point. With the Red Sox ahead, if Lopez can produce with both his slider and changeup, he’ll be well off this list next week. Now could be your last chance to take a shot.

Jeff Samardzija (San Francisco Giants – 16% owned) – Samardzija is far from my favorite listed here, but he may be a name often available through the year and you might be able to squeeze out production if you choose wisely. His 2.53 ERA will certainly inflate as his .236 BABIP, 80.5% LOB rate, and 7.1% HR/FB dictate a 4.82 SIERA, though with more time on the hill, Samardzija could improve his skills to mitigate the regression. Pitching in Oracle Park will do him favors and if you’re looking for a boring arm that will help more than hurt, Samardzija could be that man.

Trevor Richards (Miami Marlins – 12% owned) – If you’re hurting for strikeouts, Richards should get your attention. He’s fanned seven in half of his starts thus far, fueled by a changeup that induces whiffs 22% of the time. With everyone here, there is plenty of risk contained his lack of supporting cast. His four-seamer, despite missing bats frequently at a 10% mark, is still susceptible to punishment, while his pair of breakers leave plenty to be desired. As long as his changeup is on point, Richards should return positive results, though there will be your share of bumps along the road.

Wade Miley (Houston Astros – 12% owned) – Like Samardzija, Miley is a distance away from attractive, boasting just a 15% strikeout rate through his first six starts. However, pitching for the Astros and relying heavily on poor contact could make Miley often enter the sixth inning with a lead. It’s possible his newfound cutter will keep his BABIP south of .280 through the year, allowing owners to reap the rewards of an overall unattractive option.

Merrill Kelly (Arizona Diamondbacks – 10% owned) – We aren’t sure what we’re going to get out of Kelly as his approach seemingly changes night-to-night. Sometimes he’s able to utilize his curveball in-and-out of the zone, his fastball velocity can shift from 90/91 to 92/93, and the KBO import could cruise through 5+ or seem lost on the hill. There’s a path to success as long as he’s finding the zone with his secondary stuff and consider Kelly when searching for spot starts.

Under 10% Owned

Anthony DeSclafani (Cincinnati Reds – 9% owned) – DeSclafani surprised many Wednesday evening, fanning eight as he raised his strikeout near 28%. It’s the product of a new curveball that earns swings-and-misses at a 20% clip and boasts a .154 BAA – a valuable asset that explains its boost from sub 4% usage to 16%+ this season. The strikeout rate should fall closer to 23% or so, while his 3.95 SIERA seems more likely than his current sub 3.50 mark, and there is more hesitation given his formerly stellar slider has been remarkably mediocre through its first 68 thrown. If Tony Disco can bring the slide piece back while maintaining the effective deuce, there could be something here at an inexpensive price.

Spencer Turnbull (Detroit Tigers – 7% owned) – It’s rare to see an arm with a low ERA and intriguing strikeout upside so wildly unowned, yet Turnbull’s 11% swinging-strike rate and 2.53 ERA are vastly available across leagues. There’s room to grow as he gains confidence featuring his deadly slider/curveball combination across all counts and cutting his sinker usage, presenting an option that could provide decent ratios and pad the punchouts. Pitching for the Tigers will hurt his overall Win tally, but if that’s not an issue, investing in Turnbull could pay major dividends.

Pablo Lopez (Miami Marlins – 6% owned) – There’s plenty of polish left to apply to Lopez’s repertoire. His curveball boasts a low 11.3% swinging-strike-rate and finds the zone at a low 37% mark, resulting in a breaker that doesn’t earn enough strikes to justify its current stature as Pablo’s second option. Meanwhile, his fastball velocity is impressive, but still needs a touch more command on both sides of the plate to become a consistent offering. All that said, his changeup’s 27% swinging-strike is easily elite and can carry him on any given night. Lopez could develop plenty in 2019, allowing him to become a stable force in your lineups.

Trent Thornton (Toronto Blue Jays – 3% owned) – It’s the bottom of the barrel and a shallow look at Thronton doesn’t suggest otherwise. While his SIERA is a full point better than his ERA, a 4.05 mark still does little to seduce, while a 1.38 WHIP repels many. Still, a 27% strikeout rate can suggest better days as Thornton’s trio of secondary pitches each return a 12%+ swinging strike rate thus far, while he has no hesitation to feature four-seamers up in the zone to finish at-bats. It’s rough for the Blue Jay rookie so far, though better days could be ahead as he figures out how to pitch in the majors.

Martin Perez (Minnesota Twins – 2% owned) – Despite all the talk of Perez’s increased velocity, few owners bought into Perez and they may be regretting it. A 3.41 ERA and massive three-and-half point boost in swinging-strike rate could indicate a productive year for trusting owners, especially in deeper leagues. On top of the fastball velocity, Perez has transitioned his poor slider into the #1 cutter in the majors by pValearning strikes with the pitch on-and-off the plate. After overcoming the Astros on Wednesday evening, it’s not outlandish to suggest Perez has passed all tests to become a solidified member of your pitching staff.

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.

newest oldest most voted

Vlad Jr. will be a waiver wire target soon enough…


Definitely. That guy is terrible.


confirmerd, too fat