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:
Zach Eflin (Philadelphia Phillies) – Out of nowhere Eflin has impressed in his first two starts of the season, collecting 13 strikeouts and allowing just one earned run in 12.2 IP. Normally we would be hesitant to sign up with this small sample for a pitcher with 5.54 and 6.16 ERA seasons behind him, however there has been one startling change: 1.5 ticks of added velocity on his fastball from 93.7mph in 2017 to 95.3mph across his two 2018 starts. He gets the Mets next over the weekend and it may be wise to jump on board early before this turns into an apparent trend.
Andrew Heaney (Los Angeles Angels) – Save for a ghastly 7 ER performance against the Giants, Heaney has done nothing but impress in 2018, boasting a 25.7% K rate and 7.1% BB rate across 26.1 frames. Even with his nightmarish start, his 3.47 FIP is digestible, and after surviving a night in Coors, Heaney looks ready to become a stable starter…after his next start against the Astros. I don’t expect Heaney to be featured on this list for much longer with his ability to hit corners with his heater and mix a pair of solid secondary offerings through his curveball and changeup that have helped return his impressive 11.0% overall whiff rate.
Andrew Suarez (San Francisco Giants) – Did you realize that Suarez was sporting a 3.06 ERA with a 0.96 WHIP, 27.7% K rate, 3.1% BB rate, and 53.3% GB rate in three starts? Sure, that’s small sample n all, but at the bottom of the barrel you’ll take those numbers and run. His fastball and breaking balls don’t speak elite, but if he can maintain this level of command it’s believable he can be a solid option at the backend of your staff as the Giants lick their SP wounds.
Andrew Triggs (Oakland Athletics) – It seems like I’m endorsing pitchers based on their first name, but I promise there’s more than that. I mentioned Triggs on here two weeks ago, preceding one of the larger clunkers you’ll find. However, those are bound to arise when looking at arms this unowned, and to focus solely on a 6 ER 1.1 IP outing brushes aside the 5-of-7 starts tallying allowing 2 or fewer earned runs, while maintaining a 24.3% K rate and 1.21 WHIP through the entire 2018 season. A 51.6% groundball rate and 3.80 SIERA speak to a pitcher that can make an argument for 12-teamers as well as Triggs will help you more than hurt.
Marco Gonzales (Seattle Mariners) – Following a horrid start to the season, Gonzales has recorded three straight 6.0 inning outings, while racking up 27 strikeouts in his last four games. His 9.87 K/9 and 1.56 BB/9 should turn heads, while a .400 BABIP and 68.3% LOB rate make his 5.19 ERA drop to a 3.08 FIP. I don’t innately trust the longevity of Gonzales’ repertoire, nevertheless, he makes for a solid flier given the under-the-hood numbers.
Daniel Mengden (Oakland Athletics) – Mengden has one of his tough starts out of the way after producing against the Astros last night and while I don’t recommend letting him loose for the Red Sox next time out, I do believe in Mengden’s improved curveball and recent consistency with his fastball that can dictate consistent success from May 20th on. He’s boasting a 15.7 K-BB% rate with a 3.84 FIP over his last five starts and there is value in that.
Jack Flaherty (St. Louis Cardinals) – Even with Alex Reyes throwing 3.1 IP with six strikeouts in the minors, Flaherty looks like the next option for the Cardinals given any opening in their rotation. He has the talent to excel at the major league level, even striking out 13 including seven straight in his Triple-A start Wednesday evening. Adam Wainwright is starting on Sunday, though it’s well within reason a spot opens soon, giving you a very serviceable arm in 12-teamers.
Luiz Gohara (Atlanta Braves) – With Michael Soroka slotting into the Braves’ rotation, there’s more concern in Gohara’s future in the short term, especially as he’s been called up in a bullpen role. Still, there’s plenty of chance that Gohara sees starts for Atlanta sooner rather than later, with Brandon McCarthy allowing 8 ER over the weekend, Julio Teheran with an injury scare, and the relatively short leash given to 20-year-old Soroka. Remember, Gohara has a repertoire that speaks to Top 40 upside via an overpowering fastball, a slider that can hold 20%+ whiff rates and developing changeup.
Mike Minor (Texas Rangers) – A popular name in these articles, I’m not quite ready to give up on Minor just yet. I have every reason to – 41.8% hard contact, 19.1% K rate, 4.30 SIERA – though I’ve been giving Minor a May 15th deadline to get his act together, and we have one more start before I’m ready to fully cut the cord. In his latest outing, he gave us five shutout innings after struggling through the first two, and I wonder if his heavy focus on sliders – 41.2% in this start! – is a shift we’ll see more often moving forward, especially paired with a low 28.9% fastball usage. Don’t invest and start for his next outing, but he’s still an intriguing long term play.
Jimmy Nelson (Milwaukee Brewers) – I expect to be mentioning Nelson each week until right before his reinstatement from the DL as the upside is large enough to warrant a stash for those in deep leagues. There is concern that Nelson will not on top of his game after enduring a torn labrum, though with a ceiling well above any listed here, this should be a wait-and-see as you clench your lottery ticket.