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
Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds, 12%) – It’s rare to see an arm with a 3.51 ERA and comparable SIERA and FIP this wildly available, but Mahle and his fantastic 26% strikeout rate are out on many wires and ready to join your squad. Paired with a fantastic 5% walk rate, Mahle has the peripherals to back up what has the makings of a breakout 2019 campaign. I’m not entirely convinced that his new curveball and splitter combination is enough in his back pocket to complement his excellent high-four-seam approach, though nine games of success should be enough to convince those in need to take a chance, especially after he survived his latest test against the Dodgers.
Reynaldo Lopez (Chicago White Sox, 18%) – Lopez’s one start since last week’s edition went smoothly against the Jays, though his welcome 1.50 ERA disappointingly came with just one punchout. Blame his inconsistent changeup for the lack of strikeouts and hope that ReyLo’s current stretch of 2 ER or fewer in five of his last seven games continues against the Twins Friday evening, as he’s one of the rare high ceiling options left on your wire.
Jimmy Nelson (Milwaukee Brewers, 14%) – Is he finally back? I’ve featured Nelson countless times in this article since its inception last season and have yet to watch Nelson throw a single inning in that time. However, after throwing his fourth rehab start on Thursday, Nelson’s next game could be in the majors, making it time to stash him for the week ahead. It’s unclear if Nelson will come close to replicating his magnificent 2017 campaign, though the potential impact is well worth the empty roster spot for a few days. Let’s collectively cross our fingers his velocity is still near 94 mph with a fantastic hook.
Lance Lynn (Texas Rangers, 13%) – I’m surprised to feature Lynn at all this year, yet he’s given me no choice after collecting at least eight strikeouts in three of his last five outings. There’s plenty of volatility paired with Lynn’s strikeout ability – a 4.67 ERA and 1.36 WHIP does enough to detail his floor – but those in deep leagues may not have a better option.
Nick Pivetta (Philadelphia Phillies, 30%) – I don’t actually believe that Pivetta is still owned in 30% of leagues and with the recent news that the Phils are looking at Pivetta and Vince Velasquez as possible options for Tuesday’s game, now is the time to grab him off the wire. It could go poorly and we’re back to where we started with Pivetta, or he suddenly becomes good enough to carry you in strikeouts and not obliterate your ratios.
Under 10% Owned
Trent Thornton (Toronto Blue Jays, 5%) – This may just be a short term play, but expect Thornton to get plenty of adds after his Friday night game against the Padres. Thornton’s 24% strikeout rate fueled by a pair of whiff-inducing secondary pitches – a big curveball and heavy splitter – could take advantage of a Padres offense that holds the single worst strikeout rate in the majors at a horrible 28% clip. The rookie could develop his four-seamer command as well, establishing as a fringe 12-team play and a clear add for deeper formats.
Pablo Lopez (Miami Marlins, 6%) – We ran with him despite his previously catalysmic 10 ER start and it worked out as PabLo tossed seven shutout frames with a strikeout per inning. The skill set is still there with a 17%+ K-BB rate and a 3.70 SIERA suggesting better days. Take advantage of those scared of the blowup and cruise with Lopez.
Daniel Norris (Detroit Tigers, 3%) – I wanted to throw something in here for those truly dumpster diving and while Norris is unlikely to succeed this season, he does come with a glimmer of hope. His most recent outing featured his highest fastball velocity of the season, paired with his highest changeup usage as well, returning a productive 2 ER and five strikeout line in six frames. It’s likely a one-start mirage against a poor Miami squad, but a clash with the Orioles next week may return similar results if he maintains the same velocity and feel for his slow ball. There’s a chance this works.
Danny Duffy (Kansas City Royals, 10%) – It’s a bit wild, but Duffy has a 3.45 ERA this season. It’s likely not going to last – he’s boasting a sub 7% HR/FB, strikeouts are down, etc. – though he was hovering 93 mph in his last outing with his slider working like the old days. It’s far from something to chase in standard leagues, but there could be something to this that makes him worthwhile in AL-Only leagues.
Zac Gallen / Daniel Cease / Jesus Luzardo (Prospects) – The wire is thin and full of terrors, making prospect arms a major consideration for those in need. The Marlins and White Sox have been hesitant to give Gallen and Cease the call, though both seem incredibly near to their MLB debuts and could make a splash right away. Luzardo is still recovering from injury, but given Oakland’s hunt for the playoffs, he’ll be starting as soon as he can and present value from the first pitch. If there’s nothing to chase on your wire, a stash may be your best fit.