Ahhh, pitching. It can be a bit of a headache, that's for sure. What's the best way to manage your rotation for your fantasy league? Do you stream pitchers? Do you carry more pitchers than position players? How many relievers do you carry? What can you do to make your pitching staff better than it currently is? Where do you find more sleepers? If you're like me, these are questions you consider every time you're getting ready to set your lineup. The good news is that there are some valuable starting pitchers that may be waiting to be snatched off the waiver wire, depending on your league size and player availability, especially if you're looking for a boost to your overall ERA and WHIP. These are the best four players you can grab today if they are still available, to pitch your way to victory in those ever-important categories.
All % owned numbers are based on Yahoo! Leagues as of May 29.
Starting Pitchers to Target off the Waiver Wire
Drew Pomeranz (SP, Oakland Atheletics)
53% owned, 2.37 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
Boy, does Oakland always seem to find pitching or what? This southpaw is off to a great start for the Athletics this year through four starts. It seems like Drew Pomeranz may finally have the season we've been waiting for and live up to his potential as a highly-touted prospect. Opposing batters are hitting just .205 against Pomeranz so far this year, and he's giving up only .8 HR/9 innings.
Some may point to the fact that, as of right now, opponents BABIP is a below-average .250, a number that should level off at some point. There is some validity in that. Nobody expects Pomeranz to carry his current ERA through the rest of the season. At the same time, Pomeranz's ERA and WHIP numbers should stay relatively low as he reaps the benefits of pitching in Oakland's cavernous O.co Coliseum. The fact that he can occupy one of your RP slots while putting up SP numbers is simply an added bonus.
Wade Davis (SP, Kansas City Royals)
16% owned, 1.48 ERA, 0.78 WHIP
Call me crazy, but Wade Davis may be the sleeper of all sleepers if you're looking specifically to boost ERA and WHIP. Kansas City moved Wade Davis out of the starting role he held last season and is using him as the primary setup man for Kansas City. Davis has been outstanding thus far. He is allowing only 4 hits/9 innings and hasn't given up a homer in 22.1 innings of work. At the same time, he's racked up 40 K, good enough for a 16.1 K/9 ratio. Filthy.
But there are a few other things to consider with Davis. First, considering the fluidity of closing jobs in MLB this year, you have to lIke Davis' odds of sliding immediately into that role for KC if Greg Holland goes down or becomes ineffective. Second, if you play in a league that assigns value to holds, then Davis can help you there as well, since he already has 8 on the season. The question becomes whether or not you want to fill a RP slot with a setup man, but in the right leagues Davis is an absolute steal.
Jason Hammel (SP, Chicago Cubs)
66% owned, 2.78 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
The biggest issue for Jason Hammel is that he plays for the Chicago Cubs. In other words, he's going to get a lot of no-decisions and losses. But hey, we're talking about ERA and WHIP here! As far as those two categories are concerned, Hammel is a great pick-up off the waiver wire if you can get him. Coming off a bit of a down year where he saw his ERA soar to 4.93, Hammel seems to have settled back into a groove in 2014. Opposing batters are scuffling hard against Hammel, hitting only .189 in 64.1 innings of work. Hammel's 2.2 BB/9 innings certainly give a boost to his WHIP. Strikeouts get a lot of the glory, but I'll take my chances with a guy who doesn't walk a lot of batters any day of the week. I picked Hammel off the wire in my own league a few weeks back, and so far I'm a satisfied customer.
Josh Beckett (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers)
57% owned, 2.52 ERA, 1.04 WHIP
Josh Beckett's recent no-hitter definitely helped his ERA and WHIP, but even before he blanked the Phillies he was the owner of a 2.89 ERA and had walked only 17 batters all season. His opponents have hit a measly .189 against him through his first nine starts, and he's currently allowing only 6 hits/9 innings. Beckett lost most of last season to injuries, but appears to be as healthy as ever and poised to return to his pre-chicken-and-beer form with the Dodgers in 2014. If he's available in your league, grab him while you still can. He'll likely be harder to attain as the season progresses if he continues at this rate.
So, there it is. If you're looking for guys who keep runners off the base paths and runs off the board, look no further than these four hurlers. Best of luck to all you RotoBallers out there!