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Week 11 Waiver Wire - Starting Pitchers

With roughly two-fifths of the baseball season in the past, we’ve got plenty of data to play with and some serious questions to answer about our fantasy teams. Some of you are likely rolling reliever-heavy lineups and I respect that, but you probably won’t find much help here! Whatever your strategy may be, these arms should be able to help you!

If you want to chat more about additional arms/bats/whatever, you can find me on Twitter @NMariano53 and ask any follow-up questions.

We're using Yahoo ownership levels and cutting things off around 30% this week. Here are my starting pitcher waiver wire targets for Week 11.

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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets

Seth Lugo (NYM - SP/RP): 30% owned

I always hate when a guy truly breaks out on primetime television, you just know there’s going to be a waiver rush like no other. Lugo dismantled the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball, as he allowed a mere two singles and struck out eight with zero walks over six scoreless frames to end the Mets’ losing streak at eight. The key is not only his velocity jump found in the bullpen, much like what we saw from Danny Duffy, but also masterful control of his breaking pitches. The Mets are tepidly speaking about giving Lugo a real rotation slot but come on, Noah Syndergaard may not come back for a while pending this second opinion on his finger and Jason Vargas shouldn’t be stopping anyone showing signs of success from pitching. The worst-case scenario is he becomes another strong middle-relief option for you.

Mike Soroka (ATL - SP): 30% owned

Hopefully, this is the final time during Soroka’s career that I can write about him as a pickup. Soroka’s second rehab start wasn’t perfect like his first one, but he still punched out seven and gave up just one run on three hits and a walk at Triple-A. This guy has a 2.76 FIP/2.87 xFIP/3.60 SIERA underneath the 3.68 ERA in 14 ⅔ Major League innings and he had a 1.71 FIP/2.21 xFIP behind the 2.00 ERA in 27 Triple-A innings. His only surface blemish is the 1.70 WHIP in the bigs that’s solely due to a .408 BABIP that is going to fall. He can be a 3.50 ERA/1.25 WHIP guy with a 23% strikeout rate on a team that should top 90 wins and faces the Mets and Marlins offenses. Buy!!!

Clayton Richard (SD - SP): 27% owned

Remember when Richard ended his 2017 season by posting a 3.52 ERA (3.69 SIERA) and being rather useful over his final 10 starts? Well after a rocky April, Richard is back to mowing down opposing hitters with his groundball ways and now has a 3.04 ERA (3.15 SIERA) over his last seven starts. Batters are only managing to lift the ball in the air a measly 17.4% of the time in that seven-start sample and while I don’t buy a groundball guy holding onto a .230 BABIP, he’s still going to be useful with this profile even when some regression hits.

Lance Lynn (MIN - SP): 29% owned

Lynn has turned things around with four consecutive quality starts after forgetting that he was supposed to get batters out to open 2018, but I’m still not buying that his command woes are truly gone. He’s still totaled 11 walks alongside the 21 strikeouts over 24 ⅔ innings during this “resurgent” stretch and has issued four or more free passes in half of his 12 outings this season. I will say that his fastball looks livelier and he leans on his heater (and its cousin, the sinker) over 70% of the time, so that's important. His other saving grace has been avoiding homers -- he’s kept the ball in the yard over his last five starts -- but his iffy 4.23 xFIP over this four-start QS span shows what can happen if that reverses. Tread carefully!

Mike Leake (SEA - SP): 25% owned

Leake only made one mistake on Tuesday night, which was spotting a great pitch on the outer corner at the knees of Mike Trout. Outside of Trout’s solo homer, Leake was effective against the Halos and has now held opponents to two runs or fewer in each of his last five starts. The three walks were uncharacteristic given how he’d walked just two batters over his last six starts (41 innings) but that seems to be how he attacks LAA -- he walked four in his only other start against them on May 4. He had a 5.04 SIERA through that May 4 start, but he entered Tuesday with a 3.76 SIERA since then. This looks to be rooted in a nearly 10-percentage-point jump in soft contact and a 15-percentage-point spike in grounders. With Seattle surging around him and his command locked in, mixed leaguers would do well to patch their rotation with Leake.

Mike Montgomery (CHC - SP/RP): 16% owned

Montgomery’s 25 strikeouts in 43 innings thus far may leave you looking elsewhere for SP options, but I know you’re enticed by the 3.56 ERA and the 1.16 WHIP. The southpaw has always been good at inducing low-quality contact and has a career .268 BABIP for this reason, but his 28.5% soft-contact rate is on another level right now. Not only that, but his 10% swinging-strike rate implies more whiff potential than his shaky 14.2% strikeout rate. He may be out of the rotation once Yu Darvish returns (if he returns, let’s be real) but I don’t see how the Cubbies can boot Monty from the rotation with Tyler Chatwood looking to break walk records.

Dylan Covey (CWS - SP/RP): 10% owned

If you remember anything about Covey from 2017 then you probably want nothing to do with him. I can’t blame you, the man had a 7.71 ERA and 5.64 SIERA with a poor 13.3% strikeout rate in 70 innings. That makes for one terrible cup o’ coffee.

But Covey looks very different this season to those watching carefully because now he’s throwing 95 mph and suddenly has command. The 26-year-old is carrying a 2.22 ERA with a 3.62 SIERA at the moment and his strikeout rate has climbed 10 percentage points to 23.3% overall. And no, he hasn’t been beating up on the Royals or anything -- he’s gone against the Indians, Brewers and Red Sox in his last three trips to the hill. Strong mechanics can take a middling option and help him evolve into a viable one. No parlor tricks or new pitch here, just good ol’ refining the raw product.

Paul Blackburn (OAK - SP): 3% owned

Blackburn allowed just one run on three hits over six strong innings in his 2018 debut, but he has his fantasy fleas. Namely, the three strikeouts in those six frames gives him a higher strikeout rate (15%) than his awful 9.2% K rate through 10 starts (58 ⅔ IP) last season. He’s barely broken the 6.0 K/9 mark even in the low Minors, but he sports solid command and suppresses the long ball with a beastly groundball rate that can sniff 60%. Oakland’s spacious home park and strong defense play well for his game and he could be a cheap source of ratio relief if you can take the K hit.

Jonathan Loaisiga (NYY - SP): N/A

Yeah, I still don’t feel like I spelled that correctly. The Yankees are in need of a starter with Masahiro Tanaka on the DL for the foreseeable future and it was confirmed on Tuesday night that Loaisiga, who is still not in Yahoo's player pool last I checked, would be getting at least one turn in a spot start on Thursday. He’s had a solid campaign thus far at Double-A, but you’ll need to put on your sabermetric glasses to see it. The 23-year-old has ridden his fastball-curveball-changeup combo to an xFIP below 2.00 in 10 starts between High- and Double-A, but his 4.32 ERA from Double-A has people sneering. Don’t be those people. Be the people who see 58 strikeouts to just four walks across 45 innings for a youngster who will have the Yankees’ offense and bullpen supporting him. That’s worth a lot.


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