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Week 4 Waiver Wire - Starting Pitchers

With nearly a month of the 2018 baseball season in the books, it's getting to the point where you start to have some legitimate bodies of work to study for pitchers, as well as earlier performances in the year that could feel rather irrelevant now.

Matchup data continues to take hold and weaker teams ripe for the streaming are starting to really identify themselves. You'll find some repeat names here from prior weeks, but I can never tell if people are really taking things seriously this early. As always, you can find me on Twitter @NMariano53 and ask any follow-up questions or about other pitchers not touched on here.

As always, we’re going to use Yahoo ownership levels and cut things off around 30%. That being said, Eduardo Rodriguez (40% owned) and Tyson Ross (38% owned) are still way too available. Anyway, here are my starting pitcher waiver wire targets for Week 4.

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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets

Sean Newcomb (ATL, SP) - 24% owned

Not only is Newcomb’s 28.4% strikeout rate in the top quarter of qualified SPs, but his 29.8 percent soft-contact rate ranked fourth-highest entering Tuesday’s slate. I totally understand being scared off by the walk rate and the resulting 1.52 WHIP, but that .364 BABIP should fall as long as the contact remains lousy and there’s no way the K’s stop flowing. He’ll get his cracks at the Marlins and his general upside is worthy of ownership in the 40-50 percent range. Don’t wait for the 10-strikeout gem before adding.

Marco Gonzales (SEA, SP) - 5% owned

The facts are that Gonzales was a highly-touted prospect who ended up requiring Tommy John surgery and falling off of many radars. He hasn’t gotten a chance to put it all together since, until now. The 26-year-old put on a pitching clinic on Tuesday night, fanning eight White Sox while scattering five hits and a walk over six frames. The good news for you, the savvy buyer, is that he’s still just 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA on the young season so he’s cheap. The better news is that he’s got an incredible 2.60 FIP and 2.40 xFIP under the hood. A 27-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio will certainly help with that.

Chris Stratton (SF, SP) - 28% owned

It feels wrong not to include Stratton, especially when the ownership range is a bit deeper. I really do like him and his gloriously-spinny curveball -- the 2.32 ERA and 2.69 FIP so far are no joke -- but AT&T Park can only do so much when it comes to mitigating homers (he's allowed zero) and the 4.22 xFIP and 4.36 SIERA have me sweating. All else aside, his current 8.3 percent walk rate is much prettier than last year's 10.9 percent rate, but his hard-hit rate is up nearly 10 percentage points yet his .224 BABIP is nearly 100 points lower than it stood in '17. A rise in fly balls induced can account for some of that, but not this much. He'll face the Dodgers for the third time this year on Saturday, but at least it's a home start.

Luiz Gohara (ATL, SP) - 9% owned

Gohara’s second rehab start was much cleaner than his first, as the 21-year-old stud allowed just one run on two hits with four strikeouts over four innings for Triple-A Gwinnett. He reportedly will toe the rehab rubber two more times before joining the big-league rotation. He’ll be here every week until he’s no longer eligible. Add now! He’s a game-changing strikeout talent.

Trevor Cahill (OAK, SP) - 10% owned
Ever the ground-ball maestro, Cahill continued to show plus whiffs by inducing 16 swinging strikes on 98 pitches against the Rangers, with only one really poor pitch on the evening. His giving up three earned over five wasn’t the encore fantasy owners had hoped for given his seven innings of shutout ball in his first start, but we’ll take the overall 2.25 ERA/1.08 WHIP/2.93 SIERA with 14 strikeouts in 12 innings so far. It’s possible that last season’s early surge and late fade was a trend (3.14 ERA with 71 K’s in 57 ⅓ IP over first 10 starts, then the wheels fell off), but I’m in until the wheels fall off.

Ervin Santana (MIN, SP) - 25% owned
Very quickly, Santana is getting close to undertaking the first bullpen session of his throwing program and I feel like any AL Central pitcher for Cleveland or Minnesota needs to be taken seriously. He’ll simply draw too many favorable starts in a top-heavy division and it’s not like the guy hasn’t been good the past two seasons. I know DL space is likely thin, but he could be an SP3-type arm before the end of June.

Daniel Mengden (OAK, SP) - 5% owned
Mengden may not inspire much confidence -- he doesn’t have top-prospect billing or any overpowering pitches -- but he’s getting the job done. The 25-year-old has walked just three batters over 30 ⅓ innings, which helps him mitigate the damage done by some hard contact against him so far. He’s not an ace and you’re unlikely to get more than a strikeout per inning from him, but the 2.81 FIP/3.57xFIP/3.91 SIERA paint him as a rising arm. If he can bring the early ~40 percent hard-hit rate down toward last season’s 25 percent mark then look out.

German Marquez (COL, SP) - 5% owned
You don’t have to love Marquez to make the add, as he lines up to face a beleaguered Marlins squad in Miami (no Coors!) on Saturday. I know he just got blasted by the Cubs at home on Sunday, but he’s allowed just two earned runs in 11 innings of road work this year and he’s only walked three in his last three outings after giving out 10 free passes over his first two. He should be able to flash his strikeout upside against the fish. What you do with him after that is up to you, I just want y’all to be aware of this one day.

Jarlin Garcia (MIA, SP/RP) - 19% owned
Fine, fine. I’ve gotten multiple requests to write something about Garcia so here’s goes. He has a 4.66 SIERA and a 9.1 percent swinging-strike rate. His .121 BABIP and 99 percent strand rate are extreme outliers and I’m a little worried that his fastball release point appears to illustrate a lower arm slot. He’s dead last on Baseball Savant’s SLG - xSLG leaderboard with a ridiculous -0.295 mark (hey, look at Newcomb and Marquez!). At least teammate Caleb Smith has a 12.9 percent swinging-strike rate to support some value, but I just can’t see a guy like Garcia generating fantasy value on any given day -- especially since Miami is unlikely to support him with Ws.

Eric Lauer (SD, SP) - 1% owned
Lauer was set up to fail by stepping into Coors Field to make his MLB debut, but I can’t imagine any of you were desperate enough to throw him. He was promptly torched for six earned over three innings, but he can still be useful down the road should San Diego keep him around. The 23-year-old had gone 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA/0.94 WHIP and 19 strikeouts over 18 Triple-A innings to open ‘18, though that gave him just 72 total innings above A-level ball before Tuesday’s outing. I’d love to see how his stuff looks at a normal altitude against Major Leaguers. Hopefully, it’s better than five swinging strikes on 74 pitches.


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