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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 8

As regular readers may already be aware, in addition to this and my other weekly columns, I manage RotoBaller's Waiver Wire List. During the construction of this week's edition, it hit me: We're at the point of the season where the number of quality pitchers on the waiver wire is at one of its lowest points. With early season breakouts snapped up, injuries taking their usual toll, and everyone still trying to win, things understandably look a little thin out there right now.

That doesn't mean you can't find help, though; simply that you'll need to dig a bit deeper for it. You've come to the right place.

A reminder before we begin: This column focuses on players who are below 50% owned in Yahoo leagues, and standard 5x5 scoring. Your mileage may vary, in terms of availability or league settings. Using that cutoff point for ownership rate, however, these are your starting pitcher waiver wire targets and adds for Week 8 of the 2019 fantasy baseball season.

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Pickups for Shallow Leagues

Kyle Gibson (SP, MIN) — 38% Owned

Last season, I began a post advocating for the merits of plucking Gibson from the waiver wire by wondering aloud, "Is Kyle Gibson good now?" He finished 2018 with respectable numbers (3.62 ERA, 179 strikeouts in 197 innings) but his first three starts this year didn't suggest that the answer was yes. The former first-round pick allowed 12 runs in 14.2 innings, with just 12 strikeouts against eight walks. In the five starts since, the 30-year-old is 4-1 with a 2.73 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 24.1% K-BB. He's inducing more whiffs and throwing more first-pitch strikes than ever before. That's good, and so is he if he can keep it up.

Sonny Gray (SP, CIN) — 34% Owned

Being one of the few people to predict Gray's demise back in 2016, it's hard not to regard him with a fair amount of side-eye. But the facts are this: So far, Gray has added six points to his K-BB% from a year ago, and he's inducing enough ground balls to keep his new home park from blowing up his ratios. The upside here is 2017 ratios (3.55 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) with a few more strikeouts. Of course, while he'll probably win a game at some point, he's 0-4 right now and the Reds aren't good.

Wade Miley (SP, HOU) — 29% Owned

Miley's tepid strikeout rate won't help you, but his ratios and win probability with the mighty Astros backing him certainly can. A streamer for basically his entire career, the veteran eats innings and keeps the ball down. On a good team, that can be all you need to fall into a 15-win season with better ratios than your performance suggests you deserve. Regardless, he's a solid bet for next time out against the middling White Sox.


Pickups for Deeper Leagues

Griffin Canning (SP, LAA) — 23% Owned

Canning bounced back nicely from a rough start against Baltimore with a gem on Saturday. The Royals are no one's idea of a juggernaut, but seven scoreless counts the same no matter who the opposition may be. The rookie improved to 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, and has struck out 24 batters in 21 innings. He's throwing first-pitch strikes over two-thirds of the time and carries a 17.7% swinging strike rate. Kid's legit, folks.

Tyler Mahle (SP, CIN) — 11% Owned

In last week's Reddit AMA, several participants had questions about Mahle. I pointed out that his next two starts, coming against a pair of top-10 offenses in the Cubs and Dodgers, might prove illuminating for his long-term outlook. Consider the first test passed, as Mahle blanked the Dodgers over six innings on Saturday. He's now got a 3.51 ERA and 1.17 WHIP on the season and has more than halved his walk rate from a year ago. He'll need to continue that, as he's still prone to the long ball. Still, a 10-point improvement in K-BB% shouldn't be ignored.

Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA) — 8% Owned

Hold up wait a minute, y'all thought I was finished? Lopez remains intriguing for fantasy purposes despite the 3 IP/10 ER stink bomb he put up against the Mets on May 10, and he proved it by coming back with seven innings of one-hit ball against that very same squadron on Saturday. All the ingredients for success are here; Lopez has good strikeout and walk rates, and generates enough ground balls that his home run rate stays low. Buy the peripherals and the 1.17 WHIP rather than the 5.06 ERA, which is bloated by a 61.1% strand rate that is destined to rise.


For Your Radar

Jimmy Nelson (SP, MIL) — 15% Owned

Nelson looked pretty good in his last rehab start (5.2 scoreless, eight strikeouts) and may be on track to return to the Brewers' rotation before the end of the month. Don't expect 2017 (3.49/1.25, 199 K in 175 IP) but strikeouts, palatable ratios, and wins thanks to a contending roster surrounding him are all on the table.

Sam Gaviglio (SP/RP, TOR) — 13% Owned

This is a speculative add, as Gaviglio is currently in the bullpen. He's been terrific as a reliever though, and the Jays' rotation right now is, to put it bluntly, Marcus Stroman and uhhhhh? In deeper formats, he's worth rostering for the ratio help even as a swingman.

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers

Check out RotoBaller's entire fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and sleepers list, updated daily!