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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 18

We're reaching crunch time in fantasy baseball; time is running out to make that push for the playoffs or to start making up points in roto categories. With the MLB trade deadline less than a week away, plenty of players will change teams which could drastically affect their fantasy value.

Additionally, some starting pitchers are hitting their innings limits and we've already seen some young hurlers pulled from starts early as to not push them too hard after the shortened 2020 campaign.

That means we need to hit the waiver wire for starting pitching. Let's take a look at some pitchers who can help us down the stretch and into the playoffs.

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Pickups for Shallow Leagues

James Kaprielian, Oakland Athletics (63% Rostered)

I find it hard to believe that 37 percent of leagues don't have use for Jimmy Kap, who has been excellent since joining the Oakland rotation in mid-May. Kaprielian is 5-3 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and has 73 strikeouts across 68 innings. He's lasted at least five innings in 11 of his 12 starts this season and has allowed more than three runs just once. He's been as dependable as they come as a starter to plug into fantasy lineups who won't hurt your ratios while boasting a high fantasy floor.

At 27-years-old, Kaprielian is old for a rookie, but he was once a highly-touted prospect for the Yankees. A plethora of injuries stalled his development, but he's healthy now and it seems like Billy Beane and his Oakland staff found another diamond in the rough. Kaprielian has a .201 batting average against, 18th among starters with at least 60 innings, and he's averaged over a strikeout-per-inning with a healthy 26.4 percent K-rate. He's a four-category contributor in fantasy and should be closer to 100% rostered rather than 60%.

Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays (48% Rostered)

McClanahan was in this piece last week and, unless his rostership rate shoots up 15-20 percent, he should be here next week as well. The Tampa lefty is the best pitcher casual fans don't know about and he's a must-roster arm in fantasy given the dearth of starting pitching options. McClanahan is a nightmare at-bat for opposing hitters as he boasts a four-seam fastball that sits at 97 MPH and has three secondary offerings that he throws at least 10 percent of the time. Each of his slider, curveball, and changeup have whiff rates over 40 percent as McClanahan has one of the most complete arsenals you'll find from a 24-year-old.

There were workload concerns for him earlier in the season, but those have largely been erased as he's gone over 90 pitches in his last two starts and has surpassed 85 pitches in five of his last six starts. Tampa Bay is one of the smartest organizations in baseball and knew McClanahan would be an asset for them, so they likely were limiting him earlier in the season so he would still be available down the stretch and into the playoffs. Right now he's their best pitcher and, as the Rays battle for a division title, expect more strong starts from McClanahan.

Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies (40% Rostered)

It's wild to think Jon Gray may never climb the hill at Coors Field as a member of the Rockies. He's lined up to face the Dodgers on the road on Sunday and who knows where he'll pitch next as the impending free agent is all but guaranteed to be traded from the rebuilding Rockies. In a way, his looming trade is sad as Gray has only known the Colorado organization since he was the third-overall pick in the 2013 draft. He's been an ironman for Colorado, constantly battling his mile-high home stadium to the point where this season he's actually got better numbers at home than on the road.

Home 57.1 3.14 1.05 22.8 .169 .261
Road 35.2 5.34 1.49 21.4 .292 .341

As impressive as those numbers are, there's no way pitching in Coors Field is ideal for any pitcher. Gray has a ton of talent and it will be exciting to see what kind of numbers he can put up pitching closer to sea level all the time. Gray will be a nice addition to a contending team; he can also help your fantasy team thanks to a huge ground-ball rate and a strong 28.6% CSW%. Gray will be one of the biggest trade deadline risers in fantasy, pick him up while he's still widely available.

Patrick Sandoval, Los Angeles Angels (26% Rostered)

When starting research for this piece, Sandoval was in the "Deeper Leagues" section below. However, he's actively dominating the Minnesota Twins so now he's up here with the big dogs who should be rostered in almost all leagues. Sandoval pitched 8 2/3 shutout innings in Minnesota with a career-high 13 strikeouts. He induced 21 swinging strikes on 108 pitches and posted a healthy 37% CSW% as he carved up a helpless Twins lineup.

Sandoval has been a revelation for the Angels as he's posted three straight starts of at least seven innings. He's got four efforts with at least nine strikeouts and has posted a strong 27 percent strikeout rate on the season. This kind of swing-and-miss upside should not be on waivers and he'll be a popular addition this weekend. If it's a FAB league, spend up, Sandoval has league-winning upside.


Pickups for Deeper Leagues

Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox (20% Rostered)

Houck spent most of this season in the minors, but turned-heads on Thursday night when he was called up to face the Yankees. Houck pitched 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts in a start that was shortened by rain in the fifth inning, ending Houck's night early. Since the All-Star break, Houck has pitched 7 2/3 innings versus New York and hasn't allowed an earned run as he's immediately become a fan favorite in Boston.

The rookie right-hander has 23 strikeouts in 18 innings this season and has earned his success with a 12 percent swinging-strike rate. He's not a must-add as he wasn't great in Triple-A, but he's flashed enough strikeout upside to be worth an add in deeper leagues, particularly roto formats.

Touki Toussaint, Atlanta Braves (9% Rostered)

Toussaint missed most of the season with a strained shoulder, but was activated this week for a start versus San Diego and reminded us why he was such a hot prospect back in the day. Toussaint needed just 79 pitches to complete 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball and, most importantly, came out of the start healthy as the 25-year-old has dealt with a ton of injuries in his brief career.

Toussaint carved up a good Padres lineup thanks to his sinker which generated 14 outs. If Toussaint has his good sinker he's capable of eating innings for this Atlanta team. He's worth a speculative add in deeper leagues and shallow-league managers should monitor his start Friday against the Brewers.

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