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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 23

We have another mixed bag of starters to highlight this week as we charge forward towards the fantasy playoffs. You are probably hurting for arms right now, as we've seen plenty of injuries and a good amount of breakout starters really starting to sputter out.

I typically really want to focus on high strikeout guys, but sadly there just aren't many options out there that fit that mold. I will always tread lightly when I'm deciding on a pitcher with a sub 25% strikeout rate, but at this point we have to consider some of them.

Here are your pitchers to consider adding for Week 23, which begins on August 30.

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Pickups for Shallow Leagues

Carlos Carrasco, New York Mets (57% Rostered)

Carrasco has been murder on fantasy managers this year, suffering a pair of tough injuries after a lot of drafts were completed. It took him until July 30 to make an appearance in the Major Leagues, and he pitched poorly for his first four starts of the year, giving up 12 earned runs in 15.1 innings.

Patience is a virtue, and those who waited were rewarded on Thursday as Carrasco went seven innings, giving up two runs on three hits while striking out five and not walking anybody. He generated a strong 14.1% swinging-strike rate and kept the ball on the ground (47% GB). We all know what Carrasco is capable of, and it looks like there's a decent shot he finishes his 2021 season on a very high note. I would add him if the Carrasco owner in your league has abandoned ship.

Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers (38% Rostered)

I wrote Skubal up on this post last week as well, but he's here again as his rostered percentage has only moved up one percentage point in the last week. I would like to once again highlight his numbers by month:

Month ERA WHIP K% BB%
April 6.14 1.68 17.3% 13.5%
May 3.33 1.26 34.2% 10.8%
June 3.14 1.22 30.8% 2.6%
July 5.86 1.19 20.0% 2.9%
August 1.59 0.97 30.0% 3.3%

Skubal had a phenomenal August and will set up for another handful of starts in September. He has struck out six or more in three straight starts now, including a 10 strikeout performance last week against the Angels. The best part may be the walks, as you can see his elite walk rates above. In his four August starts, he walked just three hitters. The Tigers aren't playing that bad of baseball either, so it's not like you're punting wins by adding him here. Pick this man up already!

Josiah Gray, Washington Nationals (30% Rostered)

Gray has now posted three consecutive quality starts, and his last outing was by far his best effort of the year. He threw 91 pitches (season-high) and generated an 18.7% swinging strike rate while striking out seven Marlins over those six innings. For the year, he has a 17.4% SwStr%, a 31.7% CSW%, a 28.4% K%, and a 6.8% BB%. These are all great numbers. The one bad number in his profile is the 32.6% GB%, which has led to a super-high home run rate (12.3 PA/HR). His stuff is elite and the pitch count getting over 90 is huge for the final month of his season. Good things should continue to come for the young righty.

Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox (17% Rostered)

A lot of fantasy managers might have been scared off of Houck by his last outing, which was not good (4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 6 K, 1 BB), but for me, it was enormously encouraging for one reason - he threw 90 pitches. Prior to that start, he had exceeded 80 pitches just twice and hadn't broken 90 yet. For the year, Houck has a great 31.5% K% and 4.2% BB%, which makes him a top twenty pitcher in terms of K%-BB% ratio. Along with that, he's posted a solid 45% ground-ball rate.

Houck's ceiling looks sky-high, and now we know that the Red Sox are willing to let him get deep into games. Houck is a great add for the season's final month.

 

Pickups for Deeper Leagues

Edward Cabrera, Miami Marlins (19% Rostered)

The Marlins have easily been the most-featured team in this post series this year, constantly adding young talented pitchers to their rotation throughout the year. Cabrera is the latest, and he impressed in his debut. He went 6.1 innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits. All of those earned runs came in his final inning too, he easily could have gotten out of their unscathed.

The low strikeout total (two) is not exactly what you want to see, but it's notable that he had no trouble with the swing-and-miss in the minors this year posting a ridiculous 37.2% strikeout rate in Triple-A. The reason he will stay in the "deeper league" category is the issues he's shown with walks. Over 61.1 innings in this minors this year, he walked 25 batters, a BB/9 of 3.7. That's much too high and it's unlikely to improve this year in the Majors. Walks can really hamper a pitcher, especially a young one that is likely having his pitch count monitored. I would not be expecting a ton from Cabrera moving forward, but there are certainly worse options out there for the season's final weeks.

Carlos Hernandez, Kansas City Royals (17% Rostered)

Hernandez came out of the bullpen to join the Royals rotation on July 27. Since then, he has pitched to a 2.08 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. The downside here is the low strikeout total (6.5 K/9) and just fine walk rate (2.1 BB/9). I'm never going to be quick to jump in on a guy that is posting good results without a strong K:BB ratio, but the pool is very thin right now and Hernandez has at least showed the ability over a decent sample size to keep runs off the board and get deep into games (he's gone six or more innings in four of his five starts).



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