Week 5 Waiver Wire - Starting Pitchers

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What a nutty April, eh? With a month of the 2017 baseball season in the books, we’ve got some real evaluating to do moving ahead. Are you one of those teams just hit with awful luck, skills- and health-wise? Or are you riding unsustainable starts to a hubris-loaded, early-season lead? Either way, staying abreast of the waiver wire is always a good idea, so let’s check out some starting pitchers that can be had in most leagues.

For our purposes, we’re going to use Yahoo ownership levels and try to cut things off around 35%. Data accurate through May 2.

Let's get to it.

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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets

Alex Wood - (LAD, SP): 28% owned

Wood may not have impressed with his eight base runners allowed on Tuesday night against the Giants, but he also struck out eight of them in just five frames for a total of 27 Ks in 24 2/3 innings of work this season. The southpaw’s overall 3.28 ERA and 1.09 WHIP would help nearly anyone and with Rich Hill’s durability woes and Hyun-Jin Ryu now on the 10-day DL, it appears that Wood should grab another couple of starts.

Hector Santiago - (MIN, SP): 26% owned

Santiago most recently allowed two runs over five frames in a no-decision against the Rangers in Texas, striking out six against four walks in the process. While he gave back most of the low BABIP he had been rocking, the real issue here is the four walks after he had walked four total hitters over his first four starts. We said last week how his control would be the X-factor and he went and pulled this. Of course, the lefty still has a wonderful 2.43 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with a 3.44 FIP, though his 4.38 SIERA still isn’t a fan. Even if you buy him as only a 4.00 ERA arm overall, his next matchup against the A’s on May 3 makes him a worthy streaming target.

Chris Tillman (BAL, SP): 24% owned

Tillman’s rehab starts haven’t been all that pretty, but he’s gotten his work in over the course of four of them and has O’s manager Buck Showalter feeling good about his mechanics. The righty is set to make his 2017 debut on May 7 against the White Sox at home, which is a pretty nice lineup to face for your “Welcome Back” party. It’s tough to trust any pitcher making their first start after missing extended time, let alone with a shoulder injury, but if things go well then people will be clamoring for his services after he went 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.28 WHIP last season.

Derek Holland (CWS, SP): 24% owned

This is more of a cautionary tale, as Holland’s 2.17 ERA masks a 4.10 FIP, 4.94 xFIP and 4.63 SIERA on the season. Outside of relying on his off-speed and breaking pitches a bit more than past seasons, his profile really hasn’t changed from the middling arm that no one wanted to roster in 2016. The southpaw’s batted-ball profile hasn’t really changed either. Oh, except for the 10 percent jump in hard-hit rate. Yeah, that totally explains a 66-point dive in one’s BABIP to a rock-bottom .229 figure. That’ll regress toward his .294 career mark (.295 in 2016) though his next start does come against the offensively-challenged Royals. If you were ever going to roll the dice here, this is your chance.

Junior Guerra (MIL, SP): 22% owned

Even though this writer doesn’t really buy into Guerra on the whole, it’s worth noting that Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter is on pace to begin a rehab assignment soon could be back to starting by mid-to-late May. One can’t expect him to replicate his 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP from last season, but that 3.71 FIP seems doable if he can keep limiting homers (0.74 HR/9 in 2016) and push for a similar 7.4 K/9. Just an FYI for all of you lucky ducks who somehow have vacant DL space floating around and need a pitcher.

Jesse Hahn (OAK, SP): 21% owned

Hahn deserves to be owned in enough leagues where I cannot write about him here anymore. Seriously, he has a 2.72 FIP behind that 2.53 ERA with a sparkling 1.03 WHIP to boot. His 26 strikeouts in 32 innings certainly aren’t hurting anyone. He may not get a ton of wins in Oakland, but that always helps make him an appealing arm given his friendly home park (that should actually become friendly as the warm weather hits, it's currently eighth highest in Park Factors per ESPN but was 28th in 2016). His 4.03 xFIP can’t account for his homer-suppression skills that he’s shown throughout his career, so I'd keep an eye on him for an admittedly tough next start at home against the Tigers on May 6.

Mike Foltynewicz (ATL, SP): 17% owned

Foltynewicz took a perfect game into the fifth inning before Domingo Santana hit one of his two homers on the day in Folty’s last start, though the second one wouldn’t have occurred if it weren’t for a Dansby Swanson error. The resulting one-earned start for Atlanta’s young hurler lowered his ERA to 2.81 on the season alongside a 3.90 FIP, 4.13 xFIP and 4.07 SIERA. He still has some consistency issues to work out, but his ground-ball rate is up four percent and his hard-hit rate is down four-and-a-half percent so there’s some believing his low .264 BABIP. He’ll face the Cardinals at home on May 5 next.

Charlie Morton - (HOU, SP): 13% owned

Morton’s four earned runs in that April 28 start against Oakland weren’t quite what we envisioned, though the 0.71 WHIP and whopping 12 Ks in seven innings were certainly nice. His 4.50 ERA masks strong peripherals -- 3.46 FIP, 3.38 xFIP and a 3.35 SIERA -- though his swinging-strike rate dropping to 9.7 percent is a bit concerning for an arm that is currently flirting with a 10.0 K/9. He needs to clean up the 42.7 percent hard-hit rate, but heads into his May 3 start against the Texas with some nice momentum here before an interleague start against the Braves at home on May 9. Buy back in.

Daniel Norris - (DET, SP): 12% owned

Norris has been slogging through some command woes in the early going but has also suffered from an absurd .429 BABIP over his last three starts. His 3.35 FIP (5.52 ERA) over that span points to an arm that should see brighter days ahead, though he’ll need to do better than a two-to-one K:BB mark if he ever wants to stay in the game long enough to be a true frontline fantasy starter. We’ve seen him do it before, so his recent season-high eight-strikeout game against the Indians on May 1 should perk up ears of those looking for an arm. He gets the A’s in Oakland on May 6 next, making him a nice target (battling Jesse Hahn!).

Jordan Montgomery - (NYY, SP): 10% owned

Montgomery has posted an impressive 15 percent swinging-strike rate over his first four starts, yielding 23 Ks in 21 2/3 innings of work. Unfortunately, the Bronx rookie has yet to bring his plus control from the Minor Leagues up to the bigs, though it’s still early and one good outing could sink his current 10.9 percent walk rate to his usual seven percent mark. Toeing the rubber in the AL East, let alone in Yankee Stadium, can make for a turbulent adjustment period, but the swing-and-miss stuff that he’s shown thus far deserves to be taken seriously. If he looks strong against the Cubs on May 6 in Wrigley Field then you might just have to overlook the current 1.48 WHIP and buy into that potential.

J.C. Ramirez - (LAA, SP):9% owned

Ramirez is starting to pop up on fantasy radars after dismantling the Rangers on April 30 for nine strikeouts in his first win as a starter this season. Ramirez had made three appearances out of the bullpen before being stretched out as a starter in mid-April after Garrett Richards went down. Who knew we’d get a Richards replacement so easily? While his first start wasn’t great, his last three starts have been incredible -- 25 strikeouts against just five walks in 17 2/3 inning with a 2.55 ERA, 1.75 FIP and 2.62 xFIP. He hasn’t been getting super lucky (.314 BABIP, 76.9 percent strand rate in that span) and needs to be taken seriously given his addition of a curveball to a plus sinking two-seamer and a solid slider. He gets Houston on May 6 at home next.

Jose Berrios - (MIN, SP): 7% owned

Berrios’ most recent Triple_A start was his finest yet, as he scattered two hits and two walks over eight scoreless innings while striking out seven. This came after a 10-strikeout gem in which he allowed only one earned run over six innings. Overall, the top prospect has a 1.09 ERA and 35 strikeouts against just eight walks in 33 innings of work down on the farm. While success at Triple-A didn’t lead to anything great last season and Minnesota won’t rush him in 2017, he appears to be the next big young arm to be worth speculating on here.

Trevor Cahill - (SD, SP/RP): 7% owned

Cahill just went out and dominated a potent Rockies lineup by allowing just an unearned run and three hits with zero walks and seven strikeouts in six strong innings at home on May 2. It was a needed bounceback outing after he was roughed up by Arizona on April 26, though Chase Field has a tendency to be rude to pitchers. Even then, he struck out nine D-backs in just 5 2/3 innings. His 37 Ks in 30 innings are quite impressive and the 3.60 ERA/1.17 WHIP certainly aren’t bad either. Look for the extreme sinkerballer to ride this momentum into a home start against the Dodgers on May 7 as he provides plus Ks if nothing else.

Jaime Garcia - (ATL, SP): 7% owned

Garcia has quietly -- as he does -- logged three consecutive quality starts in a row for the Bravos and collected his first win of the season against the Brewers on April 29. Over that three-start span, he appears to have gotten back to his grounder-inducing ways, as well as a wild 34 percent soft-contact rate. His success in the past has come from gopher-killing ways and strong command, though he’ll likely hurt you in the K department (5.22 K/9 thus far). If nothing else, his next start on May 4 versus the Mets should make him a decent deep-league streamer.

Ariel Miranda - (SEA, SP): 4% owned

Miranda continues to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde us in 2017, as he followed up his April 22 clunker against Oakland with a solid seven-strikeout, one-earned win against the defending AL champions in Cleveland on April 28. He’s nearly the doubled the rate of his slider usage to 28.3 percent and has subsequently upped his whiff rate on pitches out of the zone by over 10 percent thus far. Consistency may never find Miranda, but this is the 28-year-old’s second big-league season and his 3.89 SIERA likes what he’s got heading into a May 4 start against the Angels at home.

Matt Garza - (MIL, SP): 2% owned

Those in deep formats may need to be aware of Garza’s return, as his second start of 2017 saw him notch his first win by beating Atlanta with 6 2/3 solid frames in a quality start. He struck out seven and failed to issue a free pass on April 30, showing some glimpses of the Garza that we used to love from the early 2010’s. While a renaissance is unlikely, he’s still worth streaming in plus spots and takes on the Pirates in Pittsburgh next on May 5.

 

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