Week 7 Waiver Wire - Starting Pitchers

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Wow, we’re already past the middle of May. Time flies when you’re…confused. We're still bumbling through some early storylines and wondering what to make of folks like Jason Vargas, Andrew Triggs, A.J. Griffin, Ervin Santana, Mike Leake, etc. But for right now, all we can do is look at what else is available and pad our leads (or do our best to claw out of the cellar) as the summer swiftly approaches.

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

Let's get to it.

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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets

Nate Karns - (KC, SP/RP): 28% owned

I’m really curious as to why Karns’ ownership is still low enough where I can write about him. Is it simply because he’s been around for a while and there’s just no faith that this is anywhere near the real him? Because he’s always possessed strong strikeouts. Is it because that 4.46 ERA on the season still leaves you scrolling past his name? Because four runs came in a dumb relief appearance on April 5 (3.63 ERA as a starter) and he’s allowed just four runs over his last 17 1/3 innings. He’s also struck out 29 in that span alongside a 2-0 record, making him one of baseball’s best arms over the last few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be skeptical -- his 91.6 percent strand rate in May surely cannot hold. But his .294 BABIP is normal and his 35.7 percent K-BB rate leads the American League for the month of May thus far out of qualified starters. One really doesn’t luck into that, though he does need to learn how to efficiently put away lefties -- 12 of his 13 walks this season have come against the 44 left-handed batters he’s faced. Yes, he’s walked just one in 77 right-handed at-bats. Nifty. He’ll face the Twins next in Minnesota on May 19. He even has dual eligibility! He’s practically begging to be picked up everywhere.

Zack Wheeler - (NYM, SP): 26% owned

Wheeler now has a 3.76 ERA thanks to allowing just one earned run in four of his last five outings. The 26-year-old has, unfortunately, walked four batters in two of those starts, but the most recent trip to the hill saw him walk just one with six K’s against a strong D-backs squad in hitter-friendly Chase Field. Wheeler now draws a home start against the Angels on May 20, meaning they won’t be able to hide Albert Pujols away in the designated hitter slot and an unassuming AL pitcher will have to bat. Take the free K’s and walk away.

Zack Godley (ARI, SP/RP): 24% owned

Godley has a sharp seasonal line (1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 19 K’s in 18 2/3 innings) over his first three Major League starts of 2017 to match his 24 innings of work at Triple-A (2.25 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 23 K’s) prior to the promotion. He’s missing bats at an elite rate (15.2 percent) but he’s also riding an unsustainable .186 BABIP while walking a few too many hitters (4.34 BB/9) for anyone’s liking. The pace of his climb will slow, but he also gets the face the Padres next at Petco Park on May 21, so he should probably be fired up for that one.

Jesse Hahn (OAK, SP): 23% owned

Hahn picked apart the Rangers over seven strong innings on May 12 but couldn’t get any run (or bullpen) support in his quest for a second win. Such is life for an Oakland pitcher right now, but when is Hahn’s 2.74 ERA/1.17 WHIP going to get any respect? His FIP stands at a sturdy 2.97 FIP and his soft-contact rate is at a career-high watermark of 20.9 percent. His 2.4 percent HR/FB rate and .256 BABIP will see a little regression, but the 27-year-old knows how to pitch. He faces Seattle here on May 17 and then lines up to avoid a four-game series against the Red Sox before opposing the Marlins at home after that.

Joe Biagini - (TOR, RP): 22% owned

We’re breaking protocol here and recommending a “reliever” who has clearly taken a hold on a rotation slot for Toronto right now. It wasn’t long ago that Biagini was a mix-and-match option to fill in the ninth with Jason Grilli when Roberto Osuna was hurt, but now Biagini has tossed nine shutout frames for the Blue Jays in two starts as he gets stretched out. Have I mentioned that he hasn’t walked a batter since April 11? Yup, he’s got a 2.53 ERA (1.94 FIP) and 21 K’s in 21 1/3 innings since then. He faces the Braves in Atlanta on May 17 and then will take on the Brewers in Milwaukee after that.

Matt Garza - (MIL, SP): 17% owned

Garza has now turned his crisp little two-game sample size into a three-game sample size, as his last three trips to the hill have seen him go 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA (3.12 FIP, 3.16 xFIP) and 15 K’s (10.1 percent swinging-strike rate) against just two walks over 19 2/3 innings. Yes, I’m throwing out that first start because I viewed it as a tune-up, though I recognize the unfairness of it all. Outside of that, he’s “only” faced the Braves, Pirates and Mets thus far. But he’s going to face the Padres on May 17 in another soft matchup before a home date against the Blue Jays, so he couldn’t have really set himself up any better if he had made the schedule himself.

Josh Tomlin - (CLE, SP): 15% owned

Hopefully, you listened up when we pointed out his strong underlying metrics last week before that dominating showing against the Twins on May 12. He’s now allowed just two runs over his last 15 innings with a 10-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio as he finally sees some good fortune from the BABIP gods. He still has a horrid 58.2 percent strand rate on the season and his 3.36 FIP/3.40xFIP/3.70 SIERA still paint him as a healthy mixed-league option heading into a home start against the Rays on May 17 before a road date with the Reds.

Mike Foltynewicz (ATL, SP): 13% owned

Folty has shown some good signs over his last five starts outside of that horrendous hiccup against the Cards on May 5. He’s tossed a quality start in the other four trips to the hill with only five combined earned runs crossing the plate in his 26 innings of work there. Yes, it’s misleading to ignore the seven-run shellacking against St. Louis, but we’re chasing upside here. He gets to face the ailing Blue Jays at home next as he looks to secure his second win of 2017.

Ariel Miranda (SEA, SP): 9% owned

Miranda couldn’t get the win against Toronto but performed well (8 K’s, one earned in five innings) as we thought he might against a weaker opponent. That drubbing at the hands of Philadelphia on May 9 is still fresh in owners’ heads, but he now has a neat little home date with the White Sox on May 19 and should be able to keep his momentum going here. It’s not always about talent, simply where preparation meets opportunity.

German Marquez - (COL, SP): 5% owned

When you threaten to no-hit the defending champs, you’re going to get some love. It’s not as though the 22-year-old rookie is some fluke, just look at his start against the D-backs in Arizona on April 30 (and his body of work in the Minors.) The guy knows how to pitch, but being tested against the Nationals and said D-backs at Coors Field in two of his first three Major League starts is going to make for some turbulent conditions. He has strikeout-per-inning upside and gets to face the Twins in Minnesota next on May 17 (today) in a nice test away from the Mile-High City.

Jesse Chavez - (LAA, SP/RP): 5% owned

Chavez couldn’t quite beat the A’s (though he still posted a sub-one WHIP and fanned five in the affair) before knifing through the White Sox with ease on May 15 in this past week. He’s now failed to issue more than two free passes in any of his last four outings and holds a 3.75 ERA as a starter. The 33-year-old is admittedly still giving up too many long balls (1.47 HR/9, 1.61 last season) but as long as he continues to limit ducks on the pond then he should be a solid play against the Mets in New York on May 21.

Luis Perdomo - (SD, SP/RP): 4% owned

Perdomo was last week’s lowest-owned option and all he did was turn in two quality starts against the Rangers and the Brewers. While his WHIP in the Texas start wasn’t fantastic and neither outing yielded a win, the 23-year-old still racked up 16 K’s in 12 innings and allowed only five base runners against the Brew Crew. He’ll have to tangle with Arizona at home next on May 20 and those seeking wins should likely head elsewhere, but there’s plenty of life in that arm of his.

 

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