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Pitchers Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 1 - Fantasy Baseball After The Draft

Clarke Schmidt - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Many fantasy baseball drafts are in the books, and that means it is time for RotoBallers to stretch out those waiver muscles. This article will be my opportunity to provide one more chance for these pitching options at both starter and reliever that may have slipped through the cracks.

For our purposes, we'll examine players with fantasy potential rostered in roughly 30% or fewer of Yahoo leagues. The usual caveats apply that available options will vary according to your league size and settings.

Now, let's review the top Week 1 fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and adds for pitchers to consider after your drafts have already been completed as injury replacements or high-upside stashes.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Adds

Hayden Wesneski (CHC, SP) - 45% rostered - He’s Chicago’s No. 5 starter to open 2023 after a promising spring that built on last year’s successful small sample. He can legitimately lean on five pitches, though the change typically only appears against left-handed batters. Last year his two primary pitches, the sweeper and heater, each held hitters to a batting average of .120 or less. The .142 xSLG on his fastball was absurd, small sample or not. The upside demands a roster spot.

Clarke Schmidt (NYY, SP/RP) - 36% rostered - The Yankees rotation is crumbling and that leaves Schmidt (and Domingo German) suddenly thrust into the spotlight. The 27-year-old has made a statement this spring, punctuating things with five perfect innings against Pittsburgh. If he can control the walks then look out!

Graham Ashcraft (CIN, SP) - 24% rostered - Ashcraft’s early buzz in ‘22 came from his 100-mph fastball but the strikeouts weren’t consistent and Cincinnati is hell for pitchers. But hype springs eternal, especially after Ashcraft strung together 10 strikeouts against the Padres last week to buff reports of a new slider grip. The lower floor with GABP cannot be changed but he’s an intriguing dart at the end of drafts if a strikeout per inning is on the table.

Zach Eflin (TB, SP/RP) - 20% rostered - Eflin has yet to string everything together for an entire season but has shown improved control over the past two years (3.6% BB rate in ‘21, 4.8% in ‘22). That’s all well and good but the Rays have shown interest and given him a shot in their rotation for ‘23. Tampa has a strong reputation for optimizing a player so give it a whirl.

Jared Shuster (ATL, SP) - 19% rostered - The Braves have wisely opened the door for Shuster and Dylan Dodd to audition against MLB competition to open the season. Ian Anderson was awful last year and that continued into the spring, while Michael Soroka isn’t ready yet. Shuster impressed in 2022 at Double-A, posting a 2.78 ERA/0.96 WHIP with a 30% strikeout rate in 16 starts. He then met some turbulence across nine Triple-A starts but a strong spring shows he's ready.

David Peterson (NYM, SP/RP) - 14% rostered - Peterson steps into Jose Quintana’s vacated rotation slot on a valuable Mets team that should generate many wins. The southpaw keeps the ball low with a ~50% groundball rate and just flashed a career-best 27.8% strikeout rate in ‘22, largely with his wicked slider. After registering a 37.2% whiff rate via the slider in ‘21 (via StatCast), that mark rose to 47.9% in ‘22.

Michael Wacha (SD, SP) - 11% rostered - Wacha surrendered some swinging strikes by using his sinker more in 2022, but the pristine 3.32 ERA/1.12 WHIP from last year isn’t all gold. The sabermetric profile remained unchanged underneath it all, down to the FIP through StatCast’s xERA. But it was impressive with Fenway being a top-three venue for hitters per StatCast’s Park Factors. Now he’s off to Petco, which is a bottom-three park! I’m cautiously optimistic this works out above the waiver-replacement line.

Brayan Bello (BOS, SP) - 8% rostered - Bello will have to deal with the aforementioned Fenway and that’s part of what dragged down his debut year. He provides big strikeouts and grounders but the .404 BABIP fueled a horrid 2-8 record over 11 starts. And then his spring momentum was halted by some forearm tightness. But the 23-year-old’s forearm looked just fine over three innings last week and we’ll hopefully see what a Bello with even neutral luck can produce in ‘23 soon enough.

Gavin Stone (LAD, SP) - 4% rostered - The electrifying prospect made headlines with eight strikeouts over three innings on March 19, giving him 14 whiffs and zero runs allowed in just 6 ⅔ IP. The 24-year-old’s changeup is advanced weaponry and he’s already got 306 strikeouts in 212 ⅔ IP in the minors. The big upside on a winning squad like the Dodgers makes him a premier stash. The Dodgers rotation is already ailing from the jump and Ryan Pepiot/Michael Grove doesn't inspire confidence in the wings. (Pepiot has since been placed on the IL, go figure.)


Relief Pitcher Waiver Wire Adds

Look for Jason Adam (49%), Adam Ottavino (43%), and Brusdar Graterol (39%) in shallower leagues.

Michael Fulmer (CHC, RP) - 26% rostered &
Brad Boxberger (CHC, RP) - 16% rostered - The Cubs brought several relievers in to fill out the bullpen and these two are the leading candidates for the ninth. Fulmer has posted eight scoreless innings with eight punchouts and only five baserunners allowed. Boxberger also hasn’t allowed a run over 6 ⅔ IP but the 1.50 WHIP and 5/5 K/BB ratio aren’t as exciting. (Fulmer pitched the ninth on Opening Day with the Cubs up four, so that's promising for him.)

Dylan Floro (MIA, RP) - 22% rostered &
A.J. Puk (MIA, RP) - 12% rostered - The Marlins have a similar situation to the Cubs but they still have their “incumbent” in Floro. Unfortunately, he’s been uninspiring this spring with a seven earned over 9 ⅓ IP, but at least we have a 10/2 K/BB mark. Puk has a similar 10/3 ratio in just 6 ⅔ IP with two earned. I’m siding with Puk’s strikeout upside. Matt Barnes has not been sharp through March either.

Carlos Estevez (LAA, RP) - 19% rostered - Many had high hopes for Estevez, myself included, now that he’s freed from Coors. But he has not grasped the opportunity with nine earned over and a horrid nine strikeouts to 10 walks in just 6 ⅔ IP. I wish we could blink our eyes and get Ben Joyce in the ninth but Jimmy Herget, Matt Moore, and even Aaron Loup will step up in the meantime. Herget is my first pivot if you’re desperate.

Reynaldo Lopez (CHW, RP) - 14% rostered - Lopez should be ~40% rostered and Kendall Graveman should be here at 14%, but we’ll take it. We hope Liam Hendriks makes a triumphant return ASAP from his battle with cancer but have to prepare as if he misses 2023. Lopez has cruised this spring as he proves that improved vision is quite helpful! Graveman has a lousy 3/2 K/BB with four earned and nine baserunners allowed over 3 ⅔ IP. Mix that with his tightrope 1.39 WHIP from last year and I’m Team Lopez. (He got the Opening Day save, nice.)

Michael King (NYY, RP) - 12% rostered - King is prime “FrankenAce” material for those disciples of our esteemed JB Branson. King is true royalty in high-leverage RP circles after a 6-3 record, a save, 16 holds, and a 33.2% strikeout rate in 2022. He was Aaron Boone’s go-to man next to Clay Holmes, especially when Aroldis Chapman lost his feel. If you’ve missed out then perhaps Adbert Alzolay (1% rostered) is the next King.

Scott McGough (ARI, RP) - 11% rostered - McGough is a popular dark-horse candidate to lead Arizona in saves this season. Any temptation for the familiar name of Mark Melancon can be snuffed with his injury. Andrew Chafin should sneak in some southpaw saves but the primary competition is likely Kevin Ginkel, who has 9 ⅔ IP of shutout action next to a 9/1 K/BB ratio.

Dany Jimenez (OAK, RP) - 8% rostered - True to their word, Oakland did not stick to set roles for their bullpen. Trevor May went out and pitched the eighth when Oakland was down 1-0 to the Angels and that left Jimenez for the ninth after the A's captured the lead.

Jimenez is worth an add in this early committee, but do note May faced Logan O'Hoppe, Taylor Ward, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon. After a poor spring, May did give up two batted balls of over 100 mph. He got lucky that Trout's didn't find a hole. Jimenez looks better, but it's unlikely we suddenly get a clear hierarchy in Oakland.

Brad Hand (COL, RP) - 6% rostered &
Pierce Johnson (COL, RP) - 2% rostered
- Daniel Bard has been placed on the 15-day IL with anxiety and we wish him the best. Neither Hand nor Johnson pitched in Thursday's 7-2 victory over the Padres. It appears folks are flocking to Hand's familiar name but do note his spring 3/4 K/BB ratio with five earned runs over just six innings. Johnson had a 9/4 ratio with two earned through 7 1/3 IP.

Even if it is a lefty-righty timeshare, I'd prefer Johnson. The 31-year-old has a strikeout rate above 30% in each of the last three seasons while Hand has struggled to stick around 20% between 2021-22. Spring did nothing to dissuade my disillusionment there. Coors is tricky for all but Johnson is my lean here. And Dinelson Lamet pitched the seventh yesterday, so I don't believe he's an initial option.

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