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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 1

After an offseason that somehow felt even more interminable than usual, the 2019 season is underway. Teams have only played two or three games at this point (Athletics and Mariners notwithstanding), so you certainly shouldn't be looking to do anything drastic yet. No matter how scared you might be about Chris Sale's velocity, pushing the panic button after one start is a great way to torpedo your season before it even gets going.

That said, it's perfectly fine to already be tinkering around the edges and considering what's available on the waiver wire versus what you've currently got at the back end of your roster. This mindset is good because in case the headline didn't give it away, we're about to discuss some of the best starting pitcher options on the waiver wire.

As a reminder, this column focuses on players who are below 50% owned in Yahoo leagues, and standard 5x5 scoring. Your mileage may vary, in terms of availability or league settings. Using that cutoff point for ownership rate, however, these are your starting pitcher waiver wire targets and adds for Week 1 of the 2019 fantasy baseball season.

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Starting Pitcher (SP) Waiver Wire Options

Joe Musgrove (SP, PIT) — 47% Owned

Musgrove won't take the hill for the first time in 2019 until Monday when he'll face the Cardinals at home. A tough matchup with which to start one's season, but maybe not much worse than the Reds on the road (which he would have drawn if not for Saturday's rainout). His command is stellar, he just needs to get a few more whiffs. The good news is that the tools are there to do so - both his slider and changeup induce swinging strikes at impressive rates. Musgrove will need to rely more heavily on those offerings to take the next step.

Matt Boyd (SP, DET) — 39% Owned

Allowing three runs in five innings while taking a loss? Not terribly exciting. Striking out 10 batters in those five innings while maintaining the increased velocity he showed late last season and in the spring? Significantly more exciting. Boyd got a career-best 20 swinging strikes in the game. While the Vladito-less Blue Jays aren't the most intimidating opponent, that's still an impressive figure. He'll face a much stiffer test against the Yankees in New York on Wednesday; if the whiffs carry over, this could be the beginning of a breakout.

Domingo German (SP, NYY) — 19% Owned

German has been my most common waiver wire pickup in the early going. He'll make his season debut on Monday against the hapless Orioles. The 25-year-old has electric stuff, as evidenced by the fact that he had above-average swinging strike rates on all four of his offerings last year. Even his worst pitch by results (his changeup) induced a whiff 20 percent of the time. If he can do just a bit better job of limiting the long ball, German has a good chance of reaching his considerable ceiling. There may not be a spot for him when every Yankees starter is healthy, but pretty much every one of those guys is arguably above the median for injury risk.

Michael Pineda (SP, MIN) — 17% Owned

Remember him? Judging by his ownership rate, the answer might be no for some fantasy owners. Tommy John surgery ended Pineda's 2017 season early, and then he ripped up his knee while on a rehab assignment in the minors last season. He's finally healthy and locked into a spot in the Twins' rotation this season, though, and looked good this spring. The 30-year-old's blend of high strikeout and low walk totals has long made him a potential monster, but a checkered health history and vulnerability to home runs have kept him from reaching the mountaintop. Getting out of Yankee Stadium, where he allowed 1.6 HR/9 versus 0.9 everywhere else, should at least help with the latter.

Pablo Lopez (SP, MIA) — 8% Owned

Lopez can miss bats with his curve or change, but he relies most heavily on a sinker that he can spot effectively near the edge of the zone. Under optimal conditions, this results in a high chase rate on the pitch, which in turn yields a large number of harmless ground balls. In his first start of the year against the Rockies on Saturday, Lopez generated 19 whiffs and 12 called strikes on his 88 pitches. He couldn't get out of the sixth inning, but the 23-year-old has a lot to recommend him and most fantasy owners don't seem to have caught on yet.


Three More For Your Radar

Zach Eflin (SP, PHI) — 23% Owned

I've already covered why you should consider Eflin for the back end of your fantasy rotation. Hot take: He outperforms teammate and fantasy darling Nick Pivetta this season.

Jakob Junis (SP, KC) — 17% Owned

Cruised through his first five innings on Saturday before getting touched up for a three-run bomb by Jose Abreu. Happens to the best of us.

Matt Shoemaker (SP, TOR) — 10% Owned

Dominated the Tigers in his Blue Jays debut on Friday and draws the Orioles next. Never too early to stream, friends.

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers