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Welcome to the first day without anything MLB going on, which makes it the perfect day for reflection on your squad. What better place to start their your starting rotation? Analyze where you stand in terms of innings pitched on the year if applicable, or maybe the balance you need to strike between starters and relievers in order to compete in both strikeouts/wins and ERA/WHIP. We're here to win championships, not crawl into third place. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!

If you want to chat more about additional arms/bats/whatever, you can find me on Twitter @NMariano53 and ask any follow-up questions.

We're using Yahoo ownership levels and cutting things off around 30% this week. Here are my starting pitcher waiver wire targets for Week 16.

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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets

Vince Velasquez (PHI - SP): 30% owned

Overall, Velasquez’s 2018 looks suspiciously like his 2016 campaign. His K/9 sits around 10.5 (10.44 in ‘16, 10.49 in ‘18) with an ERA that’s roughly half a run higher than his xFIP and SIERA. But there are some promising differences. The most notable is how he carried a rough 1.33 WHIP around in ‘16, thanks in large part to a .325 BABIP that was rooted in a 24% line-drive rate. He’s dropped his line-drive rate down to 18.3%, which has helped sink his BABIP down to .294. His WHIP is a tolerable 1.24 this season, which makes chasing those strikeouts much more pleasant. He looked sharp in his return from the comebacker that went off his pitching arm, tossing six scoreless innings against the Mets to put a bow on his first half. And for what it’s worth, he has a 3.88 ERA (3.35 FIP, 3.78 xFIP, 3.75 SIERA) over the last two months -- just in case any ERA above 4.00 serves as an automatic disqualification for you.

Zack Wheeler (NYM - SP): 21% owned

Go figure that one of Wheeler’s lesser outings would lead to his first victory since April 29, but he and the Mets beat the Nationals on July 14 after he yielded four runs over 7 ⅔ IP. He’s now struck out at least seven in five of his last six outings and carries a 3.63 ERA, 3.25 FIP and 3.86 xFIP since mid-May (11 starts). The righty is good for a strikeout per inning and he’ll either get traded to a team with better run support or remain in the weakest division in baseball (though his own team is a big part of that).

Trevor Cahill (OAK - SP/RP): 17% owned

Hopefully, Cahill got the cobwebs off his arm during his return to action against Houston  (3 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K), though his seasonal statline remains impressive. He still holds a 3.10 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 3.15 xFIP and 3.34 SIERA through 52 1/3 frames — all marks that rank within the top-25 for starters (50 IP min.). He’ll need to prove that he can maintain a high strikeout rate while still inducing his usual grounders, and he should open the second half against the Giants with a good matchup to prove himself.

Ervin Santana (MIN - SP): 17% owned

Santana is 35 years old and coming off of finger surgery that may very well dent his abilities as a Major League starting pitcher. Plus, he’s never been a big strikeout guy (career 7.19 K/9), so I can see why the needle isn’t moving here. His latest Triple-A rehab start saw him give up three runs on four hits (two homers (one to Gary Sanchez) and a walk with seven strikeouts over 5 ⅔ innings. The whiffs are there and he’s showing off his usual control (two walks in 23 innings so far), so perhaps he can pick up as a mid-threes ERA arm with a good chance at wins in a weak division.

Jake Faria (TB - SP): 17% owned

Faria suffered an oblique strain on May 22 after getting hit hard at Fenway Park and is roughly three rehab appearances from being stretched out for the bigs. He has two rehab starts under his belt already, with his latest being a three-inning showing at Triple-A Durham on July 13, but he’s struck out only one in five total innings so far. This comes after posting a 6.99 K/9 in 47 ⅔ pre-injury innings, so I hope he’s just working on the basics first. His ERA and all peripherals are above 5.00 right now, but he had a strong rookie showing in 2017 and could be useful should he regain that form. If not, then he’s an easy cut for one of these other names.

Dereck Rodriguez (SF - SP): 16% owned

Shoutout to those of you who left Rodriguez in their lineups for that rogue extra-inning victory on July 11. D-Rod pitched three clean frames in a battle against the Cubs for his fourth win of 2018 and he now has as 1.93 ERA and 1.04 WHIP across 28 innings over the last month. While his 3.42 FIP largely supports the 2.89 ERA, his 4.23 xFIP and 4.28 SIERA are more suspect. This is sensible for a guy with lesser strikeouts and a low 0.58 HR/9 mark, but also for a San Francisco pitcher. AT&T Park is notoriously pitcher-friendly and Rodriguez’s 2.28 ERA at home versus a 3.79 mark on the road isn’t surprising. I don't think he's strictly a home streamer, but he's more useful than 16% reflects even if that were the case given how strong his home park is.

Nick Kingham (PIT - SP): 12% owned

The good news is that Kingham enters the second half having won his last two starts, combining for 14 strikeouts against two walks over 12 ⅓ innings versus the Phillies and Brewers. The bad news is that he’s allowed six homers in his last three outings after surrendering just four longballs across his first six trips to the hill. His control is still there, but he’s now given up nearly as many homers (10) as walks (12). Still, his 3.69 SIERA and solid track record of limiting homers in the minors will keep me around for the second half.

German Marquez (COL - SP): 6% owned

Marquez enters the break having finally posted a strong start at Coors Field. Prior to July 11’s quality start (and win) against Arizona, Marquez had posted just one QS in his previous eight starts at home. He also hit a bomb off of Daniel Descalso, but I guess that’s not too relevant here. He’s walked just two batters in his last three outings despite facing the Dodgers, Mariners and D-backs, but he has yielded 11 homers in his last eight starts. Good control will help minimize the damage of said homers, but he’ll remain a road streamer until he can get that under control. That said, his 2.62 road ERA is worth targeting.

Luiz Gohara (ATL - SP/RP): 4% owned

Gohara is allegedly in the minors to get stretched out for a return to Atlanta’s rotation on July 24 against Miami. This illustrates some good points in favor of adding Gohara. One, he’s still seen as a starter and this could lead to an opportunity that lasts the rest of the season. Two, he gets to face the Marlins and we love pitchers in the NL East, especially those on Atlanta, Philadelphia or Washington. Let’s see if he can recapture the swing-and-miss stuff that gave him 178 punchouts across 153 professional innings in 2017 and gain some confidence against a weak Miami squad for a second-half run.

Ryan Yarbrough (TB - SP/RP): 7% owned
Ryne Stanek (TB - SP/RP): 4% owned

By the letter of the non-existent law, I can totally include these two because they’ve made starts. Like it or not, Yarbrough’s rank on Yahoo 5x5 leagues over the past 30 days is 116 and Stanek’s is 151. Yarbrough is helped out by three victories over that span (Stanek has none), but Stanek has a better strikeout rate (22 in 17 IP compared to 21 in 21 ⅓ IP), a better ERA (1.59 to 1.69) and WHIP (0.88 to 1.22). The ownership rates are following the wins, but Stanek’s 15.2% swinging-strike rate is nearly double Yar’s 8.6% mark! I’d rather own Stanek moving forward, but both should be on more radars.

Wade Miley (MIL - SP): 4% owned

The Brewers really only have Chase Anderson and Jhoulys Chacin to run out there as true starters right now. Brent Suter just came back from injury and rarely goes longer than five innings (though I suppose Chacin doesn’t work too deep either), and Junior Guerra is on the 10-day DL with right forearm tightness. Zach Davies is recovering from rotator cuff inflammation and Jimmy Nelson probably won’t return until September.

This paves the way for Miley to be relevant on an otherwise-strong Milwaukee team. This is not so much an endorsement of Miley, but of his situation. I do think the five walks in his return were influenced by not having pitched in over two months, but he’s no stranger to terrible control. I’d deploy him against below-average opponents and be able to sleep at night.

 

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