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Week 18 Waiver Wire - Starting Pitchers

I can't believe it's August! I hope every single one of you somehow benefitted from the Trade Deadline wheelings and dealings. While I urge you to test your league's trading market before the deadline hits (if applicable), we're here to check in on widely-available arms that you can hopefully get for free, but without going into strictly streamer territory. Bippity boppity, give me the zoppity.

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 18.

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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets

Joe Musgrove (PIT - SP/RP): 25% owned

Despite bearing the brunt of a 1-0 loss to the Mets on Sunday, fantasy owners should be able to look past the 4-5 record and see the improving 3.63 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He’s pitched at least seven innings in four of his last five turns, giving up just 10 earned across them. He finishes July with a 52%  groundball rate and a 24.2% soft-contact rate -- the ninth-best mark for a qualified SP. I doubt the 18.8% strikeout rate goes up, but we’re not touting Musgrove as a fix-all pitcher here -- you’re mostly buying the ratios.

Trevor Cahill (OAK - SP/RP): 21% owned

Well, Cahill had a clunker against Texas (5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) but brought it back with a quality start on Tuesday night against Toronto, striking out six over six innings of two-run ball. This was the first time he went a full six innings since coming off of the DL on July 12 and while it’s just one start, he finally resembled his pre-injury form when I watched him. He managed 13 whiffs on 99 pitches after posting a poor 12-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his previous three outings. At this point, I’ve let go of the top-25 arm we saw flash before us in the early going and instead will be happy with the top-50ish SP who calls the stadium with the second-lowest park factor (per ESPN) his home with a top-10 defense per team dWAR behind him.

Kolby Allard (ATL - SP): 19% owned

Allard fought through shaky weather in his MLB debut against Miami, winding up with five runs allowed (four earned) on nine hits (one homer) and two walks with one strikeout. He threw 81 pitches in all -- 53 fastballs (averaging 89.1 mph), 19 changeups and nine curveballs. While he was able to induce some timely grounders, he looked upset with himself often for missing high with his fastball or low with the offspeed stuff.

Very understandable stuff for a debut, but this is not the command of a guy who posted a 2.80 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with a lowly 7.4% walk rate over 109 ⅓ IP at Triple-A Gwinnett. It’s possible that Allard is given some more run in the rotation given how Sean Newcomb was already receiving extra rest before he threw 134 pitches in pursuit of a no-hitter. We’ll see how the Bravos feel about newly-acquired Kevin Gausman or Luiz Gohara, but Allard is a fine-but-not-great add for now.

German Marquez (COL - SP): 17% owned

Let the Coors Field discount work for you and scoop a free arm that has won four of his last five outings in Marquez. He’s now 9-8 on the season after tossing 7 ⅔ solid innings with eight strikeouts and two earned runs against the A’s in Colorado.

There’s no denying he’s a much better play on the road, anyone with one minute’s worth of fantasy baseball experience can tell you that, but his 3.15 road ERA is worth noting (6.63 at home). He bounced back from a rough June (6.75 ERA) with a 3.65 ERA in July that a 2.37 xFIP can vouch for. I take that to heart because he had a nice 3.34 ERA in May, but a 4.12 xFIP portended the shaky June. Let’s see if he finishes the season on a tear with a truly great month in his back pocket.

Derek Holland (SF - SP): 15% owned

Just take a deep breath and pretend that the 2015-17 seasons never happened. Injuries caught up with the southpaw and his performance cratered to 5.00-plus ERA land, but he was strong before a freak knee injury in ‘14 and multiple shoulder ailments led to fantasy-irrelevant campaigns.

But now he’s unlocked a time machine (seemingly by moving toward the first-base side of the pitching rubber) and his seasonal numbers are down to a 3.90 ERA, 1.27 WHIP with a career-best 10.7% swinging-strike rate. And since June began, the southpaw owns a stellar 2.80 ERA, 3.21 FIP and 3.23 xFIP with a killer 66-to-17 strikeout-to-walk rate in 54 ⅔ innings. The Giants are in need of arms with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija down for the count, so let Holland be your saving grace as well.

Michael Kopech (CWS - SP): 10% owned

There was a lot of buzz early in the 2018 season about Kopech being a midseason call-up, but the youngster’s control issues made it rather easy to dissuade prospectors. While I still think it’s likely that neither Kopech nor Eloy Jimenez accrues MLB service time in ‘18, I will say that Kopech’s recent pitching warrants some hedging stashes in redrafts. Tuesday night saw him go seven innings with eight strikeouts, two earned runs (both solo shots to Pedro Alvarez) and two walks. His last four starts have seen him yield just six earned in 24 innings, but most important is how he’s walked just four batters (against 32 punchouts). I don’t really know what other boxes need checking with this recent stretch.

Max Fried (ATL - SP): 8% owned

Fried chicken is back on the menu! The 24-year-old returned to the rotation by striking out seven Dodgers over five crisp innings of one-run ball after missing three weeks due to a blister. His 32 strikeouts in 25 ⅔ innings and being on the Braves in a weak NL East division highlight his potential for his next scheduled start against the Mets. Things aren’t all rosy -- he’s walked at least three in each of his four starts this season -- but every rose has its thorns.

Tyler Glasnow (TB - SP/RP): 4% owned

We don't know how long the Rays plan on letting Glasnow go in his first start for Tampa Bay on Wednesday against the Angels. What I do know is that Glasnow hasn't shown any real signs of being over his control issues -- he posted a 16-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in July for Pittsburgh -- and while reliever numbers are quite volatile, the electric hurler had a 2.80 ERA at home and a 6.97 ERA on the road. His line-drive rate nearly doubled away from PNC Park, while his soft-contact rate was almost cut in half (below 10%). I'm not going near this situation myself, but I understand chasing the pipe dream if you believe in what Tampa Bay's front office/coaches believe they see in him.

Daniel Poncedeleon (STL - RP): 8% owned
Austin Gomber (STL - RP): 1% owned

It’s unclear at this point whether Poncedeleon or Gomber will replace the injured Carlos Martinez in St. Louis’ rotation. Both had incredible debuts as a starter for the Cardinals at the beginning of last week and then both transitioned to the bullpen. It was Poncedeleon who came on in relief after CarMart got hurt and promptly served up a grand slam to Nolan Arenado. Gomber’s lone relief appearance since his impressive start saw him give up two unearned runs while retiring just two batters.

Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said Dakota Hudson is not being considered for the rotation slot, for what it’s worth. In my opinion, Poncedeleon seems most likely to draw the start since he was given the first turn in spot start duty one week ago and that his filling in for Martinez after the injury aligns him with that rotation slot’s throwing schedule. Despite the rocky five strikeouts and five walks in 9 ⅓ IP thus far, he has the same strikeout potential as Gomber based on their stats from the minors, though nearly double the walk rate.


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