Week 3 waiver wire pitchers are here along with my favorite two start streamers and rankings.
Mike Minor (SP – Texas Rangers)
Ownership: Yahoo 13% ESPN 12% CBS 51%
Another pitcher that experienced second half success last year was Texas Rangers starter Mike Minor. Minor signed with the Rangers last season as a starter after should injuries kept him in relief as a Kansas City Royal. He posted a 4.18 ERA on the season, but got much better as the season went on posting a 2.97 ERA in the second half. One of Minor’s strengths was his ability to keep runners off the bases with a 1.12 WHIP and a 5.9% walk rate. The Rangers admittedly took it easy with Minor in his first full season as a starter since 2015, only allowing him to throw over 100 pitches three times last season. This year, they’ve made it a point to take the reins off and let Minor pitch deeper into games. Minor has made good on that by completing seven innings in each of his last two starts, including a performance in which he held the Houston Astros scoreless through seven innings with seven strikeouts. Minor is good pickup to add in deeper leagues that count WHIP as a category, as I think he can be a great stabilizer in that area with potential to give you solid ratios, particularly on the road. There were some trade talks around Minor this offseason and if he is moved to a more pitcher friendly park given his fly ball tendencies, he could find himself relevant in all leagues and formats.
Domingo German (SP – New York Yankees)
Ownership: Yahoo 49% ESPN 34% CBS 74%
Coming into this season, the Yankees appeared to have their rotation set. But an injury to their ace, Luis Severino, and a suspension to CC Sabathia opened the door to a spring training competition for the two spots. Last season, German started 14 games in which he displayed great strikeout potential with a 10.72 K/9. Equipped with four plus pitches, his curveball was most effective with a 42.6% strikeout rate. His 3.94 xFIP pointed to him performing better than his 5.57 ERA indicated. A strong spring training gave the Yankees the confidence to start him in the rotation over Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga. He’s taken advantage of the opportunity starting the season with two good starts against the Tigers and Orioles. And because he has a fastball that induced a 27% strikeout rate last season, he has the stuff to play up in the bullpen as well, as showcased today with four strikeouts in two innings against the Chicago White Sox. German’s next start will come Thursday against the Royals, and that start could go a long way in the Yankee’s decision regarding Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez has a clause in his contract that will release him if he is not called up to the majors by April 20th. German should be owned in twelve team leagues or deeper, and especially in points leagues where is SP and RP eligibility becomes extremely valuable regardless of how German is used going forward.
Richard Lovelady (RP – Kansas City Royals)
Ownership: Yahoo 2% ESPN 1% CBS 5%
The Kansas City Royals closer situation has been a mess to say the least. Between Wily Peralta, Brad Boxberger, and Ian Kennedy, its been difficult to get a grasp of the situation there with four blown saves collectively. Kennedy seems to be the man with the job, at least for now. On April 9th, the Royals called up 23 year old Richard Lovelady to help of out the bullpen and has looked good in two outings with three strikeouts in one and a third innings pitched. Lovelady posted a 2.47 ERA in 73 innings last season in AAA. A big reason for Lovelady’s success is his ability to limit fly balls with a 33.3% fly ball rate which led to only three home runs allows last season. Keeping the ball in the yard is pivotal in the late innings. If you are desperate for saves in your league, Lovelady could be a good speculative add as we wait and see how the situation unfolds.
Derek Holland (SP – San Francisco Giants)
Ownership: Yahoo 11% ESPN 5% CBS 24%
Did you know that since the All-Star break of last season, Derek Holland has a better ERA than Justin Verlander? That’s not to say that Holland is anything close to the caliber pitcher Verlander is, but Holland has in fact gone mostly underrated. Holland joined the San Francisco Giants last season after years of mediocrity with the Texas Rangers and one bad season with the Chicago White Sox. The 32 year old Holland has found a late career resurgence in San Francisco posting a 3.57 ERA last season in 171.1 innings with a 8.88 K/9. And it wasn’t just the park that helped Holland. His home ERA of 3.51 and his road ERA of 3.63 weren’t that far off with the strikeout numbers being nearly identical as well. Holland started off the 2018 season slow but pitched like a top 30 pitcher in the second half of the year with his ERA dropping from 4.09 in the first half to 2.83 in the second half. Some of that success can be attributed to his drop in fly ball rate by nearly ten percent, which in turn dropped his HR/9 rate down from 1.15 to 0.77. That change came with a rise in the usage of his Sinker. The more he effectively used his Sinker, the more ground balls he was able to induce, all while keeping the strikeout rate at nearly one per inning. Holland never gave up more than four earned runs in any start last season, and only gave up four runs in a start twice from July 1st on. His recent outing against the Padres was an example of what he is capable of, throwing seven innings with nine strikeouts and one earned run. He may not be more than a home or two start streamer in 12 team leagues but he could be a valuable add in anything deeper if he is available.
Jimmy Nelson (SP – Milwaukee Brewers)
Ownership: Yahoo 13% ESPN 6% CBS 73%
Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson is preparing for a AAA rehab assignment after spending the beginning of the year in extended spring training. Nelson suffered a shoulder injury diving back to first base as a base runner in the midst of his breakout 2017 campaign. As good as Nelson was that season with a 3.49 ERA with a 10.21 k/9, the 3.05 FIP and 3.15 xFIP suggested he might have been even better. The development of his curveball really made a difference for Nelson as the metrics made a huge jump across the board for him including velocity, swinging strike rate, strikeout rate, and a lower contact rate that helped the pitch obtain a 9.9 pVAL per fangraphs, up from -2.6 the year before. Nelson has all of the tools to be an ace if he can make it back healthy including an above average ground ball rate (50.3%), low fly ball rate (27.3%), and good walk percentage (6.6%) to go along with elite strikeout potential. Now might be the time to stash Nelson if you aren’t already doing so. Top 30 starting pitchers are hard to come by on the waiver wire and he has the potential to be just that and more. Given the fact that he will be making rehab starts soon, he should be stashed everywhere.
Two Start Streamers of the Week
Colin McHugh (Houston Astros) 4/16 @ OAK, 4/21 @ TEX
The skill growth McHugh displayed out of the bullpen last season has carried over as a starter so far with 22 strikeouts in 17 innings. He’s been fantastic and looks to have a strong hold on a rotation spot for the year. While the Oakland offense has one of the lowest team strikeout rates, I like the ballpark factor for McHugh. On the other hand, the Texas Rangers strikeout at the third highest rate as a team. His RP eligibility makes him a must play, particularly in weekly points leagues.
Max Fried (Atlanta Braves) 4/16 vs ARI, 4/21 @ CLE
For all the talk of the Braves young pitchers this offseason, Max Fried has been the one to burst onto the scene with no earned runs allowed through 13.2 innings this year that includes two starts in which he pitched six innings each. This week, Fried gets the Arizona Diamondbacks middle of the pack offense at home before going to Cleveland to face the Indians who currently hold the second highest team strikeout rate and third lowest team batting average against left handed pitchers.
Two-Start Pitcher Rankings
- Stephen Strasburg – 4/16 vs. San Francisco Giants, 4/21 @ Miami Marlins
- Trevor Bauer – 4/15 @ Seattle Mariners, 4/21 vs Atlanta Braves
- Noah Syndergaard – 4/15 @ Philadelphia Phillies, 4/21 @ St. Louis Cardinals
- Aaron Nola – 4/15 vs New York Mets, 4/20 @ Colorado Rockies
- Luis Castillo – 4/15 @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 4/20 @ San Diego Padres
- James Paxton – 4/16 vs Boston Red Sox, 4/21 vs Kansas City Royals
- Jack Flaherty – 4/15 @ Milwaukee Brewers, 4/21 vs New York Mets
- Matthew Boyd – 4/16 vs Pittsburgh Pirates, 4/21 vs Chicago White Sox
- Clayton Kershaw – 4/15 vs Cincinnati Reds, 4/20 @Milwaukee Brewers
- Joey Lucchesi – 4/15 vs Colorado Rockies, 4/21 vs Cincinnati Reds
- Tyler Glassnow – 4/16 vs Baltimore Orioles, 4/21 vs Boston Red Sox
- Matt Shoemaker – 4/15 @ Minnesota Twins, 4/20 @ Oakland Athletics
- Collin McHugh – 4/16 @ Oakland Athletics, 4/21 @ Texas Rangers
- Kenta Maeda – 4/16 vs Cincinnati Reds, 4/21 @ Milwaukee Brewers
- Yusei Kikuchi – 4/15 vs Cleveland Indians, 4/20 A Los Angeles Angels
- Robbie Ray – 4/16 @ Atlanta Braves, 4/21 @ Chicago Cubs
- Max Fried – 4/16 vs Arizona Diamondbacks, 4/21 @ Cleveland Indians
- Yu Darvish – 4/15 @ Miami Marlins, 4/21 vs Arizona Diamondbacks
- Brandon Woodruff – 4/16 vs St. Louis Cardinals, 4/21 vs Los Angeles Dodgers
- Trevor Richards – 4/15 vs Chicago Cubs, 4/21 vs Washington Nationals
- Nick Pivetta – 4/16 vs New York Mets, 4/21 @ Colorado Rockies
- Freddy Peralta – 4/15 vs St. Louis Cardinals, 4/20 vs Los Angeles Dodgers
- Dereck Rodriguez – 4/16 @ Washington Nationals, 4/21 @ Pittsburgh Pirates
- Kyle Gibson – 4/16 vs Toronto Blue Jays, 4/21 @ Baltimore Orioles
- Mike Leake – 4/16 vs Cleveland Indians, 4/21 @ Los Angeles Angels
- Trevor Cahill – 4/15 @ Texas Rangers, 4/20 vs Seattle Mariners
- Aaron Sanchez – 4/16 @ Minnesota Twins, 4/21 @ Oakland Athletics
- Reynaldo Lopez – 4/16 vs Kansas City Royals, 4/21 @ Detroit Tigers
- Dylan Bundy – 4/16 @ Tampa Bay Rays, 4/21 vs Minnesota Twins
- Martin Perez – 4/15 vs Toronto Blue Jays, 4/20 @ Baltimore Orioles
- Jorge Lopez – 4/16 @ Chicago White Sox, 4/21 @ New York Mets
- Matt Harvey – 4/16 @ Texas Rangers, 4/21 vs Seattle Mariners
- Tyler Mahle – 4/16 @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 4/21 @ San Diego Padres
- Ervin Santana – 4/15 vs Kansas City Royals, 4/20 @ Detroit Tigers
- Dan Straily – 4/15 @ Boston Red Sox, 4/20 vs Minnesota Twins
- Shelby Miller – 4/15 vs Los Angeles Angels, 4/21 vs Houston Astros