10 Deep Pitchers to Pick Up (Fantasy Baseball)
Nick Pollack from Pitcher List here for a weekly segment at FantasyPros where I’ll be looking at the deeper options available in your leagues, highlighting my 10 favorite pitchers each week that could quickly return value despite hanging out on your waiver wire. We’ve set the threshold to under 15% owned according to ESPN, leaving a vast majority of leagues to take advantage of these arms that will cost you nothing and possibly return plenty.
10. Brent Honeywell (TB): 3.8% owned
We’re getting closer to the end of the season, making the inevitable call-up of Honeywell more and more likely. Despite the Rays recently adding Blake Snell once again, there is still the hope Honeywell gets the call not too far into the distant future, where he can provide owners some production close to his 11.46 K/9 and 2.38 BB/9 from 106 innings of Triple-A ball this year. If you don’t have a stable arm at the back of your staff, you’re doing little harm in stashing away Honeywell.
9. Tyler Skaggs (LAA): 6.8% owned
Skaggs’ first start off the DL didn’t spell two months of success for the southpaw, though I often use a term – DLH or Disabled List Hangover – that refers to starters performing poorly in their first start back from injury more often than not. While a matchup against Seattle isn’t the most ideal second date for Skaggs, he could hint at his 9.00+ K/9 history with more innings under his belt, making this a decent stash for the final weeks of the season.
8. Sean Newcomb (ATL): 10.0% owned
Newcomb started strong during his four starts in the majors, allowing just four earned runs and amassing 21 strikeouts in 24.1 innings. However, after facing excellent offenses in the Cubs, Nationals, Astros, and Dodgers twice, Newcomb’s ERA has soared to 4.61 with a ghastly 5.47 BB/9. His schedule isn’t much prettier for the next month, including starts against the Cubs and in Coors, but there are a collection of solid matchups – Phillies, Reds, Rangers for example – that can make you a happy Newcomb owner.
7. Vincent Velasquez (PHI): 12.7% owned
There have been better days for Velasquez, who recently allowed six walks in the hitter’s paradise that is Coors Field. Still, the future is much brighter, getting matchups against the Mets, Padres, and Giants, all of which could bring production via his above-average strikeout ability (8.50 K/9 in 2017, 9.68 K/9 career). There’s a clear floor with his 4.00+ BB/9 and 5.34 FIP this year, but starting a healthy Velasquez against weak teams could pay dividends.
6. Anthony Banda (ARI): 1.6% owned
If it were known that Banda would be pitching for the Diamondbacks through the end of the season, his ranking would be much higher on this list. For now, he’s been taking the place of Robbie Ray and has taken full advantage of his time, showcasing an impressive 9.26 K/9 and a 3.86 ERA. He did walk four batters in his outing against the Giants, though a 1.17 WHIP with 7 Ks and 1 ER will erase those worries in a moment. His 11.5% whiff rate thus far indicates that his strikeouts could stick around, providing some much needed strikeout upside on your wire.
5. Nick Pivetta (PHI): 3.2% owned
Here’s a play for those that have the luxury to pick their spots with a pitcher. Against weak opponents such as the Padres, Mets, Braves, and Cardinals, Pivetta has returned 28 strikeouts and 8 ER. However, he’s not a candidate to start against the Goliaths of lineups as he’s gotten shelled against the Astros, Rockies (in Coors) and Diamondbacks. He’s a great streamer for your deep league and could fill some holes down the road.
4. Chad Kuhl (PIT): 10.3% owned
I wouldn’t tell you that Kuhl is destined for success in the majors. Despite averaging a Fastball above 95mph and featuring a Slider with a whiff rate above 20%, Kuhl struggles to consistent tallying the strikeouts, featuring only six games across all 23 starts where he’s fanned at least six batters. Don’t let his 4.53 ERA turn you away, though. Since July 1st, Kuhl has strung together a 2.93 ERA while averaging near six frames per start. Yes, there are warts in that time – a 3.72 BB/9, 4.23 xFIP, 30%+ hard contact – but there’s a possibility he can keep the momentum going down the stretch and possibly get the strikeouts his velocity dictates.
3. Jason Hammel (KC): 13.1% owned
Despite starting with a 6.18 ERA in his first 10 games, Hammel has been much improved since the start of June. You may not have noticed, but 11 of Hammel’s last 12 starts have returned 3 ER or fewer, making him especially valuable in Quality Start leagues. There are more exciting upside arms here – Hammel holds just a 6.75 K/9 and 3.74 ERA in that time – but those who need stability on their staff might have a perfect fit in Hammel.
2. Adam Conley (MIA): 9.5% owned
After three fantastic outings from Conley, his latest start against the Braves wasn’t nearly as favorable, returning just two strikeouts as he allowed four runs (three earned) in 5.1 innings of work. Still, it’s not enough for us to run away from Conley after allowing just 4 ER total in his previous three starts and averaging five punchouts per game. His Fastball command is still much improved from his time prior to a minor league stint, making him a solid investment for the rest of the season. Just don’t blindly start him against the Nationals.
1. Reynaldo Lopez (CWS): 10.0% owned
We finally got the news that we’ve been waiting for – Lopez will be starting for the White Sox this Friday. He’ll most likely be staying with the club indefinitely, and considering the array of middling options out there, your best choice is to stash Lopez and see what you get. He sports a mid 90s Fastball, excellent breaking ball, and a Changeup that has solid movement but is a work in progress. There’s potential to make an impact down the stretch, but be cautioned: there’s always the possibility that you’ll need to cut bait a few starts into his 2017 campaign.