Heading into Week 3, it is still too early to make definitive, performance-based decisions on pitchers. In the case of those who have underperformed thus far, if you believed in a player during your pre-draft research and drafted him with confidence, have some faith in your process and give that pitcher another two or three starts before deciding to cut bait.
On the other hand, if you wound up rostering a pitcher as a last resort or with trepidation; you didn’t love that player in the first place and if he is confirming his mediocrity or worse, it is not too early to let him go. Trust your research, trust your process, and trust yourself in these decisions.
If you are in need of some pitching help, below are the best options who may be available in your league to cure your ailing staff. Some can be long-term options, some are designated for a quick, one-week fix, and some have potential that lands in between.
These pitchers are owned in 50% or less of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and are listed in rank order.
TOP OF THE LINE
Enjoy the production today through September
Joe Ross – Nationals
- Ownership: 49% Yahoo, 23% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: @ATL
Ross is the Nationals fifth starter, and because the club decided to carry an extra bullpen arm to begin the season, Ross was sent to AAA simply as a result of roster manipulation. He is now being recalled and has been tapped to make his first start of the year in Atlanta on Wednesday. Ross is still a month shy of his 24th birthday, but has already posted a 3.52 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 181 innings (32 starts, 3 relief appearances) over two partial seasons.
As a former first round pick and brother of fellow major league pitcher Tyson Ross, there is some legitimate pedigree and upside. He has shown the ability thus far to limit the big inning and overall damage, thanks in part to a low 9.6% HR/FB rate and a strong 2.5 BB/9. The Nationals may skip him a couple of times in the rotation, and they may be hesitant to let him pass the 100 pitch mark per start, which may limit his win potential, but Ross should be counted on for about 150 innings to bolster your ratios with an ERA at or below 3.50 and a WHIP at or below 1.20, while piling up about 135 K’s the rest of the way.
The fact that he pitches in the improved, but still relatively weak NL East, is an added bonus and measure of comfort to endorse Joe Ross as a very solid piece at the back-end of your rotation all year.
A CLOSE SECOND
A worthy consolation prize if you miss out on your first choice
Daniel Norris – Tigers
- Ownership: 14% Yahoo, 11% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: @TB
Norris was spotlighted as a speculative add last week and is worthy of another mention here higher up on the list. He has turned in two quality starts since, including six shutout innings against the Indians on Friday. Although his 7:7 K/BB is a bit of a red flag, it is likely those stats will normalize at or better than the 8K/9 and 2.5 K/BB that Norris has established over his first 140 major league innings.
Expect a good number of quality starts mixed with a few inconsistent and wild outings going forward along with a better than average ERA, a little higher than average WHIP, and an average K/9, with potential to break out and exceed those projections. Norris has a fairly safe floor with room to grow.
ROLLER COASTER RIDES
These pitchers have tremendous upside, but also have glaring flaws that can spell doom on any given night. Worth a speculative add if you have an open spot on your roster with the possibility of returning substantial value if sustained growth can be realized. Take your personal risk tolerance in mind and proceed with excitement and caution.
Luis Severino – Yankees
- Ownership: 27% Yahoo, 16% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. CHW
The Potential: Severino has a 96 MPH fastball and 17:2 K/BB in two starts this season, including a 7 inning, 2 ER, 11 K attention-getting performance against the Rays last Thursday. He spent time this past winter working with Pedro Martinez, for what that may be worth. His next matchup against the White Sox makes it easy to plug him right into your lineup.
The Risk: He just turned 23 years old and is still a raw talent. He is homer-prone, witnessed by his 17% HR/FB career rate. His control is acceptable, but the analytics say he lacks command and the strength of a changeup to complement his fastball and slider.
Blake Snell – Rays
- Ownership: 37% Yahoo, 20% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: @BOS, vs. HOU
The Potential: Snell is a former first round pick who plays in a pitcher-friendly home ballpark. In 100 career innings, he owns a 3.50 ERA buoyed by a miniscule 6% HR/FB rate, and his 24% K rate has yielded more than a strikeout an inning. In 11.1 innings over two stars this year, Snell has allowed a grand total of 5 hits.
The Risk: In those aforementioned 11.1 innings, Snell has walked eight. Control has been Snell’s kryptonite all along and will continue to limit his overall success until he proves otherwise – even if his other skills allow him to often work out of the trouble he creates. High pitch counts will lead to short outings, which will limit his win potential.
Amir Garrett – Reds
- Ownership: 41% Yahoo , 27% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. BAL, vs. CHC
The Potential: Garrett is a 6’ 5” gifted athlete and former college basketball player at St. John’s who has won his first two major league starts while posting a 1.42 ERA, .71 WHIP, and 9:2 K/BB.
The Risk: In those two seemingly impressive starts, hitters have a .182 BABIP and 32.5% hard contact rate against him. Those numbers scream that big regression in ERA and WHIP is coming. His minor league walk rate was about 4BB/9, giving a second dangerous cause for concern and tempered expectations. If you do decide to take the plunge and add him, you may want to hold him on the bench for this week, given the tough matchups.
STREAMER (AND MAYBE MORE)
Use him this week and you may find yourself not wanting to let go
Joe Musgrove – Astros
- Ownership: 30% Yahoo, 15% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. LAA, @TB
Musgrove was highlighted in this space last week as a potential serviceable long-term solution as a back-end starter who will post solid ratios. This week he has two starts against middle of the road offenses, making this middle of the road pitcher a good option to stabilize your pitching stats and double up on the counting stats for those who play in weekly leagues.
STREAMER…NOTHING BUT A STREAMER
These pitchers have a good situation for the week, but are not long-term investments. Add and enjoy in the short-term, but don’t get too attached.
Mike Leake – Cardinals
- Ownership: 39% Yahoo, 22% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. PIT, @MIL
Leake is a crafty veteran and a useful major league pitcher, but not a fantasy darling. Over the course of a full season, it is wiser to roster a pitcher with upside who can potentially win you a fantasy championship over a pitcher like Mike Leake. However, thus far in 2017, Leake has given up one earned run and struck out 13 batters in 15 innings.
This is not a breakout. Mike Leake is still Mike Leake, but he is capable of some good stretches and it is worth riding the hot streak while it lasts. With two starts against the weak hitting Pirates and whiff happy Brewers, you can use him this week, kick him to the curb, and then let him go back to being… well, Mike Leake.
Jordan Montgomery – Yankees
- Ownership: 1% Yahoo, 2% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. CHW, @PIT
Montgomery has one major league appearance under his belt, where he piled up 7 K’s while giving up 2 ER in 4.2 innings. According to prospect guru Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, Montgomery has a varied arsenal of pitches and greatly limited the number of home runs allowed throughout his minor league career. He will probably only pitch 5-6 innings an outing, but there is a decent chance he has some better than average success before the league figures him out.
The two matchups this week cannot get much better for those in deeper leagues needing to fill a roster spot in the short-term..
Good luck! Have a great week! Check back next weekend for your waiver and streamer pitching needs.
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