Down goes Syndergaard. Down goes Kluber. Down goes Paxton. The pitching landscape took another big hit this week as we are reminded again of the volatility and uncertainty of today’s major league pitcher. It’s difficult to imagine any fantasy team that hasn’t been affected, and we may need to begin re-thinking the construction of our pitching staffs.
Since so many pitchers are visiting doctors these days, let’s look at the current state of the waiver wire/free agent pool from the perspective of the doctor’s Hippocratic Oath.
The first rule of the Hippocratic Oath is “do no harm”. The following pitchers, owned in 50% or less in Yahoo and ESPN leagues, are the best options to help fill your pitching vacancy with some chance of providing positive value, and maybe most importantly at this point, the best chance of “doing no harm”. Some of the names below can be long-term options, some are designated for a quick, one week fix, and some have potential that lands in between. Players are listed in rank order.
Patrick Corbin – Diamondbacks
- ownership: 44% Yahoo, 42% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. PIT
When I wrote about Corbin two weeks ago, he was coming off 3 quality starts in a row. His streak is now at five. He will likely carry a WHIP near 1.30 and won’t pile up the K’s (about 7.5 per 9), but his ability to induce ground balls and limit hard contact should keep his ERA at or below 3.50. If Corbin can stay healthy, he will be a useful, long-term commodity going forward in 2017.
Jose Berrios – Twins
- Ownership: 8% Yahoo, 6% ESPN
Jose Berrios’ anticipated call-up this week never materialized, but keep him on your radar. It’s nearly impossible to read the front office tea leaves, as most predicted Berrios to make his 2017 MLB debut this week. It’s still rather likely that he will get the opportunity before the end of the month, and may be one of the few potential difference makers still widely available. His ownership will skyrocket the minute the news of his arrival is announced. Stash Berrios now if you can.
A.J. Griffin – Rangers
- Ownership: 8% Yahoo leagues, 9% ESPN)
- Upcoming opponents: @SD, vs. OAK
Griffin is a TJ survivor who returned to the mound in 2016 without much success. But this year has been different, and we do know that many TJ returnees take some time to round back into form. Pre-Tommy John (2012-13), Griffin pitched to an ERA near 3.50 and a 1.13 WHIP, and in 2017, he has posted a 3.54 ERA and sparkling 0.98 WHIP through 4 starts. Long-term, however, there are some concerns.
Durability is a concern as he is still in the comeback stage; he has failed to pitch past the 6th inning in any of his starts this year, and did so in only 2 of his 23 starts last year. Griffin also has become even more of a fly ball pitcher post-surgery, which may not play well in the summer months in Arlington. But for now, put the future aside.
In the present, Griffin is lined up for two starts this week against two of the worst offenses in the majors. Put him in your lineup with confidence in the short-term, but keep an eye out for a back-up plan eventually.
Miguel Gonzalez – White Sox
- Ownership: 30% Yahoo, 33% ESPN
- Upcoming opponent: vs. MIN
Gonzalez has existed in relative obscurity, but has pitched in the major leagues since 2012, throwing 744 innings over 124 starts – plus a few relief appearances. His career numbers do not pop off the page (3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6.4/K9). However, those numbers that made him an afterthought in the past have now become somewhat relevant in today’s pitching environment.
If you need a guy who will not blow up your ratios while giving some contribution to the counting stats, Gonzalez can do the job. His batted ball metrics this year are in line with his career numbers, and his 4-pitch mix will keep hitters at bay just enough to make him a serviceable option against middle-of-the-road and weak offenses like he will have this week facing the Twins.
Luis Perdomo – Padres
- Ownership: 1% Yahoo, 2% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. TEX, @CWS
All aboard! I’m driving the Luis Perdomo hype train and there’s still room for you to climb aboard. Perdomo was profiled in this space as a speculative add last week, and he didn’t disappoint, hurling 6 innings of 1-run ball with 5 K’s against the Rockies.
It’s a small sample size, but the 69% GB rate, 20.6% hard contact rate, 2.4 BB/9, and 3.31 xFIP, show reasons to be encouraged and bullish on Perdomo’s potential to have a high floor and more upside than he has been given credit for. Roll him out for two starts this week with potential to add long-term value as the season progresses.
Matt Andriese – Rays
- Ownership: 10% Yahoo, 8% ESPN
- Upcoming opponents: vs. KC, @BOS
Matt Andriese owns a 3.09 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over six starts this season. His K rate (20.6%), walk rate (8.9%), and swinging strike rate (10.3%) so far in 2017 are all close to league average and in line with his career metrics. Although he pitches in the tough AL East, the home ballpark is friendly to pitchers.
With 4 quality starts and two other serviceable outings, Andriese is a safe bet to keep your ratios in check, while contributing enough K’s and potential wins to be valuable in the current pitching landscape. The matchup next weekend at Fenway isn’t ideal, but Andriese should be able to handle the Royals early in the week, and more importantly, may be worthy of holding on to as a long-term option when the matchups are good.
Good luck! Have a great week! Check back every Sunday for your waiver and streamer pitching needs.
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