Last week I went over some hitters that may be on the waiver wire that can help you out in certain categories that you’re struggling in. At this point in the season, most of the diamonds in the rough have been mined off the waiver wire. You won’t likely find many guys out there right now that can help you in every category, otherwise they wouldn’t be available. However, the waiver wire still remains the go-to place when looking to improve your roster, and there are plenty of guys that can help you out in certain categories. This week I’m exploring the standard pitching categories, and going through some guys that might be able to help you out.
With 6 wins on the year, Marco Gonzales has pilled up 3 of those in his past 3 starts. Over those 3 starts, Gonzales has allowed just 1 earned run on 11 hits and 8 walks, while striking out 16 batters in those 20.1 innings. The walks over that span are a bit high, but his season long 2.30 BB/9 suggests that they should not be an issue going forward. The Mariners are tied for the 3rd most wins in the MLB, so Gonzales should continue seeing plenty of opportunities to win games. Also aiding Gonzales is the 6th best defense by fielding percentage (.986) and an offense that produces 4.4 runs per game. After a rough showing last year, Gonzales seems to have figured some things out. His numbers back up his performance (3.22 FIP/ 3.46 xFIP), so we should continue to see solid performances out of Gonzales.
He may not go deep into games and his 4.55 ERA may not seem pretty, but Brent Suter has been a solid source of wins lately. Pitching for the Brewers definitely helps, as they have the 5th most wins in the MLB and a strong offense. He is 5-4 on the year, and 4 of his wins have come in his past 6 starts. His ERA has also been slightly better than his season mark, as he holds a 4.06 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over the past 30 days. He also holds a 31:7 K/BB over that span and can help rack up some strikeouts in addition to wins. The downside? He has yet to pitch 6+ innings in a game this year, so he won’t be of much help in quality starts leagues. This is likely due to the fact that the Brewers have such a stacked bullpen. On the flip side, their dominant bullpen should help ensure that Suter will stay in line for the win once he hands it over. Suter has looked much better than he was to start the year, and has only allowed more than 3 runs in one of his last 8 starts.
It is pretty baffling to me that Velasquez is only owned in 36% of leagues. If you are in need of strikeouts, Velasquez is one of the best sources lately. I don’t just mean among potential free agents either, as Velasquez is 14th in all of baseball over the past month with his 41 strikeouts. Even when looking at the entire season, Vince Velasquez is 20th in the MLB in strikeouts with 79. That is only one behind stud teammate Aaron Nola, and more than some big names such as Greinke, Porcello, and Berrios to name a few. Pretty shocking to see that someone top 20 in strikeouts is available in roughly 64% of leagues. Even in Yahoo he is only 46% owned! On the season, he is 4-6 with a 3.82 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and a juicy 11.17 K/9 across 63.2 innings. However, over his past 28.2 innings he holds a 2.20 ERA and 1.15 WHIP to go along with 41 strikeouts. If you need strikeouts or another starting pitcher, Velasquez has been scorching lately.
Zach Wheeler – SP, Mets (10% owned on ESPN)
I almost feel bad for recommending a Met, especially one as inconsistent as Wheeler. But he’s finally strung together back to back quality starts, so the time for recommending is now if you are looking for some strikeouts. He’s racked up 38 strikeouts over his last 35 innings, good for an impressive 9.8 K/9 over that span. Those 38 strikeouts rank 20th in the MLB over the past month, just one shy of ace Gerit Cole. His season K/9 mark sits at 8.86, and he boasts a solid 9.9% swinging strike rate. His 3.78 FIP hints that he’s been pitching better than his 4.57 ERA shows, so he could be a guy in store for some positive regression. He’s a Met so it is only a matter of time before he winds up on the DL, but enjoy him until then.
Vince Velasquez (36% owned on ESPN)
Had to include a starting pitcher. As I mentioned above, Velasquez holds a 2.20 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over his last 28.2 innings while also striking out 41 batters. Go. Scoop. Him.
Jeremy Jeffress – RP, Brewers (33% owned on ESPN)
Some are wary of using a relief spot for a non-closer, but Jeffress should be your exception. Although Knebel is back and Jeffress won’t see many save opportunities, it shouldn’t let you ignore his insane ratios this season. Jeffress currently holds an unheard of 0.59 ERA and 0.82 WHIP through 30.2 innings this season. In 29 appearances, he has miraculously allowed just 2 earned runs and walked just 11 batters. His 8.22 K/9 is also pretty solid, and has racked up an impressive 5 wins thus far. It’s tough having a reliever that does not get you saves, but Jeffress will certainly help lower your ERA and WHIP. It is impossible to keep up this pace, but he is locked in and should continue to post excellent ratios the rest of the way.
Jeffress is a tough act to follow, but Dominguez has been almost as impressive as the former this season. He holds a similar role as Jeffress, a reliever that is not a “closer” but posts elite ratios. Through 16 innings, Dominguez holds a 1.13 ERA to go along with an insane 0.25 WHIP. He has struck out 17 batters, while walking just one so far this season. His ratios also aren’t sustainable over a full season, but if keeps pitching the way he is he will continue to post elite numbers all year. Even more encouraging is that Dominguez has recorded both of his saves over his last 8 appearances, hinting that he may get the call for save opportunities going forward. Manager Gabe Kapler seems to still be favoring the closer by committee, but if Hector Neris continues to struggle it could mean more opportunities in store for Dominguez. Worst case scenario you get a guy with amazing ratios that will see some save opportunities sprinkled in, and best case scenario Dominguez separates himself enough to lock up the closer role for a strong Phillies team.
Fernando Rodney is already owned in slightly over half of leagues, but I felt it necessary to include him. That is because Rodney has been absolutely lights out in the past month+ and has been one of the best closers in the league over that span. Over his last 14 appearances, Rodney has surrendered just one earned run and allowed only 6 hits. He has also recorded a 12:5 K/BB ratio over that time, while going a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities. On the season Rodney holds a 2.57 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, while converting 13 of 16 save opportunities. His K/9 is significantly lower than the last couple years (8.57), but that is offset by an equally lowered BB/9 (3.00). If he is still out there, snag him as he had been dominant as of late and the Twins should continue to give him plenty of opportunities to convert saves.
With Brad Ziegler being removed from the closing role, opportunity came knocking for Barraclough. He answered, converting his first save as “closer” in his first save opportunity. Although he recorded no strikeouts, he did not allow a single base runner to reach. Through 26.1 innings so far this season, Barraclough has a 1.37 ERA and 0.91 WHIP to go with his 27:15 K/BB ratio.The Marlins seem confident in making Barraclough their guy and if he continues pitches as he has this season he should have a pretty safe role secured. The only real downside is that his opportunities will be limited since the Marlins (22-40) remain one of the worst teams in the league. Still, a closer on even the worst team in the league will see chances to close out games and rack up some saves for your fantasy squads.