Week six was a tough one on the pitching side. We saw some duds, some huge starts out of nowhere, and some really rough injury news. Lots of fantasy teams are probably running a starter or two short right now, but we’re here to help.
I will dive into the numbers here to try to find some starting pitchers that are possibly available in your league worthy of a waiver wire pickup. We are not just talking about week seven streamers here, these are names here that we think might be good enough to keep on your team for the long haul.
Here are your starting pitcher fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups recommendations for week seven of the fantasy season (May 23rd – May 29th). Let’s get to it.
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Waiver Wire Pickups for Shallow Leagues
Alex Cobb, San Francisco Giants (47% Rostered)
In sharp leagues, Cobb is rostered. However, this rostered rate dropped precipitously after his bad start in Coors Field. He now qualifies for this article under the 50% threshold. This number on Cobb is just silliness, he should be rostered and started in every league this week. The Coors effect has just been so, so brutal this year that I am fully forgiving any pitcher who goes in there and has a bad outing.
Even including that outing, Cobb has a sweet 31.3% CSW%, a 28% K%, and an 8% BB%. That is with his elite 67% GB%. He is the only pitcher in the league with a K% above 25%, a BB% below 9%, and a GB% above 60%. If we drop the GB% criteria to 55%, only Shane McClanahan enters the picture. Do not worry about the bad Coors start, pick up Cobb right now and start him this week.
Martin Perez, Texas Rangers (44% Rostered)
This pains me to do because I’m so familiar with how bad Martin Perez can be, but he has pitched his way into this article. He has now thrown 49.1 innings without giving up a home run. Only Michael Kopech has gone over 35 innings while doing the same thing. He just threw a complete-game shutout against the Astros, a thing that is incredibly hard to do. This will have everybody jumping on him, and I suppose rightfully so.
The bad news is, again, the track record. Not only that, but his strikeout rate is unconvincing at 20%, and the walks are short of superior at 6.3%. He has added some ground-balls at 55% and hitters are slugging just .216 against him.
I’m not truly a believer in him long-haul, but maybe he’s just a special case guy who the dead ball is really benefitting. You can ride out Perez for a few starts to see if anything changes, but if he starts giving up some homers things will go south quickly for him.
Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays (47% Rostered)
This number has jumped 20 points since last week when we recommended him, but it’s still below 50% so I’m going back to the well here. Over his last two outings, he has thrown 11.1 innings and struck out 13 batters, achieving a quality start and getting the win in that last outing in a start against the Mariners. That was his first start not against the Yankees, Astros, or Red Sox – and he took full advantage.
The schedule will be easier as we move forward, and the walk rate has remained high. Also, he gets a pretty tough matchup this week against the Angels. That should be a weekend start, so you can make your decision based on how your team is shaping up when it comes – but Kikuchi should be rostered in most leagues right now.
Michael Lorenzen, Los Angeles Angels (32% Rostered)
Lorenzen has been throwing the kitchen sink at hitters this year, throwing five different pitches at a significant rate. Here’s the arsenal breakdown on what he’s done so far:
Michael Lorenzen pitch arsenal breakdown as of May 20th
The ERA is strong at 3.05 and the WHIP is solid as well at 1.06. The one bad thing has been the strikeout rate at just 19%, but we have seen a couple of splash starts in that regard as twice now he has struck out seven batters. He gets deep into games, going six or more innings in five of his seven starts, and he keeps the ball on the ground better than most pitchers (56%).
You’ll typically just be getting one start from Lorenzen per week as he’s a part of that six-man Angels rotation, but he’s widely available and has been a positive impact on fantasy teams that have him rostered this year. Give him a bit of a further boost in quality start leagues as well given his propensity to get through six innings.
Sunday update: Another great start for Lorenzen on Saturday, he just continues to get it done.
Tyler Anderson, Los Angeles Dodgers (31% Rostered)
Plenty of people dropped Anderson after his bad start on May 12th where he gave up seven earned runs on ten hits. He bounced back really nicely from that start on the 17th, throwing seven innings and giving up two runs while striking out seven.
The K-BB% mark is strong at 19.9% (23.3% -3.4%), and it’s obviously a pretty nice advantage with that offense behind him. We expect him to stick in the rotation, and he’s worthy of a roster spot on your team – just do not expect super consistent stuff from him start-to-start.
Jon Gray, Texas Rangers (19% Rostered)
Gray has had a tumultuous beginning to the season, already getting through an IL stint and just looking uncomfortable generally. He’s been back in the rotation for a couple of weeks now and things are starting to look better. On May 16th, he struck out eight Angels over 5.2 innings with 15 whiffs and just one walk. That was his best start of the year, and I think he can build on that. He came off of that with six strong innings against the Astros on Saturday, although he struck out just four batters and walked a pair.
We suspected that Gray could really thrive by moving away from Coors Field, but it’s also not really fair to judge him after just five starts given the big change he has undergone and the early injury issues. The overall 24.5% K% and 12.3% SwStr% on the season are good signs, and the 47% GB% is nice to see as well. Keep a close eye on Gray moving forward, I think he’s going to quickly be in the “shallow leagues” section of this post.
Waiver Wire Pickups for Deeper Leagues
Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox (15% Rostered)
Over his last three starts, Pivetta has struck out 20 batters and walked just one. That was after going for 16 strikeouts and 13 walks in his first four starts. If you think Pivetta is going to suddenly be a reliable, solid fantasy option moving forward – you have not been paying attention. The guy has always had some potential but he has just never been able to keep it together start-to-start.
I would imagine that we see plenty of bad outings from Pivetta moving forward, but along with those should come some sparkling outings like we saw last week as well. For the year, the 24% K% and 8% BB% are pretty convincing. He gives up a ton of fly-balls, but that might work out just fine with the new baseball and humidors and all of that going on this year. Give Pivetta a look in deep leagues.
Jeffrey Springs, Tampa Bay Rays (3% Rostered)
He has entered the Rays rotation and has taken advantage of the opportunity thus far. He threw a season-high 80 pitches on Saturday and threw 5.2 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. He is being used a traditional starter right now, which is great news for his fantasy value.
The numbers are impressive on him. He has a 31.9% CSW%, a 27.0% K%, a 7.0% BB%, and a 4.6% Brl% on the year. His four-seamer has worked well with an 11.3% SwStr%, and the changeup is nasty with a mark of 26.4%. He also has a slider, but he is mostly fastball plus changeup.
He is no spring chicken at 29 years old, and there’s certainly no guarantee he’ll stay in the long-term rotation, but he’s pitching well right now and he’s widely, widely available.
JT Brubaker, Pittsburgh Pirates (4% Rostered)
We had a nice run with Brubaker last summer, and he’s showing some flashes again this year. He has posted two big strikeout numbers in his last three starts (he struck out nine Reds on May 7th and then 10 Cubs on May 17th), and the season mark of 26.5% K% is more than good enough to matter. The problem has been a walk issue at 11.7% – but that number was just 7% a year ago, so I think we can see some improvement there in short order.
His slider is one of the better breaking balls in the entire league. He has a 23.5 SwStr% and 40.2% CSW% with it, he just needs to throw the sinker and four-seamer more effectively. It’s nice that he has both of those fastball variations available to him, and it gives him a bit more ceiling. If he can just get in advantageous counts more often, the slider could really do some damage. I like Brubaker a decent bit in deeper leagues.
Aaron Civale, Cleveland Guardians (27% Rostered)
The strikeouts have never been there for Civale, and they are at a pedestrian 21% this year as well. His calling card has always been limiting walks and hard contact with pinpoint command. That second part certainly hasn’t happened for him this year, as his hard-hit rate is up to a career-worst north of 40% and he’s been barreled a ton at 11%.
The reason for belief is the track record of his command and how deep he can get into games when he’s going right. Great command is really hard to sustain start-to-start, which is the main reason why we really want high strikeout rates on our fantasy teams. That said, I think Civale is destined to improve as the year goes on in that regard. He throws six different pitches, and has used them all a good amount this year. That gives him lots to work with in terms of tinkering to find some combination that works better. I’m not jumping on Civale yet, but he’s someone to watch closely if he cuts down on the hard contact – which I expect him to do.
Alrighty, hope you enjoyed the piece and I hope some of these starting pitcher picks change your life forever and ever, for the better. So long!
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