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Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5


Most breakout starters who were afterthoughts to start the year have found their way onto a fantasy roster by now. Such as Dylan Bundy, Dustin May, Aaron Civale, and even the legend that is Randy Dobnak. However, there are still plenty of young, high-upside starters to be plucked from the waiver wire.

Who to add to the backend of a rotation separates the fantasy champs from the fantasy chumps. It can make or break a head to head matchup or sink a team’s ratios in roto. Follow this list to find the players to ensure crossing the ever-approaching finish line in first place.

Players are listed in order of priority to claim on the waiver wire. *Framber Valdez narrowly exceeds the ownership percentage required to make this list. However, he definitely should be added wherever he is available.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Get access to our exclusive articles, rankings, projections, prospects coverage, 15 in-season lineup tools, daily expert DFS research, powerful Research Station, Lineup Optimizer and much more! Sign Up Now!

 

Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks

44% rostered

Fantasy owners had every right to be skeptical of Kelly after his early-season success. However, now we are four starts in and he has logged a quality start in each. It’s not the kind of performances that are expected of 31-year-olds that spent their early twenty’s in the minors and their late twenty’s in the Korean Baseball League.

The pitching profile between last season and this season are fairly identical. However, so far, this season his control has been off the charts. He’s walked three batters in his four starts, the first came in the second inning of the first game, the second came all the way in the seventh inning of the fourth game, and the other was intentional.

Just like Framber Valdez, there isn’t much point in discussing Kelly much further because there is a good chance he’ll be over 50% owned by Sunday evening. If somehow, he’s still available, definitely add him and don’t think twice.

 

Pablo Lopez, Miami Marlins

23% rostered

The life of Pablo is looking pretty good right about now. He did great in his first couple of outings going five innings in both. Then on Friday night he came out and notched his first quality start of the season, striking out eight in six innings against the Acuna-less Braves.

It’s basically all fastball/changeup, with a little bit of his new cutter thrown in 7.8% of the time. That seems to be a good combo for the young Marlin. So far this season he has the third-highest GB rate (66.7% in the league.) But unlike Randy Dobnak and Brett Anderson whom he trails in that category, Lopez is above a strikeout per inning, and opponents are swinging and missing 14.2% of the time.

There isn’t much to say about Lopez that hasn’t already been said in all previous waiver wire articles. If his breakout isn’t crystal clear to a fantasy owner by now then that owner doesn’t deserve to have Pablo Lopez on their team. He’s the real deal and part of the reason the Marlins are the Cinderella story of baseball this season.

 

Zach Davies, San Diego Padres

25% rostered

Zach Davies has been everything that the Padres hoped he would be when they traded for his services this offseason. The former Brewer has been terrific in all three of his four outings this season. The only exception coming was his start in pitcher hell, aka Coors Field. Even in that start he only gave up four hits and three runs in five innings; not a disaster by any means.

After a strong seven-inning outing at Dodger Stadium, Davies is a proud owner of 2.78 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. 18 strikeouts in 22IP doesn't seem like a lot, but his 21.2 K% and 3.5 BB% so far are career highs and lows respectively.

This season the 27-year-old has basically cut his fastball usage in half, replacing it with a combination of more cutters and changeups. According to Fangraphs, Davies is throwing his 79.3MPH changeup 40.7% of the time. The 155lb pitcher is leaning on his off-speed stuff more than ever and it seems to be doing the trick so far.

Davies’s impressive numbers seem more sustainable and warranted than many of the pitchers on this list. Not only that, but he also has a two-start week against the Rangers and the surprisingly average Astros coming up. In fantasy, where most owners chase high upside, flame-throwing youngsters, Davies is too often overlooked. His ceiling may not be the highest but the savvy veteran is probably the safest bet on this list.

 

Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox

24% rostered

All the people who dropped the White Sox prospect after his disastrous first outing are kicking themselves at the moment. Since then Cease has been 3-0 with two quality starts.

His last start didn’t go quite as smoothly as the 1ER in six innings would suggest. He did give up five runs and seven hits, two of which were home runs. However, the Tigers aren't the biggest laughing stock in the league like they were thought to have been.

Perhaps his ownership percentage is as low as it is because of the 1.40 WHIP and the low 16.9 K%, but a great deal of that is due to that aforementioned horrific first start. Since then it appears as though the righty has emphasized control, possibly at the expense of strikeouts. In his last game, for example, he didn’t walk a single batter and threw 69 of his 101 pitches for strikes but only logged 5Ks

By pitching over the plate more, the opponents swinging strike rate has dropped to 8.9% on the season. However, that’s a fair trade-off if it keeps lowering the walk rate that’s plagued Cease his whole career.

He’ll get another shot at the Tigers on Monday, before seeing if he can tame his former team, the Cubs on Saturday. It’s great to see that Cease is living up to the hype, even if he is finding success in a completely different way than was expected.

 

Chad Kuhl, Pittsburgh Pirates

6% rostered

Chad Kuhl has come out the gates hot to start 2020. He did great against the Tigers in his first start of the season. Then on Friday he “Kuhled” off a little bit, but still managed to strike out six Reds, only giving up four hits and walking one. The three earned runs he gave up were all to Jesse Winker who is swinging the bat as well as anybody right now.

On Thursdays start Kuhl should be almost fully stretched out and will be going against the Cleveland Indians who have the lowest runs per game (3.26) in all of baseball. It's definitely worth adding him just to see what he does in that start alone.

The 27-year-old has consistently finished with a mid 4s ERA in his first three seasons. Now it appears that the former ninth-round pick is diversifying his arsenal to try and take the leap from mediocre to above average. This season so far, he’s throwing fewer fastballs and changeups and more sliders and curveballs.

Kuhl is looking like he may be one of the few bright spots for the Pirates this season, grab him now before he takes the mound against the Indians.

 

Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers

10% rostered

Don’t be too upset if it’s taken a while to notice the bearded 26-year-old sitting on the waiver wire. It’s hard to add someone to a fantasy rotation when the Dodgers themselves didn’t expect him to stick around. However, he’s been so good in his first two starts it looks like the California native isn’t going anywhere. So far Dave Roberts has only guaranteed Gonsolin his next start, but if he pitches anywhere close to how he did in his first two he’s undroppable both in fantasy and reality.

In six starts and 40 total innings last season, Gonsolin finished with a 2.92 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, with help from a .208 BABIP. In 2020 he’s picked up right where he left off. After two games, he is yet to allow a run, and only given up four hits and struck out nine. Eight of which came against the Padres.

A few slight concerns with Gonsolin are first and foremost, job security. The Dodgers rotation is one of the best and deepest in all of baseball so just one shaky start may be enough for him to lose his spot. He had 13 days between starts, so clearly his services are surplus requirements.

Secondly, in his first start, he went 4IP, in the next, he went 4.2IP. It's encouraging that his pitch count went up from 63 to 81, but it'd still be nice to see him go deeper into games.

The final concern is that the former 9th round pick is having all this success with just two pitches in his arsenal. He throws the Four Seamer 44.1% of the time and the Split Finger 41.4% of the time (up 16.1% from last year.) The XBA on bother pitches are at least .100 higher than what the BA currently is. He has thrown his slider twelve times all year, and the curve nine.

With all that being said the talent is definitely there, it’s just a question of whether Dave Roberts can find a way to get him enough pitches in this stacked Dodgers rotation during this shortened season.

 

Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers

24% rostered

Entering the 2020 season the Tigers prospect was ranked seventh on MLB’s top ten prospect list. Since then Luis Robert, Jo Adell, and Nate Pearson have all been called up. Coming into the shortened season there was no real reason to even entertain the notion of bringing up their top prospect. However, with the last-minute playoff expansion, and the Motor City squad sitting second in the AL Central there is a lot of momentum to call up the 2018 1st overall pick.

On Friday, Tigers GM Al Avila told MLB Network Radio that the organization is going to “err on the side of caution” with the 23-year-old. It’s disappointing news, for fantasy owners who have been stashing Mize since the start of the year. However, this kind of rhetoric is commonplace in all of sports. Just a few weeks ago Joe Madden said that Jo Adell was unlikely to see action this season, and then a couple of days later he was called up. If the Tigers continue their playoff push or have an injury in the rotation the noise to call up the young phenome from both fans and the coaching staff will keep getting louder.

Mize has the kind of talent that can walk into the Majors and dominate. There has been a lot of hype surrounding Spencer Howard the last couple of weeks; well Mize’s pedigree is far superior. In order to guarantee his spot on a fantasy team, he’ll need to be added before his call up is announced. The question is just how long the wait will have to be and whose willing to use a roster spot on him in the interim. Ivan Nova landing on the IL could be the final push that the club needs to make the call.

 

Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants

12% rostered

We’ve been down this road before with Kevin Gausman. Throughout his seven-year career there always seemed to be a hot streak every season where he had pieced it all together. Then eventually it would all come crashing down.

The fourth overall pick in 2012 is such an intriguing player. He has a rather impressive career 8.36 K/9, and 2.68 BB/9, and yet he has a career ERA of 4.29. In five of the seven seasons, his FIP has been lower than his ERA, partly due to his .314 career BABIP. On the surface that seems encouraging but a seven-year career is too big of a sample size to call it bad luck. It's just who Gausman is at this point.

Fast forward to this season and Gausman is the Giant's best pitcher thus far. He has relied on the fastball a little less and thrown the changeup a little more. The righty has been dominant in every game, including his last two, at Colorado, and at the Dodgers. In that last outing, he went six innings for the first time this season and averaged 97.1 MPH on his heater. All good signs

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the former Oriole, after facing Oakland on Saturday, he has to see Mike Trout and the Angels, and then he’s back to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers again.

It should be more exciting to pick up a guy with a 25.6% K-BB and a career-low 1.10 WHIP. At 29-years-old maybe, just maybe things have clicked under Curt Young and the San Fran pitching staff. However, as previously stated, we’ve been down this road before hence his low ownership percentage. Feel free to ride the hot hand here, but this may be a “fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me” situation.

 

Alex Cobb, Baltimore Orioles

14% rostered

If it feels like Alex Cobb hasn’t been a fantasy-relevant pitcher in a very long time, that’s because he hasn’t. He was streamable in his final season with the Rays in 2017, but he has never come close to recapturing his phenomenal form from 2013 and 2014. Not saying that he will this season, but with all the uncertainty at the pitcher position, a bounce-back year from the 32-year-old would be a nice surprise.

After four starts Cobb’s statistics are well above what was expected from him before the season. Currently, he owns a 2.75 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and the highest strikeout rate (20.2%) he’s had since 2014. Another encouraging sign is that his fastball is sitting at a career-high 93.8 MPH.

The righty did have a moderately easy first three matchups but his performance on Tuesday against a good Phillies lineup should help silence any doubters. He held Philadelphia to two earned runs and three hits, albeit with only two strikeouts.

With that being said, it’s hard to get too excited about Cobb for a number of reasons. The primary concern is that the .182 BABIP against Cobb is the sixth lowest amongst all starters this season. Once the regression towards his average .288 BABIP begins, his numbers will definitely take a dive. Secondly, he hasn’t made it a full six innings once this season. The 87 pitches he threw in his second start against Tampa Bay was his season-high.

Essentially, the form he’s in right now is probably going to be as good as it gets, but if the former Ray can keep it up, he is definitely worth the add.

 

Asher Wojciechowski, Baltimore Orioles

2% rostered

For anyone in a deep league who just needs to get some innings, Wojciechowski may be someone to look at. He’s been a career minor leaguer, with his career-high in IP (82.1) coming last season at age 30. However, so far this season the situation for Baltimore and its pitching staff isn’t as dire as what was expected.

For the season, he has 15k’s and a 1.17 WHIP in 13.2 innings. His 3.95 ERA is inflated after giving up four runs in five innings to the mighty Yankees in his first start of the season. That’s a tough matchup for any hitter. Since then he’s been really effective for the second-placed team in the AL East.

So far, in a very limited sample size, Woj has used his curveball as his primary pitch, throwing it 40.3% of the time. Last season opponents hit .236 off it, this season it’s only been hit once, for minuscule 0.71 BA against. Hitters will catch up soon enough, but until they do Asher should see continued success with it.

His .229 BABIP likely means that he has some tough outings ahead but his actual matchups are relatively easy. If he is on a regular schedule, his next matchups after this week are the Red Sox, the Blue Jays, the Rays, and the Mets. Tampa has been hot lately but it’s not exactly a murderer’s row of teams.

 

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The more data we get as the season goes on, the better equipped we are to interpret matchups and make informed decisions. Then Week 6 comes along and blows it all to hell. The unpredictability of sports is what keeps us intrigued, as frustrating as it may be at times. Numbers are supposedly to be... Read More


The King's Week 7 Fantasy Football Lineup Rankings (Premium Content)

Welcome back, RotoBallers!  Below you will find my Week 7 fantasy football lineup rankings. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions. Skill Position analysis is primarily based on the PPR ranks. The rankings are powered by... Read More


Slow Starters Ready to Break Out in Fantasy?

We are now more than a third of the way into the fantasy football season and a seemingly clearer picture is available across the landscape. After a pandemic-shortened offseason and lack of preseason exposure, there were plenty of worries headed into the first month specifically. Thus far, one of the most prevalent topics with regards... Read More


Fantasy Football Warning Signals for Week 7

The warning signals get brighter by the week since we have more data to work from. The larger the sample size the easier it is for us to connect the dots from the latest trends. Football is a game of small samples and many variables, making it one of the hardest sports to predict. How... Read More


How to Value Clyde Edwards-Helaire with Le'Veon Bell in KC

Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor? Coming into the season this was the biggest question for fantasy GMs, both dynasty managers who were thinking long-term and redraft managers who wanted to know who would be better for this season. There were many different theories and believe me when I say, both sides thought they were 100%... Read More


NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

It's been a month since the last time we took a look at our beloved quarterbacks. Numbers are numbers, and numbers don't lie. You can twist them, but looking at them objectively, numbers say that no matter what, rushing the ball is almost always a worse option than passing it in today's game. That's why... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 6

This series continues into its sixth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. In Week 6, we saw performances such as Ryan Tannehill throwing for 364 passing yards, the Houston Texans running backs combining for 66 rushing yards, and the New... Read More


Tape Tells All: D'Andre Swift's Week 6 Performance

Welcome to another edition of Tape Tells All. I've been thinking of rebranding as just TAPE. All-Caps like that. Probably wouldn't be a good idea for SEO purposes, right? Anyways, this week we'll be discussing Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift. Swift set a lot of career highs this week, with bests in carries... Read More


Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Week 6 was like the 2020 of fantasy football weeks. All those great matchups meant nothing, those studs let you down, and your bench likely went crazy. The good news is that we didn't have any season-ending injuries to running backs or games canceled due to COVID, so in retrospect maybe we shouldn't complain. The... Read More


FAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Whether it's injuries, bye-week blues, or simply poor performance, we've got the waiver-wire cure...but it just might cost you! Alongside our famous waiver wire pickups list and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Budget (FAB). In... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 7 Lightning Round

Week 6 was relatively healthy and had no coronavirus delays, so let's just take a moment to bask in that. That said, we still saw Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle) go down, while Mark Ingram (ankle) has a bye to get healthy. Week 7 byes are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota. Let's get... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More