by Will Overton
For one reason or another a lot of time the focus in fantasy baseball’s waiver wire is on the hitters. Maybe because it feels like it’s harder to find a good hitter on the wire than a good pitcher. This is true, but it can be lead to a dangerous way of running a team.
The mistake made too often by very good owners, myself included, is I tell myself there’s always good pitching on the wire and when I need a pitcher there will be one there. This is usually true, when I need a pitcher I can often times find at least a mediocre one hanging around, except for in the deepest of leagues.
Here’s the thing though, how many good pitchers did you miss out on cause you weren’t paying attention? You may have found a good pitcher yesterday when you needed one, but what if you were paying attention three weeks ago and could’ve had Jake Peavy who last start aside is reverting back to near his old form and is certainly someone to own in all leagues.
You will always be more observant of a particular position on the wire when it’s a priority, but it pays to pay attention at all times as well. Because even if you didn’t need Jake Peavy a couple weeks ago I bet you wouldn’t mind having him now, if for nothing else as trade bait.
So with all of this having been said, this week’s waiver worthy is dedicated to some pitchers who are available in a lot of leagues who you should be paying attention to.
Bud Norris – Houston Astros: I have to assume this one is only for standard league players, but Norris is available in a little less than 40% of leagues on ESPN still. Norris was drafted in almost every league, but after racking up a 5.84 ERA in his first four starts he started getting dropped at a very quick rate. Luckily for you he isn’t getting picked back up as fast. In his last three starts Norris has allowed just one run in 19 innings with 21 K’s. The last two times out on the mound he has 17 K’s and 2 BB’s in 13 innings. Don’t hesitate, Norris has special stuff and despite the slow start he’s going to put up numbers that’ll make the owners who drafted and dropped him have serious regret.
James McDonald – Pittsburgh Pirates: Here is a guy whose ownership rate has slowly started to rise the last week or two as people are starting to realize he might be for real. We’d heard whispers and rumors of how much potential McDonald had, but this year we’re actually seeing it. In his first couple of seasons McDonald couldn’t muster enough control to keep his ERA or WHIP down despite his electric stuff. This season he’s walked just 15 batters in 44.2 innings, a drastic improvement, and he hasn’t walked more than three in a game yet. He also hasn’t given up more than three runs in a game yet, and four times he has allowed just one run. To seal the deal on why you should add him in all formats, he has 33 K’s in his last four starts covering 29 innings. It’s time to start buying in now guys, McDonald really seems to be putting it all together.
Ervin Santana – Los Angeles Angels: Ervin Santana was awful to start the season, absolutely miserable. But considering his track record of success he was also given up on to early in to many leagues. I play in more than one 14 team league where I picked him up off the waiver wire after his fourth start where he got bombed for the fourth time. Since that point he has thrown 30 innings in four starts, allowing only 7 ER and he has a 23:10 k/bb ratio. You’d like to see a few less walks even still, but it’s clear the guy is turning a corner. If you play in one of the 50% of leagues where Santana is available, jump on him, than laugh at the guy who dropped him.
Phil Hughes – New York Yankees: I know there aren’t many people who believe Hughes can still be a good pitcher, but I do. Right now he’s owned in fewer leagues than Rick Porcello, Andy Pettite and Jair Jurrjens. This is a mistake. Hughes got off to a rocky start this season, but he has put together two solid starts allowing just four runs in 14.1 innings and has a 11:2 k/bb ratio. Hughes has shown good control so far with very few walks, though he has to keep the ball in the park. Coming off a couple good starts and with Hughes potential I would give him a look in deep leagues, he’s out there in a whole bunch of them.
Anthony Bass – San Diego Padres: The Professor turned me on to Bass and I couldn’t be more thankful to him for it as he has been a stellar deep league pickup for me. Bass was starting to get some notice in deep leagues, but a bad start turned some off and he’s now back down around 5% owned, not bad for a guy with a 2.87 ERA and 45 K’s in 47 innings. Take out that one bad start and Bass has a 1.95 ERA as a starter with 38 K’s in 37 IP. The Padres have seen a few injuries to their pitching so Bass’ spot is secure right now and will be as long as he’s pitching like this. And remember, he’s pitching half his games in Petco Park, the most pitcher friendly park in baseball. Bass is a very good deep league add and standard league stream.
Felipe Paulino – Kansas City Royals: I consider Paulino to be consistently underrated, but he may start getting people’s attention this season, at least he should. Paulino couldn’t start until May because of an injury, but he has gotten off to a fast start. In three starts Paulino has pitched 18.2 innings and allowed just four runs, all in one game. He also has a 21:5 k/bb ratio so far. The K’s are not a surprise as Paulino could come close to leading the league in K’s if he threw 200 innings in a season. But walks have always been his Achilles heel, so to see just five issued in three games is a very positive sign. All deep leagues should have Paulino owned and I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll be owned in the majority of standard leagues by season’s end.
Which pitchers are on your radar and who are you avoiding? Do you actively scout out the pitching section of your waiver wire even when you don’t necessarily need one? I’d love your thoughts and input.