Are you an owner who has suffered from having a Roy Halladay on your roster? While we never recommend making a rash decision this early, that’s not to say that picking up a little protection, just in case, is a bad idea. Here’s a look at five starting pitchers who could still be sitting on your waiver wire that are worth stashing:
Justin Masterson – Cleveland Indians
CBS – 77%, ESPN – 70.4%
Masterson was absolutely awful last season, no one is about to argue that. However he still managed to generate a significant number of groundballs (55.7%) and enough strikeouts to be successful (6.94 K/9). The problem was that he didn’t show the same control that he had in 2011 and he suffered from poor luck (66.4% strand ate).
Through two starts he has been fantastic, striking out a batter per inning and continuing to be one of the better groundball pitchers in the league. The fact that he has struggled with walks is a little bit of a concern (4.85 BB/9), so we need to keep a close eye on that. If he can start limiting that, he can replicate his 2011 success (3.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
It may already be too late to grab him, as his ownership has shot up over the past few days, but if he’s still there don’t hesitate to grab him.
Ervin Santana – Kansas City Royals
CBS – 54%, ESPN – 10.4%
We all know he was better than he showed in 2012, when home runs plagued him (39 HR allowed). When he opened 2013 by giving up three home runs, most were ready to give up on him (despite posting a 1.00 WHIP in the outing). Granted it was just one start, but he showed you against the Twins what is possible when he keeps the ball in the ballpark.
How quickly we forget that Santana is the same pitcher who posted sub-4.00 ERAs three times in four years from 2008-2011, including marks of 3.49 and 3.38. Even last season he posted a usable 1.27 WHIP, despite the struggles.
He’s well worth grabbing, even if you just want to play the matchups for now.
Phil Hughes – New York Yankees
CBS – 65%, ESPN – 32.0%
I guess playing for the Yankees really is no longer advantageous, huh? Or maybe it was his poor first start of the year, one that he wasn’t actually supposed to make. He was originally scheduled to make a rehab start that day, but a need arose and the Yankees decided he gave them the best chance of winning. In retrospect that was probably a mistake. Don’t let that one poor outing alter his outlook.
While his 4.23 ERA in 2012 left a lot to be desired, Hughes actually had a good year. He showed improved strikeout ability (7.76 K/9) and elite control (2.16 BB/9). Even with a regression to the latter, he showed in 2010 that he did offer sound control (2.96 BB/9).
Turning 27-years old this season, he is right in his prime and could easily take the next step in his development. Plus, are any of us really ready to count out the Yankees? If you are in need of a starter, he’s well worth stashing for now.
Brandon McCarthy – Arizona Diamondbacks
CBS – 54%, ESPN – 43.6%
Two bad outings have sent owners fleeing from McCarthy, which clearly is an overreaction. His problem the past two years has been health more than anything, and you also have to expect a little bit of an improvement with the move from the AL to the NL.
Sure, that could be offset since he left a pitchers park for a hitters, but it is not like his 3.66 ERA on the road in 2012 would upset owners. The same upside he had prior to the season is still there now, so if an owner in your league has already given up on him he is well worth grabbing.
Danny Hultzen – Seattle Mariners
CBS – 18%, ESPN – 0.1%
I said this yesterday and I will say it again here, everything appears to be lining up perfectly for Hultzen to step into Brandon Maurer’s rotation spot. While Brandon Maurer will get another shot to start, does anyone believe that he will be able to save his job with a start agaisnt the Rangers on Sunday?
The Mariners ignored service time concerns with Maurer, so that shouldn’t be an issue, and in his two starts at Triple-A he is showing that he is over last seasons’s control issues (which were possibly caused by fatigue). The talk is that it will be Hultzen or Jeremy Bonderman getting the opportunity, should the Mariners make a change, and we all know whose upside is higher at this point.
Having worked on the same day as Maurer, there is no issue there as well. Considered one of the better pitching prospects in the game (Baseball America ranked him as the #29 prospect while mlb.com had him at #18), he is going to be a must own option when he arrives. I would try to get ahead of the curve, before you miss out. Granted, all young pitchers are unpredictable, but the potential value makes him well worth grabbing.
What are your thoughts of these five pitchers? Do you think any of them are worth grabbing? Who else are you eyeing off the waiver wire?