Waiver Worthy: Determining If Fast Starting Veterans Are Worth Adding (Souza, Werth & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

As we all look for the next big thing we tend to overlook veterans who could potentially contribute to our fantasy teams.  Does that mean every veteran who is producing is worth owning?  Of course not, so let’s look at four of the more popular adds in the early going and try to determine if the upside is there or not:


Brandon McCarthy – Starting Pitcher – Los Angeles Dodgers
CBS Sports – 36%, ESPN – 7.0%, Yahoo! – 14%

Once one of the best control pitchers in the game, McCarthy has dealt with injuries in recent years limiting him to 63.0 MLB innings between 2014 & 2015.  Now healthy he’s gotten the job done over two starts, but that doesn’t mean that he’s been overly impressive.  He hasn’t been generating swings and misses (7.7% SwStr%) nor has he been generating swings outside the strike zone (24.7% O-Swing%).  His repertoire also hasn’t been overly impressive:

  • Sinker – 30.77%
  • Cutter – 29.49%
  • Fourseam Fastball – 3.85%
  • Curveball – 35.90%

So it’s a curveball or some variation of a fastball?  Sooner or later things are going to catch up to him and with numerous options to step in, don’t bank on McCarthy sticking in the rotation all season.

Waiver Wire Guidelines:

  • 10 Team Leagues – Don’t Add
  • 12 Team Leagues – Don’t Add
  • 14+ Team Leagues – Streaming Option
  • NL-Only Leagues – Add for Now
  • Keeper Leagues – Streaming Option



Jayson Werth – Outfielder – Washington Nationals
CBS Sports – 30%, ESPN – 20.2%, Yahoo! – 26%

Werth’s early season success (.303 with 3 HR) is a bit deceiving, as there are obvious warning bells ringing when you dive into the numbers.  For one he’s striking out a lot (33.3%), as his SwStr% is up significantly (12.1% vs. 8.2% for his career).  Maybe that’s a small sample size, but when you couple it with the fact that he’s swinging for the fences (61.9% fly ball rate) and it’s not a guarantee that he improves.  If he maintains this approach, when the balls stop clearly the fences the overall numbers will quickly plummet.  Don’t pay for this strong start.

Waiver Wire Guidelines:

  • 10 Team Leagues – Don’t Add
  • 12 Team Leagues – Don’t Add
  • 14+ Team Leagues – Don’t Add
  • NL-Only Leagues – Streaming Option
  • Keeper Leagues – Don’t Add


Steven Souza – Outfielder – Tampa Bay Rays
CBS Sports – 46%, ESPN – 26.7%, Yahoo! – 16%

Souza has always hit the ball hard (22.7% career line drive rate) to go along with power and speed, though the big issue was making contact.  He owns a career 32.9% strikeout rate courtesy of a 14.6% SwStr%.  The big development in the early going has been his 13.2% strikeout rate over his first 9 games, but is it for real?  He’s still swinging and missing a lot (11.4% SwStr%) and while the Whiff% is improved against all types of pitches they still aren’t particularly good:

  • Hard – 10.00%
  • Breaking – 11.11%
  • Offspeed – 16.67%

He’s been seeing mostly fastballs early on (70.80%) and we’d expect opposing pitchers to quickly start adjusting and throwing him more breaking balls and offspeed pitches.  How he adjusts to that will be telling, but expect a regression to come.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t upside and in most formats he’ll be worth adding in case he has figured it out, just proceed with caution.

Waiver Wire Guidelines:

  • 10 Team Leagues – Monitor
  • 12 Team Leagues – Worth Flier
  • 14+ Team Leagues – Must Add
  • AL-Only Leagues – Must Add
  • Keeper Leagues – Must Add


Hector Santiago – Starting Pitcher – Minnesota Twins
CBS Sports – 17%, ESPN – 4.0%, Yahoo! – 5%

A 2.38 ERA and 0.88 WHIP are going to catch our attention, but he’s simply not striking people out (3.97 K/9) and is getting lucky that he’s not giving up home runs (52.9% fly ball rate, 5.6% HR/FB).  Both of those things will eventually catch up to him, and when it does the numbers will quickly tailspin.  It’s just a matter of time and he’s an easy player to avoid.

Waiver Wire Guidelines:

  • 10 Team Leagues – Don’t Add
  • 12 Team Leagues – Don’t Add
  • 14+ Team Leagues – Don’t Add
  • AL-Only Leagues – Don’t Add
  • Keeper Leagues – Don’t Add


Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball


  1. Gern says:

    Okay Prof, first time with fantasy baseball and working on understanding what to do with players on they DL. After today’s DL announcements i have 3 players on the DL (Donaldson, JD Martinez, & Jon Gray) and only one DL slot. Given Gray’s prognosis I was thinking about dropping him for another starting pitcher (say Anderson from MiL with a start tomorrow), but didn’t want to jump the gun. Suggestions?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      When it comes to Gray part of it depends on the format (if it’s a 10-team league I’d be more apt to drop him then in a 16-team league). Regardless, unless he has a big setback I’d probably be stashing him and waiting for a return (if you have a deep enough bench to allow it).

      • Gern says:

        Thanks Prof! I’m in two 12-team leagues (one head to head the other rotis). I’ll likely just move him to the DL once the current players there are healed (likely before Gray).

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