Prioritizing The Waiver Wire: Ranking Your Potential Starting Pitcher Targets (Keller, Civale, Houser & More)

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There have been quite a few starting pitchers who have emerged as potential waiver wire targets in recent days, so let’s take a moment to quickly prioritize those who are currently owned in less than 50% of CBS Sports formats:

  1. Mitch Keller (PIT) – He hasn’t had much success in his first few stints in the Majors, though there’s no arguing the upside. One of the elite pitching prospects in the game, he managed the game well on Monday night and earned his first W allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP. With the expectation that he’ll be part of the rotation the rest of the way, he’s the clear top priority.
  2. Aaron Civale (CLE) – Part of the question is whether or not Civale will stick in the rotation once Corey Kluber returns, though Zach Plesac or Adam Plutko could be the odd man out. Given the Indians’ history of developing pitchers Civale’s control (1.86 BB/9 over 72.1 IP) and strikeout stuff (8.67 K/9, courtesy of a 12.8% SwStr%) give reason for optimism. The big question is whether or not he’ll be able to keep the ball in the ballpark (40.0% groundball rate in the minors), especially since the groundball rate has regressed as he’s advanced (38.8% over 42.1% at Triple-A, 38.6% over 18.0 IP in the Majors). Long-term he could really emerge, but even in the short-term he’s worth the gamble.
  3. Adrian Houser (MIL) – The big development has been the growth in his strikeout rate, with a 9.70 K/9 over 21.0 IP at Triple-A and 9.69 over 69.2 IP in the Majors. He’s always shown the ability to induce groundballs (54.5% in the Majors) and has solid control (3.10 BB/9), plus he has a strong team behind him. He’s no guarantee and could face an innings limit, but for now he’s worth owning.
  4. Cal Quantrill (SD) – He owns a 3.21 ERA over 70.0 IP in the Majors (11 starts, 16 appearances) and has ample upside thanks to his strikeout potential (7.33 K/9, 11.2% SwStr) and impressive control (2.31 BB/9). Couple that with enough groundballs (45.4%) and there’s potential. A .266 BABIP could show a potential regression, so you may need to pick your spots.
  5. Kolby Allard (TEX) – The deadline deal has given him an opportunity, but as we’ve said before he needs to be nearly perfect if he wants to be successful. He’s not an elite groundball artist or a big-time strikeout pitcher, plus he will be pitching in the AL and call a hitter friendly park home.
  6. Mike Montgomery (KC) – The trade has given him an opportunity, though he’s never shown much strikeout stuff in the Majors (6.98 career K/9) nor has he shown elite control (3.36 BB/9). While he’s shown more groundballs in the past, even that is just a pedestrian mark this season (44.7%).
  7. Sandy Alcantara (MIA) – Pitching in Miami helps, but there has been no standout skill to lean on this season. Why would we bother?

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