Welcome to week nine! As always, it seems the need for a solid tee shot is paramount in fantasy baseball. If your team is suffering from a few injuries or just looking to add some depth, I have some prime candidates for waiver additions for you!
We had a few cases of breakout pitchers that we quickly identified early in the year, and those names continue to post fantastic big numbers here as we enter June. We’re talking about guys like Eric Lauer and Kyle Wright. These types of breakouts are harder to find at this point in the season, but there are still plenty of usable and interesting starting pitchers available in tons of leagues.
Here are your fantasy baseball waiver yarn pick-up recommendations for the starting pitcher for week nine of the fantasy season (June 6-June 12). Let’s go already!
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Wire Pickups waiver for shallow leagues
Edward Cabrera, Miami Marlins (33% registered)
It goes without saying that this guy should be on rosters, but he’s still only on 33% of Yahoo teams right now despite six hitting baseball innings with nine strikeouts in his 2022 debut against the Rockies – in Coors! His next start is expected to be at home this week against the Nationals, and depending on what Miami does with his rotation, he could end up with a second start next Sunday (albeit in a tough game with Houston). But adding Cabrera isn’t something you do in the short term anyway, it’s a legit prospect with a major upside and great home park factor. I’d replace him soon if he’s available in your league, another dominant start from him and he’ll end up 60-70% in the rush.
Roansy Contreras, Pittsburgh Pirates (38% registered)
Contreras was featured in Jon’s article here last week, but I couldn’t remove him because he’s still only 38% listed in the Yahoo leagues. He’s coming off his best outing as a starter since being called up as he shut out D-backs in 5.2 innings and racked up eight strikeouts in the process.
It was good to finally see the strikeouts and that he got to the sixth inning, which he hadn’t done yet as a starter in the majors. Statcast sliders are pretty much what you’d expect from a really tough young pitcher (he’s sitting 96-98 on his fastball), great strikeout results, but also really hard hitting balls. However, spin rates on the curve and fastball are excellent, as is chase rate – which is likely a product of his nasty slider carrying a massive 48% puff rate. The Pirates would be stupid to do anything but give the ball to their best pitcher every five days, and Roansy has the kind of talent that could make him a league winner over time – it’s an absolute crime that he is not 80% owned. (or more) in the leagues!
Jon Gray, Texas Rangers (24% registered)
I’m a little surprised that Jon Gray continues to be so lightly fielded, especially after his 12 strikeout game in his last start against Tampa this week. He’s lined up for two starts this week, Monday against the Guardians and then Sunday against a struggling White Sox side. None of these teams are great match-ups for strikeouts, but neither are teams that scare us much in terms of offensive prowess.
I’m still a little bullish on Gray this year in Texas and we really can’t judge what kind of pitcher he might be outside of Coors until we get a bigger sample. Texas did a really good job fixing Martin Perez and Dane Dunning, and Gray has the stuff to dominate with a 95 MPH fastball and a really good slider. He’s certainly worth a speculative addition for the next handful of starts, and if he stays healthy and continues to throw well, you may have landed a solid piece for your rotation for the rest of the season.
Jakob Junis, San Francisco Giants (26% registered)
Junis is enjoying something of a renaissance in San Francisco after being dropped by the Royals. He’s been a solid addition to the rotation as a fifth starter and, with the exception of his last start in Philadelphia, has given owners at least five rounds of solid run prevention so far. Strikeouts have gone down a bit and we shouldn’t expect much from him considering he’s mostly a sliding guy now throwing more contacts than before in his career. I’m not sure he can get away with throwing sliders at 54% for too long, but the Giants basically let him throw his best pitch as often as possible which allowed him to get away from his lead and totally abandon its four seams. . We’ve seen some guys sliding really well this year leading with their best pitch (Chad Kuhl is the one that comes to mind) and all the Giants want is five innings of decent run prevention from his go. He’s pitching today against Miami, so he’ll only have one start next week, but he’s still a decent long-term option as long as he can last in the rotation.
Waiver Wire Pickups for Deeper Leagues
Caleb Kilian, Chicago Cubs (17% registered)
I know a lot of Cubs fans who are hoping Kilian stays in the rotation for the rest of the season, but that remains to be seen and will likely depend on the quality of his opportunities. His debut was pretty solid as he struck out six Cardinals on five frames, allowing three runs on just three hits. He allowed all three runs in one inning and worked four very clean frames otherwise. He was throwing a 93-94 MPH sinker as his main pitch, which probably isn’t a pitch that many big league bats will miss, but he had a 43% smell rate on his hard slider from 88-89 MPH (Statcast identified as a “cutter”). He’s going to have to shuffle his curveball (77-78 MPH) more often to show hitters a few different speeds, but his AAA numbers were fantastic and he looks up to the challenge of being in the majors. He’s a guy to hide in deeper leagues, even if he’s fired at short notice.
Graham Ashcraft, Cincinnati Reds (9% registered)
This recommendation comes with a lot of trepidation, and I’m not entirely convinced that Ashcraft is actually a good (or even decent) MLB pitcher. My friend Mike Kurland shares the same skepticism.
Next week’s Graham Ashcraft 2 stage looks like a trap
– 90% wicking rate due to regression
– ERA indicators are all 1.5 or more higher than the actual ERA
– 5.6% K-BB%
– 7.3 SwStr%
– Induces a ton of GB (62.5%) and its history in MiLB
– Limit barrels. 1 only allowed
— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) June 5, 2022
Ashcraft is a hard thrower with his primary throws being sinker and cutter that average close to 97 MPH. It also throws an 85 MPH slider as off-speed terrain, but neither of those terrains are running out of bats right now. He did, however, limit the amount of hard contact, as Mike points out in his tweet, gets a bunch of ground balls.
But if you’re looking for a two-start pitcher, Ashcraft deserves some consideration since one of those starts will be against Arizona (the other being a much tougher game with St. Louis). Just keep expectations tempered, he probably won’t get you many strikeouts, but could still be useful if he can maintain run prevention.
Ryan Feltner, Colorado Rockies (6% registrants)
It’s only been three starts so far, but how can you not be impressed with what Feltner has been up to since his call-up? It boasts a 28% K-Rate with only a 7% BB-Rate and a really solid 52% Go-Rate to go with it. I dug pretty deep into this one and there are no major red flags that we usually see with small sample sizes that would tell us that regression is coming. His ERA indicators (xERA, FIP, xFIP, SIERA) are all in line with his ERA and nothing stands out either from his BABIP (.276) or his strand rate (75.6%). Now, as I write this, he’s gearing up to make his fourth start against a strong Atlanta team at home, and it’s certainly possible he’ll be hit hard today. But it’s also possible that it will launch very well and become one of the hottest mics this week. Hide it, now he looks just like a promising young pitcher.
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