Nine Men: Starting Help
This week we’re scanning those waiver wires for starting pitchers who you can plug and play especially for strikeouts and wins. All players are undrafted in 50% or more of Yahoo! or ESPN leagues and all of them have upside and can still help in at least one category but most offer the promise of two or more category help.
Calling for the K’s
Randy Wolf (SP, Padres): Watching Wolf pitch thus far this season suggests that he may have found the ideal place to pitch. The cavernous pitchers parks of LA, SF and SD should play to his strengths and keep a lot of deep fly balls in the park. That being said you don’t want Randy Wolf for his win potential, but for his ability to strike out batters at a rate of roughly 0.8 per inning.
Wandy Rodriguez (SP, Astros): Oh, how often I think Wandy and scraping the bottom of the barrel in the same thought, but the Astros number two starter has averaged just under a strikeout per inning over his career and will get close to 200 innings this season. If you can suffer the fact that the 29 old could finish with an ERA of better than 4.50 (but based upon trends the last three years he could finish with a 4.30) and his WHIP which is on the high side he’ll grab you some K’s and could be a pleasant surprise in W’s since the Astros offense is fairly potent.
Jonathan Sanchez (SP, Giants): Sanchez will be a feast or famine type of pitcher who can rack up strikeouts left and right but will be unpredictable as far as other statistics go - save WHIP where he’ll hurt you since he yields too many walks. Wins will be few and far between in SF but if you need K’s he’ll probably rack up more than just about any free agent pitcher still available.
Todd Wellemeyer (SP, Cardinals): Wellemeyer is a strikeout machine who has been developing slowly, and is greatly overlooked as to potential. In 11 starts last season he posted a 3.11 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and struck out 51. The 28 year old won’t win many games in St. Louis but his hot start with 20 Ks and a 1.17 WHIP in 18 innings certainly is worth notice.
Boof Bonser (SP, Twins): Bonser was a very good minor league pitcher who many had great expectations for just three years back. Two years ago he got his first taste of the Majors and showed himself to be about a .500 pitcher capable of about 7 K’s per nine. This year he’ll get a chance to show that he’s been worthy of the faith and take a step forward. He’s only 26 so an improvement is likely. His solid start 1 win, 12 Ks, 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 19.0 innings promises good things (but not as good as these numbers project out) down the road. He’s a speculative pick.
Just Win Baby!
Ervin Santana (SP, Angels): The 25 year old Santana is just loaded with talent and continues to develop the more he pitches. He’s a solid choice across the board who’ll rack up wins behind the Angels bats and who’ll come up with something on the order of 140-170 Ks. The other stats are a bit unpredictable but expecting an improvement on last year is a safe bet. His hot start (2-0, 3.22, 1.21, and 14 Ks in 19 innings) suggests this could be a breakout year.
Carlos Silva (SP, Mariners): Many people didn’t think that the Mariners made a great signing when they brought Silva from Minnesota to Seattle but Silva has looked dominating when playing in Seattle. That might well make him a great pickup - especially for his starts at home (which personally is the place I’d play him). The M’s should help him get some wins and he’ll give you a solid ERA and WHIP too.
Kevin Millwood (SP, Rangers): Run support shouldn’t be a problem for the veteran Millwood, but keeping his ERA from running away with him could be. Still his hot start might be worth riding for a while. He won 16 games in Arlington back in 2006, and his career ERA of 3.94 and WHIP of 1.28 do suggest that he should have something left in the tank.
Mike Pelfrey (SP, Mets): Gambling on a fifth starter is a risky proposition but there is a reason the Mets weren’t willing to part with Pelfrey in the deal for Johan Santana. Over his last seven starts (going back into last year) he’s 5-1 with one no decision. During that time he’s only once yielded more than 3 runs. With the Mets offense and a chance to pitch regularly Pelfrey will get some wins. He’s a guy who could take a step forward, but he’s a speculative pickup for more than wins.
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