With our twice-weekly setup for waiver wire gems during the final weeks of the season, I have more space than usual on Fridays to dedicate to pitchers. And there are plenty of hurlers who deserve our attention. Some players on this list are purely one-start rentals, while others may be helpful the rest of the way.
Triston McKenzie (55 percent rostered)
McKenzie has mixed terrific and forgettable starts since rejoining Cleveland’s rotation on July 9, and he was certainly in top form when he struck out 11 Tigers while allowing just one hit across eight shutout innings last time out. The right-hander has an excellent chance to stay hot on Saturday, when he works at home against an Angels lineup that ranks 28th in the Majors with a .673 OPS since the All-Star break.
Ranger Suarez (SP/RP, 40 percent)
Suarez stumbled a bit last time out, giving up three runs across 4.2 innings. But he has been terrific overall this year (1.47 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and after four starts is stretched out past 85 pitches. Although his strikeout rate will likely be average, Suarez can help with ratios.
Touki Toussaint (SP/RP, 37 percent)
I’m not completely sold on Toussaint, who has allowed seven homers in his six starts since joining the rotation on July 20 while also walking at least two batters in five of those outings. But I like his matchup this Sunday, when he takes on a Baltimore squad that is among the worst in baseball and rarely gets a quality start from their own hurlers. Come for the cheap win and hope that the ratios are acceptable.
Eric Lauer (SP, 23 percent)
Lauer has terrific in recent weeks, going 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP across his past seven outings. Backed by an improved offense and effective bullpen, the southpaw has an excellent chance to keep things going when he works on Saturday against a Nats squad that gutted their lineup at the trade deadline.
J.A. Happ (SP, 17 percent)
I’ll be the first to admit that Happ is no longer an average Major League starter. But after working in the American League for nearly a decade, the left-hander has found life a little bit easier (1.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) as a member of the Cardinals. Still, my stance on Happ is similar to my stance on Toussaint — I can’t recommend him for long-term use, but I can definitely recommend Happ for a Saturday start against a Pirates lineup that ranks 29th in baseball with a .662 OPS.
Alec Mills (SP/RP, 6 percent)
Mills can be added to the long list of weekend streamers. The right-hander has recorded a 3.35 ERA across 11 starts since joining the rotation on June 15. Mills lacks the swing-and-miss skills to be a long-term solution, but he can likely hold his own on Saturday against a Royals lineup that will work without the DH and has posted a .642 OPS this month.
Tyler Gilbert (RP, 20 percent)
I feel obliged to include Gilbert after he threw a no-hitter in his first MLB start. The 27-year-old has respectable career Minor League numbers, including a 3.44 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP this year. I don’t have especially high hopes for Gilbert, and I wouldn’t grab him for his start on Friday in Colorado, but I am ready to grab him when he faces the Pirates next time out.
Mychal Givens (RP, 33 percent)
Although the Reds have teased us several times with closer candidates this season, they may have finally found their man with Givens. The 31-year-old has collected Cincinnati’s past three saves, giving up nary a run in 8.1 innings as a member of the team. With the Reds pushing the Padres for a playoff spot, Givens could be a busy man the rest of the way.
Paul Sewald (RP, 30 percent)
Sewald returned from the paternity list at the beginning of the week and promptly picked up a save in his first appearance. The 31-year-old has arguably been Seattle’s best reliever this year (2.63 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 14.7 K/9 rate) and has accumulated seven wins and six saves. More high-leverage innings are clearly in Sewald’s future.
Tyler Clippard (RP, 15 percent)
Clippard is much more effective than many fantasy managers believe, having posted a sub-3.00 ERA and a WHIP no higher than 1.00 in each of the past three seasons. The right-hander currently has a firm grip on the D-backs closer’s role, collecting back-to-back saves on Tuesday and Wednesday, and he has the skills to keep the role.
Joe Barlow (RP, 25 percent)
Just 25 years old, Barlow needed just over 10 Major League innings to earn the Rangers closer’s role. The right-hander has ninth-inning experience in the Minors, and thus far in his Major League career he has converted both save chances while posting stellar ratios (1.08 ERA, 0.78 WHIP). Texas may not win many games down the stretch, but they will likely give Barlow all of their remaining save chances.
Scott Barlow (RP, 24 percent)
I guess it’s “Barlow week” in this column! As Kansas City’s best reliever, Scott doesn’t need to take a backseat to Joe. The right-hander has been working high-leverage roles all season and he is even more crucial to the Royals now that Greg Holland is on the IL. Barlow has posted a 2.64 ERA while collecting five wins and seven saves, and he should add to both of those cumulative totals in the coming weeks.