Fantasy Baseball: Jack Flaherty tops waiver wire rankings

Cardinals Jack Flaherty

This week I have decided to look at this article a little differently. Rather than just listing names I wanted to rank the top waiver wire pitchers for this week. The way this will work is that generally I will value longer term pickups over streamers but there will be times that will not be the case. This is the point of the season where you might need to start taking some shots. Prospects are being called up and players are getting injured regularly which means there are going to be plenty of new faces for you to consider each week.

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1. Jack Flaherty, STL (Yahoo ownership: 37% owned)

Ultimately this came down to who is the best pitcher over the long term this season. Flaherty was the clear answer despite spending a large part of the year yo-yoing between Triple-A and the majors. In his three major league starts he has a 2.87 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. The issue is that we have Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright and Alex Reyes all eyeing a return from the disabled list. Out of those three; CarMart is significantly better than Flaherty, Reyes may be and Wainwright will likely be given the chance by St. Louis for what he has done for them. Adding Flaherty now means you may have a few weeks of frustration but in the long term he should give you the best results. If nothing else he should give you a good start in Pittsburgh this week.

2. Nick Pivetta, PHI (43% owned)

Pivetta has had a couple of stumbles lately but he has been superb in 2018. In 46 innings he has a 3.72 ERA with 53 strikeouts and just 11 walks. Had he not had the stumbles these last couple of weeks he would probably have been number one.

3. Luiz Gohara, ATL (8% owned)

Again I am backing the talent here with Gohara. So far he has not made a start but he has pitched seven innings in relief for the Braves. There will be some hesitation starting him at home given the way SunTrust Park plays for hitters but ultimately I think he has the talent to overcome it. I like trusting young pitchers who had exposure to the majors the season before as I think they have had time to see the league and make some adjustments.

4. Jeremy Hellickson, WSH (44% owned)

This is more of a short term add for a couple of reasons. Firstly Hellickson gets to face San Diego and Miami this week, two of the worst teams in the majors. Secondly Hellickson has actually been good this year with 2.20 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. At the very least Hellickson makes for a nice option this week and could have some use going forward. However, I do not expect this hot streak to last long enough to put him above the younger guys ahead of him on this list.

5. Zach Eflin, PHI (26% owned)

Eflin has come out of the blocks rolling in 2018. Through three starts he has a 1.56 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. If we had another couple of starts to go on he could have snuck up above Gohara on this list but for now he sits at fifth, behind the two-start Hellickson.

6. Tyler Skaggs, LAA (57% owned)

I have been really impressed with Skaggs, who has 53 strikeouts and a 2.88 ERA in 50 innings. There is a chance this is just a good streak but there is also a chance this is Skaggs finally putting it together. Either way he is worth adding just in case this is the new man flying under the radar in Los Angeles.

7. Jordan Lyles, SD (39% owned)

Lyles started the season as a reliever for the Padres before converting to a starter a couple of weeks ago. In his first two starts he gave up just one earned run across 12 1/3 innings. In those outsing he struck out 16 hitters and looked really good. Today’s start (Sunday) did not go quite so well with four earned runs and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings against the Pirates. Getting to pitch in San Diego regularly is a bonus but right now Lyles is nothing more than an upside gamble.

8. Trevor Cahill, OAK (18% owned)

Cahill is another guy off to a good start in 2018. Through 29 innings he has 32 strikeouts and a 2.79 ERA. Much like Lyles he benefits from pitching in a pitchers park. He also benefits from getting to face the Rangers and the Mariners regularly. The reason he is lower than Skaggs is that I just do not see at this stage of his career Cahill suddenly becoming a top-30 fantasy starter whereas, for Skaggs I doubt it but I can conceivably see it happening.

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