Fantasy Baseball: Pros and cons of 12 pitchers who've caught our waiver wire attention like Buck Farmer and Jeff Hoffman

If you're like me, you were especially active on the waiver wire this weekend. Of course, if you're like me, you need as much starting pitching as you can get.

The two are interrelated, you see.

Perhaps in part because Super 2 concerns have eased up in June, we're seeing a spike in young pitchers who show the potential to contribute in mixed leagues. And in a year like this one, it doesn't take much -- a couple good starts in a row or maybe just one, if it's backed by a top prospect pedigree. Shoot, the pedigree alone might be enough in some leagues.

But back to the waiver wire. This week was the first time I had to pass over pitchers who, given my reduced standards at the position, genuinely excite me. As much as I need pitching, I can only turn over so much of my roster in a given week. After all, we're only guessing as to the rest-of-season value for these pitchers, having so little track record to go on. Chances are half of them will amount to nothing in 2017 -- maybe more -- and you can't expend half your roster speculating to fill the need.

So like me, you have to choose, and while you'd like to think if you misfire on one, you can just swap him out for another, everyone else in your league is still playing. By the time you learn you've misfired, it may be too late.

Since we don't have much in the way of data to guide us, let's go old school with these 12 and weigh the pros and cons for each. I've listed them in the order I'd prioritize them on waivers, but it's a thin line. If you like the case for a lower pitcher more, feel free to go your own way. 

Sean Newcomb Atlanta SP
  • Pros: Longtime prospect who invited comparisons to Jon Lester throughout his minor-league career, has already dominated a major-league lineup
  • Cons: Has struggled to find the strike zone throughout his professional career, issuing 5.2 walks per nine innings at Triple-A this year

    Sean Newcomb threw 70 of his 96 pitches for strikes in his debut against the Mets on Saturday, suggesting his control issues may have been overstated.
Zack Godley Arizona SP
  • Pros: Elite ground-ball rate ranking up there with Dallas Keuchel and Marcus Stroman, but with a top-15 whiff rate to boot  
  • Cons: Lacks a top-prospect pedigree, could be the odd man out when Taijuan Walker returns this week

    Randall Delgado's lack of minor-league options raises the question, but we'll know within a couple days whether or not Zack Godley will stick in the big-league rotation.
Joe Ross Washington SP
  • Pros: Already has a successful track record in the majors, struck out 12 in 7 1/3 one-run innings last time out
  • Cons: Two-faced, sent to the minors twice already for mechanical and velocity issues

    No pitcher has kept us guessing like Joe Ross, whose stuff has at times escaped him mid-start, but his latest was a reminder what he can be at his best.
Jordan Montgomery N.Y. Yankees SP
  • Pros: A top-20 whiff rate with double-digit swinging strikes in every start but one, set season highs with seven innings and eight strikeouts last time out
  • Cons: Nobody had heard of him before this year

    Jordan Montgomery has been all too easy to dismiss because of his anonymity in an organization where prospects are too often overhyped, but he only seems to be getting better.
Buck Farmer Detroit RP
  • Pros: Has yet to allow an earned run in two big-league starts this year, dominating with 11 strikeouts in the first
  • Cons: Didn't look as dominant in the second, his swinging strike total dropping from 22 to 6, and never amounted to much in the minors

    The last time Buck Farmer showed genuine strikeout potential was back in 2014, when he was at low Class A, but his second start was at least good enough not to refute the first.
Jacob Faria Tampa Bay SP
  • Pros: Deceptive changeup, among the minor-league leaders with 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings this year, had a successful big-league debut
  • Cons: Only an injury fill-in, was considered a middling prospect prior to this year, lacks big velocity

    Jacob Faria piled up 16 swinging strikes in his major-league debut, and for all the talk of him lacking velocity, he still touched 94 mph.
Jeff Hoffman Colorado SP
  • Pros: Overpowering fastball/curveball combo, top prospect standing as the prize of the Troy Tulowitzki deal, impressive four-start stretch with 32 strikeouts to six earned runs
  • Cons: Pitches in Colorado, results never measured up to stuff in the minors

    If Jeff Hoffman pitched for any other team, he'd be No. 1 or 2 on this list, but with such an unfavorable home environment, it seems like only a matter of time before he falls into bad habits, especially since he wasn't a model of consistency in the minors.
Alex Meyer L.A. Angels SP
  • Pros: Increased reliance on curveball has helped 99-mph fastball play up, yielding well more than a strikeout per inning
  • Cons: Way too many walks still, plenty of failure on his resume at age 27

    Erratic electricity. It's as true for Alex Meyer now as when the Nationals took him in the first round of the 2011 draft, but the tall right-hander has had enough success recently to get us hoping again.
Seth Lugo N.Y. Mets RP
  • Pros: A history of run prevention both down the stretch last year and as runner-up Puerto Rico's ace in the World Baseball Classic
  • Cons: Not a big bat-misser, uninspiring minor-league track record

    Seth Lugo's best pitch, the curveball, is one he hardly used in the minors, and the amount of spin he puts on it suggests we may not have even seen the best of it yet.
Josh Hader Milwaukee RP
  • Pros: Top prospect, huge strikeout potential
  • Cons: Trouble finding the strike zone, unable to master Triple-A between two seasons, currently in the bullpen

    Josh Hader looks like he'll be really good someday, but it's not clear whether he's up to the challenge yet, which is probably why the Brewers are easing him into the starting role.
Joe Biagini Toronto RP
  • Pros: Has remained effective while building up to a starter's workload, allowing a combined six runs with nearly a strikeout per inning in three consecutive starts of six innings or more
  • Cons: Converted reliever with minimal exposure to the starting role and little claim to it

    Eventually, Aaron Sanchez will be healthy enough to pitch again, and when he is, unless Francisco Liriano has totally crashed by then, Joe Biagini will be the obvious odd man out.
Francis Martes Houston RP
  • Pros: Top prospect who has already ascended to the majors for a team with a hole in its starting rotation
  • Cons: Had a 5.29 ERA and 2.10 WHIP at Triple-A, only 21 years old, assigned to work out of the bullpen for now

    It's true the Astros have an opening with Lance McCullers joining Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton on the DL, but as bad as Martes was at Triple-A and as rushed as he clearly is, I need to see some actual production at the major-league level before buying in.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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