|Name||Position||Team||ESPN Own %|
|Kris Bubic||SP||Kansas City Royals||21.2|
|Austin Gomber||SP||Colorado Rockies||13.7|
|Cody Poteet||SP||Miami Marlins||16.1|
|Drew Smyly||SP||Atlanta Braves||10.7|
|Alek Manoah||SP||Toronto Blue Jays||9.7|
1. Kris Bubic | SP | Kansas City Royals
The 23-year-old southpaw in Kansas City has undeniably been pretty good in 2021. He had two relief appearances to begin the year before moving to the rotation, after which he has now made four starts. In each of those four starts, Bubic has completed at least five innings on 85 pitches or less. In his first three, he didn’t allow an earned run, and gave up two in five innings this past weekend against Detroit. His batted ball metrics are pretty solid as well, ranking in the 65th-percentile in Average Exit Velocity, in the 84th-percentile in Barrel%, and in the 82nd-percentile in Expected Slugging. He’s surrendered only one extra base hit in nearly 150 combined curveballs and changeups. The only thing holding him back from taking a step up has been his inability to generate swings and misses. He ranks in the 17th-percentile in K% and in the 25th-percentile in Whiff%. As it stands, his next start is lined up to be against Minnesota. If they’re still without Byron Buxton and Nelson Cruz, strongly consider playing him. Suddenly their everyday lineup can be lefty-heavy with Luis Arraez, Alex Kiriloff, Trevor Larnach, and Max Kepler.
2. Austin Gomber | SP | Colorado Rockies
What can we say about Austin Gomber? On the year, his 4.56 ERA and 1.181 WHIP don’t look spectacular by any means. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. For starters, his FIP is down at 4.03 and his Expected ERA is 3.58. It wasn’t a pretty start, but Gomber has been really solid lately. In five April Starts, Gomber had a 6.65 ERA and 23-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 23 innings. Despite the solid batted ball numbers, 19 walks in 23 innings pitched is never going to end well. However, in five May starts, Gomber has a 2.97 ERA and a 32-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 30.1 innings. This remarkable turn around in regards to walks, mixed with the solid batted ball contact, has made Gomber a force. Most recently, Gomber struck out eight while only allowing two runs against across eight innings on Monday against the Mets. As it stands, his next start should be against either Texas or Oakland. After that, he should get to face Miami and Milwaukee in two of his next three starts. I’m not sure he’s a pitcher you’ll hang on to for the rest of the year, but pick him up while he’s pitching well and has a few solid matchups.
3. Cody Poteet | SP | Miami Marlins
It’s a relatively small sample for Cody Poteet, but so far it has been promising. The 26-year-old Miami Marlins rookie has a 1.06 ERA, 13 strikeouts, and two walks across the first three starts of his major league career. In those 17 innings pitched, Poteet has given up 47 batted balls and only 2.1% of them have been barreled up. For reference, if he qualified, that would put him in a tie with Jon Gray for the fourth-lowest Barrel% in the league. Much like Bubic, the one thing holding Poteet back is his inability to generate enough swings and misses to rack up the strikeout numbers. However, his refusal to walk anybody, mixed with his ability to generate weak contact, make him an intriguing pitcher going forward. As it stands, he should get one start in each of the next two weeks against Pittsburgh and Colorado (not in Colorado) respectively. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better combination of matchups from somebody pitching well on the waiver wire.
4. Drew Smyly | SP | Atlanta Braves
I know you might have a hard time coming to grips with picking up Drew Smyly right now. After all, he currently owns a 5.11 ERA (and an even worse 6.39 FIP) across seven starts and 37 innings pitched. He leads the National League with 11 home runs allowed. 11! That being said, he allowed five earned runs in his second, third, and fourth start of the year. However, Smyly posted quality starts in each of his last three. During that stretch, he has only allowed two home runs, compared to nine in his first four starts. The batted ball metrics overall don’t look fantastic, as he’s allowing a ton of hard contact. Why pick him up, then? In addition to him pitching better lately, Smyly has a few decent matchups moving forward. Two of his next three matchups should be against Washington and Miami (the third being the Dodgers). All of this being considered, you’re likely only considering Smyly in a deeper league. If the pickens are slim, take a chance on Smyly over the next three starts or so.
5. Alek Manoah | SP | Toronto Blue Jays
I had Manoah slotted in as a “prospect stash” for this week, but the Blue Jays beat me to it. By the time you read this, Manoah will have likely made his major league debut (against the Yankees). While the Yankees lineup is not as scary as it has been in years past, making your major league debut in Yankee Stadium is a tall order. Nonetheless, it will happen. Good or bad, Manoah is worth the stash. He doesn’t have a giant track record to work off of, as he was just drafted in 2019 and therefore didn’t get to play competitively in 2020. His professional career is limited to 17 innings in 2019 and 18 innings in 2021. To his credit, the early results have been spectacular. In those 35 professional innings, Manoah has a 1.54 ERA, 0.800 WHIP, and 54 strikeouts to just 8 walks. Wowzers! There’s a reason Blue Jays fans are excited about him, and there’s a reason he’s getting the call up with such a small resume. He dominated in college, has looked great so far in the early goings in the minor leagues, features a good-looking pitch mix, and has the confidence of Toronto’s front office.