MLB Week 15 Pitching Waiver Wire: Can We Believe In Joe Ross?

NamePositionTeamESPN Own %
Kolby AllardSPTexas Rangers6.8
Rich HillSPTampa Bay Rays63
Jake OdorizziSPHouston Astros45.6
Joe RossSPWashington Nationals24.4
Austin GomberSPColorado Rockies36.4

1. Kolby Allard | SP | Texas Rangers

Who the heck is Kolby Allard? He’s a 23-year-old four-year vet that made his debut with the Braves in 2018 and has appeared for the Rangers in each of the past three seasons. Prior to 2021, Allard was sporting a career 6.72 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 43 walks over 87 innings of work. Yuck. Fast-forward to 2021, however, and Allard currently has a 3.46 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 11 walks in 52 innings so far. It’s a bit of a mystery, really. Since debuting in 2018, Allard’s pitch mix has been relatively unchanged. His velocities have been relatively similar, as have his spin rates. The major difference here is the results of his most often used pitch, his four-seamer. Here’s the Expected wOBA on his four-seamer over his first four years in the league, starting with 2018: .577, .327, .333, .283. One look at his Savant page and all signs indicate that Allard is just your average pitcher moving forward, as numerous peripherals seem to be hovering between the 40th and 60th percentiles. That being said, though, he’s slotted to make two starts this week, both at home against the Rangers and the Athletics. If you’re looking for a two-start streamer, Allard’s a solid option.

2. Rich Hill | SP | Tampa Bay Rays

Leave it to the Rays to find a way to make Rich Hill super relevant again. It appeared as if his tremendous late-career surge in the MLB was coming to a close last year with the Twins, but the 41-year-old 17-year vet has found a resurgence in Tampa Bay. On the season, Hill is 6-3 over 16 starts, and 82.2 innings pitched with a 3.70 ERA, 80 strikeouts, 30 walks, and a 1.113 WHIP. Admittedly, there’s a lot of blue on Rich Hill’s Savant page. He’s in the bottom third of the league in stats such as Expected ERA, Expected Slugging, Barrel %, and he’s not doing a particularly great job with strikeouts and walks either. Additionally, his Average Exit Velocity allowed of 89.2 is higher than his career average of 87.5. That being said, he’s been getting the job done and is lined up for a two-start week at home against Cleveland and Toronto. While the Toronto matchup is not great, it’s at Tropicana, and he is likely following up those starts with Baltimore, Cleveland, and the Yankees. Again, not bad for a spot starter at this point in the season.

Cleveland, Toronto

3. Jake Odorizzi | SP | Houston Astros

Jake Odorizzi has finally found himself on midseason waiver wire posts, right where he belongs. After a relatively good year in 2019, injuries have decimated his 2020 and 2021 seasons for the most part. However, he’s healthy and has been pitching well. Odo made five starts in the month of June and posted a 2.45 ERA with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 22 innings pitched, picking up two wins along the way. His peripheral metrics are a bit confusing. On the one hand, his Average Exit Velocity and HardHit% are both in the 16th-percentile. However, his season ERA of 4.05 is higher than his Expected ERA of 3.81 and FIP of 3.70. He’s been getting the job done, and June has been really encouraging. As it stands, Odorizzi is likely to face the Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, and either Seattle or the Giants over his next four starts. That’s about as much as you could possibly ask for in terms of matchups for a streamer if you ask me.

4. Joe Ross | SP | Washington Nationals

Chances are, in 2021, you have either been ecstatic with a Joe Ross spot start, devastated with a Joe Ross spot start, or seriously considered spot starting him on numerous occasions. He’s been all over the place in 2021, and it’s been hard to get a gauge on him. For example, Ross tossed 11 scoreless innings in his first two outings of the year, posting nine strikeouts and two walks. In his third start (when I picked him up and started him), he gave up 10 earned runs with five strikeouts, and three walks over 4.1 innings pitched. In each of the next three starts, Ross finished with at least five innings pitched, giving up two earned runs or less. He followed that up with a four-inning, eight earned-run clunker against the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks! In June, while he did have a five earned-run outing against the Mets, he also had three outings in which he pitched at least five innings and didn’t give up an earned run. You get the idea. Now, I’m once again recommending you pick up Joe Ross as a spot starter. While he’s scheduled to pitch against the Dodgers over the weekend, his next three starts after that are the Giants, Padres, and Orioles. These aren’t great matchups, but Washington has been playing better, and Ross’ 1.95 June ERA was good enough to warrant a waiver wire add regardless.

5. Austin Gomber | SP | Colorado Rockies

Despite his season-long numbers, Austin Gomber is still just 36.4% owned in ESPN leagues. As he’s nearing a rehab assignment returning from a forearm injury, I would strongly consider rostering him prior to his return if he’s available. On the season, Gomber is 6-5 over 15 starts and 78.1 innings pitched with a 3.68 ERA, 76 strikeouts, 23 walks, and a 1.072 WHIP. Sure, those numbers seem okay, but he’s pitching half of the rest of his games at Coors Field, right? Consider the following. In five April starts, Gomber had a 6.65 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 19 walks over 23 innings pitched. Since then, in May and June, Gomber has a 2.44 ERA with 53 strikeouts and only four walks over 55.1 innings pitched. a 53-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio! Keep in mind he gave up just two earned runs in his four home starts over that stretch as well. If you throw out April, he’s hasn’t just been good; he’s been great. His Average Exit Velocity, Expected ERA, and Expected wOBA are all in the 72nd percentile or higher. While you will have to wait just a bit for him to come off the IL, his rehab starts are imminent, and he could be back relatively soon.

Zach Boeder is a high school math teacher that has a passion for sports and data journalism. Zach received a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Arizona. He currently teaches in Saint Paul and Lives in Minneapolis with his partner Sarah, their dog Dozier, and cat Remy. Zach plans to argue for a very long time that "2020 would have been the Twins' year if baseball hadn't been shut down."

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