MLB Week 26 Pitching Waiver Wire: Jumping On The Cardinals Bandwagon

NamePositionTeamESPN Own %
Joe RyanSPMinnesota Twins22.4
Jon LesterSPSt. Louis Cardinals10.7
Wily PeraltaSPDetroit Tigers13.9
J.A. HappSPSt. Louis Cardinals14.1
Steven MatzSPToronto Blue Jays67.6

1. Joe Ryan | SP | Minnesota Twins

As abysmal as the season has gone for the Twins, there’s been a few spotlights for fans to cling on to. One of those is Joe Ryan, the main prospect they received from Tampa Bay in return for Nelson Cruz. He made my waiver wire list a handful of weeks ago and he’s back on. After dominating AAA and in the Olympics pitching for Team USA, Ryan has made his major league debut and has looked wonderful. Through four starts, Ryan has a 2.45 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 22 innings. Over that stretch, he has a 2-1 record. He doesn’t have remarkable stuff, but it seems to play really well. His fastball, which he throws the majority of the time, appears much faster than it actually is because he releases the ball closer to the plate than most. As it stands, Ryan is likely lined up for two starts to finish out the season, against Detroit and in Kansas City.

2. Jon Lester | SP | St. Louis Cardinals

What the heck has gotten into the Cardinals? A month ago, their chances of making the playoffs were less than %5. Now, it’s nearly 100%. While Lester was less than inspiring pitching for the Nationals and struggled initially with St. Louis, he’s been hitting his stride as of late. Over his last six starts, Lester has a 2.27 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched. 22 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched is not great, but he’s only walked 10 and ultimately hasn’t been allowing very many runs. His batting average against over that stretch is only .203. The real reason you might want Lester is because all hands will be on deck for St. Louis going into the final weekend and they get a great matchup at home against the Cubs to finish out the regular season.

3. Wily Peralta | SP | Detroit Tigers

I remember throwing caution to the wind a few months ago when I recommended picking up Wily Peralta. Sure, he was pitching well, but the underlying metrics said otherwise. Well, here we are, close to the end of the season, and Peralta has somehow managed to stay fantasy relevant. In 16 starts this season, Peralta’s ERA is 3.04, despite the fact that his FIP is 4.90 and he only has 52 strikeouts in 83 innings. Regardless, I made the same cautionary tales last time and he’s continued to get the job done in fantasy. As it stands, Peralta’s lined up to make his final start of the season on the road against the White Sox. Sure, this isn’t the best matchup. However, Chicago has already clinched the AL Central and he’ll pitch on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. By then, the White Sox might not have anything to play for and could be resting a handful of starters. Particularly if this happens, consider Peralta for one last stream start.

4. J.A. Happ | SP | St. Louis Cardinals

Just like Lester, J.A. Happ seemed to have gotten his hands on a bottle of Michael’s Secret Stuff since coming over to St. Louis. It’s rather surprising too, considering how ugly his season had turned in Minnesota. With the Twins, Happ had a 6.77 ERA across 19 starts. Not only is that not fantasy relevant, that wasn’t even worthy of being in a major league rotation. His batting average against was ballooned up to .306. Since the trade, however, he has made nine starts and has a 4.33 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 43.2 innings. While these are still not fantastic numbers, they’re a bit inflated from one seven-run outing against the Reds back on September 1st. Other than that, he’s been rather strong. More importantly, St. Louis has been playing lights out. Lester is more of a lock for his final start to come against Chicago. Happ, however, is yet to be determined. As it stands, he’ll likely either finish the series against Milwaukee or make the first start of the Cubs series. Keep an eye on this. If he lines up against the Cubs, he’s a great streaming option.

5. Steven Matz | SP | Toronto Blue Jays

He’s likely not available in your league. However, if he is, consider Matz for the final week of the season. As it stands, he’ll make his final start most likely against the Yankees. If not, it will be Baltimore. He’s still playing against New York, but he’d be a must-start against Baltimore. If you hadn’t looked in a bit, Matz’s season-long era is down under 4.00. Through 27 starts, Matz is 13-7 with a 3.84 ERA, 133 strikeouts and 40 walks in 140.2 innings pitched. He’s on a bit of a streak, too, as he’s won each of his last three starts. It doesn’t hurt when you’re backed up by the potent Blue Jays offense. Again, he’s owned in almost 70% of leagues, which means he’s probably not available. However, for that 30%, snatch him up for his last start of the season.

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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