|Name||Position||Team||ESPN Own %|
|Austin Gomber||SP||Colorado Rockies||54.1|
|Vladimir Gutiérrez||SP||Cincinnati Reds||25.7|
|Ross Stripling||SP||Toronto Blue Jays||9.7|
|Tony Gonsolin||SP||Los Angeles Dodgers||41.4|
|Matt Manning||SP||Detroit Tigers||5.1|
1. Austin Gomber | SP | Colorado Rockies
How can anyone leave Gomber on the waiver wire at this point? Sure, he’s going to start half of the remainder of his game this year at Coors Field, but he’s simply pitching too well to not have him rostered. On the season, Gomber is 6-5 with a 3.54 ERA and a 75-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 76.1 innings pitched. Through his five April starts, Gomber had struck out 23 and walked a whopping 19 batters over his first 23 innings pitched. Those five starts resulted in an ERA of 6.65. In his nine starts since, Gomber has a 2.19 ERA with 52 strikeouts and just four walks over 53.1 innings pitched. The remarkable turnaround in the strikeout-to-walk ratio has paid massive dividends for Gomber and his fantasy owners. While he’s right around average in terms of generating strikeouts with swings and misses, his batted ball statistics are encouraging. He’s in the 71st-percentile and 80th-percentile in terms of Average Exit Velocity and HardHit% respectively. In addition, his Expected ERA, 3.32, is less than his actual ERA, 3.54. If he’s available, Gomber should without a doubt be rostered.
2. Vladimir Gutiérrez | SP | Cincinnati Reds
Vladimir Gutiérrez is off to a pretty encouraging start in the Major Leagues. Over his first four starts and 23 innings pitched, Gutiérrez has a 2.74 ERA, a 1.087 WHIP, and 4.07 FIP. He’s struck out 19 batters and allowed 10 walks. While the strikeout-to-walk ratio is a bit concerning, as seen with a much higher FIP than ERA, his ability to limit hard contact has made him effective thus far. He’s in the 56th-percentile in terms of Average Exit Velocity, and the 94th-percentile in terms of HardHit%. His three most used pitchers are his four-seamer, curveball, and slider. Of those, the two breaking balls have been nearly unhittable. In the 155 combined pitches between the curveball and slider, Gutiérrez has generated whiffs on nearly 1/4th of those while only allowing two extra base hits (two doubles). As good as he’s been, I’d get as much out of him as you can while the league has yet to figure him out. His walks and inability to get hitters to chase out of the zone are going to eventually start showing up in his statistics in an ugly way. However, in the meantime, take a flyer on a 25-year-old rookie that has some prospect pedigree (Cincinnati’s number-13 overall prospect) and is pitching well.
3. Ross Stripling | SP | Toronto Blue Jays
Yes, I’m repeating on Stripling. However, he’s still less than 10% owned in ESPN leagues and has a few great matchups coming up. As it stands, Stripling is set up for a two start week against Miami and Baltimore. With the offense he has behind him, it’s hard not to get excited about the potentially massive two-start week for Stripling, particularly in points leagues where two wins is not out of the question. His season totals don’t look great, as he is 2-4 with a 4.64 ERA over 54.1 innings pitched. However, he has been better lately. Over his first six starts, Stripling had a 7.20 ERA and a .330 batting average against. In the five appearances since, Stripling’s ERA has been 2.45 with an opponent batting average of .184. This included shutting out the Rays over seven innings as well as holding the Astros to just one run over five innings. I’m not here to say you should count on him season long. However, there might not be a better streaming option for this upcoming week than Ross Stripling.
4. Tony Gonsolin | SP | Los Angeles Dodgers
While Gonsolin’s 2021 debut has not been spectacular, I’m still going to argue that you should pick him up. Historically, we’re talking about a 27-year-old that had a career 2.60 ERA, 0.923 WHIP, and 3.02 FIP across 86.2 major league innings heading into the season. In addition, he pitches for the Dodgers, making him more desirable in leagues where the win stat is counted in any way. A shoulder injury sidelined him at the beginning of the season and he’s slowly working his way back to full capacity now. In his first start, Gonsolin allowed one earned run across 66 pitches and just 1.2 innings of work. Perhaps more concerning was the five walks he surrendered during that outing. The second outing was a bit more encouraging, as he allowed just one earned run across 81 pitches and 3.2 innings of work against the Phillies. In this outing, Gonsolin had five strikeouts and three walks. In the coming starts, Gonsolin should start seeing a longer leash, making it more possible for him to start piling up innings and possibly pick up some wins. What might be most encouraging is the potential matchups lined up for Gonsolin. Over the next handful of weeks, Gonsolin could pitch against the Cubs, the Nationals, the Marlins, the Diamondbacks, and the Giants. He’s by no means a certainty, but if he’s available in your league, you could likely do much worse taking a flyer on a pitcher with as much upside as Gonsolin has.
5. Matt Manning | SP | Detroit Tigers
First it was Casey Mize, then Tarik Skubal, now it’s Matt Manning. At the time of writing this, Manning is scheduled to make his major league debut tonight against the Angels opposite of Shohei Ohtani. At Just 23 years old, Manning is Detroit’s number three overall prospect behind Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene. To be fair, Manning’s call-up is a bit of a head scratcher. Sure, prior to 2021, Manning showed all the signs of a future top-of-the-rotation starter. He finished 2018 with a 3.29 ERA in 117.2 innings across multiple levels of the minor leagues. In 2019, he seemingly got better, finishing with a 2.56 ERA across 133.2 innings at AA. Much like many others, Manning missed 2020 because of the pandemic, and has since returned to action in the minor leagues in 2021 and it has not gone well. Through 32.1 innings pitched, Manning has an 8.07 ERA. While he does have 36 strikeouts and just 10 walks, he’s given up a whopping 11 home runs in those seven starts. It’s not often teams call up a prized prospect while they are getting dominated in AAA, but Detroit seems to have kept faith in Manning. This, along with his history of success, and his continued ability to generate swings and misses, indicates to me that the real Matt Manning is still in there somewhere. He’s well worth the flyer, as we’re talking about a top-20 prospect in all of baseball. IF you hadn’t seen, Manning had a solid debut. He allowed just two earned runs in five innings of work, striking out three and walking two. Relying mostly on the four-seamer, Manning had a combined 16 Called Strikes + Whiffs overall on his 77 pitches.