Whether due to injury, the potential return of the juiced baseball or just the rule changes that have upended the sport, pitching has been harder to come by than usual so far in the 2023 fantasy baseball season. There’s still plenty of opportunity for profit on the waiver wire, though, so here are our four favorite targets for Week 5.
Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Week 5 starting pitcher targets
Mason Miller, SP, Oakland Athletics
Roster percentage: 10%
The A’s finally called up Miller, their top pitching prospect, this week against the Chicago Cubs, and boy oh boy did he not disappoint:
I've seen the future...and his name is Mason Miller. ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/CrtYSoG34T— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 19, 2023
The righty topped out at 102 on the radar gun, striking out five in 4.1 innings of work. If you’re wondering how you’re just hearing about a guy with that kind of gas, well, Miller’s a unique story — a former DIII pitcher who struggled with Type-1 diabetes as a high schooler, finally put on enough weight to fill out, then struggled with injuries after being drafted. He’s healthy now, though, and will get plenty of opportunities for an A’s team that’s going nowhere. If you need an infusion of strikeouts, look no further.
Johan Oviedo, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Roster percentage: 33%
One of many feel-good stories from this Pirates season so far, Oviedo has broken out this year with a very simple change to his pitch mix: He hardly ever throws his fastball anymore. The righty throws his slider nearly 50 percent of the time, a rate you’ll hardly see this side of Lance McCullers Jr., and it’s worked for him — after conquering Coors Field over six innings of one-run ball, his ERA sits at 2.22 with 25 strikeouts in 24.1 innings.
Kyle Bradish, SP, Baltimore Orioles
Roster percentage: 3%
Bradish’s breakout actually came down the stretch last year, when he pitched to a 3.28 ERA after the All-Star break. His 2023 was abruptly put on hold after he was struck in the foot by a comebacker in the second inning of his first start of the season, but the righty returned against the Washington Nationals with six shutout innings. His fastball leaves something to be desired, but his slider and curveball are both nasty, and if he can keep his heater elevated and away from barrels he’ll have a lot of success in a pitcher’s park with a good offense behind him.
Brandon Pfaadt, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Roster percentage: 4%
Everyone thought Pfaadt would get the call after Arizona DFA’d Madison Bumgarner this week. Alas, the timing didn’t quite work out, but don’t fret: It won’t be long before the Diamondbacks finally call up their top pitching prospect. A consensus top-100 prospect in baseball, Pfaadt dominated the homer-happy Pacific Coast League last year and looked very good this spring before narrowly missing out on a rotation spot likely for service time reasons. He’s posted double-digit K/9 rates at just about every stop of his pro career, which gives him legitimate SP2/3 upside.