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Top fantasy baseball starting pitcher waiver pickups for Week 9

Chris Landers goes over their top fantasy baseball starting pitchers to target on the waiver wire going into the week of May 21 including Jack Flaherty and Gavin Stone.

Jack Flaherty of the St. Louis Cardinals visits with his mom after pitching seven innings against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on May 15, 2023 in St Louis, Missouri. Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images

We’re reaching the two-month mark of the 2023 MLB season, as hard as that is to believe, and “it’s still early!” is becoming a less and less convincing crutch for fantasy managers wondering whether to stick with a draft pick or start scouring the waiver wire. This is especially true for starting pitchers, where injuries have laid waste to seemingly scores of top arms — including Los Angeles Dodgers ace Dustin May just this week. That’s why we’re here to help, with four targets likely available in your league showing signs that they’re in for a big year.

Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Week 9 starting pitcher targets

Jack Flaherty, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

Roster percentage: 20.8%

Now that’s more like it. Amid a bloated ERA, a whopping 27 walks in his first 39.1 innings and diminished fastball velocity, all of St. Louis was ringing the alarm bells about their erstwhile ace. And then, when he needed it most, Flaherty turned the clock back all the way to 2019, firing seven shutout innings while striking out 10 against the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. He walked just two while his fastball sat at 93-94, two great signs that Flaherty still has his old All-Star form in there somewhere, and while it could all fall apart again he’s worth an add due to his massive upside.

Dane Dunning, SP/RP, Texas Rangers

Roster percentage: 15%

Dunning is filling in for Jacob deGrom while the Rangers ace remains out with elbow trouble, but 1) counting on deGrom to stay healthy is never a winning bet and 2) if Dunning keeps pitching like this, Texas will forced to carve out a spot for him. The righty won his second consecutive start last week, this time silencing the mighty Atlanta Braves with six innings of one-run ball. He won’t light up any radar guns, but he’s forcing tons of grounders and commanding his secondaries very well. With a tasty matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates next, this isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Alex Wood, SP, San Francisco Giants

Roster percentage: 4.1%

Wood was limited in his return from the IL this week against the Philadelphia Phillies, but there were still positive signs as he threw 4.2 innings of two-run ball while averaging a healthy 92 mph on his fastball. The lefty boasts a 2.87 ERA on the year, and after 72 pitches last time out he should be fully built back up after his time off. Wood has long been an underappreciated mid-rotation arm, and he’s a strong play in the right matchup — like, for instance, the lefty-averse Brewers next week.

Gavin Stone, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Roster percentage: 2%

With May going down with elbow trouble and Michael Grove and Ryan Pepiot not close to a return from the IL, Stone seems to be the most likely choice to fill the empty slot in L.A.’s rotation. The top prospect has seen some shine come off this year between struggles in Triple-A and a rough MLB debut against the Phillies a couple of weeks ago, but scouts fell in love with him for a reason, and his changeup is a legit Major League out pitch. The opportunity to pitch behind that lineup is reason enough to pick him up.