Adam Wainwright Replacement Options

“Oh No”. This is one of the words that is in my 19-month old son’s vocabulary and a term that he uses on a regular basis. If you drafted Adam Wainwright to your Fantasy team you are likely repeating this term to yourself when it was verified that he was placed on the Disabled List and is likely to miss the rest of this season.

Fear not, we are here to help you comb over some of the options that are available on the Waiver Wire and could help you absorb this loss. With that in mind, we present to you the Adam Wainwright Replacement Options.

The below players being counted down are players that have seen their ownership rate increase recently, based on data from ESPN. The below players listed are owned in less than 50% of leagues as of 10:45 AM EST/7:45 PST.

This 50% cutoff is the reason why some recent waiver wire darlings such as Alfredo Simon, Anthony Desclafani, Jimmy Nelson, etc. are not mentioned in the below rankings.

10 – Dan Haren, SP, Miami Marlins

Over his first 4 starts, Haren has decent surface numbers as he is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA. If this is enough to make you consider picking him up, you should run the other way. He has achieved these moderately decent numbers due to an absurd amount of good luck as his opposing BABIP is .131. This BABIP will not be sustained for the rest of the season and when it falls apart, it is not going to be pretty. After Sunday’s start, his FIP is 5.86. That’s not just a warning sign for being irrelevant in fantasy that is a warning sign that things could get so bad he could lose his spot in the rotation sometime this season bad.

9 – Mark Buehrle, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

The fact that Buehrle’s ownership has trended up recently appears to be one of the last remnants of the adage of the only thing that matters when evaluating Pitchers is W-L record. Yes, Buerhle is 3-1. He also has a 4.94 ERA/5.04 FIP is striking out fewer batters than usual (3.8 K/9) and isn’t getting any younger at the age of 36. While his season should still end up being better than Dan Haren’s, his fantasy value is very limited.

8 – Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox

If this listing was based on keeper instead of standard leagues, Rodon would far and away be #1 on this list. However, he has barely started his MLB career and it is unclear how the White Sox plan to utilize him this season. He did struggle in his MLB debut but one appearance is too small of a sample size to determine how his rookie season will go. A lot of his value depends on when/if he gets added to the rotation. However, for the current issue of finding someone to fill Adam Wainwright’s shoes, Rodon is less than a sure thing.

7 – Chris Heston, SP, San Francisco Giants

Heston has received an opportunity to play with the Giants losing Matt Cain to injury. So far, he has made the most out of this opportunity as he is 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA. While he does have the talent to have a productive season as he has a 3.30 FIP, the one thing to keep in mind is whether he will have the opportunity to do so once Cain returns to action. Even in a best case scenario, he’s not going to give you much help with strikeouts as he has a 6.92 K/9 which is actually slightly higher than the 6.5 K/9 that he had in AAA last season. While he has the potential to do a better job than many of the players listed above him, it is uncertain whether he will have the opportunity to do so.

6 – Aaron Harang, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

It does not say much that Harang has exceeded expectations this season as expectations for him coming into this season were between slim and none. Over his first four starts, he is 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA/2.61 FIP. While he has benefiting from a better than usual BB/9 rate, he has also benefiting from an absurd amount of luck as he also has an opposing BABIP of .203. The projections for him listed on his FanGraphs page (ZiPs, Steamer & Deth Chart) all project his ERA to end up between 4.38 and 4.42. If you are looking for even less incentive to pick him up, playing for the Phillies is not going to do any favors to his win total.

5 – Jonathan Niese, SP, New York Mets

Even with a rough outing on Sunday Night, Niese is off to a solid start as he is 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA. However, it is highly likely that a night like Sunday was inevitable and even more rough starts could be around the corner. He currently has a 4.81 FIP (not good) and a K/9 rate of 5.48 (also not very good).

4 – A.J. Burnett, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Burnett has not been credited with a win in any of his first 4 starts. This has not been his fault as he has a 1.80 ERA/2.91 FIP. While this gives some superficial hope that he has a great season out of nowhere at the age of 38, it is difficult to see him keeping this production up over an entire season considering that he struggled in 2014. It also does not help that his K/9 so far this season (7.2) is lower than his career total of 8.3. Another red flag that we suspect that this strong start is a mirage is that his average fastball velocity (90.8) is on pace to decrease for the second consecutive season.

3 – Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Baltimore Orioles

Jimenez is off to a strong start as he is 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA in his first three starts. He has benefited from an absurd amount of luck as his opposing BABIP is .147 and his FIP is 4.18. While this indicates he is on track to improve from last season, he’s still unlikely to help you with your ERA. However, he is still highly capable of being a strong source of strikeouts as he has a K/9 rate 9.19 and even in seasons where everything else has gone wrong, he still manages to get his share of strikeouts regardless.

2 – Hector Santiago, SP, Los Angeles Angels

Santiago is off to a nice start as he is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA. With Santiago, he is capable of helping in the SO & WHIP categories (he has a career K/9 of 8.34 and his BB/9 rate has improved over the last couple seasons). However, he has gotten absurdly lucky as he has an opposing BABIP of .208 which is simply not sustainable. Despite some improvements, a breakout season is unlikely as he has a 4.45 FIP over his first 3 starts. Currently, Steamer has him projected with finishing with an ERA of 4.00.

1 – Jeff Locke, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

In his first three starts, Locke is 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA. Even though his K/9 rate has been modest (7.11) this is still an improvement from last season and unlike many of the pitchers on this list, he has not been a beneficiary of good luck as his FIP is 2.24. One early thing in his numbers that indicates this year could be different than the last two seasons which were up and down is his Ground Ball Rate (GB%). In the last two seasons, his GB% was in the low 50% range (53.2% in 2013 and 50.5% last year. In comparison, his GB% has improved to 58.2% this season.

All numbers referenced found on fangraphs.com

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  1. Nice article, Ryan! These are all players who are available on the waiver wire in almost every league so I’m sure fantasy owners will be able to at least find a viable replacement for Wainwright.

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