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 Miami Marlins closer A.J. Puk 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 relief pitcher targets
Kendall Graveman, RP, Chicago White Sox
Roster percentage: 8.9%
This is in no way a slight of Liam Hendriks, whose impending return from a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma is nothing short of Herculean. But it’s worth being realistic about what we can reasonably expect of the righty in his return, especially right away, while Graveman has turned around his season after a disastrous start. He’s unscored upon this month and has nailed down each of Chicago’s last two save opportunities, making him a recommended add for a team playing much better baseball recently.
Dylan Floro, RP, Miami Marlins
Roster percentage: 7.5%
Puk’s loss is Floro’s gain, and the righty seems like he intends to run away with the Marlins job. He’s allowed a run in just two of his 20 appearances so far this season, with converting three consecutive save chances this week for a Miami team that seems committed to playing as many close games as possible. Floro won’t rack up Ks, but he forces as much weak contact as any pitcher in baseball, with a .197 expected batting average, and he could turn into a top-15 closer if he has the job for the rest of the year.
Matt Moore, RP, Los Angeles Angels
Roster percentage: 5.7%
This is both a bet on Moore and a bet against Carlos Estevez, whose sparkly 1.35 ERA belies a hard-hit rate in the bottom 10 percent of the league. The righty really doesn’t inspire much confidence moving forward despite his recent results, while Moore — once an electric young starter for the Tampa Bay Rays before injuries derailed his career — has been as good if not better as the setup man. After a blowup last week, Estevez’s leash is likely pretty short, and Moore should still hold ratios value even before he inevitably takes the job.
Jeremiah Estrada, RP, Chicago Cubs
Roster percentage: 0.1%
This is admittedly more of a long-term play, but Estrada — now called up to Chicago for the second time this year — was warming up in a high-leverage situation during last week’s series against the Houston Astros until the score got out of hand. The Cubs bullpen has been such a mess outside of Mark Leiter Jr. that it’s only a matter of time before David Ross lets his young flamethrower take a crack at meaningful late-inning work, and once he does, his high-octane fastball will chew up opposing batters. He’s a must-add in holds leagues and someone to keep on the radar everywhere else.