We’re so close to the finish line!  The marathon is nearing the final push; your legs are weakening, you’re starting to feel incontinent… Well, Jonathan Papelbon sure was yesterday!  But we’re looking at the starting pitchers here in the Pitcher Profile corner, and the emergence of Carlos Carrasco since re-inserted into the rotation has been carrying fantasy owners in tons of leagues.  C&C Pitching Factory!

In six starts from August 10th to September 7th, C&C has had the fastball dancing now, with a 0.70 ERA and 42 Ks in 38.2 IP.  The fastball averaged well over 96 MPH, easily his predominant pitch.  Unfortunately for Carrasco owners, he struggled a bit against the Tigers last Friday, giving up 4 runs with the fastball velocity down.  It’s actually dipped under 96 MPH his past two starts, as well as a progressive trend of more-and-more sliders with less heaters in this late-season run.  So I decided to break down his start at Detroit and see if he’s a guy I’m going to trust in down the stretch:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So I did a little Google of “pine tar brands” and everything is this Grandpa’s brand!  Talk about cornering the market.  And their new spokesman should be Michael Pineda!  “Those other brands, they dirt, it’s dirt…”

I used to be the biggest Big Mike fan.  I was all in on him in the Mariners rookie season, and went gaga watching his starts over anyone else.  Of course he faltered down the stretch, got traded, blew up his shoulder, and now is a little bit of a parody based on the ridiculous double-down of pine tarring and feathering himself.

While he might be a punchline, and finding a little bit of humor for the open was easy, he’s still been good while healthy this year.  And not just good, but Grandpa’s good!  ERA barely over 2, WHIP under 1, 30:4 K-ta-walk.  And still owned in only 51% of Yahoo leagues!  I haven’t seen Pineda pitch since the April oil slick days, so I decided to break down his Saturday start north of the border to see how he’s looking:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Shameless cross-pollination!  Yes, just as shameless as Tony Parker cross-pollinating Brent Barry’s wife, I’m hijacking the open of my post to let you know Fantasy Basketball rankings have begun!  I hope Grey doesn’t suspend me for conduct detrimental to the team… I’ve got my top 50 up earlier than anywhere else (well, no one has recent rankings up!) and if you suffer fantasy depression through winter, and/or hate that Fantasy Football is nothing but pure luck, Fantasy Basketball is the rebound (womp womp) for you!  The mix of percentages and counting stats appeal the Fantasy Baseball-ist in everyone, so if you’ve thought about trying hoops, hop over to basketball and into an RCL when they open next month (I sense another hijack coming…)!

“Get back to the diamond JB, this is a friggin’ baseball blog!”  Fine!  Has any pitcher in the initial top-50 (non-injured) had as tumultuous a season as Danny Salazar?!  Maybe Justin Verlander… But now he’s injured too!  Salazar pitched like a gangbuster (…? can you be only one gang buster?  Ask Ness…) closing out last year, but lower velocity, control issues, and just overall ineffectiveness were so bad he went back down to AAA.  After two months in the Minors, Salazar has been pretty good in 4 of his 5 starts since the call up in late July, including a decent outing yesterday.  Just can’t get deep into games!  To be honest, I haven’t watched a single Salazar start this year (using all my Indians time on Corey Kluber, k?!), so I decided to break down his afternoon against the Orioles and if he needs to be scooped up in more leagues even if his rotation spot is non-guaranteed:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Man it was a crazy weekend!  I think the biggest event was I saw a dude with a Fangraphs shirt on.  Way to wear your heart on your sleeve!  With a 79.8% confidence.  Then my boy James Paxton was straight up nasty, striking out the White Sox in order in the first inning and turning in a good start.  Pour the syrup, hoser!  Oh, and I got engaged…

But despite all that hooplah, I’m back, I’m fierce, and I’m ready to hit the Pitcher Profile harder than Wade Miley at the free lobster Golden Corall!  “That’s just mean, JB…”  Well, what was really mean was if you started Miley in his last start, tagged for 10 runs against the Royals.  “Damn that Alex Gordon for bringing me those KC ribs!  I had the meat sweats before I hit the field!”  Even so, Miley bounced back well yesterday, and still has a surprising 144 Ks in 156.1 IP.  He needs three more to surpass his 147 career-high last year that took him 200+ innings, so he’s taken a giant step forward.  Which may or may not sound like Jurassic Park.  Ok, I’m done!  Here’s how Miley looked yesterday, with some analysis-ation on if he can help your fantasy squads down the stretch:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The big fellah is back!  And um, I don’t mean me…

In one of my most anticipated starts in the past few months, James Paxton returned from the DL, immediately unleashed back into the Mariners rotation.  No Taijuan Walker waffling for you!  Paxton looked dreamier than my Andrew Heaney [what turned out to be] nightmare in his first two starts way back in April, flashing high-90s heat with an unhittable breaking ball.

The big Canadian had some bumps on Saturday (spoiler alert!), including a comebacker off the leg and said he wouldn’t be very Canadian if he left.  Super Canadian!  Dudley Do Right!  Sporting a huge maple leaf tattoo on his forearm, I think his blood type is syrup.  Bring me those Taijuan Walker waffles!

I’ve pushed Paxton hard in the ranks the past month, so I decided to break down his return pitch-by-pitch to see how much I think he can contribute in the final two months:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was a little unsure of who would be profiled this week (I thought about Jacob deGrom, but Front Row Amy was in attendance so I’d be too distracted…), so I went with a twitter suggestion that make me scratch my head a bit.  Matt Shoemaker?  Is he really interesting at all?

I’m a big Angels fan, my most important dynasty now has Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Kole Calhoun, and Howie Kendrick manning my O (no one cares!), so I’ve seen some bits and pieces of Shoemaker here and there.  You could say, I’ve seen a sole and a… let’s go with shoelace.  A good mix of pitches but with nothing overwhelming, it was shocking to see two 10+ K games in his previous six, before tossing an absolute gem against the Tigers last Saturday.

So I decided to take a deeper look into Shoemaker and see if he has some spot-start or even backend rotation relevance for fantasy owners pushing towards the final stretch:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Oh man, it’s back to real life!  After an awesome weekend in DC to see my Brewers (I’ll share some fun graphics next week), it’s back to pitching and back to Wood jokes. And of course I mean the criminally (for a stretch) underrated Alex Wood.

Wood starting chucking phenomenally out of the gates, with blistering Ks and ratios.  But when Mike Minor got off the DL and Aaron Harang deciding not to suck this year, Wood could not chuck any more wood.  [Hah - you thought Wood jokes were going the other way, huh?!]  Repeatably getting hit out of the bullpen, the Braves finally decided to move him down to AAA to [re]stretch out to get back into the rotation.

Upon [re]arrival in late June, Wood had a lot of “meh”, but I was still all in.  I remember there were some drop Wood comments and I remained steadfast in my Woodward ways.  And with another good start yesterday, I decided to take a deeper look into his pitch-by-pitch performance to be sure my Wood was warranted:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Oh man, did the Crew need that win yesterday!  Even up 11-1, I thought K Rod might blow the lead.  The way things have gone…

But it’s not all about me and the Brewers!  At least, that’s what the girlfriend keeps telling me… Yesterday, Wily Peralta showed some exceptional stuff in easily the biggest game of 2014 for Milwaukee, but the day before, high-profile prospect Jimmy Nelson looked to make a statement as the newly entrenched starter.

Anddddddddd… It didn’t go so hot.

Sporting absolutely stupid numbers in the PCL (1.46 ERA 0.92 WHIP 114 K in 111 IP), Nelson also shined in his 2014 debut, a 5.2 inning spot start allowing no runs on 8 base runners with 6 Ks for a W.  But the mightily cold Brewers squared off against the red hot Redbirds to spoil his encore.  How much was his atrocious start impacted by wrong guy, wrong place syndrome?  Should you still be holding on if you picked him up?  I decided to take an uncomfortable (for me) walk down memory lane to really break down how Nelson looked pitch-by-pitch:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Cubs.  The lovable losers.  The trade first and ask questions later…ers…

Say what you want about what the Cubs are doing, but I liked their blockbuster deal with the A’s.  John Kruk was slamming it on Sunday Night Baseball (while my boy Rick Porcello got a bitch slap of regression), but then again I’m a Brewers fan and not a Cubs fan!

Last year, the Cubs sold Scott Feldman for current pickup of the year nominee Jake Arrieta.  So that’s one thing they’ve done right!  Both the Shark and Jason Hammel weren’t re-signing, and this ridiculous emergence from Arrieta eases the pain of rebuilding a rotation.

But we don’t really care about Wrigley politics, we just want some nasty stats on our fantasy teams.  Arrieta has been absolutely unbelievable (only Clayton Kershaw has been better the past month) and he had back-to-back no-nos through 7 prior to Sunday’s start.  How legit is this breakout?  Is Arrieta a sell high?  I’ve seen the highlights and bits of some of the previous starts, but I wanted a deeper look into his stuff and decided to Profile how he looked in yesterday’s great outing against the Nationals:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Oh, the world we live in today.  Computers.  Phones.  Internet.  Baseball followed so adroitly that even the deepest of prospects are owned in NL/AL-only dynasty leagues.  It’s a wonder any of the farm kids even have and fun with this kind of scrutiny!

But even with all the stats, all the Moneyballs, all the Jonah Hills… We still get a 27-year-old Cuban starter, who had a 6.85 ERA and unreal 2.03 WHIP in 23.2 AAA innings, allow only 1 ER in his first two MLB starts (with a 70 then 58 Gamescore – see what I did with the title there?!).  Part of the fun of baseball – on any given day you just never know!  Remember when Phil Humber had a perfect game?  Exactly.

For just as hard Odrisamer Despaigne has thrust himself into the fantasy baseball lexicon, just as little is known.  I remember seeing his name when he was signed, but that’s about it.  Only 3 Ks in these two great starts, but hey – can’t hurt to take a deeper look.  Just look at what fellow countryman Roenis Elias is doing, and he had virtually no buzz either.  Cubans know what they’re doing on the bump!  So I picked Despaigne for this glorious Monday’s PP and broke down how he looked:

Please, blog, may I have some more?