It’s actually really unfair that poor Stephen Strasburg still has the “Stressbird” moniker in these here Razzball parts, but old habits and nicknames die hard. [Sidebar: Plus I went to a music festival last week and wanted to use a title that keeps me in nostalgic, douchey concert-goer mode. (Side-sidebar: I saw Rodriguez, a musician I’ve loved for 30 years and never thought I’d get to see; I was one of that generation of kids in South Africa described in Searching for Sugarman, if anyone’s seen that. Think it’s on Netflix.)]. Strasburg has been lights-out for weeks, earning 1 run so far in September and 2 runs in August, after a whopping 4 in July. He’s facing the 25th-ranked, 3-game-losing streak Mets; the only Met who’s had real success against him is Yoenis Cespedes, who is out with an injury to one of his many legs, to boot (sorry). Of course Strasburg does cost a small fortune on FanDuel today: $11,300. If that’s too rich for your blood, I’ll explore some more reasonable pitching options below. Read on, MacDuffs!

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Please, blog, may I have some more?

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We’re almost there! There are only 10 more days in the season and hopefully, you’re counting your monies as you excel towards the finish line. Three teams, Washington, Cleveland and Houston all clinched their division already and have nothing to play for. And as we get this deep into September, teams really start throwing out questionable lineups, and Dee Gordon starts trying to pad his stats by trying to steal at every opportunity. One key this late in the season is to make sure to follow all the lineup announcements pretty closely, as teams work in their minor leaguers (who are almost always punt-priced) into the lineup. Yesterday we had Mallex Smith, Austin Hays and Teoscar Hernandez all batting leadoff, all punt-priced, and all in decent enough matchups to be playable. I can’t tell you who specifically will be out there today as a punt-priced hitter at the top of the order, but I can tell you that it’s highly likely there will be a few options to choose from. I will even go so far as to guarantee at least one team will throw out numerous punts (but I’ll get to that later, at the end of the article). Now I’m sure you’re asking – but if there are a bunch of options, how do I choose between all the different uninspiring AAA-level punt-priced hitters at the top of the order? Well it’s a good thing you asked! I’d focus on looking at the rest of the lineup (although it should seem obvious, if AAA-caliber punt OF #1 is batting leadoff for an otherwise great lineup and AAA-caliber punt OF #2 is batting leadoff for an otherwise uninspiring lineup, the former is far more likely to be driven in, if he does luckbox his way on-base, and also is far more likely to get that extra at-bat because the rest of the lineup cycles around), while also focusing on who is facing the inferior pitcher and/or the inferior bullpen (for much the same reasons). I’d also give a lot of weight to each spot in the lineup, so I’d much rather use leadoff-batting AAA-caliber punt OF than fourth-batting AAA-caliber punt OF. Two final notes – first – some managers (*coughDustyBakercough*) love to ask their weak-hitting #2 batter to sac bunt, so I’d also be a little weary of using a punt OF if he’s batting 2nd for a one of these managers who are a little more “old school”. Second – NL teams still (stupidly) have the pitcher hit (seriously, just end this abomination) and they double switch guys out all the time, so your favorite NL punt might be out of the game in the 5th because the Manager must insert himself into the game by using some next level strategery, which you know, proves he’s there.

On to the picks once punting season begins…

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“Big Maple” James Paxton takes the mound on Thursday in his second start off the disabled list, facing the Rangers at home. Paxton’s first start off of the DL was a disaster, but that’s often the case – it normally takes at least one start for a pitcher to regain form after missing more than a month. And plus, it was against the Astros, so it’s completely forgivable. Paxton’s full-season stats are drool-worthy, so to get him at just $8,400 on FanDuel is an opportunity to pounce on. As for the Rangers, they strike out 24.7% of the time against lefties. If he’s back to form, it will be a big night for Big Maple.

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Alex Wood ($9,400) takes on the Phillies tonight. He’s fresh from his little procastination break, and decided to post 8 K’s across 6.0 IP last week – whatta guy! Despite that one good outing though , Wood’s ERA this month is still as fat as a butcher’s dog (4.76). He clearly went on a serious earned run bender towards mid season, but against a Phillies team that has been hovering around .245 this week, he’s the cheapest semi-elite option you’ll come close to. Here’s who else I like on this fine Wednesday:

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Say it ain’t so, the Indians win streak has ended at 22 games. That was an exciting run and it looks like the final 3 weeks are going to be tight. I want to thank VictoriaB for filling in for me last week while I was prepping for Hurricane Irma. Luckily, Tampa was spared from any major damage. Moving on, Madison Bumgarner gets a delicious matchup against the Diamondbacks at home today.  MadBum sports a 3.00 ERA vs the Diamondbacks this year. Further, he has 25 K’s in 21 innings vs. them. The ownership is going  to be lower on him this week given his struggles in his last 2 starts. I’m assuming Carrasco will be the highest owned player today. With that being said I think the value lies in MadBum today at$9,200.

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So it’s September 15th. Rosters have expanded. Out of contention teams shift their focus to next year’s team, and some players pack it in for the year, or play only for their own stats. And although it’s not something you’ll often read on a site as objective-analysis heavy as Razz, there definitely is a DFS edge to be gained. It’s hard to tell sometimes and you’re going to need to keep your ears open, but some players (typically on out of contention teams) definitely change their approach. In 2015, after Jose Reyes got traded to the Rockies (and from a team in playoff contention to a team who was not), Reyes clearly did not want to be there and changed his approach to, “swing as hard as I can in case I hit it.” Then, in September he missed a few games because of a bruised achilles and (we think) just completely checked out, “hitting” .231/.259/.250 the rest of the way despite playing plenty of games in Coors. In 2016, Dee Gordon got suspended in May, came back in August and was basically the same player he had been, stolen base wise at least. He had 6 stolen bases in April on a .289 OBP in 21 games and after he returned in August, he had 8 stolen bases on a .296 OBP in 26 games. Then September came around and apparently he just decided he was going to steal every single time he got on first base no matter what, and no one could catch him. He had a .289 OBP, played in 27 games and had 15 stolen bases, including stretches where he’d steal every game. We may be to that point right now with Gordon, as he has 4 steals in his last 5 starts. Am I saying to play Dee Gordon every day? No. For all we know he’s just had a few good opportunities to steal in the last few games. But I am saying to keep an eye on him, and if he’s in “stat padding” mode, to give a small nudge to him if you’re debating between rostering him and someone else.

On to the picks once I pad my stats…

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It’s been a turbulent year for Jose Berrios, as most 23-year-old starters tend to be inconsistent, and he’s been no different. However, in the last month, Berrios has 35 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings with a 2.87 ERA. Berrios should see more of the same success as he takes on the Blue Jays on Thursday. You might not have noticed it, but Toronto’s lineup has actually been quite weak this year. They’ve got just a .312 wOBA against righties, ranking them 26th in all of baseball. The Jays are also much less intimidating away from home, since they won’t have one of the best hitter’s parks to their advantage. As Berrios continues his hot streak in Minnesota, he’s worth starting for $8,500.

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DFS could be systematic, hydromatic, ultramatic… why it could be Rhys Lightnin’ today! I’d probably draft Rhys Hoskins above a whole bunch of guys next season. Throw Jose Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer, Logan Morrison, Ryan Zimmerman and Wil Myers on that list. Greasy Rhysy gives me the warm fuzzies with all of this home run business, oh and speaking of business, comparing him to a shart is kinda doable. We thought we knew what we had when Hoskins was called up in August, but when we pushed a little further, the explosion occurred. It’s a party in everyone’s pants, and since Hoskins ($4,100) is the lede on this fine Wednesday, he’s most certainly one of my top OF picks today.

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I feel like I’m walking a little on the wild side today. I should just start Chris Sale versus Tampa Bay; he’s likely your Sure Thing o’ the Day (sorry if I just jinxed him, Sale owners), him and his 3.03 ERA at home, but he costs $11,300. Thus, I’m going to go a little cheaper and start Alex Wood ($9,200) — with some trepidation, admittedly. Of course I’m hoping for a repeat performance of Wood’s last match-up versus Colorado, on June 23rd, at home in Dodger Stadium: 6 innings pitched, 1 earned run, 3 hits. I’m aware I might not get that: in his last outing, he got beaten up by the Padres (! [Sidebar: I have to confess to feeling secretly glad when the Padres do well]) to the tune of 4 earned runs, in San Diego (!) and he has been falling victim to the long ball (ah, Wood and the long balls…[ya, I’m 12]), but he still sports a very decent 2.57 ERA and 1.04 WHIP and he’s going to get run support. Moreover, he has a 2.77 ERA in Dodgers Stadium, while the Rockies are hitting .251 away. So I’m crossing fingers and hoping for the best and building my lineup around him. More pitching options below, though, for the more sensible among you!

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So with September baseball upon us, I offer one tidbit of DFS knowledge that can end up being the difference between winning and losing on a given slate. September baseball means far more late scratches, as teams with expanded rosters are more willing to tell a player to sit a game out if he injures himself in warm-ups or just doesn’t feel right that day. For example, yesterday, two Indians were scratched and the White Sox starting pitcher was scratched, all well after the lineups were announced, and all after DFS lineups locked. Granted, the scratches were not players who were likely to be played in any DFS lineups (maybe Zimmer, but if you were using Greg Allen or Rodon in your lineups, please email me so I can challenge you to h2h matches), but there’s been plenty of scratches over the last few days of players that were relevant to DFS lineups. So the one piece of advice I can offer is that when you build your lineups, try, where possible, to keep as much of your lineup “open” and flexible, so that if there are late scratches, you can make pivots where possible, since both FanDuel and DraftKings offer late swap for baseball. Now, that does not mean make an entire lineup of 10pm night-game players, because often times the best plays are from the early games, but it does mean that if you’re deciding between two players at similar price points for a position, and one plays at 7:05 and the other at 10:05, I would give the edge to the 10:05 guy as it gives you more flexibility in case there is a late scratch somewhere else in your lineup (unless the 10:05 guy would be the only late night player in your lineup – in which case I would actually advocate for an entire lineup of 7:05 guys so that you have no risks of late scratches whatsoever). Basically – unless you’re building an entire lineup of 7:05 starts, which means no risk of late scratches, you should try to have as many late starts as possible (all else equal of course, don’t choose an inferior play simply because the player starts later) to keep your lineup open as much as possible.

On to the picks once another post lock scratch happens…

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond?  Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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