Man, after thinking about where I need to go with this intro, I got a mad hankering for Italian food.  Just ordered some to get here during afternoon baseball.  Is it profiling that now I’m non-stop craving Italian when I hear a name like Sal Romano?  But Italian food is so positive!  Is there such a thing as positive profiling?!

Speaking of Profiling, we’re back with enough edition of the Pitcher Profile!  I know I’m picking someone that’s pretty far off the beaten path, but any time Sunday baseball features an-even-somewhat-interesting guy making their debut, I’m intrigued!  Romano was vaguely on the radar for the NL-only and NFBC-type leagues given the Reds complete lack of a starting rotation, and surprisingly it was Rookie Davis getting the first DL stint (not their old farts, although Brandon Finnegan got hurt as well Saturday night) that opened an early spot for Romano to make his debut.  Buried on prospect lists in the 10-20 range for Cincy (they do have a good farm system though), with Ralph ranking him as merely a “floorboard”, Romano apparently has pretty interesting stuff from what I read, mainly a mid-to-high 90s fastball.  As tradition, I write the intro to the Profiles before I watch a pitcher’s start, and I’ll withhold any judgment until I see him throw.  So as I eagerly await my baked ziti, the Brewers game is about to start and I’m pumped to see how Romano looks and Profile his debut.  Here’s how he fared yesterday afternoon in his debut:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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We back baby!  The Pitcher Profiles are back!

It’s a brand new season, so we got some brand new digs!  Hah not really, just some new GIFfing magic to help make the posts pop a little, and see some pitches a little clearer.  Even better content if these posts are too long, and you just watch the GIFs then scroll to the ranks!

If you’re new to the Profiles, I break down a starter’s outing pitch-by-pitch, to try and portray how they “really” looked.  We’ve seen multiple guys have a lucky BABIP day – or a few flares fall against them – that can really skew their numbers (especially early in the year).  The Profiles try to help give an eye level account, leaving nothing to question.  I also developed my own “Gamescore+” stat, that I will continue scoring for pitchers getting Profiled.  With Statcast data now out there, I still need to work with Rudy to automate it!

So to our subject today, I know I’ve Profiled Sean Manaea before…  Here’s his 2016 Profile, but I decided to go back to the well and see if he’s maintaining his good stuff that he showed in the second half last year.  Plus in that Profile, it was his Major League debut and I thought he looked a lot better once he settled into the rotation by August and September.  I mostly hope and pray he looks good in a tough matchup @TEX so Grey would feel bad about laughing at my high Manaea rank.  My order of baseball priorities – 1) Brewers 2) Proving Grey wrong 3) My SP Ranks 4) My fantasy teams.  Here’s how Manaea looked yesterday afternoon in the desert:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Baseball is back!  Our long wait through an absolutely ridiculous winter (in pretty much all aspects of life) is finally over!

I looked back at my re-ranks from last year to kick off the season, and can you believe this is Year 5 of the Pitcher Profiles?!  Who woulda thought Grey would let me write these silly things this long?!  I’m in my 5th year though, have a lot of seasoning, I’m ready to hit my prime!

As always, a lot had changed in the past month+ since I put out my ranks in late February, with big names falling to elbow issues/concerns this time out vs. a fairly injury-free 2016.  My Alex Reyes dynasty team weeps for this offseason!  Plus ya know, massive changes after opening day.  Drop Masahiro Tanaka everywhere!  Yeah, if I were in any schmohawk leagues, I’d offer buy lows non-stop for Tanaka.  Wait, I am in the Perty Perts league, I’ll try there!  Haha I keed, I can’t walk the walk, not like I’ve topped the Perts league my first two years against Grey’s 1,000+ moves every season…

We’ll be getting into the Profiling next week (everyone watched those first 3 games, seems silly to profile any of those Opening Day guys), so get ready for some mad GIFs!  And going to try a little something new for the GIFs too!  Hopefully you like em…

Here’s my updated top 100 SP for the first week of the fantasy baseball season:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

We back baby!  Spring Training is already starting up (We desperately need shorter games, but like 2 extra weeks of Spring Training?!?! I know, I know, WBC, but whatever!), we’re about to March, drafts about to be drafting…  Love this time of year.

So note to self – get the rankings done earlier in 2018.  Second note to self – bitch slap Grey when I see him in person next week for making everyone else look so bad, with his ranks done so early!  But hey, not like he’s got other sports to worry about!  Speaking of, if you haven’t played fantasy basketball yet, shameless plug sentence/link for you to come over and check us out on hoops!  Play in some Hoops RCLs next year maybe!

Ok, JB’s ADHD voice, back to bidness!  My yearly baseball magnum opus is finally complete – weeks in the works – and went from 9600 words last year to 9700!  Weird they were so similar… I’m kinda like Tolstoy, they just gonna keep getting longer, hah!  Of course no one is expected to read War & Peace in one sitting, so take your time getting through this bad boy!  I’ll wait!

I’m pumped to get the Pitcher Profiles ramped up again, better quality GIFs, and another year with the Gamescore+, which maybe we can start to automate with more batted ball data out there.  RUDY?!?!?!  WHERE’S RUDY?!?!?!?!  SOMEONE GET ME RUDY!!!  Also, if you missed the wrap up I put together a few weeks ago, you can check out how Grey and I did vs. ESPN with the 2016 SP ranks.

A question that is always debated and weirdly always different for each ranker/rankings sets is: are these your personal rankings?  Adjusted for ADP?  Are they how you would draft, or how you think guys will finish?  I’ve decided I have the be all, end all answer.  I did these ranks initially without looking at ADP or any other rankings sets.  The ranks are my personal ranks for how I would value guys one over the other, and then I’ll use this list to be malleable for every draft/site/league format.  Pigeonholing ranks to adjust for ADP means you’re stuck looking at one list of ADP data.  So there’s my answer for how I approach rankings.

Anyway, here we go!  Find below my top 100 SP for 2017.  And as always, my top-5 sleepers (to varying degrees) are James Paxton, Sean Manaea, Blake Snell, Ivan Nova & Reynaldo Lopez.  Plus bonus #6 – Tyler Skaggs – moved him up after re-looking at his data.  Apparently I love my lefties this year!

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Better late than never!  February in the following year is always THE BEST time to review last year’s follies and jollies, amiright Razzball Nation!?

After making it through the duldrums of Winter (which I haven’t really had in NC, but ya know, the EPA was lying about global warming), I’m finally catching up on my Pitcher Profile wrap-up for the 2016 season.  If anything, it turns out to be a pretty funny post!  Let’s see how bad JB/Grey/ESPN ranked the AL Cy Young Winner!  Always a good time…  They say hindsight is 20/20, but seeing how bad some of these went, I’ll need my hindsight to be 420 to get through this!

As I did last year and the previous seasons ere’twixt, I’m here to break down my initial 2016 Starting Pitcher Ranks with the – hot, hot, hot!  …or cold – hits and misses.  I compare and contrast what happened with Grey’s 2016 ranks at SP, along with ESPN’s initial ranks from the 2016 season, then make us all look foolish by lining these up with Razzball’s Player Rater rank amongst SP.  And as I did last year, complete the analysis with the Player Rater’s top-40 SP that I missed on in my ranks.  Lots of whiffing this season!  Whiffing as bad as I do when I play Rocket League, the boost makes you go too fast!

Here’s the recap to 2016’s starting pitching ranks (plus my 2017 ranks should be out hopefully in a week or two):

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

As this is our final Monday of the regular season, I was about to go out all silly with the last Pitcher Profile of the season, but the pitching world – and the sports world as a whole – woke up Sunday morning to the news of the heartbreaking passing of Jose Fernandez. The young phenom was such a pleasure to watch; not only for his youthful exuberance, but his pure pitching stuff seemed to somehow reflect that personality. Monster fastball, video game slider, and he could hit the ball too! Fantasy, and well sports in general, brings people together in the sense that we can just share something intangible – the spirit of a team, momentum of a game, the thrill of winning… Or just experiencing, together, the personality of one of the game’s greats. So instead of merely reflecting on a life taken from us too soon, I felt we should take this slice of time we spend together talking about pitching/fantasy baseball/sports and celebrate Jose Fernandez with a pitcher profile on his last start. Unsurprisingly, it was another absolute gem. Here’s how JoFer looked the final game he toed the rubber:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

So for a lot of these puppies I pump out here for Razzball (That makes sense in oldspeak terms right?! You’re not picturing me birthing a litter under Grey’s desk at the Razzball office, right?! RIGHT?!), I write the intro before a pitcher’s start to unsully my biases so you can read how the pitcher looked in real-time. Yeahhhh, football is on during Sundays now… It’s tough to multi-task watching the Panthers, RedZone, AND baseball! Alas, for this week’s installment of Pitcher Profiling, I had already known the outcome before breaking it down. The title should give it away as well!

I lucked out and nabbed Ivan Nova in several leagues just on a streaming whim within his first few starts on the Pirates, and was reaping the rewards of a late-season pitching surge. All hail Searage! I actually read an interview with Frank Herbert that the planet Dune was actually being mined for “Magic Searage Dust”, but it wasn’t literary-sounding enough, so he just went with “Spice”. Authors are nothing but lazy bums! Which speaking of, I picked a dude who got shellacked and didn’t pitch too deep… But I wanted to take a second look at how he… well, looked (lazy again!), to see if I should just cut bait and move on, or hold onto the most recent Searage reclamation project through the finish line. Here’s how Nova fared pitch-by-pitch, and hopefully a helpful treatises on if you should hold him as well:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Who could forget our first visit over to Finnegan’s?! Grabbin’ a pint, singin’ some odes, and getting so sloshed we’re coming back for mo’!

As we saw in his first career start last year, Brandon Finnegan looked kinda blah to me. And after an early-season near no-hit bid against the Cubs, Finnegan’s effectiveness was a range from blah-to-awful. His walk rate was terrible especially next to an equally atrocious K-rate, and Finnegan could not be further off my radar. But suddenly some Ks started popping up with equally sudden success, which beat writers reported could be contributed to learning a change-up from Dan Straily. After heavily using what I’m assuming was a different change-up grip at the start of the season through his first 4 starts (close to 25% of the time), Finnegan then barely threw it 10% of the time over his next 21 starts . As I mentioned in that pitcher profile from last year, his change-up looked pretty below average and I’m guessing he more-or-less scrapped it from his main arsenal. But over his last 4 starts, he’s got an insane 35:8 K:BB in 25.0 IP with a 2.16 ERA. I obviously haven’t watched too much Finnegan, but I have added him in several of my leagues due to glowing reports on this new change-up (and of course, recent result), so I decided to profile him to see how it’s really looking. Here’s how he fared yesterday afternoon against the Bucs:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

So I’m taking us down yet another rabbit hole, into yet another JB’s-vanity-project-abyss. Although, since the last time this happened only two weeks ago, Alex Reyes made it into the rotation! He was only “OK”, and we’re not sure if he’ll be starting again for the next turn, but at least we were put on readiness!

Of course since I added this guy in the REL, I’ve been following Brock Stewart pretty intently this season. Maybe it’s because Brock is a common name we share! But really, it has to do with his under-the-radar ascension through the Minors this season. He’s dominated in the minor leagues with a 9+ K-rate, a BB-rate well under 2, including a 2.49 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 50.2 PCL innings, with a 9.59:1.07 K:BB in OKC. Overall, his MiLB numbers are a 1.68 ERA 0.86 WHIP in 20 starts, with 126:18 K:BB in 118 innings. And yet, no one seems to care about this guy since they want Jose De Leon! While many may be surprised Brock got the call yet again to spot start over De Leon with an opening in the rotation, logistically he’s on the 40-man while De Leon isn’t and there’s a roster crunch. But it’s not like Brock isn’t deserving! And he’s got pretty good stuff – 93-95 MPH fastball, hard slider, and a change-up that is oddly WAY slower than the heater at 81ish MPH.

Obviously, at the Major League level, things couldn’t be more of a polar opposite. Going into yesterday afternoon, his ERA was over 11 in two spot starts and one relief appearance. In that 3 innings of relief his last MLB appearance, he walked 4, or what would’ve been 22.2% of all the walks he’s thrown in the minors all year. Someone isn’t suited for the bullpen! And the two awful starts? One was a little unlucky with some BABIP hits @MIL, then a murdering @COL. Way to make a guy who progressed all the way from A-ball pitch in the two worst parks in the NL! So the start this afternoon, hosting the Cubs, is BY FAR his best matchup. Man, trial by fire! With Stewart so far off the radar, I am hoping that being pot committed and writing this open before the first pitch will cause some cosmic karma and help Brock throw a breakthrough game. Here’s how he looked:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

This weekend, I went to an Ikea for the first time. First of all – you are herded through the store on a specific path like you’re being herded alongside other furniture-buying sheep.

Bahhhhhh! That bottom left frame of Buster is about how I handle crowds like that…

Anywho, at the end when you pick your furniture to buy, it’s in this giant warehouse that makes the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark look like it’s in a studio apartment’s tiny closet. Ish is huge! And that giant warehouse is exactly how I used to look at starting pitching in my 10 and 12-team waiver wires through any given MLB season. Limitless streaming opportunities – sure some with more risk than others – but pretty much a starter widely available every night that I could feel decent enough with rolling out. Alas, it’s no more, with hitting making a comeback this season. Balls are juiced! And in that vein, I’ve been overlooking a lot of the “been there, done that” pitchers that have broken through, none worse than being slow to warm up to Danny Duffy. We’ve seen him have power stuff, but not hold up as a starter, getting meh K numbers in the process. This will anger people – but I saw him as a lefty Nathan Eovaldi coming into this year. Ouch! In more ways than one! But Duffy has been absolutely crazypants this season, vaulting all the way into my top-15 last week. And through this amazing run, he hasn’t even been blessed with a Pitcher Profile! This changes now! Here’s how Duffy looked yesterday afternoon against the Twinkies:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   
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