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?

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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?

So, I’m going to do something a little different today. I’m just gonna throw out the reason why right off the bat: I’m selfish and lazy. That’s what mid-August baseball talk is all about!

As part of my rebuilding efforts in the REL – well, I should say, my main anchor in my rebuilding efforts – I got Alex Reyes to hopefully be my staff stopper. I mean, have you SEEN the Brewers rotation?! Yikes. With some control issues and a pretty bad ERA in AAA, I wasn’t too surprised to see a fantastic arm like Reyes get the call-up anyway as a bullpener. This had been speculated upon all season – the Cards did this with their major prospects in Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez – so we’re not getting a big shock. And with Reyes called up at the same time as Luke Weaver, it appears they might piggyback each other for the foreseeable future. But Reyes clearly, CLEARLY looks like a dominant starter that’s about ready. After seeing his debut inning last Thursday night where he hit 101 twice, I’ve been eagerly awaiting an encore. Here’s how Reyes looked in his 2nd-4th career MLB innings Saturday afternoon at Wrigley:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As we’ve seen countless times, a logjam in a starting rotation never ends up being a hurtle. At first, the Astros were seemingly cutting out Lance McCullers with boring vets like Doug Fister and Scott Feldman, the latter who has really not worked out as a starter… Feldman was throwing some good RP innings though, before they dumped him north of the border… Anyway, with McCullers’ elbow barking, it opened a spot for Joe Musgrove to step right into the rotation.

I’ve been thinking back; has there been a more exciting SP debut for a guy coming out of the bullpen at first? 4.1 innings coming in for the injured McCullers with 1 hit, 1 walk, and 8 Ks and a Jose Fernandez-esque fiery presence from Musgrove. Brian McCann will be a big baby whenever the Yankees face him… 8 strikeouts has to be close to a record for an MLB debut out of the bullpen (broadcast tells me it tied the record, nice work Astros broadcast!)… I guess without the clear opening through the season, it dulled the fantasy love for Musgrove, who had a crazy 10.25:1.03 K:BB in AA and 8.69:1.07 in AAA. Makes Phil Hughes look wild! Although, throwing Phil Hughes’ name in here isn’t exciting anyone… Hopefully a good outing and sexy GIFs will do that! Here’s how Musgrove looked yesterday afternoon in his first career MLB start:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was all about some of that young prospect snell early in the season, ranking Blake Snell within my top-75 preseason ranks. He destroyed the Minors in 2015, then was a little iffy when he hit the Majors for the first time. HE’S AWFUL FOREVER! As we see 95% of the time, initial failure means a prospect is forgotten, even if they start putting up solid numbers a month or two later.

And such was the case for Snell, who had a 3.86 ERA over his first 5 starts (passable), but a horrific 20:15 K:BB and a WHIP close to 2.00. He’s no Trevor Rosenthal! That aforementioned success in the Minors came with some control issues as well, so it stood to reason he might need a little more refinement. On top of that, I watched a few of his starts and his stuff looked a little too “loopy” for me. I have no idea if that makes sense… But it looked like a lot of huge rolling movement, with nothing crisp, ala a Corey Kluber or Jake Arrieta cutter. Just very bendy.

Things have gotten a lot better lately though, with a 24:11 K:BB heading into yesterday’s start against the Yanks in 24 innings. As such a highly regarded prospect and with good pure stuff that I think just needed that little extra “umpf” of crispness, I bought in heavily across my leagues and in last week’s ranks. But I figured it would be a good idea to see for myself if his breaking stuff looks a tad better than when I saw it in his 2nd and 3rd starts. Here’s how he looked:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Junior 2

When you have to tell people your favorite team’s ace is a 31-year-old rookie, you kinda make a face like Arnold Schwarzenegger right there…  It’s as uncomfortable as a dude getting pregnant!  But for a rebuilding team, I guess nothing is inconceivable after all!

As an unabashed Brewers homer, and owner of the REL Brewers where I have to own a certain amount from my parent team, I’ve been a big follower of the Brew Crew beat, and there’s been buzz for Junior Guerra ever since we picked him up.  I even brought him up on the Pod when he was promoted, much to Grey cackle-ment.  I of course never saw anything like this coming though…  I knew he had a fastball and a great splitter, but that splitter hasn’t been just “great”.  It’s been the best splitter in baseball.  His other stuff is pretty good, but he hit 98 MPH in his last start against the Pirates, and if he can throw gas like that, it’s going to make him a dynamic guy ROS.  So I decided to double up on my Sunday afternoon baseball watching by breaking down Guerra’s start against the Cubs, while watching my Brewers like I would’ve anyway.  Two birds one stone!  Sue me!  Here’s how he looked:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ohhhhh, an MLB debut on Sunday!  Perfect for the Pitcher Profile!  Starting the second half with a bang!

Even though he was likely not throwing too many pitches, I decided to take a flier on Dylan Bundy in most of my redraft leagues.  He was the talk of the prospect community way back in 2012 where he terrorized the Minors and actually picked up 1.2 innings in the Majors that season, progressing all the way from A ball.  Unfortunately, as is the case with a ton of pitcher prospects, injuries reared their ugly head with a TJ surgery and shoulder issues, and he hasn’t pitched 100 professional innings since.  I remember going coocoo for Cocoa Puffs for him back in the day, so I was all decked out in my proverbial Bundy gear to prepare for his first Major League start.  Here’s how he looked yesterday afternoon at the Rays:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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