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ONE. MORE. TIME. And to avert the risk of sounding like JB’s EDM music when Joe Ross gets mentioned in the podcast, I’ll just leave at that rather than continue on. WE’RE GONNA CELEBRATE But for real, we could celebrate, because it’s CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK! If you’re still reading this series all the way to Week 26 it’s because you mastered your league standings well enough to either throw down in flavor town, I mean title town, with another owner, or you’re battling for the final few points in roto. Well done, fantasy chaps. Well freaking done.

Now, since there is just one final two-start pitcher entry for the 2016 series, we’ll keep it 100 to the max by cutting through the fluff puff piece at the start and cut to the chase. It’s the Championship, after all, so you’re likelycjust riding your stable of thoroughbreds that got you here. You know, like Max Scherzer. Get it? To the MAX? Ha, had to try one last time. But you knew to throw him; however, if you’re in need of a SP pickup for the final dance, stick to the highest tiers only. Think of it as confidence tiers for all the marbles. Let me say it this way: don’t effing touch the bottom tier. Just stay away. Period. No need for questions or comments…don’t risk your entire season on one of those guys. Done.

Now for the rest, there are some wonderful two-start pitchers for this 2016 swan song. Here’s how the rest of the pitchers stack up for Week 26!

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If you’re reading this you’re either a) in the fantasy baseball semifinals or championship matchup, b) a die hard Razzball fan that reads everything posted, 3) you enjoy my writing, or d) you thought this was fantasy football. Since all of the options besides the first only happen in my midnight delusions of writing (which is currently happening), I’ll just lock it in that you’re in the fantasy baseball playoffs. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

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I almost began this by calling each of you a cotton-headed ninny muggins. For those of you still paying attention, and still in contention, I wasn’t speaking to you. Trust me, this isn’t a jab to the heart of your fantasy fandom, but rather a jab to the heart of those dad blam stats I extract every. single. effing. week. Haha, yes, they’re what carry this article, outside of these little intro words that a grand total of four three of you read, and they matter greatly when determining which starters should get the nod in the two-start realm. But…this week, and maybe others in September, some of the numbers may not add up to the prettiest math on paper. And I just may get salty if you say the numbers next to the name I’m bout to highlight does over the next seven days. So, deep breath. No need to name call. We can keep it rockin’ and ready to rage like when the song in the gif above hits the radio. And by the radio, I of course mean the loudspeakers in a baseball stadium in between innings with some annoying dancer and the team’s baseball girls doing a country jig. Which name? Ol’ Cotton Eye Jha.

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Like a vagabond hipster too afraid to settle down, this one could have gone in a thousand different directions: “Stop! Hameltime.” “Sledgehamel” “Hamel ‘Em Home” “Drop the Hamel” Haha, when you’ve been around for nearly a decade as a dominant pitcher your name is bound to be punned and used more times than Grey’s transaction count in his RCL. So, I’ll take the phrase that chooses to play on the words of truck drivers everywhere declaring their lead foot flushing it to the floor, and get to show one of the dopest gifs of a Marvel character out there. Not the best (wonderful for a litany of opportunities through text), or a close second, but definitely up there, just like Cole Hamels age.

Hard to believe Cole Hamels burst onto the scene ten years ago during the glory years of the Phillies, but as a 22-year-old he managed a 9.86 K/9 in his rookie season (his career high). Fast forward to his 32-year-old season and he’s still going strong at 8.90 K/9 and 3.38 BB/9. The age keeps getting higher, but the perception keeps dropping, unfortunately. That BB/9 is the highest of his career, and he’s outperforming his FIP by a significant amount (2.91 ERA to 3.86 FIP). SO, why in the world am I highlighting him? Because he’s not pitching at Arlington this week!!! Let me introduce you to splits, ladies and gentlemen. Or, well, primarily gentlemen. And if I’m introducing you to splits, haha, you need to immerse yourself in everything Razzball over the next five months or so before Spring Training. We’ll get you there. Don’t worry. Now, back to Cole…

Pitchers and baseball players emerge and evolve all the time. Hamels is no stranger to this. His 2016 look? 2015 Dallas Keuchel, without the historic W-L record at home to earn a Cy Young. Everyone’s low on him, but when he’s on the road he’s arguably a top 5 SP. Take a look:

HOME – 5-2 with a 4.10 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, .270 AVG against, .779 OPS against, 16.2% HR/FB, 4.44 FIP
AWAY – 9-2 with a 1.97 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .203 AVG against, .578 OPS against, 10.1% HR/FB, 3.38 FIP

And would ya look at that…Hamels is pitching AWAY from Arlington TWICE this week! He should roll through the AL West in Week 23, earning a slot with the top tier. Here’s a bold prediction for the combined two starts: 15.2 IP, 10 H, 1 HR, 3 ER, 4 BB, 16 K. You take that every time.

Here’s the full ranking of who else I’d take in Week 23!

Want to take on myself and other Razzball contributors and readers in a Fantasy Football League for prizes? Join here!

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Rest easy, Dodgertown, it looks like your savior lefty has returned to the mound after bated breath. And after his triumphant return in the west he’ll be coming over the mountains to the east climbing hills a mile high. It’s part Gandalf coming from the east on the fifth day, mixed with a splash of Malibu Rocky (think ‘Malibu Ken’…but with Sly Stallone’s growl) and a heaping of Clayton Kershaw.

But wait (gasp!)…it’s not. There’s no Kershaw to be had! In his stead we see a genius front office deadline move come to fruition as none other than Rich Hill took the mound against the Giants this past week and slayed them in route to a 1-0 win. Blisters be damned! Now, Rich Hill’s no slouch; hasn’t been for a few years now. In fact, his numbers trump those above him in our two-start pitchers rankings this week, but both perception and name value may leave Hill a little underwhelming in the eyes of players. How mistaken you’d be if you fall on that side of the line. Let’s examine a little closer, and give a few words as to why my confidence is heavyweight strong for Hill in Week 22.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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In college my roommate would, for no reason at all, walk in our living room and yell, ‘Hot Cross BUNS (emphasis on the word ‘buns’)!’ I had no idea what this was, and presumably figured he was referring to something have to do with a ba-donk-a-donk. And yep…you’re welcome for using ba-donk-a-donk in an article. Now twice.

When I cautiously researched what my Van Wilder of a roommate was talking about my it all made sense. And no…there were no body parts involved. Instead I found these warm, pillowy, sugary bread rolls. That’s essentially what a Hot Cross Bun is: sugary bread. My initial hesitations were eradicated when he made them for us a few weeks later and I partook in the riches of those carb machines. Does any of this justify why in the balls he came in shooting those three words, most likely taken from a nursery rhyme? Um, no. He was strange. One of the smartest and strongest dudes I knew, but like a master level warlock or something in World of Warcraft. He was unique.

I recently had a similar experience. Not with a shirtless 21-year-old roommate, but with the sensation of joyous revelation when I realized Dylan Bundy was good. Really good. Again. For the first time.

If you take his most recent start away (8/17) he only surrendered 10 ER since the end of June, albeit through some long relief outings. But once the former #1 prospect in baseball stepped into the rotation he hasn’t slowed down. To start the year Bundy was relegated to sporadic relief with no real structure to his usage, and even when he took the mound he wasn’t spectacular. However, since the beginning of June opponents are hitting <.220 against him, and he’s striking out batters at rates close to what we saw in the minors currently 8.40 K/9 on the season). Injuries derailed his opportunity to shine before now, but 23 he’s still an incredible prospect that is flashing signs of becoming an ace. And soon. Mike Podhozer at FanGraphs lays out an remarkable case for Bundy’s elite stuff. In short, batters have a hard time not swinging at his pitchers, and when they do they have a hard time making contact. That’s what we call a good combination. Like sugar and bread. Mmm…thank you British bakers for providing that delicious treat. And thank you Dylan Bundy for finally ascending into the elite stratosphere. It’s about time.

Now I’m gonna go stuff my face in some pastries. Here’s how the rest of Week 21 stacks up!

Want to take on myself and other Razzball contributors and readers in a Fantasy Football League for prizes? Join here!

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I mean, is there any other photo that more represents the name Phelps this summer? Wait. (Checks the photo again). Hang on.

There we go! Haha, sorry about that. Who’s that other dude? HE’S NO DAVID PHELPS! I tell ya that much…

Now, in all seriousness, David is no Michael, but in Week 20 he has the potential of bringing your fantasy baseball some significant value. And we’re not talking GOLD-TONED value, for all you Razzball Podcasters (thanks for that one, @Grey). While only starting two games this year, Phelps is producing a career year. By far. With a K/9 over 11 the Marlins have used him in multiple situations leaving to his 5 W and 3 SV. He’s been valuable in his role, but moving into the rotation for this week could bring great things. The Marlins are in the playoff hunt and need some fresh breath to get some elusive wins of late. Enter Phelps. And enter the Reds and Pirates lineups.

Phelps LOB% (Left on-base %) is a large reason his stats look so great (88.5%), but all the peripherals match up to his impressive surface stats of ERA (2.40) and strikeouts (11.03 K/9). It will be interesting to see how he translates his success through a lineup a second and then, hopefully, a third time, and he’ll need to do better than his history as a starter, but I have every reason to believe he can. The Reds are a porous team with a few traditional bright spots in the lineup, and the Pirates offense has tried its best to suck enough to rival the Braves in season-long numbers. Phelps is on the road for both, but has a good defense behind him and features a great shot at scoring some W.

Lastly, unlike many of the pitchers highlighted in this series, David Phelps is ACTUALLY AVAILABLE FOR PICKUP! He’s only owned in 10.2% of leagues. He won’t go past 6 or 7 innings, but it’ll be enough to bring great value.

Here’s how the rest of Week 20 stacks up!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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I’ve made jokes about the man. I’ve dropped the man. I’ve laughed at the thought of the man. And now I’ve referred to him as the man. Yet he’s a kid. Somehow still only 27, Rick Porcello is bucking the trends and rolling in Boston this year.

Truthfully, it’s not even fair to say he’s ‘bucking all trends.’ Yes, his numbers are significantly better than last year, and he’s been absolutely lights out in the second half with a 22:4 K/B ratio, but not that much has changed for Porcello over the past four years. His K/9 is similar to the past two years. His BB/9 is on par. He’s leaving a small portion of more runners on base than last year, but not at a high enough clip (6%+) to truly make an impact. Yet we sit here at the start of August 2016 and Rick Porcello is 14-3 for the Red Sox after tossing a CG last week with 8 K in the win. He’s been largely yawnstipating since coming up as a 20 year old for the Tigers in 2009, but he shouldn’t be ignored due to his past or his potential negative name perception. Porcello will end up in the Top 10 for Cy Young, if not higher. Now, after the last 200 words hopefully you’re thinking the same thing I am…but why? If pitch percentages are similar over the past four years, and there are no changes with the surface stats, how is it that Boston has an ace in Porcello (a gift from baseball heaven since David Price apparently forgot how to lead a staff)?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yes, this is a two-start article, but we’re going let this edition serve as a reminder of a few things for the rest of the fantasy season as Andrew Casner was recently the star of a trade between the Marlins and Padres. As a result, let us remember:

  1. Andrew Cashner’s not good.
  2. Leaving Petco Park to pitch is not good. (Even with improvements to the Park Factor, it’s still a net positive for pitchers)
  3. A horrendous pitcher that throws twice in a week isn’t a better option; they’re an exponentially worse option.
  4. Andrew Cashner’s not good.

Did the Marlins actually break their bank in this trade? No, and they’ve done that before (see: post WS win seasons). However, I may rather have all four players on the Padres side of this deal rather than the post-hype non-sleeper Andrew Cashner and, wait for it, Colin Rea. Now pitching in Miami, Cashner has a few things in his favor, like facing the Philies and Braves more often, but with only eight weeks left in the season the opportunities are minimal.

Let’s also set a record straight: Matt Shoemaker (the other SP I considered highlighting) Andrew Cashner is not. For a long stretch this season Matt Shoemaker has mirrored the norm of Clayton Kershaw. Cashner’s upped his K’s in his past 3+ starts, but let me close this little segment about why points 1 and 4 above are stout: he’s having the worst season of his career without an inflated stat, like BABIP, to blame for the numbers. 4.76 ERA, 4.94 FIP, and worse in every major category from 2015.

It may be worth it in real life for the Marlins as they push for the playoffs, but for your fantasy squad Andrew Cashner’s still not good. Which, this week, makes him doubly bad. Don’t break your bank to go get him.

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Dartmouth

Just look at him. Smiling. Slender. Smart. Coming in at a 190LBs while standing a svelte 6’3″ if you gave this man some wispy eyebrows, a cardigan and a pipe you’d have yourself a run-of-the-mill ivy league professor. In the greens of Dartmouth’s baseball team, though, you get Kyle Hendricks, the unbecoming, unannounced, unheralded almost ace of the MLB-best Chicago Cubs. Could it really be this dude that plays a massive role in reversing the Cubbies curse? In a word:

YES.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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