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.

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Michael Scott

And they’re off! Again! For the Second Time! Part Two! Two Dragons! (I’ll secretly do almost anything to word sneak in an unsneaky way Starchy & Hutch‘s ‘Two Dragons‘ reference into juuuust about anything. You’re welcome.) But for real…it’s the second half! (Insert explosions, fireworks, train horns, sirens, babies screaming, and horses charging) I got all the feels!

Here at the balls of Razz we’ve already posted many-a rankings for the second half to prime you for the stretch run (@Grey, @malamoney, @Big Magoo). And well, here comes another. If you showed up looking for the Week 16 Tw0-Start Pitcher Rankings, tough luck…the MLB teams are characteristically late in announcing much of anything valuable coming out of the All-Star Break, so we don’t know the rotations for Week 16. The three game soiree that is the first weekend of the second half is the recalibration many teams needs after taking the week off. By the time this article is posted there may be a list of Two-Start options available, but as for when I’m penning this piece it’s unfortunately not. So, I’ll join the bandwagon of the other writers and personally lay down the challenge to ol’ @JB Gilpin, my pitcher counterpart, and say that these rankings are the ones you need for the second-half in evaluating Starting Pitchers. He may be 6’7″, but I’ll take him out faster than Jose Canseco’s interview on the Razzball podcast two weeks ago (Seriously…if you haven’t heard it yet, sweet mercy, go download that sheen right meow).

And without further adieu, which no one actually uses in any common vernacular anymore outside of that phrase, here are the Top 100 Second Half Starting Pitcher Rankings! Hopefully some of the top options throw twice next week!

Note: I have not looked at JB’s or anyone else’s rankings at Razzball yet. I know, I’m a great teammate. But I wasn’t influenced by theirs in any capacity.

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Cleveland

Dear Jesus,

First, I’d like to apologize for anything I’ve done wrong in my sports fandom and life. It’s been a difficult two decades. And I’m sorry if I have anything to do with this. Second, I’d like to apologize for the title of this article and for dubbing a specific city ‘Titletown’. Third, I’d like to apologize for the disdain I have towards said ‘Titletown’. I know it’s unhealthy, and primarily driven from envy. I’m going to make comparisons, I’m going to give some praise, and I’m going to encourage people to fully get behind a team that no one in the everest of evers has ever gotten behind. But like your belief in me that goes beyond reason sometimes, so does this belief in a certain team this week. You’re the greatest. Please allow my city to experience a similar run.

M@

Haha, is this all in jest? Absolutely. Am I serious about asking for forgiveness? Absolutely. Because I’m officially dubbing Cleveland ‘Titletown’ of the sports world of the century of the week (to steal from SVP’s bit – Thanks ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’). For realsies…Cleveland now owns the NBA Championship belt (Kevin Love literally holds the belt), and the way the Indians are steamrolling the majors they’re a favorite to compete for the World Series crown, as well. And as an Atlanta fan I have nothing but envy, jealousy and anger. If only my Hawks could do what the Cavs did (where’s our Atlanta-born hoops messiah?!? And if you say Dwight because he’s coming home I’ll come through your screen and sprain your ankle). If only my Braves could become what the Indians are currently (they’re actually on the perfect track for either them or the Cubs). If only my Falcons could become like the Bro….NOPE! Stay the Falcons. Please. Good heavens. Don’t become the Johnny Manziels Robert Griffins.

And after getting obliterated by my Aaron Nola hype two weeks ago (another thing I’m sorry about), I’m going with the studs; and Cleveland has two of them this week. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar have been Aces Up the whole year, so I’m going to double down on ‘Titletown’ due to these guys. They’re as strong a shot at a W as anyone with the Indians winning over a dozen straight. While the Tigers have hit better recently, the Yankees at home is a glorious opportunity to see double digit Ks. Wish I had Salazar on even a single team this year; thankful I have two with Carrasco. They’re gonna be dope this week, and here’s how the rest of the Two-Weeks Pitchers rank for Week 14.

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XHcD0AD

HEY! (I thought about just ending the intro right here. Ultimate mic drop moment. However, for the four people that enjoy reading this part – including my mother – I’ll carry on. Note: My mother doesn’t read about fantasy baseball.)

Whether it was just to get the attention of Norm McDonald or Colin Quinn, or subtly acted as a harbinger of the attention the Cubs would garner nearly two decades later, the hilarious announcement of ‘HEY!’ by Will Ferrell in character as Harry Caray could be a banner for the 2016 Cubbies. Hey! Pay attention! They’re really freaking good (as you all are aware). And not going anywhere. Including this week.

I heard summers in Chicago were beautiful. Then I heard they were miserable. Whenever the wind isn’t blowing off Lake Michigan Chicago turns into a stagnant city in desperate need of some fresh breath. Well, don’t worry ChiTown, because for the final week in June and start of July your fresh breath is coming. The WINdy City will earn its name through the trio of Two-Start Pitchers that will take the mound. And yep, I’m even including the ugly step-child White Sox and their Ace so far this year (Gasp…but wait, Chris Sale isn’t throwing twice this week!?! Uh huh, you’re quite the observant one, aren’t cha?) But even more than Jose Quintana, the Cubs Cy Young runners-up (no one is stopping Clayton Kershaw’s path to winning the Iron Throne) headline the list of Two-Start options for Week 13. Get ready for more Harry Caray proclamations!

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Don't Worry

Fantasy owners can be fickle. Can we not? Fickle as a pickle. Hang on…

Sorry, had to get the computer back from my grandmother. While the saying may be as lame as Facebook is to a High Schooler, the initial verbiage is somewhat true. Chris Archer? Aah, he sucks now. Matt Shoemaker? He’s awful! Cole Hamels? Those peripherals just scream regression. Or how about the rook Michael Fulmer. Y’all see his first four starts? 19.1 IP, 14 ER?!? Send him back down! Listen, sometimes a quick trigger is the right move (see: Sonny Gray early in the season), but often times, as it is with the four names just mentioned, the overzealous hyper-anxious fickle nature of the tiny past 14 days window can bring with it a big #facepalm a week later. All four of those pitchers took the mound this past Friday night. Here’s what being fickle gets you:

Archer: 6.0IP/6H/3ER/3BB/8K
Hamels: 7.0IP/3H/0ER/3BB/6K
Shoemaker: 6.0IP/6H/1ER/1BB/7K
Fulmer: 5.2IP/5H/1ER/4BB/5K (1st ER in last five starts, just the 2nd in his last 40 IP)

I’m pretty sure you’d take all of those, yet some of you may have jumped ship back in April. See, no reason to worry. And one more name that the same deep breath should be practiced towards this week: Aaron Nola.

Nola has been phenomenal for the surpassingly future-is-bright Phillies this year. He carries a 3.51 ERA into this week’s slate, and that’s after his past two starts being purely dismal with a combined slash of: 6.2IP/15H/10ER/4BB/8K. Brutal. But don’t you dare let that raise your blood pressure, especially for this week.

Yes, he’s had two straight horrible outings, but that’s on the heels of nine straight quality starts with 6 or more Ks in all but one of them. An even better reason to love your some Nola this week (and no, I’m not talking about the Taints…Falcons fan here)? He’s on the road twice. Check his home/road splits:

Home: 41.0IP/4.83ERA/1.41WHIP
Road: 43.2IP/2.27ERA/0.87WHIP

Now I don’t believe we have a reverse 2015 Dallas Keuchel on our hands, as his home stats are inflated from his last start, but I’m most certainly relying on him for stellar numbers on the road. Give him the visitors bench against the Twins and the Giants? Even better! No worries on young Aaron, folks. He’s no foofoo like Robin Arryn. Eat the fickle pickle, and don’t worry about that little guy.

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One of the greatest artists of the last twenty years has essentially been missing from the music scene for the last decade. In the mid-to-late 90’s, far and few between could grace the airwaves quite like Lauryn Hill. Her Miseducation album from 1998 painted the scenes of my 7th grade love for R&B, and before that she was proclaiming to the world that ‘His eye is on the sparrow‘ in Sister Act 2 (yep, same girl…and nope, not the High Sparrow). And then sandwiched in between she rocked these lines with The Fugees that will be forever transfixed as genius in musical lore:

Stroman my pain with his fingers
Singin’ my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Tellin’ my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

Little did I understand that she was also blasting prophesy through the radio as I heard that song back in the 90’s, not knowing that she was singing about a pitcher from Duke who would take the mound north of the border and effectively kill the ERA of every team that owned him. Crazy, right? That girl’s onto something…

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Prayer-five

30, 29, 23, 18, 11. No, that’s not my horrible attempt to remember the lottery numbers from LOST, but rather the team wOBA rankings over the past 14 days. Yep, dead last. Next to dead last. Basically dead last. And more mediocre than any fantasy advice you’ll receive from ESPN or the #facepalm that happens every time you log in to Yahoo’s fantasy site. And what’s wOBA? Lemme learn ya somethin…

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 9.52.45 AM

Who fills those strugglin’ ranking slots? The NL East. The Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins and Nationals, respectively, feature not a single team over the past two weeks with anything resembling an elite offense. Outside of Daniel Murphy, Marcell Ozuna, Yoenis Cespedes, Odubel Herrera and Freddie Freeman each lineup has a ton of outs. Haha, hell…Madison Bumgarner would have the third most home runs on the Braves right now! So, if you’re a fan of an NL East team, you pray for either time to fly and the future to arrive faster than Byron Buxton cruising to a triple (see: Braves, Phillies), your team to remember how to hit (see: all non-Cespedes Mets), your star to return to form (see: Marlins/Giancarlo) or pitchers to actually give Bryce Harper something to hit (see: Nationals).

But…if you’re a starting pitcher…you pray, nay, petition, for the NL East. Like, ‘Oh, sweet baby Jesus, please let me face them this week!’ Facing one of these teams is hitting the jackpot. But, good heavens, why stop at one? Double down on those prayers and let’s get two of them! Two dragons! That’s exactly what the king of the castle for the Two-Start Pitchers gets in Week 10. Prayers answered!

Pitchers are listed in order by rank. Colors represent worst 8 or best 8 opponents according to team wOBA for last 30 days.

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hodor_thechildren_fight

First off, hopefully you understand the connotation of this article’s title from last Sunday. Potential spoilers ahead? Maybe? Second, I mean, damn it! Really, Bran? Ya had to do Hodor like that? Third, he really did hold that door. Standing O and hats off to you, gentle mini-giant. You own the episode. For the first time ever Game of Thrones fans experienced an emotional heart-wrenching of sadness more than just pure shock (see: Red Wedding). Oh, spoilers? It’s been almost a week…and I’ve been dying to talk about it!

You know what hitters, ahem, have been dying to do off Gerrit Cole since May 2? Score runs. Cole’s first five starts were sub-par, especially for a pitcher of his stature, but since that May 2 visit from the Cubs, he’s rallied off 26 IP with just 3 ER. That’s Arrieta-esque. He’s holding the door shut to opposing lineups, even the most formidable ones. After his shellacking by the Cubs to start the month, he then travelled to Wrigley two starts later and threw a 8IP/3H/0ER/0BB/7K gem. He’s heating up like Daenerys Targaryen at the end of Episode 4! Well, you know, without being naked of course. Cole’s putting April behind him and ascending back to Ace status (and we’re not worrying about that strange zero strike out start two weeks ago…). Don’t be concerned about solid lineups he’ll face; the Marlins and Angels have a .158 and .132 ISO the past 30 games. Nothing to write home about.

Home. Maybe Bran’s going there now. Or may Jon’s heading back there at the bidding of Sansa. As long as it’s not Hardhome, I doubt he cares, though. Sheesh. Oh, and yes, I just geeked out on Game of Thrones. You’re freakin’ welcome.

Pitchers are listed in order by rank. Colors represent worst 8 or best 8 opponents according to team wOBA for last 30 days. And in honor of GoT, we’ll name the tiers based on my favorite characters.

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JT

It was almost 20 years ago. Aaaah, middle school. I remember it like yesterday. Or, well, like twenty years ago. Sweater vests, braces, and bleached blonde caesar haircuts. Before the real Slim Shady showed up a different white boy with rhythm busted onto the scene with his troupe of ex-Disney-turned-MTV boy banders. We all thought it was dumb (of course). Why should all the girls that we thought were hot think they were hot? Because they’re on TV? Stupid. Because they can sing? Hey, we were in chorus! Every crush I had at 12 would swoon over *NYSNC and their lyrics, thinking it was written for them.

‘It’s tearin’ up my heart when I’m with you/And when we are apart I feel it, too/And no matter what I do I feel the pain with or without you!’

Okay, a few things. Why in the Kanye West did you have an asterisk in front of your name? You’re not Roger Maris! GTFO. At least put a hashtag. Be ahead of the times. Instead your name looks like something that could be traded on NASDAQ. Second, besides their style choices asterikNSYNC was clearly a confused calamity of young 20-Somethings. How about ya find a lady that doesn’t make you manic? Just a thought. Third, how dare you steal from U2 with those lyrics!?! Fourth, thank heavens for progression. Amiright Justin Timberlake? (In case you’re totally lost, but somehow still reading this asinine intro, JT’s the aforementioned white boy whom I massively respect now, see: Jessica Biel). Fifth, I didn’t have to look those lyrics up. I knew them. In the darkness of my memories. Damn it.

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And now the end is near, so I face the final curtain, my friends I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case of which I certain. I’ve written a season’s full, I’ve looked at each and every wOBA. But much more than this I did my Job-a. Regrets I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention (cough, cough Carlos Frias). I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption. I built each chart of course, each careful stat along the byway. And much more than WHIP, I diiiiiiidddd ittttTTT MYYYYY WAAAAY!

A big thank you to everybody reading my non-sequiturs and random brain farts about two start pitchers. I surely do appreciate your time. With 25 (actually 24) of these in the can, we got one last post to go. I don’t know what will happen to us over the next 6 months. We may grow apart, you may follow your heart, and your heart might take you to a small village in the Hindu Kush mountains. Where you fall madly in love with the daughter of a Tajik Warlord by the name of Richa. Maybe you abandon fantasy baseball and live a simpler life off the land. No not like the reality show the Simple Life. A simple life like milking goats, and tending fields. Simple like owning 4 bowls amongst five people. No matter what happens to all of you, just know I’ll always be here. Well not technically here but if you click that icon up top that says soccer, I’ll magically appear. Sort of like the genie from Aladdin, just soley focused on the subject of soccer, and completely devoid of wishes. I might have matches though. Goodbye my friends, I promise to be just as crazy in the 1-6. Two start pitchers week 26.

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