If your approach in RCL leagues is anything like mine, then you’re carrying maybe 2-3 starters, and filling in the cracks with well researched streamers. Part of my process, as I’m sure it is with many of you, is to check the streamonator for the highest value available probables. Then I dive deeper into the matchup stats, and follow that up with a glance at the starters recent track record. One of the more common suggestions over the past few weeks has been Mets starter Rafael Montero. Best described as a AAAA starter, he’s long been the shuttle guy, and spot starter, whenever an elbow pops in the Mets rotation. With injuries a plenty in Flushing, there’s been abundant opportunity for Montero to stick for the better part of the next month, and beyond. Let’s take a deep dive into Montero’s Sunday start vs. the Oakland Athletics, and see if he might be an arm to keep in mind, as we stream our way to the promised land.

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In his first game since being called up on Tuesday, Astros rookie Colin Moran had himself a 2017 debut going 2-for-4 with a triple and a home run and driving in two runs Friday night versus the Orioles. You can see how upset his teammates were with his performance here. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the Astros desperately need another young, extremely talented infielder, and Colin Moran could be that missing piece. Called up to to play while Carlos Correa misses the next month and a half with an injured thumb, Collin could see time at 3rd base, especially if he keeps having games like this one. Did you miss out on the Astros sweepstakes this year? Did you ignore the prophetic Sports Illustrated article that all but guaranteed a World Series victory for the Houston Astros in the year 2017? Are even the Yulieski Guerriel’s and Marwin Gonzalez’s owned already? Well my over-the-internet friends, this could be your last chance to get in on this action and add Moran. In 79 games (338 ABs) at AAA Fresno this season, Moran slashed .308/.373/.543 with 18 dingers and 63 RBI. With 18 homers and 15 doubles, he was having his best offensive season to date. Although part of that could be the hitter friendly PCL as the 55/31 K/BB rate isn’t really impressing. Still, the 24 year old left-handed rookie could see some serious playing time if he starts hot, and in a stacked line up like the Houston’s a player like Moran can really make some noise. He also has a really cool red beard. If you you missed out on Yoan Moncada and want a rookie with upside it’d be moronic not to take a chance and add Colin Moran in deeper mixed and AL-Only leagues. In shallower league its best to see how his playing time will shake out, but I’ll be watching him closer than the Game of Thrones premiere. Which judging by the ratings, you all watched. (Arya is BAE). So check out Moran, he’s Colin to you!

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Chris Sale, P: $11,800 & Max Scherzer, P: $11,600 – I’m not going to even waste your time telling you how good they are. Play them.

Wait a second…I’m sure all you faithful readers out there are saying “But this is a FanDuel article, we only get one pitcher!”. You’re right. So, Sale or Scherzer? This comes down to matchups and ballparks. Scherzer is facing a very good Arizona lineup, in Arizona – and unless it’s confirmed that the humidor has begun being used, Chase Field is a top-3 non-Coors offensive ballpark. On the other hand, Chris Sale is facing the pathetic Angels offense, which is approaching 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers territory for lopsidedness. For those who don’t remember, that’s the Cavs team that made the finals with Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Sasha Pavlovic, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a small forward that remains comically underappreciated and underrated throughout his entire career. The problem is, baseball isn’t basketball. One amazing hitter can’t carry an otherwise inept lineup. The 2002 San Francisco Giants demonstrated that absurdly lopsided offenses only work if you have the single greatest offensive player of all time and a second elite-level hitter (and have at least one or two other guys that aren’t complete embarrassments – that year it was Benito Santiago and David Bell). Trout’s trying his best to be Barry Bonds, and Andrelton Simmons, shockingly, isn’t a complete embarrassment, and neither is Luis Valbuena. But the lack of Jeff Kent means this offense isn’t going to give anyone trouble. Additionally, Angel Stadium is an offense-killer, although it does get credit for not selling its naming rights (although the Cubs played in Cubs Park, but then changed the name for the 1927 season to a gum company, which is now considered a non corporate name, so the lesson is, just last a long time). So while I couldn’t fault anyone for deciding that Scherzer’s their guy tonight, when you consider that Sale is facing a vastly inferior lineup and pitching in a far more pitcher-friendly ballpark, the choice (for cash) seems fairly straightforward. And yes, astute readers of mine should note that Scherzer’s GPP-value is through the roof as my hunch is that Sale’s ownership is far higher, and it’s entirely possible Scherzer outscores Sale as both are quite dominant and it may just come down to who gets 11 strikeouts as opposed to 8.

On to the picks as soon as Guaranteed Rate Field becomes a fun, cozy name…

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Way back in April the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Commonwealth of Independent States, sent the notorious “Player To Be Named Later” to the Baltimore Orioles for Parker Bridwell. At the time Bridwell was an unheard of 25 year old righthander with less than 20 innings above AA. The move flew under the radar to most of the baseball world with the exception of the Bridwell family, and an eccentric dyslexic real estate agent named Shelly with a passion for anything bird related. See no one at the time, could have foreseen this unheralded pro in his 7th season in the minors helping a major league ball club. Fast forward 3 months, and here we sit about to breakdown Bridwell’s 6th major league start of 2017 against the contending Tampa Bay Rays. What a world!

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The greatest rivalry in sports reasserted its standing this weekend.

New York versus Boston; corporate versus blue collar; Mookie Betts versus Aaron Judge; Aroldis Chapman versus…. himself?

Baseball rivalries are unique in the frequency at which the clubs meet. More than twenty times in a given season, you’ll see navy and red clash, and even though common intuition might assume this devalues each individual matchup, the tenacity of a decades-old rivalry like this abandons the adoption of that rule.

If you’re looking for a fantasy rivalry of the same caliber, it is with great pleasure I bring you a centuries-old matchup.

Grey versus Rudy…

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Matt Grace picked up his 2nd save in as many games on Saturday for the Nationals, and Ben Zobrist’s wife started to work on a song titled, “Saving Grace,” and requested Ben’s trade to Washington.  Then, first thing on Sunday, the Nats traded for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, and Saving Grace became a B-side for “Halleberrylujah, A Catwoman Licks Herself (Rated PG).”  When asked if the trade makes his team better, the Nats’ GM said, “That’s right,” and, “I’m Mike Rizzo.”  Picture this:  Dusty and Rizzo looking at a book called, “Baseball Strategy.”  Rizzo looks at Dusty, and Dusty says, “I got the baseball part,” and Rizzo nods his head.  Finally, Rizzo chimes in, “I don’t know the 2nd word and I don’t think it’s worth investigating.”  Dusty agrees, and that’s the Nationals.  So, who will close between Madson and Doolittle?  Your guess = my guess.  I’d want to say Madson, but it could be either, both or neither as they trade for David Robertson or someone else.  By the time the calendar turns to August, the Nationals might have five closers from teams not in the pennant chase.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Since there were no games this week and players haven’t been able to get hot or cold or humid, this Buy/Sell is going to be slightly different.  This Buy/Sell includes some players that are owned in more than 50% of leagues.  Okay, that’s not different for the Sells, but it does change the Buys.   “Hello?  No, B-U-Y-S.  Thanks, you too!”  That was GLAAD calling me about potential insensitivity.  I have not triggered anyone in almost three days, unless you count that fisherman I saw with a pipe that I called “Hipster Popeye.”  As I mentioned in my top 100 for the 2nd half of 2017 fantasy baseball, my biggest Buy of the 2nd half is Manny Machado.  He’s about to come on in the 2nd half like he’s Mickey Maris in 1927 with Barry Bonds’s personal trainer.  For the 2nd half, I gave Machado the projections of 48/18/49/.288/3.  This year he’s been gun shy.  He’s swung at 4% less pitches inside the strike zone.  Either guessing wrong, or just being flat out beat by fastballs.  Ground balls have gone through the roof (especially if ants are reading) and fly balls have fallen, and I don’t mean a defective zipper.  Bad swings, and weak contact?  I’m gonna call them flailing balls, lightly chuckle to myself and sip my Tom Collins.  That’s all bad news, said Mr. Exposition.  The good news is, it’s a small sample size — that’s what she said snidely! — and it’s been mostly propped by a terrifically terrible — terribically? — May.  His May was so bad it will hold down his season-long stats.  In May, he had a 6% line drive rate and a 51% ground ball rate.  El oh what?  Was he a 78-year-old Jeter for a month?  By the way, 78-year-old Jeter is dating your 23-year-old niece, and you’re proud of her.  You absolutely should buy Machado, and on the pronto.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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I really wanted to start this post with a quote, something like “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, or something like that. I figured that was a great way to offer hope and encouragement regarding the “second half” of the season. Let’s face it, with this whole “seamingly” out of nowhere spike in offense the last two seasons, there’s one inevitable conclusion. Pitching sucks!!! I mean we’ve been holding onto any shred of decency available. Look at Jason Vargas! Why am I ranking Jason Vargas? Does he have some sort of magnificent secret about these new Hi-C joints MLB is calling balls? Why the hell is he so much better than Justin Verlander? I have too many questions! I’m supposed to have answers! Here’s the truth, as if I’ve been lying to you before. There’s maybe 20 matchup proof starters in all of baseball, and then the rest of them you have to be careful with to varying degrees. Now, that’s not necessarily true for points formats, or deeper leagues with quality starts. Or even those with a greater emphasis on counting stats over ratios. But in our RCL formats, or any 5×5 roto with innings or starts limits, you must choose wisely. Around every corner lurks a roofie to your ratios. Just because Jordan Montgomery has been good more often than not, that doesn’t mean I’m up to a level of confidence that I’d start him in Colorado. Nah mean?  Nod along.  If you’re having trouble knowing which starts to avoid, check out Rudy’s Stream-O-Nator. It’s the perfect objective voice on those tough decisions you won’t get in your own head, or from your friends. That is, if you have friends with voices in your head and all. Anyway, be careful out there, and good luck in the second half.

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Yes, I know that title doesn’t really make sense, but my mind is clouded by the lack of meaningful box scores. I normally like to be on vacation during the All Star Break, especially ever since Major League Baseball cruelly lengthened it from three to four days. In my opinion, the only thing worse than having no baseball for four days in the middle of the summer is having fake baseball and something called the ESPYs on for three days in the middle of the summer, and I’d rather be as busy as possible during this time.  Sure, every once in a while something interesting will happen during the Home Run Derby, and occasionally the actual game is watchable, I suppose.  But seeing Yadier Molina hit a bomb that doesn’t count for any of the fantasy teams I own him on just makes me, well… sad.

Basically, watching baseball the last two days was just a few hours of waiting for things NOT to happen. It was worrying that a player crucial to one of my teams would screw up his swing trying to hit pretend homers, or pull a hammy running out an infield hit that wouldn’t even help his own batting average, let alone my fantasy team’s. It was also a painful reminder of why I’m not doing well in certain leagues – namely, having to watch the players I don’t own anywhere who came out of nowhere (and by nowhere, I mean the late rounds of a fantasy baseball draft) to become bona fide 2017 all stars, often leading their fantasy team owners to the top of the standings.

Drafting players in the middle and late rounds who outperform their draft position or auction cost is important in any fantasy league regardless of structure, but it is absolutely crucial in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. I’m sure Clayton Kershaw and Jose Altuve are on plenty of first place fantasy teams, but I suspect the real names you’ll find over and over again when looking at the top of the standings are more like Ryan Zimmerman, Ervin Santana, and Jason Vargas. With that in mind, and with no fringey deep league player playing to talk about picking up, I thought I’d use the break to take a look at the players who are some of the first half MVPs in deep fantasy leagues: those that have outperformed* their 2017 pre-season ranking** by the widest margins. We’ll also take a look at their second-half futures via Steamer projections for the rest of the season (with some completely unscientific, woman’s intuition-style guesses from me as to whether or not I agree). Obviously none these guys is likely to be available in a shallow league, let alone deep formats, but with most of us facing a fake baseball trading deadline around the same time the real one hits, we’ll need to be thinking about whether any of these players are worth buying… or selling, at the right price.

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Grey was in such a great mood to begin the podcast, talking about frolicking around town on his off day eating rolled ice cream and LA ham sandwiches with little Asian girls. That is until I mentioned a bad podcast review we got on iTunes, which irreversibly changed the tone of the entire podcast and had him flying off the handle. He talked crap on the comments he gets under his daily articles which bother him, he goes hard at Fangraphs for incorrectly predicting Rougned Odor’s lack of power would make him cry at the all-star break, and he threatens to ban the IP address of the rogue bad reviewer if he ever finds out who did it. Through the angst, we manage to breakdown his Top 100 2nd Half Rankings, starting at the top with Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Mookie Betts. We dig into his optimistic Aaron Judge ranking and cautious Cody Bellinger ranking, and also discuss his ranking of young aces Lance McCullers, Luis Severino, Alex Wood, and James Paxton. Finally, we bring on our boy Kenneth Cashman from RotoWear.com to talk t-shirts and rapping, and he leaves us with an insane Razzball rap to end the interview. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Podcast:

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