As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click this link.

If someone had told me on Aug. 15, 2013 that Zack Wheeler would only be half-owned in Yahoo and ESPN leagues at the start of June 2014 I would have quit fantasy baseball immediately and wailed the loudest Nicolas Cage wail I could muster. That day was the height of early Wheeler Mania: 6 IP and 12 Ks to just one walk in a no-decision at San Diego. At the time Wheeler was not only a member of the rookie pitcher crew that also included Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha and Sonny Gray, he was arguably the main attraction. If that group was New Kids On The Block, he was at best Jordan Knight, or at least Donnie Wahlberg, but he wasn’t no Danny Wood. Control problems kept him from being all that he could be, they said. Bad catchers (John Buck) can make good pitchers pitch badly, they said.

Well, here we are in the weeds of the 2014 season and Wheeler is on the verge of getting kicked out of the group. Cole, Wacha and Gray have been, for the most part, pitching like the budding studs they were supposed to be, and Wheeler has looked more like Nuke LaLoosh before Annie had him wearing garter belts and breathing through his eyelids. Wheeler might not have found his Crash Davis in Travis D’Arnaud, but something is clicking. He got bashed around pretty good in D.C. on May 18 but he finally found the plate, walking only two guys. May 24 against the Diamondbacks was even better, as he K’ed 7 to just one walk. You can blow this K/BB ratio thing out of proportion and go ga-ga over Wheeler’s last start, a win in which he blew away nine Phillies and walked none in 6-plus innings. It wasn’t what he did in that start, it’s how he looked doing it. Wheeler had the command that scouts and experts who know way more than me said he was missing. He looked like he was pitching downhill. His curveball was wicked and his fastball was popping. I know road starts in Wrigley and whatever they’re calling the Giants’ stadium now are not ideal, but I think this is the week Wheeler returns to his place next to the Coles and Wachas of the world.

Here’s some more two-starters for Week 10:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click this link.

Welcome to the “Wacky World of Sports!” I’m your host, Wax Winkingdale. This week we’ve got some weird, wild stuff for you. First up we’re catching up with a bit of silly from last month, when Andrew Cashner played left field for one batter in an extra-inning game for no real reason at all. Whoa, that Bud Black is one crazy guy! And really smart too. Much smarter than Tony LaRussa. [Ed. Note -- With less drunk driving to boot!]

Next is more madcap fun from San Diego, where a dinosaur threw out the first pitch before a game last Wednesday against the Royals. And no it wasn’t Steve Garvey! So who was the catcher for this zany occasion? Why it was the Swinging Friar, the team’s mascot. And oh look, the baby T-Rex is on the attack – he heard Friar and got the wrong idea!

Dino

Perhaps the weirdest story of the week comes to us from Toronto, where fantasy experts continue to disrespect a pitcher with a 6-1 record, 1.91 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Regression, they INSIST, is coming for Mark Buehrle as certain as winter is coming for Jon Snow and everyone else in the Seven Kingdoms. One writer said this is because Buehrle is lucky, noting, among other things, his small Home Run to Fly Ball ratio, favorable FIP (Field Independent Pitching) rate and weak K/9 rate. So Buehrle is lucky because he gave up fly balls and not home runs? There’s no skill in that? Guess he was lucky when he threw a perfect game too. And, OKAY, Buehrle doesn’t get a ton of strike outs, and I guess good things are happening when balls that he throws are hit, and that maybe those good things won’t continue happening if balls continue to be hit and not missed by batters. Given all that, by the FIP measurement Buehrle’s ERA would be more in the All-Star zone (low 3’s) and not exactly Cy Young territory (under 2). I don’t think this did the best job of illustrating his point. I’m not really sure how much stock I put in something that looks like this anyway: “FIP = ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP))-(2*K))/IP + constant.” Sounds like Mr. Kowalski’s boring-ass algebra class, not analysis of a sport. There’s a lot of writers a lot smarter than me who use these numbers to make valid points. There’s even more who wank off to print outs of these formulas in the same way that White Goodman rubs one out with a slice of pizza. Here’s my analysis: Buehrle has been excellent, and even though his track record indicates that this isn’t normal, it’s also very possible that he will have the career year the Blue Jays thought he was going to have when they splurged on free agents before the 2013 season. Or at least a career first half. I think we will know which way this is going to go after this week, as Buehrle draws the Angels at home and a trip to the gauntlet in Arlington.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The hardest division in the league, which includes last year’s world champs, looks to be just as intense again.  For that matter, it probably will be that way for the foreseeable future.  My favorite team is also being covered here.  I’ll do my best not to be biased about the Yankees, and I think I’m pretty good at keeping my emotions away from the reality of the team.  That being said, I think the Yankees are going to win 120 games this season. (You can check out the NL West Spring Training Preview here, the AL West Spring Training Preview here, the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and the NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s amazing to me how many times teams get burned by signing huge free agent deals. It’s like they’re either not aware of what other teams are doing or they’re not paying attention. How’d that A-Rod to Rangers deal work out for the Rangers? Hamilton and Pujols to the Angels? Or when the entire National League All-Star team spent three months in a Marlins uniform? Robinson Cano is quality, but Marco Scutaro could’ve won the Mariners the AL West if F-Her, Iwakuma and Taijuan were hitting on all cylinders. Well, at least the Mariners didn’t need to give up anything but a crapton of a money. Cano went from re-signing with the Yanks to resigning to play with the Mariners (play on words points!). Can’t fault a guy for taking that kind of money. Shouldn’t be surprised either, I mean his mother’s maiden name is Mercedes. When it appeared like Cano was going to the Yanks, I gave him the projected line of 97/29/110/.310/4 and ranked him fifth overall in my rankings that I’m working on now that will be published in January. Now, I can’t see it. Not sure which way I’m re-shuffling my rankings, but his projections have to drop in Safeco, unless they move in the fences once again. I don’t like just looking at what a player did in away games at the stadium he will now call home. Just looking at what Cano did in Safeco for his career doesn’t tell the full story. He was facing the Mariners staff, and it was an away game. Players react differently to being on the road, especially cross country. With that said (reversal time!), in 40 games in Safeco, Cano had a line of 17/4/20/.309/2. Last year, Safeco played more neutral than it has in the past. Doubles and triples went up, homers and average sat pretty much where they were prior to the fences moving in. All of that info leads me to think what a fourth grader could’ve told you, Cano will remain a batting average plus but take a small hit in power. A small hit in power for a guy who doesn’t regularly top 30 homers isn’t great. The Mariners are now in play for every free agent so it might seem like his runs and RBIs won’t take as big of a hit, but remember what happened when Pujols and Hamilton were united in Anaheim or every All-Star landed in South Florida? Not a whole lot for their runs and RBIs. Even if the Mariners sign every other free agent, it doesn’t mean great things for Cano. I’ll say Cano will stay relatively neutral from last year because the Yankees weren’t good then either. So that brings me to Cano’s projected line of 84/26/105/.312/4. Not terrible, not quite what I hoped for in a rebound season in New York. As Simon and Garfunkel would tell you, this deal does prove Seattle loves Robinson more than you ever Cano. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2014 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Say it’s not so News Report! News Report, “I’m sorry, Grey, your handsomeness and mustache make me want to lie to you, but Edwin Encarnacion is probably being shut down for the year.” Is it because anything I did? “No, you’ve gone above and beyond anything I could’ve hoped for. Thanks for the $10 marathon donation too. A real mensch, you are!” I could’ve done without the second reminder to donate on Facebook. “Can we discuss this privately?” So, players are dropping like flies. Not those African tsetse flies that have been known to live for six months after they burrow into your skull. They’re dropping like fruit flies near your backyard bug zapper. In most leagues, I’d lose Encarnacion immediately. Blue Jays Manager said Edwin’s probably done for the year, and even if he returns, he’s dealing with a sore wrist, which is, ya know, not good for hitting. Comatose Blue Jays Fan, “At least he’ll be ready for the playoffs! Right?” Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Charlie Morton‘s start yesterday of 7 IP, 1 ER, 9 baserunners, 6 Ks wasn’t incredible in itself, but other than Lenny from Laverne and Shirley when he was wearing a Lone Wolf jacket and Burgess Meredith when he broke his glasses on The Twilight Zone, nothing in this world is to itself. There’s befores and afters, causes and effects and chewy watermelon Now and Laters. Morton has now strung together six straight starts and nine of his last ten, dropping his ERA to 3.00. His K-rate isn’t particularly inspiring, but his walk rate is more than solid and his xFIP is 3.62, which tells us he’s not that far from a guy you start every time out. With all of that said, I still don’t trust him for his next start vs. the Cardinals, but then he gets the Cubs and Padres, and for those two starts, I’d absolutely gamble that Morton is worth his salt. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Heading into the stretch run you are either on the playoff bus or it turned you into roadkill three weeks ago. Somebody get a shovel, please. Imagine the playoff bus looking like the Partridge Family multi-colored ride, fantasy baseball is our family band and I’m your David Cassidy. I think I love you and we’re about to win you your fantasy league. If you lost Carlos Gonzalez or own a hurtin’ Miggy, let your humble Guru find you some late season power. Need some steals, some saves? Let the man in the shiny turban lead you to cheap SAGNOF. Still searching for solid starting pitching? Follow your Goo as we consult the oracle known as the SON. Just don’t interrupt his “private time” with my Roomba. The playoffs are coming, bragging rights are on the line and there’s room on the bus. Just don’t sit next to Danny Bonaduce and keep your filthy paws off Susan Dey. She’s mine! It’s time to jam it or cram it.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Weekly leaguers, you’re here to read weekly league advice, of course. But let’s begin this week by broadening our horizons with a little daily league chatter. If you’ve been paying attention to JB throughout the season, you know that we’ve teamed up with DraftKings to offer exclusive Razzball contests all year long. As JB mentioned on Wednesday, next week’s contest is our last of the year, and it’s a good one. 50 entries, $10-per, six get paid, and the winner pockets a few Benjamins. If you haven’t given it a shot yet this year, I highly recommend you join our game next Friday. It’s quite fun — you have my word on that. More details to follow. Now for the two-starters.

As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click that link.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Sean Connery enjoyed the landing of B-Weezy.

So it’s official. Just in time for your playoffs or late-season run for a title, Matt Cain has joined Jason Heyward and Rafael Betancourt, all recent casualties, on the DL. Even though the X-ray’s came back negative after Cain got hit by a line-drive on Thursday, Bruce Bochy said it was too soon to say whether or not he would make his next start. A mere seven hours later, which I guess was not too soon anymore, it was decided that Cain would not only miss his next start, but at least three. You’d figure with such a big head, Bochy would have a better grasp of time. And, you know, bullpen usage. Granted, this season wasn’t shaping up to be Cain’s finest and was pretty up-and-down (more down) in general. But his second-half ERA of 2.84 and improved walk rate were representing an expected regression. So the timing couldn’t be worse, especially since the Giants are not postseason bound and really have no reason to rush a recovery. Relevant. Here’s what else I noticed yesterday…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you’re into two-start streaming, then you’re likely not into six-man rotations. They suck. They push back useful, healthy starters. They dilute the two-start pool. They’re maddening for H2H purposes. And six-man rotations are especially awful when quality teams turn to them. Enter the St. Louis Cardinals. Word from St. Louis is that Michael Wacha will be called-up on Saturday, and that he’ll remain in the rotation throughout the stretch run. Now, I’ll admit I’m conflicted on this one — as a prospect enthusiast, it’s awesome to see guys like Wacha and Carlos Martinez starting big league ballgames, but as a weekly league fantasy player, I loathe the six-man rotation. It’s a selfish hatred, as I realize it’s important for a contending team to pace out young arms like Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn, but still… what about my H2H team, John Mozeliak? The upcoming week for the Cardinals lays out the cruddy nature of SMRs pretty clearly: Adam Wainwright is scheduled to start Tuesday, which is game one of a six-game week. A typical five-man corps would have him pitching again over the weekend, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in St. Louis any longer. Perhaps Wainwright will get a special exemption and always make his starts on four days rest, but that seems unlikely. Oh well. It appears I’ll have to make do with just one Waino start in this HUGELY IMPORTANT WEEK. [weeps softly at desk]

As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click that link.

Please, blog, may I have some more?