First, happy Labo(u)r (the “u” is for us Canadians) Day weekend! Second, let me join the chorus of bewilderment around me: how in the actual F (and I don’t mean Jef with 1 F) is it September? Mind you, I’m happy it is. The heat can go to hell. Seriously, I used to live in southern Africa and was never as hot as I am here, living in the eastern bit of North America. Bah humbug. Close the door: you’re letting the cold out. Get off my lawn. Etc. But back to baseball! We’re staring down the home stretch now, and whether you’re happy (Dodgers fans!) or you’re not (Jays fans. … sigh), there’s a little flurry of excitement at this time of year, what with the shiny (or not so shiny) new September call-ups, and the fact that FanDuel may not notice, so these players’ prices may be low, and you may (this is a lot of “may”s, I know. It’s a may-September romance) be able to slip some bargains into your lineups today while saving cash for big Coors bats and good pitching. (Finally! Good pitching options on a Saturday! Kluber! Scherzer! Archer! Lester! I hardly knew her!)

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Hey, guys and five non-guys, Dylan Bundy has awoken my nethers.  But can I “stay awoken” as the kids say?  The kids don’t say that, do they?   Please, I’m woke AF!  Though, I am confused why kids go around abbreviating Abercrombie and Fitch.  When I was a kid, we spelled out Abercrombie and Fitch and had summer songs about girls that wore Abercrombie and Fitch.  LFO was AF!  Yesterday, Dylan Bundy went 9 IP, 0 ER, 1 hit, 2 walks, 12 Ks, ERA at 3.94.  An Orioles starter with an ERA under 4!  It’s an early Rhystmas miracle!  Drop the balloons from the ceiling, Party City!  So, looking under the hood, in a non-sexual way, leaves me a little yawnstipated on Bundy.  His K/9 is 7.9, BB/9 is 2.6 and a 4.73 xFIP.  His velocity’s down this year, but he pitched in relief some last year, so maybe not the best gauge.  For 2018, I see nothing here to be excited about, but maybe he puts together a great September, and makes like Fonzie’s horse and says nay to the negativity.  I’d continue to ignore him in shallower mixed leagues or use the Stream-o-Nator.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Happy Bryce Harper Replacement Week! :::sobs into the couch cushion I have been carrying around since watching the video of Harper tumbling over that base:::

The cruel baseball gods took Harper away from us just after we got Trout back. As of this writing, there is no timetable for his return from what they are calling a “significant bone bruise.” I’m no doctor (sorry to peel back the curtain), but how the heck did that non-contact injury get a bone bruise diagnosis? I thought for sure he tore every CL in his body. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that he tore his UCL from reaching for his knee so fast. But a bone bruise? Interesting. Let’s just hope he wasn’t evaluated by the Mets’ training staff because “bone bruise” is going to very quickly become “Oh crap, his knee actually isn’t there anymore. We can’t find it anywhere.”

Now, there is no replacing Harper’s production on your fantasy team, especially in the middle of August. That much is obvious. If you’re lucky, you took Grey’s advice about selling a superstar to heart and cashed in at the deadline. I have Harper in a keeper league where I currently sit in first place, so I have to decide if I want to deal him now to make a playoff push, pray he comes back this season and helps me, or just accept the fact that he is done for the fantasy season but still keep him for next year. I am probably going with option B/C, if we’re being honest with each other here.

I’m removing him from our beloved 100 while we wait to see how he looks this week. Hopefully, the baseball gods decide to heal him from his mystery bruise quickly and we can have him back. But it seems more likely we are going to be without him for most, if not all, of the fantasy season. Now, enough crying about Harper (at least publicly). Anyway, to the notes…

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I’ll give you the skinny: Gio Gonzalez threw eight innings of ecstasy last night. Mad props if you actually saw that coming. Baseball is a whole lotta’ things, but it’s certainly easy to fall ass backward into a pot of luck every now and then. Most years, you can throw away your summer and alienate say, your whole two friends whilst endlessly researching Andrew McCutchen like a madman. Eventually, you’ll convince yourself that he’ll suck, only for him to turn around, flip you the bird, and hit something close to 30 home runs. Orrrrr, you can be like this guy. Spend five whole minutes researching Gio, glance at his last few starts, and sit him because you’re a half-wit. Baseball: ever so humbling. Oh well, enough of that, here are my picks for Tuesday’s late-ish slate of games.

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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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Aaron Judge baffles me. Is he a beefy version of early 2000s Richie Sexson, or he is something more legit? No offense to early 2000s Richie, of course. His (we’re back to Judge, now) numbers in the minors (albeit a relatively small sample size of) suggest more of the former, but his 2017 insists on the latter. Strikeouts aside, he seems to have combined a complete and nearly flawless approach at the plate with a compact swing and elite power. In March, we weren’t even sure if he was going to be the everyday right fielder for the Yankees. Now, he is a lock to win Rookie of the Year, the clear favorite to win MVP, and could very well win the Triple Crown.

He has 30 home runs to only 13 doubles (big boy has three triples, too), which means nothing except that when he connects he CONNECTS. Lifting power, my friends. The fly ball revolution is upon us, and only 50 years after Ted Williams told us all about it. And with Judge’s superhuman power, a willingness and ability to drive (and lift) the ball to the opposite field, a right field porch in Yankee Stadium that is a few feet behind first base (roughly), and juiced baseballs that are leaving parks like they’re golf balls, what is a popup behind second base for most batters is a home run to the upper deck in right field for Judge. That was a very long sentence. Let’s pause to catch our breath here.

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First Mike Trout and now our beloved Trea Turner (and a bunch in between, but we’ll focus on baseball’s young heartthrobs for the time being). The baseball Gods are clearly punishing us all for the use of juiced baseballs this season. Major League Baseball has denied any kind of change in the balls despite some mounting evidence, but I bet it is something that gets looked at and adjusted in the offseason. Which leads me to wonder whether this will be something we will be talking about come March…

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Every time the calendar turns to July, Mets fans across the world cringe at the nearly $1.2 million that migrates from Fred Wilpon’s wallet into the $1,000 Gucci jeans Bobby Bonilla probably hasn’t washed since he left the Mets in 1999. It seems universal that massaging Bonilla’s contract was terrible in hindsight – these checks will keep coming until 2035 – but I was enlightened with information that one reason for deferral of the $5.9 million was to free up funds to sign Mike Hampton. One of the better hitting pitchers in history – Hampton hit .246 with 16 HRs in his career – Hampton went on to win the 2000 NLCS MVP for New York. The Metropolitans then selected David Wright eighth overall in the 2001 draft with the pick Colorado relinquished to sign Hampton. Why do we feel bad for Mets fans all the time, it could’ve been worse right? Wait… they promoted Tim Tebow and his .647 OPS to St. Lucie, yet Amed Rosario is still in Las Vegas? Syndergaard tore his lat muscle because the words “medical” and “staff” aren’t allowed to be paired in Flushing? Saturday Night was Asdrubal Cabrera bobblehead night – and somebody paid $40 for one? Alright, so maybe the Mets never got out of the woods.

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The theme of the Top 100 hitters this week is triumphant returns. Carlos Gomez is back from his latest trip to the disabled list and is mashing. Ab-so-lute-ly mash-ing. Keon Broxton, left for dead just a few weeks ago, is the hottest power-speed combo hunk in all the land. Even Cameron Maybin has returned to our ranks, though his return has been more gradual over the last few weeks since we lost our beloved Mike Trout.

I have not been overly kind to the newcomers since taking over this series. Perhaps that is my way of initiating them and making sure they belong among us Top 100ers. This week, though, my heart is filled with warmth. Perhaps it is because I am looking ahead to a mini 4th of July vacation, or maybe I am just getting soft in my old age :::pause here and smirk as you slowly look around the room:::.

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I’m not a religious person. I just don’t have time for all of that nonsense. If you think it makes you a better person, good for you, but keep it out of my personal space. Although I would like to point out that if you need religion to make you a good person, then you most likely are not a good person. But enough about fairy tales. Let’s talk about something even less exciting. Death. Actually let’s not because I don’t want to bum any of you out. This is supposed to be a fantasy baseball blog and so far I’ve all I’ve done is shit on religion and mention dying. Let’s see if I can tie it all together somehow. In April, fantasy baseball owners could have easily left Edwin Encarnacion for dead. He barely had a pulse. He had four home runs, nine RBIs and a .200 batting average. Scooter Gennett topped that in a single game! In May, Encarnacion began to show some signs of life. He finished the month with six homers, thirteen RBIs and a .263 average. While that’s much better than April, it sounds like a weekend for Aaron Judge. At least with respect to the home runs and RBIs. However, so far in June Edwin has seven knocks, 18 ribbies and is batting .344. One might say he has been re-Encarnacion-ated! In week 11 the artist formerly known as E5, but now more commonly referred to as E3, lead all batters with 45 points. He did so by hitting four homers and driving in ten. He topped his entire April in a single week.

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