A few weeks ago, I was but a wee lad writing my first article for Razzball, and you were reading that article because you were either desperate for catcher advice in your fantasy league or because you just plain hate yourself. I recommended picking up J.T. Realmuto for a lengthy dice roll or Jarrod Saltalamacchia for some short term power, and we all laughed a little on the outside and cried a little on the inside.

Then Realmuto hit .500 over the course of the next week. .500, as in half of his at bats were hits. .500, as in the batting average of some of the top high school baseball prospects (except Realmuto, he hit .595 and had 119 RBI in 42 games. Found those stats by accident while searching for a picture of the Realmuto family crest.). .500, as in—OK, enough. It was only a week.

Realmuto cooled off a bit the next week, but he was still more than solid, especially for a catcher: 8-23, 0.348 BA, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R, SB, .739 OPS. Not too shabby, even if there isn’t a ton of power there. I would like to take this time to point out that my predictions (read: ANALYSIS) for Realmuto, Salty, and Wilson Ramos were all pretty much spot on. Ok, now that we got that out of the way, we can move on.

The free agent catcher wasteland is as bleak as it has ever been. I checked the top 3 free agents by position yesterday in my CBS league, and the top 3 catchers available were: Saltalamacchia, Chris Herrmann, and David Ross. I think most of us would agree that the logical reactions to those three are “old news,” “who?,” and “really?,” respectively. It’s bad, guys. Let’s start with the catchers to stay away from, first.

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If there is one thing that rarely scares me in DFS, it is ace pitchers facing off against a high-powered offense. Clayton Kershaw against Toronto; so what? Noah Syndergaard against the Cubs–big deal. Outside of a road start at Coors Field, I don’t ever overthink using an ace. The question that needs to be answered is whether or not Danny Salazar is an ace. In some folks’ eyes, he certainly is. From other viewpoints, he’s a solid number two with upside. There is probably a third group that says he’s totally overachieving, but they’re wrong and their opinion doesn’t count. This brings us to Wednesday’s split slate. The Houston Astros have a very good offense with a ton of power. On the flip side, they lead the league with 318 strikeouts. It’s either boom or bust for the Astros and with a strikeout specialist like Salazar on the mound, I’m willing to bet on bust. Salazar is holding opponents to a .142 average and has struck out 43 batters in 37.2 innings pitched. Walks are still a problem for Salazar (3.8 BB/9), but he has negated that by allowing a league low 4.3 H/9. He is the best pitching option on the board with the most upside and it isn’t even close. Use him in both GPPs and cash games.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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Could this finally be Brett Lawrie‘s post-post-post-post-post-post-post-post-POST-post hype breakout?  I don’t want to overrate or prorate or ameliorate a past inveterate obturate to eviscerate execrate, try not to hate, love your mate, mediate or flip through cards like Michael Hutchence forth, Sandoval’s girth, Andrelton’s not from this earth, movie remake that never went anywhere was North by North.  Yesterday, Lawrie went 3-for-3 with his third straight game with a homer, and he threw in a steal on Saturday, not a liar like James Frey, in Florida I need my mosquito spray, I have three albums by The Fray, said no one that wasn’t gay, which is totally okay.  I was very high on Lawrie in the preseason, and right now he’s on pace for 20+ HRs, 12-15 SBs and hitting .290.  On its own this would be implausible, laughable, impossible, insoluble in water, but he hit 16 homers last year, is only 26 years old and has easy 15-steal speed, so it’s not INXS of the possible.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Oh man, what a week of pitching!  Filled with intrigue, romance and murder!  Eh, a little carried away there, although poor Jarrod Parker might indeed have his MLB life cut short.  Get well soon, J-Park!

Then yesterday afternoon Michael Pineda swiss-cheesed the Orioles bats in a near-historic K-fest.  He hasn’t ever had shoulder issues, let him throw 150!  Johan Santana is like, “…not the best idea…”

Also this weekend, we finally got to see Carlos Rodon start a game, his first in his MLB career Saturday night hosting the Reds.  I bet he got all confused facing the Reds since he pitched for NC State and all…  North Carolina bias!  I didn’t see him pitch at all through Spring and only a highlight or two in his bullpen stints, so I was excited to break down his debut and see what he can bring to fantasy owners in 2015.  Here’s how he looked:

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Grab Luke Gregerson! Ah, that’s how you start a post. Some sweet, sweet SAGNOF. It’s like when I walk into a room and it just lights up. Guys and four girls be going, “Ooh, what’s his name, and can I get his number?” My mustache is yours. *eye wink* There’s plenty of me to go around. On the other hand (wasn’t that the first hand?), there hasn’t been that many closer jobs changing hands (there’s those hands again). This weekend us save chasers caught a lucky break when Sean Doolittle came down with a strained intercostal. Yes, he strained the highway that runs down the side of Florida. What the H do I know? Handsome, that’s the H I know. Now, go grab Gregerson and come back for some straight fantasy flavor from the Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it, thank you). UPDATE: A’s said they might go to or Eric O’Flaherty, the dad from Freaks and Geeks. I’d grab both Gregerson and O’Flaherty until the situation worked itself out. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Low voice, “Wow.” Digs ditch, steps down, “Wow.” Need more emphasis. Buys a mini-excavator, consults with architects about installing a down escalator, begins construction, gets behind on schedule, fires a guy that smokes more than he digs, hires a foreman that seems like he knows what he’s doing, foreman runs off with money, tracks foreman down in Aruba hanging out with Andruw Jones, punches foreman, watches Andruw Jones make diving catch of forearm’s body, heads back to the States to oversee completion of down escalator, breaks champagne on escalator, travels down a full story and, “WOW!” Do you see what I go though to emphasize something for you? After Mike Fiers struck out 14 Cubs in 6 innings, he can have anything he wants. Sleep with my Cougs, she’s all yours! He now has a 1.29 ERA, a 10.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 after 21 IP, after blowing through the minor leagues with a 11.3 K/9. I grabbed him in one 12 team league and looked to pick him up in every league, but he wasn’t there. I forgot the most important lesson, you couldn’t get Michael Fiers if you were f***ing Michael Fiers! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Something many of you don’t realize, but one of the first people to talk to a player that was just traded is his new team’s tailor. The Yankees tailor got on the phone with Chase Headley to find out what size jersey he wears, and Headley looked down, beaming to be out of Petco, and said, “Giuseppe, you might want to take out my inseam too.” I wonder if the flowers smelled a little better as Headley stepped into Yankee Stadium for the first time. Sure, in contrast to his hour long ride through the Bronx, getting lost in Hunts Point, anything would smell better, but it can’t be worse, can it? His career in away games prorated over a 162 game season is: 79/19/79/.286/14. Doode’s David Wright! Well, almost. Which is sad for Headley and Wright. More sad for Wright. What a guy does in only half a season can be anywhere from bupkis to I-want-to-bump-grind-and-kiss. Will Headley suddenly be mixed league worthy? Yeah, for at least a flyer, if nothing else. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The Oakland A’s have been the team to beat in the first half of 2014. They own the best record the majors, their offense, which is comprised of a ragtag bunch of misfits from the other side of the tracks, ranks second among all teams in RBIs and total bases. They lead the league in ERA and WHIP, and they just upgraded their rotation with the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, all without the help of fat Jonah Hill. You don’t need Andy Serkis’ acting school to show you you’d be a real monkey to doubt these guys. They’ve been just as good from a fantasy perspective. Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Sonny Gray have carried over their success from 2013, and Jesse Chavez, Sean Doolittle and the two-headed catcher platoon of John Jaso and Derek Norris have all been first half surprises. So which A’s can you hitch a ride on for some second half fantasy glory? Jed Lowrie (2-for-4, RBI) can get real hot, real quick, and is currently on a seven game hitting streak, with multi-hit performances in six of those games. You might want to scoop him up before he explodes, or gets injured again. Similarly, Stephen Vogt (3-for-3, HR (4)) has been excellent since receiving everyday at bats and is slashing .435/.480/.652 over the past two weeks.  He’s got an 11 game hitting streak (six multi-hit games in that span) and two homers in his past three days, and that catcher eligibility makes him extra valuable. P. Diddy says Vogt or die, so you should grab Stephen while he’s still just under 30% owned. We may be through a little over half of the fantasy season so far, but there’s still plenty of time to ride the Oaktown bandwagon to some fantasy glory, at least until they get to San Antonio. #keeptheAsinOakland!

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball Friday night (*All-Star Edition*):

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Gerrit Cole, one of the better young pitchers in the game, landed on the DL Sunday with “right shoulder fatigue”.  What does this mean for the Pirates?  Well, they have been playing much, much better of late, and this is gonna put a wrench in their chances of making a run at first place in the division.  Yes, they are still eight games back, but with Gregory Polanco likely getting called up this week, if they had a push in them, now was the time they were going to have to make it.  Instead, 2013 All-Star Jeff Locke, who was so bad post-break that he finished the year in the minors, will fill the void left by Cole and his 6-3 record.

Fantasy baseball owners are also going to be affected by this.  The Pirates hope Cole will only miss one start, but this sounds like it could develop into a multi-week recovery.  Concern arose when Cole, who normally throws in the 95-98 MPH range, was showing decreased velocity in the mid- to-late innings of games.  Assuming the Bucs fall further out of contention, the team will be in no rush to bring back their 23-year-old stud.  For what it’s worth, the Reds’ Tony Cingrani landed on the DL in May for the same reason (left shoulder fatigue) and missed just the minimum time, but he hasn’t been good at all in the weeks since.  For now, fantasy owners will just have to stash Cole on their DL and hope for a speedy recovery.

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Tanaka, Pineda, ooh, I’m gonna take you. To Sabathia, Kuroda, ooh, I wanna own you. K-Rob, oh hold up now, I don’t want Sabathia and I don’t care if I ruined the song. So, Michael Pineda will be the Yanks 5th starter, at least out of Spring Training. Damn you, qualifier! I don’t think the rest of the league will hit the stuffing out of Pineda (quinceanera pun for the win!), but I do think the Yankees will have have to limit Pineda’s innings at some point. He can’t return from serious surgery and throw 200 IP this year. I’m not adjusting Pineda in my rankings. He’s in the “Lottery ticket” tier and he will remain there, but you don’t need to wear overalls over to the Wawa to scratch him off and win. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in Spring Training for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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