Since being traded to the Pirates, Ivan Nova has exploded! In a good way. He has been different pitcher than he was with the Yankees. In five starts, Nova owns a 2.87 ERA, with 22 strikeouts and only 1 walk! You have to love a pitcher who doesn’t give up a free trips to first very often. In those starts he has averaged nearly 19 points. Tonight the Brewers are in town, and have been struggling all season. Not only are the Brewers brutal at hitting the ball and producing runs, they strike out a ton. The Brew Crew leads the league with a 25.8% strikeout rate vs RHP pitchers. The Pirates are 2.5 games back from a wild card and need to start winning more games. Meanwhile, the Brewers sit 19 games below .500 and are just looking to beat out Cincinnati for last in the division. I see Nova as one of the top picks of the day, and at only $8,900 it’s hard to pass that up. And with that … here are the rest of my Saturday DFS picks.

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Please, blog, may I have some more?

When I was younger, I played for a Little League team, the Teaneck Yankees, our manager, who went simply by the name John Doe, would spend most of his days stealing the other teams’ signs, but when he gave us advice, through a translator hired by our sponsor, Halliburton, he’d say, “The most important function of the baseball hitter is to get the base.  The second most important function of the baseball hitter is to get the WMDs.”  I searched Fangraphs for a stat abbreviated WMDs but wasn’t able to find one.  Walk-Off Moonshot Dingers?  Windup Mechanics Delivery?  Weapons of Mass Ducksnorts?  Whatever the case, I want to focus on Coach Doe’s first function, get the base.  Since the All-Star break, there’s been few hitters who are getting the base like Ender Inciarte.  In that time, he’s hitting .360 with 35 runs.  That’s the 5th best average and 8th best runs. This is a guy who last year hit .303 in 524 ABs, so it’s not a fluke, or hirame if a sushi chef is reading.  Will he give much power?  Will a llama do a NY Times crossword?  No, he won’t.  But for average and runs, you can do much worse.  Now, is it a coincidence that Coach Doe was a ringer for Saddam Hussein and you can’t spell Ender Inciarte without CIA?  I don’t know.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Kyle Hendricks went 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 4 Ks, lowering his ERA (if that’s even possible at this point) to 2.09.  The Seattle museum, Experience Music Project is going to need to update their Hendricks section.  EMP Tour guide, “In 1970, Hendricks said, ‘I’m going to take my guitar, grab Janis, impregnate Afeni Shakur, have my lawyer write a letter that says Ben and/or Jerry can never name an ice cream after me while simultaneously sucking and blowing this joint.  Then thirty-six years later, I’m going to win the NL Cy Young if the BBWAA votes based on ERA.’  Now, let’s move on to our five floors of Nirvana memorabilia.  There’s some interesting flannel stories I can’t wait to share.”   No, of course, Kyle Hendricks isn’t this good.  His fastball velocity is down to 87 MPH, he’s relying heavily on a changeup that isn’t that much slower and his BABIP is absurdly low.  Not saying you drop him, but if Hendricks does win the Cy Young, in 2017, the same faith that befell Dallas Keuchel this year will happen to Hendricks too.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Over the past week, the most added player in ESPN fantasy baseball leagues was… Gary Sanchez. Seriously? Is it that difficult to part with Matt Wieters at this point? Sanchez should be universally owned (and practically is by now) and I’ve discussed him ad nauseam in this space over the past few weeks, so we’ll move on to the next name on the most added list. Let’s see… Ivan Nova (30.2% owned; +20.5% over the past week)? Step on up! The new Pittsburgh Pirate acquisition has left the unfriendly pitching environment of Yankee Stadium behind and seems to be enjoying a career renaissance under the tutelage of renowned pitcher whisperer Ray Searage. The main differences in Nova under Searage’s watchful eyes are that he’s throwing more strikes and keeping the ball in the park more effectively. In 97.1 innings with the Yankees this season, Nova allowed 19 home runs (1.76 HR/9) and had a first-pitch strike percentage of 58.4%, leading to a 2.31 BB/9. In five starts (31.1 innings pitched) with the Pirates, he’s allowed just 3 home runs (0.86 HR/9) and improved his F-Strike% by 11% (to 69.4%) in the process, walking just one hitter (0.29 BB/9) along the way. Consequently, Nova’s 4.90 ERA and 1.36 WHIP as a Yankee have improved to 2.87 and 0.99 as a Pirate. Nova appears to be well on his way to joining the ranks of pitchers such as Edinson Volquez, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ whose careers were revitalized after suppling the teat of their new pitching daddy. If you need starting pitching help down the stretch, Nova is definitely worth a look.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So I’m taking us down yet another rabbit hole, into yet another JB’s-vanity-project-abyss. Although, since the last time this happened only two weeks ago, Alex Reyes made it into the rotation! He was only “OK”, and we’re not sure if he’ll be starting again for the next turn, but at least we were put on readiness!

Of course since I added this guy in the REL, I’ve been following Brock Stewart pretty intently this season. Maybe it’s because Brock is a common name we share! But really, it has to do with his under-the-radar ascension through the Minors this season. He’s dominated in the minor leagues with a 9+ K-rate, a BB-rate well under 2, including a 2.49 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 50.2 PCL innings, with a 9.59:1.07 K:BB in OKC. Overall, his MiLB numbers are a 1.68 ERA 0.86 WHIP in 20 starts, with 126:18 K:BB in 118 innings. And yet, no one seems to care about this guy since they want Jose De Leon! While many may be surprised Brock got the call yet again to spot start over De Leon with an opening in the rotation, logistically he’s on the 40-man while De Leon isn’t and there’s a roster crunch. But it’s not like Brock isn’t deserving! And he’s got pretty good stuff – 93-95 MPH fastball, hard slider, and a change-up that is oddly WAY slower than the heater at 81ish MPH.

Obviously, at the Major League level, things couldn’t be more of a polar opposite. Going into yesterday afternoon, his ERA was over 11 in two spot starts and one relief appearance. In that 3 innings of relief his last MLB appearance, he walked 4, or what would’ve been 22.2% of all the walks he’s thrown in the minors all year. Someone isn’t suited for the bullpen! And the two awful starts? One was a little unlucky with some BABIP hits @MIL, then a murdering @COL. Way to make a guy who progressed all the way from A-ball pitch in the two worst parks in the NL! So the start this afternoon, hosting the Cubs, is BY FAR his best matchup. Man, trial by fire! With Stewart so far off the radar, I am hoping that being pot committed and writing this open before the first pitch will cause some cosmic karma and help Brock throw a breakthrough game. Here’s how he looked:

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Gerrit Cole has an injured arm, possibly elbow spurs.  I love this scenario:  a pitcher throws like garbage for weeks then the team announces he’s hurt.  Love, love, love.  This is my favorite.  Five innings, five runs, but it’s likely nothing, just a bad start.  Cut to five weeks later of terrible starts.  “Oh, yeah, he’s got a torn tendon/elbow spur/missing forearm due to lost baggage.  Oops!  We should’ve sent him to a doctor six starts ago.  Our bad!”  Here’s what I said after his last start, “I don’t know what’s going on with Cole, but I’d guess injury or dead arm.”  And that’s me quoting me!  How is it that I can guess there’s a problem but a major league team can’t figure shizz out?  That should never be possible.  I couldn’t even pass Bio 101, and a MLB team has a staff of doctors.  Seriously, how does this happen?  I want answers!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In my preseason Randal Grichuk sleeper post (hey, they’re not all Delino DeShields sleepers, which is to say God awful vs. just merely bad), I said, “How much Grichuk can Grichuk chuck if Grichuk strikes out 30% of the time?  Now, I’m no gypsy; I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl that was born in a manger in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Let’s look at some comp hitters, shall we?  Not to answer, but to keep reading.  Last year, Grichuk struck out 31% of the time after striking out 23% of the time in Triple-A.  His minor league strike out rate makes me think he’ll be closer to a 27-28% strikeout guy.  Brandon Moss is also around a 27-28% strikeout guy, which Grichuk should be.  Grichuk won’t walk as much as Moss, but, okay, they’re close enough for me.  Grichuk is a young Moss.  I shall call him Pete Moss.”  And that’s me quoting me!  Maybe old fools die hard with a vengeance while Samuel Jackson screams at them, but Grichuk was just some bad luck with his BABIP away from being exactly what I thought he’d be.  His strikeout rate is 27.8% (vs. Moss’ 30%), and he’s only 25 years old.  I’m still jazzed on Grichuk like Coltrane with a needle in my vein.  Of course, none of this matters if he didn’t hit a bunch of homers this week, and was available in about 75% of leagues.  Plant Pete Moss on your team and watch the growth!  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Ivan Nova threw a complete game with one earned run — 9 IP, 1 ER, 7 baserunners, 6 Ks — ERA at 3.20 on the Pirates, after having a 4.90 ERA on the Yankees.  This Ray Searage guy can do miracles.  People should travel far and wide to go see him with their ailments, anguish and general malaise.  “So, I was standing in line for a frappuccino and I was thinking, ‘What’s the point?’  So, what is the point, Searage?”  “Sounds like you should use the change more.”  By the way, malaise is not the actress that plays Arya Stark.  Ray Searage is a modern-day miracle worker.  Move over, Anne Sullivan!  This is also exactly what they said about Searage in regards to Juan Nicasio before he flamed out about three weeks into the season, and Gerrit Cole has been pretty gross.  Searage seems totally competent, but to think he can fix all Pirates pitchers seems foolhardy.  No relation to Tom Hardy.  I could see grabbing Nova if the matchups are right, but I’m not running out to grab him in 12 team mixed leagues.  Not simply because my computer’s at home and it makes no sense to run out anywhere.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Manny Machado put up his right hand yesterday to measure it against a hand drawing every clubhouse has posted on its wall.  The drawing is of Mark Whiten’s hand that once held four baseballs in it.  Four baseballs for the four homers he hit in one game.  In the Padres’ clubhouse, this hand has been removed because it’s just a not-so-subtle reminder of what will never be.  In the Indians’ clubhouse, the hand is made into a turkey to celebrate the first Thanksgiving.  In the Astros’ clubhouse, the hand has been cut out and fashioned into a t-shirt for Altuve.  Imagine if Donald Trump wins the presidency and throws out a first pitch.  He may never make it to the field, too distracted in the clubhouse by measuring his hands against Whiten.  Yesterday, Machado came a fingernail short of the hand, hitting three homers with seven RBIs.  Now has 25 homers on the year with a .307 average.  Terrific, stupendous, adjective!  What’s more remarkable is he does not have one steal all year.  Almost as crazy, he’s only attempted three.  Did he have a knee transplant this offseason with McCutchen as the donor?  Machado stole 20 bases last year.  To go to none?  Wow, his feet definitely don’t measure up to the Rickey Henderson foot drawings in each clubhouse.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Rather than list fifteen closers that all became available in the last week, I’m going to tell you a story.  Ken you dig it?  Ooh, Giles (Things Are Gonna Get Easier) was a song they played at my prom.  This was going to be the best day of my life.  My date, Susie, had just broken up with her boyfriend, Jake, and she looked radiant that night, Barretts lined her hair like a crime scene.  Only not a bad crime scene like some gruesome murder, but instead like a yellow rose Tyler’d around another rose’s Thornburg like a noose.  A rose murder, which is heartbreakingly beautiful.  Also, in play on this great night was Prom King, I was going to Edwin it, right as I was Diaz’ing to the Macarena.  Wait, maybe my dancing would help me win a Tony too, ya know, this wasn’t elementary school my dear, Watson.  This felt like a scene out of an 80s movie with Charlie Sheen née Carlos Estevez.  When the announcement came, I held Susie’s hand, it was hot — 373 on the Kelvin scale — and her palm was Herrera.  Gadzooks, I exclaimed.  Then Jim won, and I went home with my Johnson, but no Herrera palm.  Oh well, guess I’ll have to take down my Cam I set up by my Bedrosian.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?