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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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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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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This is an excerpt of a phone call Razzball intercepted during Sunday’s afternoon games.  Since every state involved is a two-party consent for recording, we cannot reveal who recorded the call, but it rhymes with Trudy Gramble.  Here, let’s listen in:  “Hello, this is the CEO of Super Ball, the world’s hardest, bounciest, craziest, shouldn’t-be-used-as-a-baseballiest ball.  Who is this calling?”  Our Commissioner Rob Manfred disguises his voice so he sounds raspy, “I’m Kathleen Turner.  I was wondering if you would sell me 70,000 Super Balls to not be used for baseball purposes.”  “Body Heat Kathleen Turner?  Not to get all James Lipton, but I am a huge fan of your–”  “Okay, toots…”  Manfred lowers the phone receiver, to his secretary, “Toots?”  Back into the phone, “Um, so don’t make me kill you and blame a different femme fatale.  I need those Super Balls.”  So, yesterday was bonkers for homers, yet again.  I will now list the home runs by guys in just the Astros game:  Yulieski Gurriel (2-for-5, 2 runs) hit his 11th; Jose Altuve (3-for-4, 4 runs, 3 RBIs, hitting .347) hit his 13th; Evan Gattis (2-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBIs) hit his 8th and Carlos Correa (4-for-5, 5 RBIs) and two homers, his 19th and 20th.  Holy Salami Tom, there’s a crapton of home runs this year.  I have two mixed leagues where I feel like if I’m not getting at least five homers per day, I’m falling behind.  Also, on a pitching front, if I can just maintain a 3.50 ERA, I could come in first for ERA.  By the way, I hope we’re not sued by Our Commissioner Rob Manfred, but something must be done.  Get the Super Balls out of baseball!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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How many of you remember the watershed 1993 film Dazed and Confused? In this coming of age saga, a young righty, with the flowing locks of Sampson himself, embarks on a journey that will change his life forever. It is in that film where we first meet Mike Clevinger. I could go on a lengthy diatribe about the film with the Indians righty supplanted as the protagonist, but I already did that a year and a half ago when I first introduced you to Mr. Clevinger. It’s like I’m watching my kids grow up right before my eyes. Either way Clevinger is long haired and goofy just like Mitch from Dazed and Confused. Not to toot my own horn, but to totally toot my own horn, I called this developing breakout a year ago. The Indians acquired the former 2011 4th rounder from the Angels back in 2014 for pen arm Vinny Pestano. Since then it’s been a classic Cleveland starter story, as the organization focused on bringing Clevinger along first as a pen arm, and now as a starter. With a 14.1% SwStr, and a 28.5% K%, there’s some signs that Clevinger, in a season of disappointing starters, could be a diamond in the rough. Let’s look under the hood, and then go pitch by pitch through his Sunday start vs. the division rival Detroit Tigers.

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One of the things I love most about baseball, but particularly covering prospects, is when a guy I totally missed on pops up, and exceeds expectations. Sure, I could become obsessed with my own reputation, and shoot down any suggestion that I missed on a player. But what fun is that? So, when it comes to Nick Pivetta, I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t see this coming. Hell, I wrote up 15+ Phillies prospects, and name dropped another 7-8, and didn’t even mention Pivetta. Fangraphs covered 33 Phillies prospects, and Pivetta ranked in at 27! All this to say, that the “out of nowhere” label is somewhat appropriate when it comes to the Phil’s righthander. After an outstanding outing vs the Red Sox at home a few weeks ago, the strikeouts, and numbers in general seem to be trending in the right direction. So why not check him out, and see if we in fact have a breakout bubbling. Before we begin, big shouts to Oaktown Steve, who’s been hyping up Pivetta in the comments the past few weeks like a Sabermetrics Flavor Flav. Only he turned in his giant clock (read that fast), for an abacus, which I’ve heard can get a bit bulky when worn as a necklace. Anyway, let’s get into Pivetta’s last start vs the Cardinals at home, the second time he’s faced the Redbirds in four starts. He’s going today in Arizona, so maybe we’ll see if he’s worth rolling out… Actually no rookie pitcher with a heavy fly-ball approach should be started in Arizona, but that’s just common sense. On to the profile!

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So let’s just get this whole curse thing out of the way. Seems like every starter I’ve profiled since taking over this here gig has hit the DL, with lone exception being Luis Severino. Some how he’s escaped my DL wrath, which means he made a deal with the devil, or knows strong voodoo. Poor Charlie Morton, Vince Velasquez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nate Karns, y’all never had a chance without Severino’s voodoo. Yeah, seriously, the “Ralph Curse” is that real! Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, my condolences to the owners of this week’s victim Dinelson Lamet. Let’s pray for a shared secret between he and Luis from the BX. Because DANG, he looks good. He feels like one of those prospects that’s never bad, but falls through the cracks on some lists (mine), while being higher on others (other people not named me). He’s two strong starts, and 10 innings into his major league career, and he’s scheduled to go twice this week. So he’s firmly on the fantasy baseball radar. Enough with the bollocks, let’s dig into the bangers and mash, see what we have here, and determine if he’s someone to hold in the right formats.

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Does anyone remember when Vince Vaughn was funny? It was a time long ago in a land far, far away, your wife was still dating guys wearing Armani Exchange shirts, and George W. Bush was using words like strategrey. It was long before the abortion that was True Detective Season 2, or Couples Retreat, and sometime between Swingers, and The Breakup. In that wrinkle in time Vince Vaughn ruled the box office, and the douchy part of our soul where things like Ed Hardy t-shirts, mirror selfies, and Criss Angel performances still roam free. So where am I going with this awkwardly constructed analogy? I’ll hurry up and get to the point, today’s subject Vince Velasquez has much in common with his big screen brother in initials, way beyond his first name and banal use of the word “Bae-be”. He too started his career with a bang, and universal love during his brief stay in Houston, and then the early season dominance in 2016. And much like Mr. Vaughn, Velasquez took on the task of leading man in the drama that is the Philadelphia Phillies 2017, but unfortunately he just hasn’t been able to recapture the magic. Maybe Velasquez’s nightmare seems less like a heroin dream, and more like a string of poor performances. But the effect is still the same, you just don’t view their latest release with the same excitement you used to. So when I was tasked with covering Velasquez this week by our fearless leader Grey Albright, it felt like a choir singing to me. Perhaps it was the angelic voice of Mr. Albright, perhaps it was my paycheck. Either way, when Grey Albright comes to you and asks “Can you see what’s happin’ with this young brother”, you A. wonder when he became a member of 5% Nation, B. you profile Vince Velasquez. So to the God Grey Albright this is for you…

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Has there been any “sleeper” more hyped this season than Charlie Morton? It seems like we’re constantly being reminded of the spike in velocity, the swing and miss stuff, the combination of swinging strikes, and groundball rate. Knowing all this I was dying to profile Morton and see what all the noise is about. Speaking of Noise, my Pittsburgh scout, and favorite right testicle Dr. Kenneth Noisewater, has a basket full of hot takes on Morton, that mostly consist of different ways to say Charlie Morton sucks. Perhaps Noisey is right, perhaps all the lemmings in the fantasy industry are right. Much like the ATLiens that raised me to be an emotionally well adjusted gangster, I just stay in the middle and drop bombs, mostly in the toilet. I stay regular ladies and gents. Let’s take a closer look at this “new and improved” Charlie Morton, and see if it’s in fact a new recipe, or the same re-packed garbage.

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Is there anything better than baseball on a rainy Saturday afternoon? You can’t do any yard work, you know, because it’s pouring, so you settle into your favorite chair, crack a beer, and you’re whisked away to a place much warmer, and much sunnier. Here I sit, beer in hand, ready to watch this week’s test subject Royals righty Nate Karns vs the first place Baltimore Orioles. The journeymen starter is on his 4th organization in five seasons, and there’s two ways to look at this. Either Karns can’t keep a job, or he’s highly “in-demand” by multiple teams throughout the league. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, never good enough to lock-down a rotation spot, but also good enough to find opportunity year after year. So far Karns has been a good fit in Kansas City, making his 7th start today vs. a surprisingly mediocre Orioles offense, one that ranks in the bottom half of MLB in nearly every offensive category. So the home matchup vs. Baltimore is a good one, even if it’s a first place club he’s facing…. Here’s what I saw on Saturday.

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