As the season rolls along, my choices for starters to profile should be wearing thin. Luckily for all of you, myself, and my relationship with anyone not in the Crab Army, spot starts and rookie callups give me the perfect intersect of my two worlds. Now as any good Seinfield fan knows, worlds colliding can be catastrophic. Just ask George Costanza. That however is not the case for your loyal and eccentric Prospector/Pitchspector. It’s all good on this end. Why? Because I’m more than happy to dig into the ratio roulette that is rookie starting pitchers. In the grand tradition of my messiah like activity on the prospect side, I’m here to observe these wild cards, provide my take, and lead you on the path to true fantasy salvation. This is a really long winded, and pompous, way to say I’m profiling Reynaldo Lopez’s White Sox debut today. I’ve been lower on Lopez than many other prospectors in the industry. For what feels like two years now, I’ve been constantly banging my shoe on the table of the United Prospect Nations, sternly proclaiming that “Lopez is a pen arm!” I’d make a joke of my followers storming the town square with Pier 1 style tiki torches, but the rest of the Lifshitz clan prolly wouldn’t appreciate that. Anywho, here’s what I saw.

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It’s just like old times, as we here at Razzball are profiling a Brewers starter this week. I can’t put my finger on what that means, but I digress. The familiarity doesn’t just end there my friends, oh no, we just happen to be covering the MLB debut for one of the top pitching prospects in the minors, Brandon Woodruff. On the heels of a somewhat out of nowhere breakout in 2016, Woodruff exploded onto the dynasty league radar, and squarely into the ranks on several top prospect lists. After leading the minors in strikeouts last year, the righty credited an increased pace, thanks to the direction of AA pitching coach Chris Hook. After a solid showing in the challenging confines of Colorado Springs earlier this season, Woodruff was called up in mid-June to make a spot start. Unfortunately he was injured warming up, was scratched from his debut, and did a month on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Recalled Friday to face the contending Rays in Tampa, Woodruff might be an interesting stream down the stretch in re-drafts of all sizes. Let’s see how the highly touted rookie looks vs a seasoned AL East lineup. Not a bad litmus test.

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We have a bit of a light lineup this week due to some off days on Monday and Thursday, so Week 19 will be more of a challenge to find value among the Two-Start Starters. It sounds like Max Scherzer is going to be healthy enough to go and make his two starts, but that only helps out Scherzer owners and not the rest of us who are looking for some available value.

Even Streamonator is down on Week 19, as there weren’t any available starters owned in less than 75% of RCLs with a positive dollar value. There is one possible exception to that statement*, but we’re not going to let statistically-based advice from Streamonator stop us from rolling the dice this week, right?

There are, however, a few starters in our Replicas that I would roll with this week who might be available in your leagues. It will likely be harder to grab at least two of these starters in an RCL where waivers and ownership are a bit more savage, but all three are owned in less than 75% of ESPN leagues.

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The Book of Job says, “We will send out at least one email a day to all your contacts whether you like it or not.”  Shoot, I immediately see what I did wrong there.  I Googled for a Bible quote, and accidentally got an employee handout from LinkedIn.  Big bad on me.  Yesterday, Zack Godley went 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 5 Ks, ERA at 2.86, with this start coming in Wrigley.  *gulps*  Maybe Godley isn’t an overstatement.  His peripherals are gorge too — 9.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.23 xFIP.  Throwing 92+ MPH with a mix of four pitches, and mostly going to Dazzletown with the curve being the pony killer (totally a saying!).  “I made you glue!” which is what I shout trying desperately to make “pony killer” a saying.  Oh, and all of it is coupled with a 56% ground ball rate.  That would be the third best in the majors if he qualified.  When there’s nary a starter in sight with a decent ERA, Godley’s otherworldly.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Maybe Carlos Rodon is a bit more high, ahhh, ummm, profile than the usual pitching, ahhh, ummm, profile candidate I cover. After all, at points over the last few years this is a guy who’s been universally owned. Things have definitely been a different story in 2017, as he missed all of April and May, and most of June recovering from a biceps injury. Following two strong starts upon his return, we’ve seen “Bad Carlos” over the last three turns. The former third overall pick has been steady, but inconsistent throughout his first two seasons in the big leagues. Apt to spells of poor control and command, that typically led to some ugly pitching lines. Is that what’s happening here? Simply a case of “Bad Carlos”? Good or bad, something has obviously been amiss the past few starts, let’s take a look under the hood and see what’s going on. Are these problems fixable or is there a lingering injury? On Sunday Rodon faced the red hot Indians and my guess is you already know what happened. Here’s what I saw.

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I was craving sashimi last night, so I sauntered to my local sushi joint. When I walked through the door, I heard the familiar, “Irrashaimase maido,” from the chefs behind the counter. As I nodded my head down reverently, I realized there was a new member of the crew. I like to live dangerously, so I sat down at the bar in front of him. I usually ask the chef, “What’s good today?” but last night it was just, “Prepare what you think is best.” Like I said, I like to live dangerously. If I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation, I would’ve knocked my chair backwards and banged my head on the floor from the show I was presented. It was all so un-Benihana-esque. The skill. The grace. As he wiped the sweat from his forehead after slicing and dicing the manta rays placed before him, I asked him one simple question. “Who are you?” He looked me in the eye and responded, “I am Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees.” Tanaka was perfect for five innings Friday night. He ended up allowing two hits, one earned run, did not walk a batter, and struck out 14 in eight innings. 77-of-109 pitches were thrown for strikes. That’s how you earn a big tip! Now, keep in mind that Tampa Bay strikes out the fourth-most frequently against RHP and the huge night knocked down his ERA to 5.09 for the year. He did give up four, three, and five earned runs in his prior three starts and got pummeled in his two previous starts against TB. As Friday night showed, though, Tanaka does have the ability to absolutely dominate. When I eat raw fish, I know there’s always the risk that I could be eating some three-eyed monster from Fukushima. That’s how I feel about starting Tanaka. As I said before, I like to live dangerously.

Here’s what else I saw from Friday night’s action:

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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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Mike Clevinger ($17,600) looks like he should be performing a rock concert with his long grunge band looking hair and his arm full of tattoos but he will be taking the mound in instead. He seems to be a great bargain tonight as he is currently on a nice roll, allowing just 2 ERs in his last three starts and racking 20 Strikeouts during that span. He should continue that trend as he heads to San Francisco to battle one of the worst teams in baseball.  The San Francisco Giants are one of the worst hitting teams against RHP, they currently support a .240AVG and .674 OPS against righties . Both of those numbers rank toward the bottom of the league. To add injury to insult, they rank 28th in the league in runs scored and are dead LAST in HRs hit. Clevinger has been hurt by his walks allowed which doesn’t let him get deep into games at time but the Giants are one of the most impatient teams and rarely walk.

To go with Clevinger, I’d pair him with JA Happ ($15,000). He’s squaring off against a struggling Boston Red Sox team. Over the last week, the Red Sox are hitting .212 as a team and have really had a hard time plating runs. Happ is a very serviceable option that tends to always pitch deeper into games and can be matched with Clayton Kershaw to provide some bats if you’d prefer. Now that we have talked about some pitching options, lets take a look at some bats…

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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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The list of two-start starters for Week 16 is pretty ugly. Not only did it take some time to materialize as teams figured out their rotations following the All-Star break, but once the dust settled and we had a good idea of who would be starting when many of the names we were left with were not all that appealing. Sure, the high-end options like Kershaw (for now), Strasburg, and Greinke were there, but the meat and bones of the list were lacking.

Just ignore Clayton Kershaw. At this point in the season, I am convinced that Dave Roberts reads this post every week and then trolls us all by changing his rotation on Sunday night. He is at the top of the list as of this writing, but that could easily change in the next few seconds. The Dodgers have a dozen or so possible starting pitchers, and Roberts shuffles or adjusts his rotation pretty frequently.

One name to take a look at this week is the soft-tossing Brent Suter. While he does not exactly light up the radar gun, he has been very effective in his recent stint as a starter for the Brewers. In his last two starts, he shut out the Orioles over six innings while striking out eight and then allowed just two earned runs over 6 ? innings against the Yankees while striking out five before the break.

Throughout his career in the minors, Suter has been consistently solid-yet-unremarkable. In other words, he has never really been great but hasn’t been bad, either. He has a 3.44 ERA across six seasons in the minor leagues while throwing to a 3.12 ERA during his time in the show. His 2.96/2.78/8.23/2.63 (see chart below) is also solid.

Streamonator does not like him as much as I do. The ‘nator has Suter up around its 20th best option or so (with a negative value), while I have him at the top of the Standards category below, which puts him around 15th or so. He is, however, only owned in 1% of all RCLs, so he should be available to everyone reading this except the one person who is in the league with that one guy or gal who already picked him up.

If you are in need of an arm in the short term, especially in a two-start week, you can do worse. You can do better, too, but I like Suter as a guy who can offer some solid short term numbers. Other guys Streamonator likes for the upcoming week who are owned in less than 50% of RCLs: Matt Moore, Zack Wheeler, and Rafael Montero.

Please, blog, may I have some more?