So here we are in week 24 if you don’t count the All-Star break. Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that this whole marathon got started. Tehol was speaking of the blessings bestowed upon Dominic Brown by the elder gods, Grey was telling you pitching was crazy deep, and Sky was freaking Nick and everyone else out with his creepy masks in the background of his podcast segments. Things were simple then, we all had hope, some of us still do. Oh who am I kidding you read Razzball of course you have at least one team in the playoffs. Everyone knows we only cater to savvy fantasy owners and snappy dressers. Maybe mustache aficionados also, but they only read Grey for the avatar. Mustachioed men are like the rich and Greek Nationalists, they stick with their own.

Regardless, the end is neigh good citizens of fantasy land. It’s now officially the end of  the beginning of the season. My beginning just so happens to last 5 months. The real ending for fantasy and real life players alike is that last month chasing a championship. Hence the end of the beginning, beginning of the end title. It’s also a not so subtle nod to my favorite Murs album  and possibly song, Done Deal.  The point is you have 3 weeks left max, and should be doing all you can to edge your league mates in the H2H playoffs or Roto standings. Either way we’re all hustling like Freeway Ricky Ross, and I mean the Drug Dealer not the rapper. I’d only say we were like Rick Ross the rapper if I was in a room with Matt Adams and Billy Butler. Even then it would be about them and not me. For the record I’m built like a Greek God and bearded like one as well. I’m sort of a fantasy sports version of Dan Bilzerian, but without the trust fund, harem, and over the top douchiness. Well I guess the last one is up for debate. Okay everything I just said about myself is up for debate…Sad Trombone.

You know what isn’t up for debate (Segue! FTW) the quality of the high end double dipping starters this week. We have 4! Count’em! 4 must start options this week in Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer, and Jon Lester. That’s great for any owner with those guys and bad news bears for any owner facing them in the playoffs. It’s okay there’s some hidden gems in the lower tiers with some good matchups. Also feel free to chime in with any double dippers flying under the radar. Whether you feel I’m overlooking them, or that they have under appreciated fantasy appeal. We’re all in this together, unless you’re in one of my leagues, then you’re on your own.

The tier names this week are a nod to my all-time favorite HipHop Group Gang Starr…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The other day I talked about the dark underbelly of roster expansion and how, due to teams not DL’ing their players, it can actually hurt us in this thing we call life. Well, some of us call it fantasy baseball instead of life. Some of the less obsessed of us. To those people, I ptooey in your direction. If you’re not completely obsessed over your hobby, let me say this… Get a new hobby! The national pastime’s pastime? Maybe if you’re a stutterer! This shizz is more like the national pastime’s full-time, 24/7 job like taking care of your uncle who has been lying on your sofa for a month because your aunt started dating a guy she met on Tinder! “Uncle Frank, maybe you put on sweatpants so I can have company.” No, Uncle Frank won’t put on sweatpants, just like you won’t have company until you find another first baseman to replace Anthony Rizzo. Uncle Frank is comfortable in his gotchies! Are you kapeeshing me? So, Rizzo has a muscle strain, and the Cubs said they would DL him if the rosters hadn’t expanded, but instead they’re going to let Anthony Rizzo slice garlic really thin — so thin it melts when it hits the pan — while he whittles away the year on the bench. Sadly, you have to move on to another first baseman in redraft leagues. You can’t count on him the rest of the season. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Alright Head-to-Headers and Weekly League players. This is more than likely the most important week of your season. You’re either kicking off the first round of playoff match-ups or you’re grinding out the last week trying to get that ever elusive playoff birth. Not to worry my peeps, the Legendary Lifshitz is back and ready to drop some two start pitcher science on y’all. In fact I’ll be taking over as your captain from here on out and into 2015. That’s right! I’m your 2015 Two Start Huckleberry! Think of me as the top prospect getting called up for roster expansions with an eye on the starting job next year. You know like Xander Bogaerts but less of a disappointment. Unless you’re my third grade teacher Ms. Schultz. Then I’m more of a disappointment. What can I say the women had high hopes.

As for the roster of Double dippers, it’s not bad. Lots of good streamers and ton of middle of the road options. I’ll try and focus a little more on the arms with lower ownership levels, knowing those are the guys you’ll be looking to for the extra counting stats to put you over the top. This is one of the most fun times to be a fantasy baseball manager. This is for those digging through the wavier wire looking for that streamer to get you into the dance, or that spot starter to help you lock down that swing category to get you into the next round of the playoffs, or even the roto owner looking to capitalize on the less savvy owners who hit their innings limits this week. May you use this as your guide good sirs! Unless you’re in a league with me, then I hope all your pitchers get shelled. Sorry but I’m in it to win it no matter the cost!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Adam Wainwright went 6 IP, 3 ER, 9 baserunners, 5 Ks as he was out-dueled by Jeff Locke (7 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 8 baserunners, 3 Ks). Wainwright being out-dueled seems to be the norm lately. In August, his ERA is 5.17 and he says he’s going through a ‘dead arm’ phase. Ways that a dead arm could help (in no particular order): tricking a zombie while playing dead, making your other arm feel more alive, doorstop, can’t pick up a bill because your wallet is in the dead arm pocket, screaming out “Sorry, dead arm!” when cutting off people while driving and making your Bernie Lean more believable. Ways that a dead arm won’t help: pitching. Verlander’s arm must be so dead that necrophiliac stray dogs try to constantly hump it. You have to hold onto Wainwright and hope he comes out of it, but obviously this was not what you wanted to hear. By the by, Rudy tells me after he learned his wife was preggers with twins he went through a ‘dead penis’ phase. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hello, I’m Keith Morrison of Dateline. Today’s story is about a young closer who had the life that we all dream about — money, girls, Tony La Russa’s private phone number to find out if a product used animal testing. What Trevor Rosenthal didn’t have, his shut ‘em down stuff. We pick up the story right after Rosenthal took the mound on April 7th. He was in for his third save, but there was something wrong. Could it have been he lost his control? Or was something else lurking deep in his past — perhaps a high school sweetheart who assumed the identity of Rosenthal’s favorite Starbucks barista, who was putting Visine in his favorite latte drink. Visine that has been known, when digested, to cause runs. Coming up later, Rosenthal can’t find the strike zone for three months, he blows numerous saves, Pat Neshek looks incredible in a setup role and Matheny groans. This is the story of The $12 Salad That Became A Brain Freeze. So, the Cards have been patient with Trevor Rosenthal, even while he hasn’t looked good for the majority of the year, but recently he’s been hideous. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cards go to Neshek, who has a 0.86 ERA, 0.57 WHIP and four saves already. Yesterday, Seth Maness (no relation to Brandon Guyer) got the save, but that was more because Neshek had thrown already in the game. As for the title, you may not stay…for Trevor stung! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Uh-oh, I feel a rhyme coming on. Chris Carter‘s schmotato was born on August 4th wearing the Astros hat, 40 ounces he doesn’t pour forth cause that forty-oh is his bat. If you can’t respect that your whole perspective is wack, maybe you’ll love him when he goes by Charlie Really Black. Man, he was conceived as Hurry K’d Carter, but that was just for fun, big hands, I know you’re the one. What’s this a Violent Femmes mash-up, must be the Grey album. Eggs over easy, Carter’s going swat! What’s that albumen? No, it’s snot! So, Carter now has 7 homers in the last ten games. If he could only hit .260, he’d an exact clone of a young Ryan Howard. We want mo’ Howard! Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck! Instead, we’ll take what Carter’s giving now, which is crazy power and Ks. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m just curious: Do Colorado pitchers stink because half of their games are played in the equivalent of the Space Stadium in “Triple Play 2001”, or do they stink because no one wants to pitch there, so the Rockies just end up with the garbage juice at the bottom of the pitching scrap heap? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Either way, the poor, battered Rockies pitchers will get out of Coors next week and into some fun in the sun in San Diego for a series that is the definitive fantasy baseball crossing of the streams: [Jay’s Note: Don’t cross the streams.] Offensive-minded team with horrendous pitchers that play in a batter’s park visit a pitching-minded team with absolutely zero offense in their pitcher’s park.

So what does this mean for fantasy purposes, and specifically Two-Startapalooza purposes?

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When I was growing up, we had a hutch. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what piece of furniture it was that my grandparents used to call a hutch. So, like a child of the naughts, I Googled it. On Wikipedia, it says a hutch is where one prepares an evening tipple. Let me just say, I don’t remember anyone in Jersey ever preparing an evening tipple. An evening Sloppy Joe? Sure. An evening ‘bang on the side of the TV so the picture would come in?’ Yup. An evening ‘curse at the neighbors?’ Definitely! An evening tipple? Not in my Jersey. But, for the sake of argument, let’s all pour ourselves an evening tipple for Drew Hutchison. Last night, he went 8 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hit, 1 Walk and 8 Ks. See, nothing to it. The only mistake yesterday was a long ball surrendered to Chris Davis (now has back-to-back games with ding-shots). As I said when Hutchison was called up, he could be as great as any pitcher to come up this year. Sadly, it may not be this year that he is great. It’s the pickle that is young pitchers. I would own him, shoot, I’d even have a tipple with him, but I wouldn’t fully trust him until he has a longer track record. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The trade deadline was three days ago. By now fantasy experts like Trojan Croftbell and Cocky Karazola have picked over these deals until the bones were showing, and gone over the “slashes” these guys compiled while “toeing the rubber” and talked you, and themselves really, in-and-out of pickups until they were dizzy. There’s no other way to analyze this. Unless you take some of the moving parts to Week 19 of the Two-Startapalooza party!

What happens to the headlining acts is obvious. Jon Lester is a must-start almost every week. In the post-season, he becomes Orel Hershiser ’88, or at least Billy Beane and any long-time A’s fan that shudders at the thought of Orel Hershiser ’88 hopes. David Price scratches the surface of the Must-Start layer some weeks, but more often than not he’ll break the barrier thanks to some interesting non-sabermetrical splits. This year, Price had way better numbers away from the Trop (6-2, 2.74 ERA) than inside of it (5-6, 3.41). Which also means he had the same numbers on grass than on turf, and of course the Tigers play on the green stuff in Detroit (as opposed to the Rockies, who play on the green stuff in Denver, but that’s different).

Then there’s the other guys. It might not seem like what happened to John Lackey and bed crapper Justin Masterson matters as much, but as Twitter pal Ralph Lifshitz pointed out to me on my feed (@NiceRazzball), the Cardinals can turn anyone into a solid starter (see: Jake Westbrook and Joel Pineiro, Lifshitz said, and to that I say point taken). That being said, and I feel like I’m going to be saying that a lot this week – getting something out of Lackey is one thing, but getting the Masterbaterson to get right on a consistent basis is something else. Can you imagine rolling that guy out in the playoffs? Yipes!

Drew Smyly, who got the shaft in the Price deal and goes from a nice park on a winning team to a mediocre team in a crappy stadium, falls down at least one tier per week. He becomes a stat-piler guy for those in search of Two-Starters. Jesse Chavez falls off the radar completely, as he ends up in the A’s bullpen. I’ll miss seeing his oops-I-crapped-my-pants mug every week.

A few of these guys get a double dip this week. For some more Two-Starters, keep on reading…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In a crazy day of trading, the blockbuster has to be David Price heading to the Tigers. Though, I’m not sure blockbuster is the right word anymore. Blockbuster is so 80’s. Blockbuster sold out to a fro-yo chain and is Blockberry now, isn’t it? The Netflix deal of the day? The Hulu pause-for-three-ads-every-five-minutes trade of the day? The Redbox snatch and grab? See, I wasn’t even talking about the trade in that last one. I wonder if Josh Reddick ever rubs up against a Redbox. Any the hoo! The Tigers rotation is now Price, Anibal, Verlander and Scherzer. Well, you got two aces again! Unless Tim McCarver is announcing and still thinks Verlander and Anibal are aces. As for fantasy, this does nothing to Price’s value. Maybe now that he doesn’t have a manager pulling names out of a hat for a lineup, he might get a few more wins, but did his bullpen get noticeably better? Eh. Did his division become noticeably easier? Eh, his career ERA vs. the White Sox and Indians is worse than his ERA vs. the Red Sox. That’s kinda irrelevant though, these are different teams then he faced previously. In all, it’s a solid lateral trade for Price’s value, but he was already a top arm in the game. No one is happier to see Price than the Tigers Assistant GM, Ted DiBiase. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?