As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click this link.

If someone had told me on Aug. 15, 2013 that Zack Wheeler would only be half-owned in Yahoo and ESPN leagues at the start of June 2014 I would have quit fantasy baseball immediately and wailed the loudest Nicolas Cage wail I could muster. That day was the height of early Wheeler Mania: 6 IP and 12 Ks to just one walk in a no-decision at San Diego. At the time Wheeler was not only a member of the rookie pitcher crew that also included Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha and Sonny Gray, he was arguably the main attraction. If that group was New Kids On The Block, he was at best Jordan Knight, or at least Donnie Wahlberg, but he wasn’t no Danny Wood. Control problems kept him from being all that he could be, they said. Bad catchers (John Buck) can make good pitchers pitch badly, they said.

Well, here we are in the weeds of the 2014 season and Wheeler is on the verge of getting kicked out of the group. Cole, Wacha and Gray have been, for the most part, pitching like the budding studs they were supposed to be, and Wheeler has looked more like Nuke LaLoosh before Annie had him wearing garter belts and breathing through his eyelids. Wheeler might not have found his Crash Davis in Travis D’Arnaud, but something is clicking. He got bashed around pretty good in D.C. on May 18 but he finally found the plate, walking only two guys. May 24 against the Diamondbacks was even better, as he K’ed 7 to just one walk. You can blow this K/BB ratio thing out of proportion and go ga-ga over Wheeler’s last start, a win in which he blew away nine Phillies and walked none in 6-plus innings. It wasn’t what he did in that start, it’s how he looked doing it. Wheeler had the command that scouts and experts who know way more than me said he was missing. He looked like he was pitching downhill. His curveball was wicked and his fastball was popping. I know road starts in Wrigley and whatever they’re calling the Giants’ stadium now are not ideal, but I think this is the week Wheeler returns to his place next to the Coles and Wachas of the world.

Here’s some more two-starters for Week 10:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome to the second edition of the Lineup Maximizer! If you’re here as a result of my Reddit AMA, glad to know that that day wasn’t all for naught. Kidding! My motivations for dispensing fantasy advice are purely altruistic.

Before we get under with this week’s streaming picks, let’s recap how we did last week in honor of commenter Simply Fred. Record-keeping and accountability are taken seriously around these parts.

Last Week & Season Results

16 AB, 2 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB, .188 AVG.

My first edition’s picks did perform as well as hoped, but if you agree with the process, results should follow over a larger sample. The question should be raised though, what should we expect from these players? Sure, most of them have favorable matchups, that’s why I highlight them in the article. But they are still available in the vast majority of leagues for a reason, that reason being they aren’t good enough to be owned in the vast majority of leagues.

I could try to compute a baseline scientifically, something like the rate at which replacement level hitters score runs, homers, etc. on a per game basis, but let’s instead just do something that feels nice. A .250 average, that feels nice. If the hitters I suggest here end up getting one hit for every four at-bats, I think everyone would agree it was worth our time to do this. Also arbitrary, I’ll aim for .5 runs per game, .5 RBI, .2 HR, and .2 SB. If one of every five players hits a home run (one per article), I think we all go home happy.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Catcher-rye-full

Get it?

Time to finally hang up the fantasy football helmet, slip into my official Steve Balboni athletic supporter and get ready for some of the base and the balls talk. This nipple hardening February morning finds your humble-but-nonetheless-handsome Guru loading the van up with scouting reports, clean turbans, eye black and my Jenny Dell inflatable doll for that long, lonely road trip to Fort Myers to prepare for spring training. As we cross the days off the calendar until we dive into some actual fake baseball drafting, it’s time to dig out the ol’ jammer crammer machine (available on Adam&Eve.com) and dig through this year’s jams and crams by position for the 2014 fantasy baseball season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Maybe it’s the rush of the holiday season with two kids or the fact that some major cash is flowing in free agency, but I feel like this year’s offseason is just whizzing by. This will be the last sort of “stat review” for SAGNOF before I head into the territory of value plays for steals in 2014. This post will lay out some of the best and worst catchers in terms of their caught stealing percentages (CS%). Keep in mind that pitchers have a lot to do with holding baserunners as well, and you can find my previous post on the best and worst pitchers against the stolen base here at Razzball. A quick note on the catcher tables – I sorted them by qualified and non-qualified catchers. “Qualified” catchers played more than 1/2 of their team’s games, while “non-qualified” catchers played less than that. Catchers who split times between two teams, like Kurt Suzuki, also end up on the “non-qualified” list. The league average caught stealing percentage in 2013 was 28%, and that hasn’t really changed much over the last 3 years (27% in 2012, 28% in 2011). Last but not least, consider that playing time situations can fluctuate with free agent signings and trades, creating new opportunities for previously non-qualified catchers as the offseason transactions continue. Green columns indicate guys that are easy to run against, and red columns designate the toughest to run against:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It feels like yesterday the baseball regular season started. You wrote “I heart baseball” in permanent marker on your arm, then you met a girl who wrote “I heart guys who heart baseball” on her arm, then, during sex in September, you screamed out “I love you, Chris Davis!” and now you don’t have baseball or a girlfriend, unless your girlfriend was Bill James. C’mon, calendar, make like a soldier and turn to March. The only cure for the post-baseball season blues — recapping the preseason top twenty lists and being hand-fed Doritos. First up, Cool Ranch and our preseason Top 20 Catchers for 2013. It’s important to look back before we look ahead to 2014. To paraphrase the one and only B-Real, “How do you know where you’re at, if you don’t know where you’ve been? Understand where I’m coming from?” It wouldn’t be fair for me to preseason rank the players, then rank them again in the postseason based on my opinion, so these postseason top 20 lists are ranked according to our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater. It’s cold hard math, y’all! Please, for the love that all is holy, don’t ask me if this is for next year. Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2013 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I remember as a kid trying to watch Kelly’s Heroes with my dad, and not understanding any of it.  I mean, it didn’t have a Wookie.  Reading over that Wikipedia synopsis, sounds a lot like Three Kings that came out almost 3 decades later.  Nothing original in Hollywood anymore!

But to baseball, Joe Kelly has some heroes of his own.  First there’s the Cardinals developmental system that seems to churn out pitching prospects that can throw upper 90’s faster than Hollywood sequel greenlights.  Then there’s the Cardinals offense that leads the NL in runs scored by 53.  Using his rag-tag unit of pitching coaches, arguably the best catcher in the game Yadier Molina, and an offense ready to give him a lead every game out, can Joe Kelly help you steal the gold in a fantasy title?  I tuned into his start yesterday in Pittsburgh to break down how he looks and if he can be a wildcard contributor to your final fantasy push:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Pirates are in it to win it, y’all! Maybe too aggressive. Okay, the Pirates are in it to make it seem like they’re in it to win it, y’all! Yeah, that’s probably a closer approximation. If we’re sitting here in October and saying the Pirates couldn’t have won the World Series without the help of Marlon Byrd, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle and pay for my monkey nephew to go to college, which is a lot of money. Luckily, I think they can win it with or without Byrd, as a Nikki Dinki-hosted show would say. Thankfully, none of this matters for fantasy, so why are we even talking about it? I don’t know, clunky expository question! Byrd will likely prop up the bottom of the Pirates lineup when he plays and prop himself onto the mascot’s shoulder on off days. Byrd gains a tad bit of value with this move since the Mess offense was nothing to write home about unless you were locked up abroad and ran out of things to write on postcards, and ‘Hitters Are Better Outside Of Metco’ is a bumper sticker I don’t own, but endorse. Also, going to the Pittsburgh Bucs is John Buck. Buck will change his New York nickname of “Midnight Cowboy” to “Swash,” and steal some looks behind the plate from Martin. Going the other way is Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later. Unless that player is Andrew McCutchen, there’s not a whole lot to talk about on the Mets receiving end. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I am back with another Pitcher Profile Razzball Nation!  I was out of town last week and unable to work on multiple screens slash was sipping daiquiris on vacation.  True story.  Ask Sky.  Then ask him what drink we came up with while my daiquiri was half melted and looked like a prop from Hostel.

As I try to do every week, I like picking a guy who pitched on Sunday to keep things topical.  I also like to do profiles on pitchers that have been requested.  And Zack Wheeler pitched on Sunday!  The stars have aligned to give everyone an introspective look and how he… well… looked.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The afternoon started with Matt Harvey. He pitched a stellar 7 innings with 13 Ks, but Terry Collins sent him out there in the 8th after throwing 110 pitches, which lead to two singles and a walk, three runners that the bullpen let in. After the game, Collins said, “I felt bad for Duda (who blew a chance for a Harvey no-hitter by not covering first base on Heyward’s infield single). I couldn’t let Duda make the only Metsake of the game. I was going to keep pitching Harvey until he screwed up. He’d have started the nightcap, if necessary.” Fortch, it wasn’t necessary, as the nightcap brought on Zack Wheeler‘s debut with a line of 6 IP, 0 ER, 9 baserunners (5 BBs), 7 Ks. To summarize, it was shaky as all get-out at first. He looked like he couldn’t hit the broadside of Precious. Then he either calmed, or realized something — if he could locate, no one could hit him. He can easily be as good as Harvey, but I’m guessing it won’t be until next year. Last night was the best you could’ve hoped for. To summarize that summary, he was shaky, then solid. To summarize the summary’s summary, Zack good. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In the words of one Champ Kind, “That’s a whaaammy!” Hanley Ramirez left the game last night with a hamstring injury in just his fourth game back from the DL with a torn ligament in his thumb. HanRam will have tests done this weekend but early signs are not good. He did that “Oww! PAIN!”-grab-the-back-of-the-leg move that Giancarlo Stanton owners are no doubt familiar with, and he needed the help of two trainers to get off the field. Manager Don Mattingly said it looked like he’ll miss “…a good amount of time,” and wouldn’t expect him back anytime soon. Don also added, “Hot damn-ley! This screws up all my plan-leys!” That makes two of us, Donny. Ramirez’s rehab for his thumb went so smoothly we should have known some doom and gloom was on the way. In addition to returning ahead of schedule and bursting with confidence (I don’t think I ever heard HanRam speaking so enthusiastically about playing, I guess leaving the Marlins can do wondrous things for morale), Hanley started out mashing right out of the gate, batting .455 with a homer and stolen base. It was too good to be true. Sure, no one thought he was Ironman-ley (III: Gandhi’s Revenge!), but this is tough luck for anyone. Hopefully owners haven’t dropped their Josh Donaldsons, Brandon Crawfords or various other replacements just yet because they could likely be without HanRam for the next 3-5 weeks, if not more.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?