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?

What a night! I spent last evening at Razzball’s Boston stop of the #32in32in32 tour kicking it with the one and only Nick Capozzi, Smokey (my new best friend) and a whole bunch of Razzaholics at the Greatest Bar in Boston (obnoxious Boston bar name alert). Though the focus was football, there was a whole lot of Daily Fantasy baseball talk with so many daily junkies in the building. A few conversations about lineup strategies and spending approaches came up. The overwhelming sentiment seemed to be how much cheaper hitters had gotten since the DraftKings acquisition of Draft Street. I’d have to agree, I also have to say I don’t dislike it. It’s made the format even more competitive and allowed me to get aces into my rotation more frequently, which I’m good with. As any good DraftKing knows it’s all about the pitching baby! Well, loyal Razzballers (Grey’s mom’s term?) today is no different. With a full slate of games and a full slate of pitchers to choose from I feel a little underwhelmed. I can say that there are only three starters who I’m actually excited to start today. One of which I’m taking on blind faith. Well maybe not quite blind becauseKyle Hendricks has been damn good since his call up (5-1, 1.66 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) and has put up three start starts of 20+ points on DK. The K rate leaves something to be desired but 3 straight starts of 7 innings or more makes up for the lack of punchouts. It doesn’t hurt that his price is cheap at $7,100, allowing you to target some high end bats in the early games.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 20 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to check theDFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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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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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?

As I type this, I’m in a small, but expected depression as a disgruntled Mets fan living in Minnesota after today’s non-waiver trade deadline. In the middle of thermal packaging related activities, I saw deal and deal and deal swing by. All I get from both the teams that I follow most? A Kurt Suzuki extension. Oye. All that did was disgruntle me more, as I like Josmil Pinto quite a bit. I figured at least Bartolo Colon would get traded for some PTBL or a BoB (bucket o’ balls). Ah well.

On the other hand, if you’re a Tigers fan (I’m not a bandwagon A’s fan until the Mets are good, I decided today), you must be pretty excited. Drew Smyly wasn’t as dominating as a starter and Austin Jackson continued to short-come expectations. Instead you have an second ace, and can now appropriately consider Justin Verlander your number 3 or 4 or 5. [Jay's Note: Or playoff closer?] Verlander has not been good, but he’s also been almost as unlucky as he’s been bad, or he’s hurt and isn’t saying anything/doesn’t know it.

July 1st, I noted the luckiest pitchers to date, but the one thing I didn’t do at that time was look at the pitcher’s luck/bad luck relative to their career rates. So for this post, for luck, I z-scored each pitcher’s luck stats relative to their career stats (homerun to flyball ratio, left on base% and BABIP). I weighed each z-score by the stats correlation to ERA. Therefore the luckies pitchers (using luck alone and excluding skill) as of 7/27 is: Josh Beckett, Jake Arrieta, Collin McHugh, Scott Kazmir, Garrett Richards, Zach Britton, Jordan Lyles, Drew Pomeranz, Dellin Betances, Alfredo Simon and Danny Duffy. Chris Young, Jason Hammel and Jesse Chavez (update: both Hammel and Chavez were rocked in their last start). However, this all excludes skill (contact rate, strikeout% minus walk% and ground ball to flyball ratio). Incorporating this, here are the actual luckiest pitchers as of 7/27:

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The Colorado Rockies have not had an easy go of it this season.  After beginning the year in tremendous fashion, injuries have contributed to a pretty steady drop in the standings.  Once 22-14, the Rockies have fallen one game below .500, to 34-35. Pitching is always to blame when it comes to the blemishes of the Blake Street Bombers, and this year has been no exception, with the team placing last in the majors with a 4.61 ERA.  However, mounting injuries have put an even bigger dent into the psyche of the good spirited people of Denver. First, Nolan Arenado hit the DL.  Then it was Michael Cuddyer (twice) and Carlos Gonzalez.  Pitcher Jordan Lyles, who had been their best starter to date, broke his non-pitching hand on a freak play.  Wilin Rosario even had a stint on the sidelines with a stomach bug.  Presumably, he’s been using that as his excuse for his poor hitting all season long.  The only player who hasn’t been hurt is human house-of-straw, Justin Morneau.  Go figure.

Good news for the Rockies, and for fantasy owners, is that Arenado (finger) could be back by the All-Star break, or perhaps even sooner if he can progress quickly through rehab games. While any possible cancer scare is nothing to dismiss, the fact that CarGo’s injury was “only” a benign foreign mass — and not a torn ligament — was the best possible news his owners could hear.  His original five-week timetable would have him back around the All-Star break.

Now all the Rockies need to do is get superz-sized sheets of bubble wrap for Troy Tulowitzki.

Here are some other injury notes that caught my eye this week…

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Frenemies and cohorts, it is that magical time of year where the player pool begins to grow.  Summer harvest begins to reap the treasures of the seeds sown by unheralded draft pundits of years passed.  The scout’s moment is now.  Having spent their lives adorned with holey New Balances, wholly unrefined frozen dinners of Salisbury steak and discount diner breakfasts, they get to pound an Old Milwaukee and puff a few Doral’s as they revel in the glory of their hatred of sabremetrics.  A life not fancied by us fantasy internet blogger moguls.  No sirs and madams, we require a much fancier life—a life infused with excitement brought on by WHIPs and FIPs and wOBAs and WARs!  The rest is mas o menos lo mismo— the same old shizz.  Other than our baseball lens, the only other difference is that we stuttering B-Ball Bloggers need to score!!!  Points…

Points is why we’re here, and June presents a unique opportunity where the player pool expands with talent that is usable and keepable.  September offers a smorgasbord of young talent, but mostly it’s too late and the infusion of players nourish your team like an energy drink shooter with cinnamon whiskey.  The hangover is awful and often begins before the luster of the buzz has worn off.  The June callups are the cognacs, ladies men.  Let’s take a look at these beauties.

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In between winning the Nobel Prize, shots of rum, bagging 240-pound marlins and banging 140-pound broads, Ernest Hemingway wrote: The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.”  Did Papa play fantasy baseball? My pitching staff was very good, very brave, and now they’re very dead. Light a candle and cue the bagpipes (those things get me misty every time) in memory of Patrick Corbin, Matt Moore, Kris Medlen and the latest soldier to fall, Jose FernandezThe literary references aside, the most talked about pitcher in baseball this season is not Clayton Kershaw, it’s not Max Scherzer, and it’s not even Bartolo Colon after an at-bat. The most talked about arm in the game is Tommy John. If ol’ TJ had a buck for every pitcher that has been lost this season to the surgery that bears his name, he’d have $19 – which is $4 more than he made in his Major League career. Thus far, 19 pitchers have blown out their prized possession, with Fernandez the latest to fall and rumors swirling about Andrew Cashner, who was just put on the DL shelf. All of last season, 19 players were lost to Tommy John. To talk some real baseball for a minute, even commissioner Bud Selig weighed in on the epidemic saying, “I’m almost afraid to pick up the paper because of the bad news.” Unfortunately, the bad news Bud was referring to, in the paper, was that it looks like Beetle Bailey will never get out of the Army. Bud then answered a call on his shoe as his toupee fell into his soup. The fact is, no matter how well you drafted, your staff must be feeling the pain, and no amount of penicillin will cure what ails you.  It’s time to fire up the jammer-crammer machine©, dive into the deep-end of the waiver waters, and find us some arms that aren’t stitched together like Young Frankenstein. Walk this way, it’s time to jam it or cram it.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m going to be completely honest with you……. bear with me I’ve spent the past 8 years in sales this isn’t something I’m used to. I loathe John Lackey. I hate his voice, I hate his face, I hate the way his mouth is always open as if it was some 24 hour 7-11, but most of all I hated the way he was overvalued in fantasy and reality during his time with the Angels. After posting a 6.47 ERA in 2011 I figured the man I mockingly call The Muppet was done, off to the land of Dontrelle Willis. Then after sitting out 2012 for the now mandatory Tommy John surgery he came back a different player. Keeping hitters off balance with great sequencing, Lackey was one of the big surprises for the World Champions last season. Thus far this season it’s been more of the same (if not better). He enters tonight’s game against the Tigers with a 5-2 record, a 3.57 era, and an 8.83 k rate, the highest of his career. In fact, outside of two rough outings back to back against the Yankees and the Orioles back in mid-April, he’s provided a quality start each time he’s taken the mound for the Sawx. The only thing that could derail his season is inappropriate text messages from a member of the media. Well that and Ian Kinsler and the Tigers. Over the years, several members of the Tigers (some of which will be covered later on!) have owned Lackey but none quite like Kinsler. In 39 PA’s Kinsler has a 1.345 OPS with 4 hr’s, 9 steaks, and a couple of steals. That sample size ain’t small folks (that’s what she said) and that OPS is huge! (that’s what Bill James said…?) Kinsler is a must own at 2b in all lineups over at DraftKings. With a cost of $4,900 he’s not cheap but I think based on his history he’s well worth the premium price.

B-T-Dubs guys (and 4… maybe 5 girl readers) if you haven’t played daily fantasy over at Draftkings you should. In fact just for signing up you’ll get a free entry into a contest….so click here and do it now…….I’m waiting….are you going to click? I don’t have all day folks, I got poopy diapers to change and 10 minute bathroom trips to check my fantasy teams to make…..Perfect, now let’s move on.

Dubba B-T-Dubs if you don’t trust me, the genius Rudy Gamble has put together another amazing tool in the DFSBot to aid you in finding value in your Daily Fantasy persuits.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Troy Tulowitzki is hitting .408. I’m not even joking. Member those days when you’d open up the paper and look at the league leaders? You’d then rub your face with your ink-stained fingers and you’d look like Bucky Dent with the eye black, then you’d overdo it and you’d look like Al Jolson and you’d get your family in a race war with your neighbors. Do you even know league leaders now without the newspaper? I don’t. I mean, I know guys that are doing well, but actual league leaders? It is irrelevant to a certain extent. If a guy is tied for 2nd most wins in the AL (Martin Perez) and he goes out and gets bombed yesterday (5 IP, 5 ER), does it matter? I guess it does matter with Tulo since he’s hitting four hundred and eight preceded by a decimal. That’s kinda beautiful. I own him for the first time in my life, and, due to that, he’s going to stay healthy all year. What, it’s putting it out in the universe. Yeah, unlikely, but hot dizzamn he’s good when going well. Yesterday, he hit two homers and in the last week he’s hitting over .600. As lyrics say in the lone single to go platinum off my Rod Stewart/MC Hammer mash-up album, “Stay forever young, Tulo legit, to quit.” Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?