It feels good to finally be able to use a Demi Lovato song in my title. Forget Chad Kuhl let’s talk about Demi! What star power! What charisma! What a voice! Name another song besides the one in the title! You can’t!
**inner-monologue** Wait, don’t take that bet. Don’t show your true colors when you don’t have to. I mean, it’s not like I Ralph Lifshitz am actually a Demi Lovato fan. PFFT! That would be preposterous! **inner-monologue-out**
Chad Kuhl of the other hand, different story. Now he is a someone who’s fandom I’d consider! (You don’t believe me do you?) The 24 year old righthander, has followed up a promising rookie campaign with an inconsistent 2017. That’s not to say this season hasn’t had it’s bright spots. He looks on pace to reach at least 150 innings, his velocity has jumped nearly 3 miles per hour on the fastball, his swinging strike rate is up, and despite a 4.52 ERA, he’s been slightly unlucky (68.5% LOB, .316 BABIP). Luck aside he’s struggled to limit contact, and has always walked a few more batters than you’d like to see. Since the calendar turned to July, Kuhl has been a top 30 starter going 4-2 over 10 starts with a 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .211 BAA, and his 21% K% is up about 2% from his career norm. More than likely this is a hot streak but with a player this young it’s best to see for ones self. Today we’ll dig into Kuhl’s most recent start vs St. Louis at home to get a closer look.
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.
On Saturday night, Bryce Harper lunged for first base, slipped and his leg went the wrong direction. Like two white guys meeting, one goes for the handshake and one goes for the hug and it just goes awkwardly wrong in every way. Atticus Finch had much more success stepping on his white base. Owning Harper on multiple teams, I looked at the latest news Saturday night, and I saw:
Devastated. Crushed. C’mon, thesaurus, give me another one. Thankfully, it was revealed as the best possible outcome for him, a bone bruise. Still, not a great outcome for us with him on our fantasy teams, since he will be out for the better part of the rest of the season. Don’t worry, I have Jose Pirela! *sticks head in oven, puts on The Bell Jar book on tape* Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:
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.
Since surviving a vicious industry wide-Cub Fan driven smear campaign, Eloy Jimenez has been a man with a mission. Since joining Winston-Salem, the Chi-Sox high A affiliate, he’s slashed .352/.418/.690 with 5 homers and 18 RBI’s in his first 20 games. The 20 year old slugger has continued to make improvements at the plate in 2017, walking at a 10% clip, while maintaining K rates at or below 20%. The combination of contact, patience, and power is a rare one. This is why I rank Eloy amongst the very elite prospects in the game, with such contemporaries as Acuna, Robles, Guerrero, and Tucker. He’s likely to spend the remainder of 2017 in Winston-Salem, before being assigned to AA next season out of camp. He has a real shot at the number one prospect in all of baseball, once Ronald Acuna heads to the majors. Despite all of his recent success and oodles of upside, it will be years before we find out just how high of a price the Cubs paid for Quintana. That’s not to say that Jimenez is can’t miss, though he’s a close as they come. The Chicago White Sox system is full of future potential stars, but none shine brighter at the moment than Eloy. A future .280/35/100 player is the ceiling, with a power hitting DH floor. It wouldn’t shock me if we saw Jimenez some time in late 2018, with the mostly likely time frame being September. Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB…
Ozzies sure seem to always be MIs. Oswaldo Arcia must not have been allowed to change his name, he should’ve switched with Orlando. I’m at the waiver wire like this, “Go shopping…Go shopping…Let’s all go shopping…Go shopping…” Ya know what? I’m just gonna leave this here…
I’m at the Albies Square Mall!
I’m at the Albies Square Mall!
I’m at the Albies Square Mall!
I’m at the Albies Square Mall!
You have to love Biz’s way with words. Can only be described as slow and methodical. Ozzie Albies can best be described as mini-Altuve. What’s he a dwarf? You little person, Ozzie Albies Square Mall? He has a ton of speed (70 score), and makes contact, while his power has made serious gains. Or GAINZ, according to Endorphin Ralph. He’s a must grab in all leagues, and could be a top 25 fantasy player for dynasty leagues. This little guy is big-time. Unlike Ozzie Guillen and Ozzy Osbourne, this Ozzie will use his bat for something useful vs slapping and biting. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
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.
There is a decent chance that the MLB Trade Deadline throws some wrenches into our list this week. Yu Darvish is currently on the list and could very well get traded. He got absolutely rocked his last time out, though, so some owners might be a little shy about throwing him out there for two starts this week. Depending on your team and league format, though, the chances are you should probably send Darvish out there for his two turns this week. He is going to start at least once even if he gets traded, and August is not the time to start second-guessing your squad.
Our focus for this week is Charlie Morton. He is only owned in 49% of RCLs, and Streamonator likes him for a $13.60 value that is partly due to favorable matchups against the Rays and Blue Jays, both of whom are in the bottom eight in team wOBA over the last couple weeks. In his last start out against the Phillies (who are surprisingly in the top eight for team wOBA over the last two weeks), he tossed seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts on just three hits and a walk.
The main difference in Morton this year that has increased his fantasy value is he is striking out batters at a much higher rate than he ever has in his career. His career K/9 is 6.66, but his K/9 in 2017 is up over 10/9:
Between trade deadline deals and prospect call-ups, I am so super jacked right now, I could jackhammer a road with my excitement! Is it weird that I’m picturing a mural of Giancarlo on the ground while I jackhammer said road with my excitement? “Hey, move that traffic cone! Giancarlo’s birthmark is further down and to the right!” That’s me directing city workers as they put my Giancarlo mural on my block. So, with Dexter Fowler hitting the DL with a forearm strain, the Card called up Harrison Bader. I’m kicking myself for going Willie Calhoun over Harrison Bader two weeks ago in NL-Only FAAB. Real bad call by me. Now, I got Willie Calhoun, who sounds like someone in Alcatraz, and I’m kicking rocks. Why do we care? Bader has 19 HRs, 9 SBs and a .297 average in Triple-A, and Prospector Ralph put him 36th overall on his top 100 fantasy baseball prospect list. I attempted to add him everywhere, even in ESPN leagues where he’s not in their system yet. Oops, guess they didn’t see him coming. Apparently, they don’t put the ESP in ESPN. Bader’s overall profile looks to be a 20-ish homers, 12ish steals, .275-ish average. His -ish looks Fowler-ish, and I’m chicken-lickin’. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
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.