It started with a simple email. Hey Grey and Rudy, wouldn’t it be cool if someone wrote about the top pitchers broken down by month? And within those months, to evaluate with and without wins to ascertain who pitched well and gave good value vs. who pitched for a 90 win club and had a 4-0 month? Response was a resounding yes, of course. And of course, it was my own damn fault for having such a good idea because now I’m here giving you offseason content prior to January. Clearly the time that everyone is reading about fantasy baseball. Oh well, let’s get to it. Here’s a look back at April’s pitching to see if it holds any keys going forward to 2015 fantasy baseball:

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All the final 2014 fantasy baseball rankings for hitters are done. For those that skipped today’s title, this starts the top 20 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball. This is NOT for 2015 (caps for those who can’t read titles; supposedly it’s easier to read caps, I have my doubts). This is a recap. Will these affect next year’s rankings? Sure. But not entirely. To recapitulate, these rankings are from our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater. We’re (me) using it to fairly gauge our (my) preseason rankings. Anyway, here’s the top 20 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

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Robert Downey Jr. and Phil Hughes have more in common than you might think. Both dealt with notoriously weak starts to their careers in The Big Apple. Hughes in pinstripes had four straight years of a 4+ ERA, and Downey on SNL. Both had to deal with brace-faced divas, Joe Girardi and Anthony Michael Hall. One was scouted by Gene Michael, the other Lorne Michaels. One wanted to impress Pettitte, one wanted to avoid petting Randy Quaid’s pet squirrel. One had to wait for A-Rod to finish frosting his hair before he could use the bathroom, one made frosting out of cocaine. But once they were out of New York, the world opened up to each. Yesterday, Hughes won his 16th game, going 8 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 5 Ks, and lowering his ERA to 3.52. His K-rate is 8 and his walk rate is 0.7, as he set the all-time strikeout-to-walk ratio at 11.63. Think about that walk rate for a second. Okay, the second is up. He walked 16 guys in 209 2/3 IP. That’s as terrific as 186 Ks, which is what he had. His ERA doesn’t look amazing in today’s day and age where everyone has a sub-3 ERA, but Hughes was actually unlucky and had a 3.15 xFIP. Everything together has me excited about Hughes for 2015 fantasy baseball. I could see him being relegated to 2nd fiddle status with some other 3rd or 4th fantasy starters, but outperforming his draft spot. Circling back to AMH, any time a guy like Hughes strikes out as much as Anthony Michael Hall and walks less than Uncle Buck, color me excited. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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If you’ve been scouring all your picture books for a proper fantasy hitter in the final week, look no further. Oswaldo Arcia was 3-for-4 with his 19th home run and two RBI last night. Arcia has a nice little six-game hitting streak, with four homers in that stretch. To be fair, however, he’s also sat four games in that span with a tweaked muscle in his upper back. Injury concerns aside, Oswaldo is destroying baseballs when he’s on the field. In his past six games, he’s clubbed four homers and with 8 RBI. He’s slugging .858 in the past two weeks while batting over .400, and with 19 homers (12 at cavernous Target Field) in 94 games, he’s got serious power and might be someone to consider on draft day next year. He’s worth the pick up in all leagues if you need some pop in the final week of the season. Oswaldo could power you to fantasy glory. He’s missed some time in the past few days, but he hasn’t shown any ill effects of the injury while on the field, so hopefully this back injury is behind him for the most part. Get it!?  Ha! Either way that shouldn’t discourage you from picking him up this hot little potato while he’s mashing.

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

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It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about back to school, or even football season. It’s that time of year when baseball teams clinch playoff berths and then get wastey-faced while wearing swimming goggles. Basically, everyone on the team acts like Michael Phelps at a frat party (sans the bong hits). Baseball is awesome when you’re good. The hangover from these celebrations usually results in teams resting their regulars the next day (unless there are still home field advantage implications), so keep tabs on the champagne getting sprayed in the clubhouse. You don’t want to roster any of those hitters the next day, and it’s a pretty good idea to pounce on the opposing starting pitcher. I don’t think any magic numbers will be in play for a few days, so let’s put the diabolical schemes aside for now, and focus on some GPP value plays for tonight.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 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 the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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After Rafael Soriano once again looked like his apologetic alter ego, Sorry-yo, Matt Williams said the Nats won’t have a set closer. Let’s backtrack to August 18th, it was a day after the fourth time Soriano had given up runs in the matter of two weeks. At that point, I wrote there was a problem, and I grabbed Drew Storen. That was three weeks ago, and things haven’t gotten better. So, why was I able to spot there was a problem with Soriano three weeks prior to the Nationals manager, Matt Williams? Terrific question. There’s a few possible reasons A) Matt Williams’s Oakleys are worn to shield TV cameras from showing he’s actually asleep. B) Matt Williams can’t find steroids that make him smarter. C) There’s no C. D) In a secret meeting in Bud Selig’s wood-paneled basement in Milwaukee in 1999, Major League Baseball declared that every team must have at least one Mark McGwire. Matt Williams was elected to be Arizona’s Mark McGwire. (Sosa was elected to be the Cubs’ McGwire, which is why he bleached his skin.) The experiment to have a McGwire on every team was a success at first, but soon the players that were elected to be McGwire began to say, “I’m not here to talk about the past,” every time any question was asked. The biggest offender of this was Matt Williams, so, rather than risk being found out, MLB made him the Nats manager. Any of these reasons could be right, but it’s probably D. So, with Soriano in trouble, the Nats could go to Storen, Tyler Clippard or Matt Thornton. My guess is it’ll go in that order, and yesterday Storen got the clean save, helping his case. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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In 1778, Benjamin Franklin pulled the first American flag from Betsy Ross’s, uh, clutches and proclaimed a holiday to be called Labor Day in the then-resort city of Philadelphia. Since then there’s been a long history of great Philly pitchers: Steve “Lefty” Carlton, Jackie “Kid” Gleason, Robin “ESPN anchor” Roberts, Curt Schilling, who later went on to be known for saucing his French fries with ketchup out of his sock, Jim “Beds Are” Bunning and Brett “I’ll Show You Slap Hits” Myers. Philly’s not the same town now as it was in Ben’s day, as the battle for best cheesesteak tore up most of the city. “Geno’s? How about I give you a jihad wit wiz?!” It’s ugly, without much joy in the City of Brotherly Love, a nickname adopted due to the popularity of a WWF manager in the early 90’s. Yesterday, for a moment, all of that sorrow was told to go to ‘morrow, as Cole Hamels and Jacob Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon combined for a no hitter. Hamels only made it through six innings, because he took Labor Day literally and struggled with five walks. If I had to give an award out because I had an award and didn’t know what to do with it, I’d ask someone next year if Jacob Diekman ever threw a no-hitter, and would reward them with that unwanted trophy if they said yes. A great day for Philly fans everywhere (except for the fans that came to the game with D batteries hoping for a reason to throw them at a player). Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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So there I was, huddled with my family in the basement. Waiting for the tornado. I kept thinking, “I’m from Massachusetts why am I in the basement at 9 o’clock at night, the Sunday before Labor Day waiting out a tornado warning?” (Entitled Northerner Alert!!) To get my mind off of what was potentially headed my way, I went and checked my DraftKings roster. GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY!!12TH! My mood went from somber to ecstatic almost immediately. That’s the highest I’ve ever finished in a Moonshot before. Sure I’ve had a dozen or so top 100 finishes and a couple of top 50’s but top 12? Hell nah! Now I really hoped to make it out of this basement in one piece. I’m cashing like crazy tonight baby. Get Money indeed!

Not to worry Razzaholics, the storm passed, the Tornado was canceled (I didn’t know that they canceled these things) and the Lifshitz clan is safe and sound. Great! more time to focus on turning these winnings into a vacation to San Diego or Hawaii or some place warm for the winter. Welp, I think I just locked up the award for the most dramatic opening of a post on Razzball. As well as the award for the Father who’s priorities are the least in order. In my work for Football later this week, I’ll be gunning for the most times the word selfie has been used in a post, and the least informative content. What can I say I aim high. You know who is aiming high these days? (Segue FTW!) Corey Kluber! Today he’s got the difficult task of trying to tame the Tigers. This is no feat for mere mortals, in fact Mr. Kluber himself has fallen a victim to the Jaws of the Tigers before. Primarily saber tooth sluggers Miguel Cabrera (15/28, 3 hr’s, 7 RBI, 6 K’s score one for Corey!) and Victor Martinez (8/21, 2 hr’s, 3 RBI, 2 K’s). I’m not under any delusions that tell me Kluber is going to get rocked, but as I said in Two Start-A-Palooza on Saturday I could see a 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 K kind of game. Not bad but also not worth $11,800. Just so we’re clear I love Kluber I’m just giving him the Labor Day fade. (UPDATE: Now that I know that Miggy will be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future I’m upgrading Kluber to a good start in all formats) The same goes for David Price and his $12,200 price tag. There are too many great pitching options today to bother with aces facing good offenses.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 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 the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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!

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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?