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.

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I was craving sashimi last night, so I sauntered to my local sushi joint. When I walked through the door, I heard the familiar, “Irrashaimase maido,” from the chefs behind the counter. As I nodded my head down reverently, I realized there was a new member of the crew. I like to live dangerously, so I sat down at the bar in front of him. I usually ask the chef, “What’s good today?” but last night it was just, “Prepare what you think is best.” Like I said, I like to live dangerously. If I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation, I would’ve knocked my chair backwards and banged my head on the floor from the show I was presented. It was all so un-Benihana-esque. The skill. The grace. As he wiped the sweat from his forehead after slicing and dicing the manta rays placed before him, I asked him one simple question. “Who are you?” He looked me in the eye and responded, “I am Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees.” Tanaka was perfect for five innings Friday night. He ended up allowing two hits, one earned run, did not walk a batter, and struck out 14 in eight innings. 77-of-109 pitches were thrown for strikes. That’s how you earn a big tip! Now, keep in mind that Tampa Bay strikes out the fourth-most frequently against RHP and the huge night knocked down his ERA to 5.09 for the year. He did give up four, three, and five earned runs in his prior three starts and got pummeled in his two previous starts against TB. As Friday night showed, though, Tanaka does have the ability to absolutely dominate. When I eat raw fish, I know there’s always the risk that I could be eating some three-eyed monster from Fukushima. That’s how I feel about starting Tanaka. As I said before, I like to live dangerously.

Here’s what else I saw from Friday night’s action:

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It’s all fun and games when the lights go off and the special things in life glow under different color light.  Laundry detergent, player names, and the puns that are associated with them… and believe it or not a good ole bottle of Hennessy.  So now that we have concocted that cocktail and images in your head, let’s move onto the Fantasy Baseball portion of this relationship.  That being Marcus Semien.  I am going to be the first to admit that I really like the idea of this guy on my team after last season’s output, as he produced 27 HR’s and 10 steals.  Not the elite of foot by any stretch of the SAGNOF imagination, but the 27 taters from a middle infield spot takes a lot of gleam off the cube.  So why now?  Well, his season was derailed by injury and he only still has 86 at-bats on the year.  Ignore all the other facets, he is not going to hit for average and not going to score a ton of runs in the A’s lineup, but he has 7 steals in those 86 at-bats.  (He only had 10 last year in 586 at bats, remember I just said that.)  So he has gone from a once every 60 plate appearances per steal guy to one every 10.  I am by far no mathematical genius, but that looks like a gigantic difference.  Since he returned from the DL, he is hitting 30 points above his career average, which is only .230, but still, .265 is better then .230.  The steals are what we want and that’s why we here.  So with the expectations of him not slipping out of the lineup now that he is returned he could easily be a cheap source (8.6% owned in ESPN leagues).  With the way that the middle infield spots turn over and the trade deadline around the bend stats at any chance are better then none.

Be sure to check out Razzball Soccer for all of your Fantasy Premier Leagues!

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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.

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Hehe, I’m such a jerk.  I finally dedicate a lede to Jason Vargas and it’s to point out how bad he was last night — 2 2/3 IP, 6 ER, ERA up to 3.06.  Well, look at it this way.  If he wasn’t good for so long, him being bad wouldn’t matter.  For unstints, my friend texted me yesterday, “R. Kelly’s being accused of holding girls against their will in his cult.”  I texted back, “That’s one cult where you really don’t want to drink the Kool-Aid.”  It was the least surprising news yesterday.  2nd least surprising is the Vargas regression.  What happens with regression, stays in Vargas.  He’s not done regressing either, if his peripherals hold.  He has a 6.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 4.87 xFIP, i.e.,  A lost Vargas is not just a Wynn, but one of those sure-cuts, sure-cuts.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Way back in April the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Commonwealth of Independent States, sent the notorious “Player To Be Named Later” to the Baltimore Orioles for Parker Bridwell. At the time Bridwell was an unheard of 25 year old righthander with less than 20 innings above AA. The move flew under the radar to most of the baseball world with the exception of the Bridwell family, and an eccentric dyslexic real estate agent named Shelly with a passion for anything bird related. See no one at the time, could have foreseen this unheralded pro in his 7th season in the minors helping a major league ball club. Fast forward 3 months, and here we sit about to breakdown Bridwell’s 6th major league start of 2017 against the contending Tampa Bay Rays. What a world!

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The list of two-start starters for Week 16 is pretty ugly. Not only did it take some time to materialize as teams figured out their rotations following the All-Star break, but once the dust settled and we had a good idea of who would be starting when many of the names we were left with were not all that appealing. Sure, the high-end options like Kershaw (for now), Strasburg, and Greinke were there, but the meat and bones of the list were lacking.

Just ignore Clayton Kershaw. At this point in the season, I am convinced that Dave Roberts reads this post every week and then trolls us all by changing his rotation on Sunday night. He is at the top of the list as of this writing, but that could easily change in the next few seconds. The Dodgers have a dozen or so possible starting pitchers, and Roberts shuffles or adjusts his rotation pretty frequently.

One name to take a look at this week is the soft-tossing Brent Suter. While he does not exactly light up the radar gun, he has been very effective in his recent stint as a starter for the Brewers. In his last two starts, he shut out the Orioles over six innings while striking out eight and then allowed just two earned runs over 6 ? innings against the Yankees while striking out five before the break.

Throughout his career in the minors, Suter has been consistently solid-yet-unremarkable. In other words, he has never really been great but hasn’t been bad, either. He has a 3.44 ERA across six seasons in the minor leagues while throwing to a 3.12 ERA during his time in the show. His 2.96/2.78/8.23/2.63 (see chart below) is also solid.

Streamonator does not like him as much as I do. The ‘nator has Suter up around its 20th best option or so (with a negative value), while I have him at the top of the Standards category below, which puts him around 15th or so. He is, however, only owned in 1% of all RCLs, so he should be available to everyone reading this except the one person who is in the league with that one guy or gal who already picked him up.

If you are in need of an arm in the short term, especially in a two-start week, you can do worse. You can do better, too, but I like Suter as a guy who can offer some solid short term numbers. Other guys Streamonator likes for the upcoming week who are owned in less than 50% of RCLs: Matt Moore, Zack Wheeler, and Rafael Montero.

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This is an excerpt of a phone call Razzball intercepted during Sunday’s afternoon games.  Since every state involved is a two-party consent for recording, we cannot reveal who recorded the call, but it rhymes with Trudy Gramble.  Here, let’s listen in:  “Hello, this is the CEO of Super Ball, the world’s hardest, bounciest, craziest, shouldn’t-be-used-as-a-baseballiest ball.  Who is this calling?”  Our Commissioner Rob Manfred disguises his voice so he sounds raspy, “I’m Kathleen Turner.  I was wondering if you would sell me 70,000 Super Balls to not be used for baseball purposes.”  “Body Heat Kathleen Turner?  Not to get all James Lipton, but I am a huge fan of your–”  “Okay, toots…”  Manfred lowers the phone receiver, to his secretary, “Toots?”  Back into the phone, “Um, so don’t make me kill you and blame a different femme fatale.  I need those Super Balls.”  So, yesterday was bonkers for homers, yet again.  I will now list the home runs by guys in just the Astros game:  Yulieski Gurriel (2-for-5, 2 runs) hit his 11th; Jose Altuve (3-for-4, 4 runs, 3 RBIs, hitting .347) hit his 13th; Evan Gattis (2-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBIs) hit his 8th and Carlos Correa (4-for-5, 5 RBIs) and two homers, his 19th and 20th.  Holy Salami Tom, there’s a crapton of home runs this year.  I have two mixed leagues where I feel like if I’m not getting at least five homers per day, I’m falling behind.  Also, on a pitching front, if I can just maintain a 3.50 ERA, I could come in first for ERA.  By the way, I hope we’re not sued by Our Commissioner Rob Manfred, but something must be done.  Get the Super Balls out of baseball!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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The Yankees called up Clint Frazier on Saturday.  The Yankees are like you at a concert after your first bathroom break.  “I had sixteen beers and I really gotta whizz.”  *goes to the bathroom, then sips your seventeen beer*  “Damn, I just took a whizz, and now I have to go again.”  The childproof seal has been broken.  The Yankees waited about five years too long to promote some of their rookies, and now they’re taking a whizz every third day.  (I’m mixing metaphors, aren’t I?)  I wonder if the Yankees are aggressively promoting rookies now because of how well Judge is doing.  It’s confirmation bias, or some Psych 1010 term.  In the minors, Frazier went 12 HRs, 9 SBs and .257 in 73 games.  His strikeouts weren’t terrible, and that line looks like it could hold in the majors, i.e, 20/15/.250 in 162 games.  That’s if he has playing time the rest of the year, which is, of course, no guarantee with Holliday, Hicks, Gardner, Ellsbury, though if they were candy, they’d all be brittle.  I’d grab Frazier in all leagues to see what he can do.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Joey Gallo has struck out in 43.5 percent of his at bats this season. Sweet Iván DeJesús! In points leagues the penalize for strikeouts that’s a death sentence. Talk about hanging from the gallows. While he does have twenty home runs, it feels almost like tits on a bull at this point. Ignoring the run scored and RBI, a home run is worth four points. Gallo’s twenty bombs are worth 80 points. In -1 point strikeout league his strikeouts are worth -102 points, completely erasing his homers. Now let’s include the guaranteed run scored an RBI that comes with a home run. Now his twenty long balls are worth 120 points. I thought about titling this post “Long Balls”, but I didn’t want to offend our senior male readers. Thanks to his 102 strikeouts, his twenty homers are now worth 18 points. Paul Goldschmidt scores 18 points with his eyes closed. And lastly, the best case scenario is a league that only penalizes half a point for a K. In this case his twenty moon shots are worth 69 points. 69 dudes! As far as points leagues that don’t subtract for strikeouts are concerned, I literally refuse to acknowledge their existence. Gallo has more home runs than any other third baseman yet he’s not even a top-25 3B.

Please, blog, may I have some more?