Every year we get together in a Schenectady Sheraton to give away fantasy baseball awards for the past season. I’m your host, Grey Albright and I’m joined by Random Italicized Voice — What’s up, guys and four girls?” On the red carpet for everyone’s arrival is the Comatose Rangers Fan, “Let’s get started, I need to get home to see my Rangers face the Tigers!” Joining us up on the balcony is Kevin from ESPN’s “Get Him In Your Lineup” Department, “I’m high above the crowd, in more ways than one!” Today’s very special musical guest opening the show is…Counting Crows! Coming straight from opening for Pink! Not playing on stage prior to her performing, but literally opening a door for her. They now work as doormen. At hotels. It’s very sad. Anyway, here’s the 2014 Razzball Year End Awards:

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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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So here we are, the last week of the season. If you’re playing now, you’re in the money game of your head-to-head league, or you’re in a dog fight to pull ahead in the roto standings. I’ve said this for the last three weeks but, congratulations! You did something right. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say there are a few things you definitely didn’t do, you didn’t draft Justin Verlander, you didn’t draft Buster Posey or Joe Mauer anywhere near the first 5 rounds, you didn’t invest in one of the top 3 closers, and you probably didn’t draft Dominic Brown (Sorry Tehol). They say fantasy championships are made after the draft. Whoever they are? Seriously do you know? I’m just going to guess that if there is a they that writes these cliches, then they know Nick Capozzi. Mostly because he knows everybody in the fantasy industry. I’m also going to assume it’s a secret club that I’m not privy to. You know, like Skull and Bones.  Wow that escalated quickly! Where was I? Oh yeah winning fantasy championships. Well my belief is that the secret to winning in the final week is pitching, and how you use your streams. If you’re in a H2H league with a limited move number than be careful. One must choose wisely. With this in mind I have created a new format for these posts. As I mentioned last week I had the vision of putting my rankings in spreadsheet form and providing a couple of key metrics I felt gave you the readers full transparency into my thought process. Well my vision is reality behold the new and improved two startapalooza. You’ll see that in addition to the Pitcher’s name and opponent, I’ve also provided the pitcher’s handedness, the pitcher’s Home/Road ERA, the opponent’s Home/Road wOBA, and the opponent’s Right/Left wOBA split. These are the numbers I look at most closely when creating my rankings for the week. So why not share them with you? Enjoy, I put some time into this and I believe you’ll find it extra helpful. I hope it also sparks more debate in the comments and gives you guys all the more reason to challenge my tiers. I’ve also made sure that I based my Two-Start roster off of Rudy’s new two start pitcher SON/tool. This way all the information mirrors each other and gives some continuity to the post. Thanks again for reading and I’m looking forward to bringing this format back next season. Go Get’Em!

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Rusney Castillo is expected to join the Sawx on Tuesday. Whoa, did you see that? There was a rainbow going over the world and when I said that it turned red. I wonder if that’s because he’s Cuban. Oh, it’s probably because the Red Sox paid to sponsor the rainbow. That makes more sense. I didn’t think Mother Nature would sell rainbow naming rights, but there ya go. Someone’s gotta pay for the sun; the world we live in. So, Rusney’s getting a little taste of how’s your father with the Red Sox, but I don’t think he’ll A) Play every day. B) Be much a factor this year. C) There’s no C. Now, for 2015 fantasy baseball, well, there we’re gonna have to talk for a sec. Sorry, I know you’re late to be moral support at your wife’s surgery, but she can wait. Here’s what Prospect Mike said about him previously, “The one tool that is not in question is (Rusney’s) speed. A 30+ steal season from Castillo is a possibility as soon as 2015. The power is still up in the air. Some have tagged him more as an 8-12 homer type guy while others have said 15 or maybe even 20 homers could be in the cards. With any player, we get lots of comps thrown around. Two of the comps I’ve heard the most are Shane Victorino and Rajai Davis. Honestly, the Davis comp makes the most sense to me. The one that makes the least sense is Grey, he’s just a buffoon.” Hey, what’s that all about? To me, the Rajai comparison feels heavy on the speed; Victorino seems a better equivalent, but, honestly, there’s a ton of unknown here. He could be anywhere from a 7 HR/20 SB fourth outfielder to a 20 HR/40 SB superstar. Victorino feels about right — 12 homers, 30 steals. The more I read that he only had 66 steals in 1097 plate appearances in Cuba, I wonder if the hype machine hasn’t taken Rusney and thrown him into the spin cycle, making him more than he is. Shizzton of risk either way you slice the cake, and, brucely, I love cake, so I hope you’re sharing. For this year, I’d take a flyer if I could platoon him. For 2015, I’d take the risk for something special, but don’t expect more than Victorino. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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“We’re more alike than we are different.” That’s what Mary Ann said of her and Ginger, but it could also be said of Marcus Stroman and a Flat-Billed Pitchypus. He needs maybe a fifteen-second ironing and a quarter-cup of starch and he’d be there. Considering the tumultuous recent years of the Flat-Billed Pitchypus, maybe it’s for the best. “You want more starch on this?” “Yes.” Dontrelle Willis reaches for his TGIF’s hat, drops jalapeno poppers on his foot and screams. Yesterday, Stroman threw a shutout in 93 pitches. Greg Maddux called and said, “You owe me a nickel.” Stroman’s sparkling like I screwed his head into my SodaStream, pushed down the level way too long and bubbles started coming into his eyes. Mary Ann’s existential quote could also be used to say there’s more similarities than differences between Stroman and an ace. He shouldn’t generate that much velocity from a five-foot-nine frame. Yet, there he is throwing 94 MPH while high-fiving his teammates on a step stool. He’s credited with a six-pitch arsenal that he can locate with pinpoint accuracy. I’m going to have a Marcus Stroman post for 2015 fantasy baseball to highlight his sensational stuff for next year, and then he’ll probably be in the top 10 pitchers for 2016. A star is born just don’t iron the brim any further; you’re good. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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…

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The Denver Homerlette is like the Slam & Legs, except it’s 2 HRs, while Tulo and CarGo hold their legs. As most of you know, Rudy writes the title for most of these. Currently, Rudy and I are in a tough battle for 1st place in our RCL and he owns Corey Dickerson, so I thought I’d share with you the first few titles Rudy suggested, “Dickerson Poops On Grey, But Of Coors” and “Suck My Dickerson.” Stay classy, Rudy! Since Rudy won’t or can’t toot his own horn, I will for him. Hmm, that sounds weird. Maybe if he could’ve tooted his own horn, his wife wouldn’t be spitting out kids like they were sunflower seeds. In February, Rudy released his rankings, and he had Dickerson at 102 overall. I don’t think I saw Dickerson within 100 spots of that anywhere. I was one of the other few people who even ranked him, and I didn’t have him within 150 of that. Yesterday, Dickerson hit two bombs, raising his season total to 22. In addition, he has a .311 batting average to go with 8 steals. Right now, he’s top 60 overall on our Player Rater and near the top 15 for outfielders. That’s after Walt Weiss played with his ding-a-ling for a month, platooning him. That ranking won’t be far from where he’s ranked for 2015 either. Everywhere he’s played he’s shown solid power, average and some speed, then throw Coors into the equation and he could be a top 30 bat overall in 2015. Yup, I kinda love him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Jorge Soler arrived in the majors earlier this week like a gift from the fantasy baseball gods. Last night he went 3-for-3 with two more home runs and three more runs batted in. The 22-year-old from Cuba has come to the plate 12 times and already has seven hits, three homers, six RBIs, and a walk. Those are video game numbers and could carry a fantasy team through September. It hasn’t come out of nowhere either. Soler was always regarded as a good prospect even in the loaded Cubs system. Injuries and some makeup questions put a damper on his value earlier this year, but he quieted all that noise by raking for Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs are absolutely stacked with hitting and even if one or two of their prospects don’t reach their ceiling, they will still have more than enough firepower in that lineup. The scary part is that their players are all still so young. It’s a great time to be a Cubs fan, and a great day to be a Soler owner in fantasy. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go too bonkers in September so we can all still draft him on our teams for 2015. Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy baseball…

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I’m a Twins fan (we comin’ in 2016), but I have little trouble picking on Trevor May, who has gotten knocked around like a guy in Knockaround Guys (never saw – looked dumb). Through his first four career starts (14.1 IP), May holds an 8.79 ERA and 8.16 BB/9…no bueno. He actually didn’t walk anyone his last time out, but May was so concerned with throwing strikes, he ended up tossing meatballs to the Tigers, who tagged him for 5 ER off 11 hits. Things will get better for the touted prospect but probably not tonight in Baltimore. The Orioles lead the majors in HR versus RHP (121), and they’ve averaged more than 6.5 runs over their last 9 home games. I say all birds are in play, and once I decide which 6 to use (most hitters allowed on DK from one team), I am confident they will do my bidding.

Are you not feeling confident in that advice? Did you find yourself rooting for Skynet during any of the Terminator movies? Well then, you need to check out the Stream-o-Nator, Hitter-Tron, DFSBot, and Ombatsman. These Razzball exclusive tools have been on the money when it comes to making money, so pay a visit to Rudy’s clever creations. I may be a simple human, but I’m still going to give you some other picks…

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!

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