Some call them cookie dusters, others dirt squirrels, lip luggage, snot mops, and upper lipholstery. I believe our Boss/fearless leader/fantasy master lothario calls his “old bullet proof”, but I’m not sure. I’m of course talking about those lip rugs knows as mustaches. Our sport of baseball more so than any other contest of athletic prowess has embraced the flavor savor. Over the years there have been some top choice lip rugs in the American past time. So this week’s theme is Baseball Mustaches. Seriously narrowing hardball’s best mustaches down to just six was damn near impossible. I tried anyway and I’m sure all of you will call me thick as brick for not including the handlebars you’d most like to ride. But that’s why we have comments, so you can belittle and abuse me for my lapses in judgement, poorly formed opinions, and general lack of research when it comes to the pitchers being skipped two days after this article posts. I mean in some circles I am known as the Oracle and my propensity for knowing the future is rather well documented. Still I’m at least 37% human, so cut me some slack.  Week 12’s roster of two start pitchers is top heavy and flat bottomed, it’s like the Kate Upton of two start pitching weeks. You know because she’s big…..wait I’m not going to bother explaining this.

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To many, 1993 is considered the watershed moment in Hip-hop’s golden era.  Classic album after classic album was released over that year.  It’s the only year I can think of that’s in the title of an all-time hip hop classic.  Some might even argue a top 10 song of all time within the genre.  I’m of course talking about the Souls of Mischief classic and title of this post.  If you don’t know by now I like to ramble about something that has nothing to do with baseball in my intro.  This is to set the stage for the theme of the week’s two start pitching tiers.  This week we delve into the greatest years in hip hop.  Why? because if there’s one thing I know better than baseball it’s soccer… oops, I mean hip-hop.  Then again soccer is pretty awesome….did you know we have a site here on Razzball where we talk about it exclusively?  My plugs are shameless like William H. Mace, better have legs like B-Ham if you wants to keep pace, lace the track, dutchies dipped in honey, two start pitchers ain’t nothing move but the streamonator $.  Okay now back to the lecture at hand, perfection is perfected…. What’s perfection? Why the greatest years of hip-hop of course.  So I’ll discuss this week’s two start pitchers in relation to each great year in hip-hop and share some science on the top jewels to drop in the tier’s title year.  If I missed any years or albums let me know.  Hell drop some of your favorite jams/albums/miscellaneous stories about your mom’s slutty college experiences in the comments. I like to talk about all those things…

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In a time long ago, when men were men and athletes freely used performance enhancing drugs to little or no consequences, there was a gameshow. A show that celebrated such athletes both male and female, athletes that invested their time, money, and focus into becoming the most gargantuan human beings they could become. On this show they matched average everyday sclubbs against these well built steroid fueled warriors in feats of strength and agility. What is this show pray-tell? Well of course it’s a little show called American Gladiators. Ever heard of it? No young-ins, I’m not talking about that gross bastardization of a program that was on 7-8 years ago, I’m talking the genuine article. The flag waving, patriotic leotard rocking, testosterone train ride, where the women had high hair and the type of muscles that would have you asking them to open the olive jar. The early 90’s were a simpler time friends.

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Dustin Pedroia will hit you two homers (3-for-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) and then run out after the game to help hawk papers, “Extr-ee, extr-ee, read all about it!” “Keep the change, kid.” “Thanks, mister!” While Pedroia sold Boston Heralds on the corner, Hanley Ramirez (also homered twice; 2nd one was a grand slam; 2-for-4, 2 runs, 5 RBIs) was tricked into a youth-rejuvenating oxygen chamber by piping in the smell of roasted pig. All the Red Sox did was put a game-used Sandoval jersey over a fan. Buncha tricksters! Or maybe that’s trickstahs in Boston. Also homering yesterday was Mookie Betts (2-for-4, 2 runs). Well, in this game. In other games, everyone homered at least once. If your fantasy team didn’t hit at least three homers yesterday, check again, you might’ve been accidentally looking at your fantasy football team. New commissioner-slash-new-step-dad, Rob Manfred, wants your love and if that means using juiced balls and no curfews, so be it! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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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 other day I talked about the dark underbelly of roster expansion and how, due to teams not DL’ing their players, it can actually hurt us in this thing we call life. Well, some of us call it fantasy baseball instead of life. Some of the less obsessed of us. To those people, I ptooey in your direction. If you’re not completely obsessed over your hobby, let me say this… Get a new hobby! The national pastime’s pastime? Maybe if you’re a stutterer! This shizz is more like the national pastime’s full-time, 24/7 job like taking care of your uncle who has been lying on your sofa for a month because your aunt started dating a guy she met on Tinder! “Uncle Frank, maybe you put on sweatpants so I can have company.” No, Uncle Frank won’t put on sweatpants, just like you won’t have company until you find another first baseman to replace Anthony Rizzo. Uncle Frank is comfortable in his gotchies! Are you kapeeshing me? So, Rizzo has a muscle strain, and the Cubs said they would DL him if the rosters hadn’t expanded, but instead they’re going to let Anthony Rizzo slice garlic really thin — so thin it melts when it hits the pan — while he whittles away the year on the bench. Sadly, you have to move on to another first baseman in redraft leagues. You can’t count on him the rest of the season. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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You know when Shin-Soo Choo (2-for-4, 2 runs and his 10th homer) is hitting homers there’s a Dong Party going on. Dong Party is also my lead single off my album, “Who Let In All These Guys?” The CD cover had me dressed like a sailor, begrudgingly hoisting a man for a keg stand. None of this is ringing a bell? That’s weird, but it did perform better in Asia than here. Choo hadn’t homered since July 4th and only has 4 homers since May 22nd and is hitting .238. Can we say bust? If you can’t, you might want to see a speech therapist. Also joining the Dong Party was J.P. Arencibia (3-for-5, 4 RBIs and his 7th homer). That Arencibia is one spicy meatball! You know what one meatball said to another meatball? What’s up, metaball? What? No good? Okay, I won’t submit it to Highlights. Arencibia has 4 homers in the last eleven games, and has been known to go on a dong run. For those of you who just found us today Googling “dong run.” We won’t judge you here. Next up, for the Dong Party was Robinson Crusoe. He’s got a novel idea. It’s about a shipwrecking. Quite the yarn! Chirinos (3-for-5, 3 runs and two homers) has 11 homers on the year, and I’ve enjoyed owning him in a few two-catcher leagues, but he’s hitting .237 and I wouldn’t get too excited, especially not while you’re at a Dong Party. Finally, arriving at the Dong Party with a homer in the first inning was Adrian Beltre (1-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs and his 16th homer). Getting a bangfizzle at a Dong Party is such a bummer. By the by, Such A Bummer was my follow-up single. Tell me if you want the Sound Cloud link. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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…

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Oh man, it’s back to real life!  After an awesome weekend in DC to see my Brewers (I’ll share some fun graphics next week), it’s back to pitching and back to Wood jokes. And of course I mean the criminally (for a stretch) underrated Alex Wood.

Wood starting chucking phenomenally out of the gates, with blistering Ks and ratios.  But when Mike Minor got off the DL and Aaron Harang deciding not to suck this year, Wood could not chuck any more wood.  [Hah – you thought Wood jokes were going the other way, huh?!]  Repeatably getting hit out of the bullpen, the Braves finally decided to move him down to AAA to [re]stretch out to get back into the rotation.

Upon [re]arrival in late June, Wood had a lot of “meh”, but I was still all in.  I remember there were some drop Wood comments and I remained steadfast in my Woodward ways.  And with another good start yesterday, I decided to take a deeper look into his pitch-by-pitch performance to be sure my Wood was warranted:

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