Since it was an afternoon game, Ted and I settled in to watch Max Scherzer vs. the Marlins.  First inning and the slider was working.  2nd, 3rd, 4th innings and the Marlins had no chance.  5th inning and Ted demanded I take him out and play catch with him.

115 degrees in the shade and we’re back in for the 6th inning, and Scherzer hasn’t missed a beat while missing the bats.  Everyone knows everything there is to know about Scherzer.  He is at least the 3rd best starter in baseball, and likely second best, though who’s first?  Sale?  Then Kershaw and Scherzer?  I don’t know, Kershaw’s looked pretty human at times this year.  Sale, Scherzer then Kershaw?  Sounds about right, but need to search for other things to talk about with him.  Hmm…Well, there’s always his android eyes.

Now back for the 7th inning and it’s more no-hitter, and, Jesus Christopher Ramirez, the Nats announcers are a bore.  Let’s go mute for the 8th inning, and Dietrich gets, uh, diet rich of sliders.  Now, Ellis and goodbye no-hitter.  Of course, that was the point Dusty should’ve lifted Scherzer since even the announcers said Scherzer says he doesn’t want to ever throw past 120 pitches.  You guessed it, he went past 120 pitches, and lost the lead, but, once again, a dazzler — 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners (2 hits), 11 Ks, ERA at 2.09.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Every year, there are surprises in fantasy baseball. Some players come out of nowhere and breakout or, in the case of Aaron Judge, absolutely dominate. Other players regress after a breakout season the year before. There are even the players who have long track records of mediocrity who, all of sudden, appear to have figured something out en route to becoming legitimate contributors both in fantasy and in, you know, real baseball. I like to call these players Justin Smoak-Logan Morrison-Yonder Alonso. The more popular terms among Razzballers for these players are Schmohawks and Hot Schmotatos.

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Derek Fisher was called up by the Astros to replace the concussed Reddick.  First off, Derek needs to stop singing that jingle, “Trust the Astros Fisher, man.”  Tres annoying.  Saying tres instead of very is tres annoying, too. Fisher was hoping Reddick was some combination of reddish and haddock.  “Get that seaweed out of my face!”  That’s Nori Aoki.  Everyone in MLB is happy for Fisher except this guy.  If you thought Strickland-Harper was something… Sorry, for Derek Fisher, that was a layup.  As for fantasy, Fisher has power and speed, has had strikeout issues, but no worse than Bellinger.  He could be a difference maker if he plays 75%+ of the time.  One of the best guys in the minors this year.  Better on power than speed, inefficient as a runner.  Yes, PCL, but MLB is kinda PCL-like nowadays.  Might outproduce Brinson, though Fisher needs to stick in a job for that.  Yesterday, he went 2-for-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs with his first home run, and I think Fisher is for reel, and not just on the casting couch.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, Jacob deGrom threw a complete game with 1 ER, 9 baserunners (4 BBs), 6 Ks, lowering his ERA to 4.33.  Oh, his peripherals are beautiful.  Velocity is fine, even up a tad up, and that’s not the new radar gun positioning talking.  For what it’s worth, a radar gun can’t talk.  His Ks are way up.  Walks are up too, but not quite to the point where it justifies his four-plus ERA.  His xFIP is even below where it was last year.  So, what explains his mediocre ERA besides the general answer of:  Mets gonna Mets?  He’s not throwing his cutter or change nearly as much and is almost entirely relying on a slider and four-seam fastball.  The change and cutter were never ‘big’ pitches for him, but mixing them in may have kept hitters honest like Abe Lincoln and iced tea.  His slider this year is barely a positive pitch for him.  Last year, it was a top 20 slider in the majors, right next to Sabathia, and that guy loves sliders!  As with most things Mets pitchers-related, it’s a conundrum wrapped inside a forklift of fortune cookies that is wrapped inside a turkey.  It’s called a turforkum.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I use a number of different tools, sites, and metrics every week to adjust my rankings and to determine exactly who I should focus on each week. I usually try to focus on players owned in less than 60% leagues, players who are rising or falling and who you should probably buy low or sell high on, or players who are new to the Top 100 or on the cusp of joining the ranks. It has only been a few weeks since I took over these rankings for the legendary M@, so I am still working on creating the most efficient system (I spend wayyyyyy too much time agonizing over these rankings every Sunday).

I start by going over my notes and spreadsheets from the previous week, then take a peek at Razzball’s Player Rater and look at the current rankings and the Rest of Season Projections. Once I jot down some notes from those, I take a look at ESPN’s PR15 Player Ratings for the last 15 days. Lastly, I check FanGraphs with a focus on the best wOBA for the last 14 days and the last 30 days. Usually, once I am finished with that process, I have an idea of who I am going to write about and a starting point for adjusting the rankings.

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Springer springer hit a dinger. Actually he hit five of them in week 9. Until last week you might say that he was having a rather pedestrian start to the 2017 season. Coming into the week he wasn’t even a top 30 outfielder with respect to points. As a matter of fact his starting percentage was slowly taking a dip, and as a result, there were quite a few angry managers staring at 45 points on their bench last week. I have a rule that I nearly always abide by in weekly league: Play your studs. Well if George Springer was curious about what it’s like to be in the top 20, he now knows as his week 9 performance has catapulted him in the 17 spot.

Enough about this George dude from Houston, what you all really want to know is who won week 9. Actually there are probably only a small handful that really care. That would be those of you that had at least an outside chance of winning. Well wait no longer. The winner is the contestant that picked George Springer. Since there was only one of you that did so, the mystery winner should be easy to figure out. Ok, fine. I won’t make you go back and do the leg work. The winner was Fungazi with 90 points. Fungazi picked George Springer (45), Carlos Correa (40) and Brian Dozier (5). Dozier’s five points were meaningless considering Springer and Correa were the top two highest scoring players of the week. Second place was The Padre with 73 points. Like I said, no thanks to Dozier. Congrats Fungazi!

Here are the top 5 from Week 9:

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Are you also old enough and/or vaguely goth enough to know “Severina” by The Mission (if you do, hit me up in the comments! 1986 represent!)? And perchance does that song also pop into your head every time you think of Luis Severino? I’m starting him on FanDuel today, not only as an attempt at earworm exorcism, but because I like his chances versus Baltimore in the [email protected] series (a.k.a. the “baloney” series). The last time he faced the Orioles, he struck them out 8 times, walked 1, and gave up 1 earned run. I also like his price ($9,500): how nice it will be to build a good, balanced lineup around that, rather than trying to do my usual balancing trick of going top-heavy on pitching or bottom-heavy on hitting. Note that he is pitching at home in Yankee Stadium, where he’s given up 5 home runs thus far this year and has a 3.77 ERA — not horrible, it’s a quality start, but sure, maybe you’d prefer to steer clear, like all the boys from a goth girl in late-eighties nightclubs (#notbitter). So let’s gird up with eyeliner and take a look at some other options. I’ve leaned pretty heavily on Tigers (dangerous!) and Astros in the lineup I’ve created for FanDuel, but you could also look to stack Cleveland hitters against the White Sox’s David Holmberg, and Yankees versus the Orioles’ Chris Tillman.

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well, be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays. Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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It feels like forever ago that Michael Pineda was busted for having pine tar on his neck in a start against the Red Sox. Now, over three years later, Pineda takes on the Red Sox at home and is a strong play on FanDuel. First things first: the Red Sox lineup hasn’t been as good as you might expect. They are 16th in the league in wOBA against right-handers at .321, so they’re pretty much league average. And while the start is at Yankee Stadium, Pineda has actually been much better at home this year with a 2.31 ERA. I’m hoping that the matchup scares off others, because it’s actually pretty favorable despite looking scary so this would make Pineda a great contrarian play. Pineda has had himself a fine season, posting a 9.32 K/9 and 2.09 BB/9 and avoiding the poor results he’s had over the last two seasons as his ERA is down to 3.76. At $8,200, he is cheaper than any other elite option at pitcher so “stick” him in your lineups to get some production.

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond?  Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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Let’s begin by having a moment of silence for the fact that we will be without Mike Trout for two months. I dropped him to 23 in the rankings below, which are considered ROS trade value. I know it is hard to justify Trout over some talented players who aren’t going to miss two months, I just couldn’t bring myself to drop him much lower. The Razzball Player Rater has him all the way down to 71 for ROS projections. Personally, if I were to trade Trout, I would hold out for the highest bid and make someone overpay. Otherwise, I’m not moving him. And in keeper leagues, I would still have him at number 1 and wouldn’t entertain offers.

Now, for the players who are playing right now. The two players I moved up and want to focus on this week are Justin Bour and Justin Smoak. I received some questions and comments on here and on Twitter last week about Smoak, so let’s take a look at him first. He has looked great this season, but I have my doubts.

While Smoak’s slash line and counting stats look great right now, unless he finally figured everything out at 30 years old, I have my doubts. Yes, he is currently on pace for almost 40 home runs. Yes, he is striking out 17.9% of the time, which is almost half as much as he did last season and is well below his career average of 23.5%. Through 55 games and over 200 plate appearances in 2017, the metrics back up what he is doing.

But here’s the thing.

Smoak has been in the league for eight seasons and has over 3,000 plate appearances. He’s a career .227 / .311 / .402 hitter. His previous high for home runs in a season is 20, which he did back in 2013. Take a look at his wOBA by season:

Translation: Smoak isn’t this good. This probably isn’t going to last, and a regression is coming.

Now, as far as Justin Bour goes, I am still skeptical but am less skeptical. Bour is 29 but has just over 1,000 plate appearances at the MLB level. He has displayed this kind of power before, both at the major league level and in the minors, so it is easier to believe that his current power stroke is real. Will he continue to hit up around .300? No, but it is reasonable to expect him to hit in the .250-.270 range and offer up 30 home runs, as long as he can stay healthy (which he can’t always do).

The main point here is that, while Bour is only a year younger, he doesn’t have as much of a negative track record that we can hold against him. He has also displayed plus-power in the past, while Smoak has always struggled to fulfill his potential in that department. Bour is likely to regress a bit as well, but I don’t think his regression will be as extreme as Smoak’s. If I had to pick between these two first basemen as a guy I value higher ROS I am taking Bour every time. Maybe I’m just biased now that I live in South Florida, or maybe their track records are telling us everything we need to know about them…

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Bronson Arroyo, in his last full season, was a pitch-to-contact innings eater who didn’t walk a lot of guys and had a below average GB rate. Although he wasn’t good by any stretch, the combination of not walking guys, combined with below average K-rates and GB-rates meant that he could still have a role as a back-end starter and innings eater. Except that was 2013 and pre Tommy John surgery. While it’s a great story that he’s back in the bigs now, he now doesn’t do anything well. His walk rate and his GB rate have taken a huge hit, so now you’ve got a guy who walks batters, doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts, and has a truly atrocious GB rate (31.6%). Pitch to contact guys who don’t get ground balls and still manage to walk guys don’t belong in the major leagues. But we’re not the GM of the Cincinnati Reds, we’re DFS players, so as long as the Reds keep trotting him out, I’m going to keep recommending the guys facing him that day. I’m fairly certain anyone reading this is smart enough to know that Matt Kemp ($3,800) is nearly the same hitter he was when he put up 8.3 fWAR in 2011. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true, Matt Kemp has a 160 wRC+ this year and had a 168 wRC+ in 2011 (his wOBA is actually higher this year, .416 to .413). He cut his walk rate from 8.9% to 5.5%, he’s dropped his K rate from 23.1% to 21% (while the league has increased its K rate). But, you might say, he’s got a .398 BABIP this year, that has to be the main driver from the Matt Kemp we knew and loved from his Dodger days and I’d say, you’d be wrong. Shockingly, his BABIP in 2011 was .380. He’s swinging at more pitches in the zone and less out of the zone this year (that’s a good thing) and making more contact on those pitches in the zone. When Kemp was with the Padres, he employed the Padres approach of swing at everything that is remotely close to the plate, and if it’s not, still swing at it. It’s a unique style of hitting that only works for a very select few, and like most of the Padres, he wasn’t good at it. Now, he’s back to the approach he had as a Dodger. He likely won’t continue to put up a .345/.381/.608 line with a .398 BABIP, but he’s a hitter with a solid approach that, while not leading to a lot of walks, is still leading to good counts and then he’s punishing the ball like he did in the year Ryan Braun won MVP. I would expect Kemp to actually start walking more as pitchers start to respect him again and throw more balls out of the zone, and if they don’t, they might just find that Matt Kemp may once again be one of the top hitters in baseball. Kemp is plenty good enough to take advantage of the Reds’ masochistic desire to give the ball to Bronson Arroyo every 5 days.

On to the picks once Matt Kemp takes advantage of the Reds masochistic desire…

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond?  Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

Please, blog, may I have some more?