Almost 10 years before The Fast and the Furious, many of my friends were into street racing. They’d form crews and fix up their cars to race at Battle of the Imports or on the street for cash or pink slips. I remember one crew was called the Decepticons and had the logo plastered all over their cars. Some looked so tight. I’ll never forget one guy, though. He’d spend a ton of money on the exterior: rims, lights, body kit. He even decked out the interior with a roll cage, racing seats, pedals, instrument gauges, etc. His ride looked so, so nice. The only problem was that he spent no money on the engine. ALL SHOW NO GO. Which segues perfectly to Carlos Gonzalez (70% owned – decrease of 6.1%). CarGo sucks. One of Grey’s favorite movie lines is: See that S Car Go from Trading Places. One of my all-time favorite movies by the way. Anyways, this CarGo ain’t going anywhere. He hit 40 home runs two years ago. Last year, he hit 25 home runs. This year? He’s hit six. SIX! The ISO is at .116. The triple-slash line is .218/.296/.335. wRC+ is 47. His ground ball rate is at a career-high, hard contact rate is at a career-low, and he’s going oppo at a career-low rate. Steamer has rest of season projections at .277 average, 12 home runs, 33 runs scored, 38 RBI, and one stolen base. I’m just not buying it. He’s 31 years old. Side rant. Why didn’t the Rockies trade him last year? Anyways, other than the fact that he sucks, is he even going to play everyday? Charlie Blackmon is entrenched in centerfield. You guys know my love for Gerardo Parra. I guess he platoons with Ian Desmond. But….what happens when David Dahl returns? TRASH.

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Now the baseball Gods have gone too far. Carlos Correa was my AL MVP pick for this year, my biggest keeper in my main league and one of my few reasons for joy so far this fantasy season. 6-8 weeks is his time table and since it is a torn ligament and not a broken bone he probably won’t have that super-human Freddie Freeman healing time frame. August 29th is the earliest we might see Correa take the field again in real life, but he’ll be playing SS and hitting HRs every night in my dreams. Stash or Trash: Stash. Unless you’re in a 2-team league. In which case, what the hell is wrong with you? Fill In: I grabbed Jose Reyes (18.3%) because I’ve lost control of my life. Since the beginning of July, Reyes has a .405 AVG with 3 HR but only 1 SB. If he’s figured something out he might find eventually himself hitting higher than 7th in the Mets lineup. More likely though, I’ll be cycling short stops in an out until August 29th. 

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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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Matt Grace picked up his 2nd save in as many games on Saturday for the Nationals, and Ben Zobrist’s wife started to work on a song titled, “Saving Grace,” and requested Ben’s trade to Washington.  Then, first thing on Sunday, the Nats traded for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, and Saving Grace became a B-side for “Halleberrylujah, A Catwoman Licks Herself (Rated PG).”  When asked if the trade makes his team better, the Nats’ GM said, “That’s right,” and, “I’m Mike Rizzo.”  Picture this:  Dusty and Rizzo looking at a book called, “Baseball Strategy.”  Rizzo looks at Dusty, and Dusty says, “I got the baseball part,” and Rizzo nods his head.  Finally, Rizzo chimes in, “I don’t know the 2nd word and I don’t think it’s worth investigating.”  Dusty agrees, and that’s the Nationals.  So, who will close between Madson and Doolittle?  Your guess = my guess.  I’d want to say Madson, but it could be either, both or neither as they trade for David Robertson or someone else.  By the time the calendar turns to August, the Nationals might have five closers from teams not in the pennant chase.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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I really wanted to start this post with a quote, something like “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, or something like that. I figured that was a great way to offer hope and encouragement regarding the “second half” of the season. Let’s face it, with this whole “seamingly” out of nowhere spike in offense the last two seasons, there’s one inevitable conclusion. Pitching sucks!!! I mean we’ve been holding onto any shred of decency available. Look at Jason Vargas! Why am I ranking Jason Vargas? Does he have some sort of magnificent secret about these new Hi-C joints MLB is calling balls? Why the hell is he so much better than Justin Verlander? I have too many questions! I’m supposed to have answers! Here’s the truth, as if I’ve been lying to you before. There’s maybe 20 matchup proof starters in all of baseball, and then the rest of them you have to be careful with to varying degrees. Now, that’s not necessarily true for points formats, or deeper leagues with quality starts. Or even those with a greater emphasis on counting stats over ratios. But in our RCL formats, or any 5×5 roto with innings or starts limits, you must choose wisely. Around every corner lurks a roofie to your ratios. Just because Jordan Montgomery has been good more often than not, that doesn’t mean I’m up to a level of confidence that I’d start him in Colorado. Nah mean?  Nod along.  If you’re having trouble knowing which starts to avoid, check out Rudy’s Stream-O-Nator. It’s the perfect objective voice on those tough decisions you won’t get in your own head, or from your friends. That is, if you have friends with voices in your head and all. Anyway, be careful out there, and good luck in the second half.

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Origin Story Alert!  In the Roppongi district of Japan, which sits between Chichibunomiya and Akabanebashi, lives a puppeteer named Goshi.  For his entire life, Goshi worked in the medium of strings and miniature clothes.  Sometimes, due to all the opium he smokes, he’ll forget where he left off one day and start new the next day.  Due to a three-year process of forgetting and starting anew, he accidentally built a puppet that was 75-feet tall and named it Marcell Ozuna.  The puppet simply went by the name, OZUNA.  Elsewhere in Japan, on holiday, Giancarlo Stanton arrived with his family and me in his suitcase (how I’m able to relay the story).  Giancarlo was marveled at everywhere he went, due to sheer handsomeness and size.  One Japanese man said of Giancarlo, “You are like Mt. Fiji of GLOW.”  OZUNA and Giancarlo remained on separate paths for many moons, until one faithful day when an explosion at a nuclear plant caused a giant lizard to emerge from the ocean.  That lizard’s name was Allahzilla, because it originated in the Middle East, according to scientists.  Armed with merely bats, Giancarlo (3-for-4, 4 RBIs and his 22nd and 23rd homers) and OZUNA (2-for-5, 2 RBIs and his 23rd homer) beat back Allahzilla and the Cardinals while freeing all of humanity, and fantasy.  Thanks, heroes!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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How many of you remember the watershed 1993 film Dazed and Confused? In this coming of age saga, a young righty, with the flowing locks of Sampson himself, embarks on a journey that will change his life forever. It is in that film where we first meet Mike Clevinger. I could go on a lengthy diatribe about the film with the Indians righty supplanted as the protagonist, but I already did that a year and a half ago when I first introduced you to Mr. Clevinger. It’s like I’m watching my kids grow up right before my eyes. Either way Clevinger is long haired and goofy just like Mitch from Dazed and Confused. Not to toot my own horn, but to totally toot my own horn, I called this developing breakout a year ago. The Indians acquired the former 2011 4th rounder from the Angels back in 2014 for pen arm Vinny Pestano. Since then it’s been a classic Cleveland starter story, as the organization focused on bringing Clevinger along first as a pen arm, and now as a starter. With a 14.1% SwStr, and a 28.5% K%, there’s some signs that Clevinger, in a season of disappointing starters, could be a diamond in the rough. Let’s look under the hood, and then go pitch by pitch through his Sunday start vs. the division rival Detroit Tigers.

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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.

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One of the things I love most about baseball, but particularly covering prospects, is when a guy I totally missed on pops up, and exceeds expectations. Sure, I could become obsessed with my own reputation, and shoot down any suggestion that I missed on a player. But what fun is that? So, when it comes to Nick Pivetta, I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t see this coming. Hell, I wrote up 15+ Phillies prospects, and name dropped another 7-8, and didn’t even mention Pivetta. Fangraphs covered 33 Phillies prospects, and Pivetta ranked in at 27! All this to say, that the “out of nowhere” label is somewhat appropriate when it comes to the Phil’s righthander. After an outstanding outing vs the Red Sox at home a few weeks ago, the strikeouts, and numbers in general seem to be trending in the right direction. So why not check him out, and see if we in fact have a breakout bubbling. Before we begin, big shouts to Oaktown Steve, who’s been hyping up Pivetta in the comments the past few weeks like a Sabermetrics Flavor Flav. Only he turned in his giant clock (read that fast), for an abacus, which I’ve heard can get a bit bulky when worn as a necklace. Anyway, let’s get into Pivetta’s last start vs the Cardinals at home, the second time he’s faced the Redbirds in four starts. He’s going today in Arizona, so maybe we’ll see if he’s worth rolling out… Actually no rookie pitcher with a heavy fly-ball approach should be started in Arizona, but that’s just common sense. On to the profile!

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