As the season rolls along, my choices for starters to profile should be wearing thin. Luckily for all of you, myself, and my relationship with anyone not in the Crab Army, spot starts and rookie callups give me the perfect intersect of my two worlds. Now as any good Seinfield fan knows, worlds colliding can be catastrophic. Just ask George Costanza. That however is not the case for your loyal and eccentric Prospector/Pitchspector. It’s all good on this end. Why? Because I’m more than happy to dig into the ratio roulette that is rookie starting pitchers. In the grand tradition of my messiah like activity on the prospect side, I’m here to observe these wild cards, provide my take, and lead you on the path to true fantasy salvation. This is a really long winded, and pompous, way to say I’m profiling Reynaldo Lopez’s White Sox debut today. I’ve been lower on Lopez than many other prospectors in the industry. For what feels like two years now, I’ve been constantly banging my shoe on the table of the United Prospect Nations, sternly proclaiming that “Lopez is a pen arm!” I’d make a joke of my followers storming the town square with Pier 1 style tiki torches, but the rest of the Lifshitz clan prolly wouldn’t appreciate that. Anywho, here’s what I saw.

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Can I have all Razzball readers knock on wood prior to reading this article? Thank you! I don’t want to jinx Kenta Maeda who is putting together a great and under the radar season. Maeda struggled earlier this year with control and an injury. For a while the Dodgers were unsure what they were going to do with him, they had him work out of the pen for a few weeks. Naturally, Maeda came back to life and started dealing. FantasyDraft has some crazy high prices for the elite pitchers today and this pick at $16,000 seems like a no brainer. Maeda’s ERA at home is under 3 and his k/9 is 8.64. He also gets a favorable matchup against the depleted Padres. Unfortunately I think everyone will be on this pick today just because there is not much downside to his matchup today.

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It’s just like old times, as we here at Razzball are profiling a Brewers starter this week. I can’t put my finger on what that means, but I digress. The familiarity doesn’t just end there my friends, oh no, we just happen to be covering the MLB debut for one of the top pitching prospects in the minors, Brandon Woodruff. On the heels of a somewhat out of nowhere breakout in 2016, Woodruff exploded onto the dynasty league radar, and squarely into the ranks on several top prospect lists. After leading the minors in strikeouts last year, the righty credited an increased pace, thanks to the direction of AA pitching coach Chris Hook. After a solid showing in the challenging confines of Colorado Springs earlier this season, Woodruff was called up in mid-June to make a spot start. Unfortunately he was injured warming up, was scratched from his debut, and did a month on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Recalled Friday to face the contending Rays in Tampa, Woodruff might be an interesting stream down the stretch in re-drafts of all sizes. Let’s see how the highly touted rookie looks vs a seasoned AL East lineup. Not a bad litmus test.

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We have a bit of a light lineup this week due to some off days on Monday and Thursday, so Week 19 will be more of a challenge to find value among the Two-Start Starters. It sounds like Max Scherzer is going to be healthy enough to go and make his two starts, but that only helps out Scherzer owners and not the rest of us who are looking for some available value.

Even Streamonator is down on Week 19, as there weren’t any available starters owned in less than 75% of RCLs with a positive dollar value. There is one possible exception to that statement*, but we’re not going to let statistically-based advice from Streamonator stop us from rolling the dice this week, right?

There are, however, a few starters in our Replicas that I would roll with this week who might be available in your leagues. It will likely be harder to grab at least two of these starters in an RCL where waivers and ownership are a bit more savage, but all three are owned in less than 75% of ESPN leagues.

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True story, I was minding my own business in my backyard recently — mowing the lawn, wiping my brow with the bottom of my shredded Hulk-a-Mania t-shirt, sipping a real super cheap beer.  Just being at one with the sun that Al Gore hasn’t yet taken from us, and bronzing my calfs because they look better bronze, when I got to thinking.  Not super deep thinking like if I were a sushi chef, I’d make a maki roll with hamburger and Doritos and call it an “Eye roll.”  Just surface level thinking, and it hit me.  How rare is it that a guy is top five for fantasy value on our Player Rater and he doesn’t have one insanely huge game all year to warrant a lede.  That was the case with Paul Goldschmidt, before yesterday.  Then, as they say, Au Shizz went shizzy all up in Rizzy’s hizzy — 3-for-4, 4 runs, 6 RBIs and his 23rd, 24th and 25th homers, and now hitting .320 on the year.  This should finally put him on top of the Player Rater for the first time all year, after sniffing the Judge’s robe for the first three months of the season, in the number two slot.  And there were people who didn’t want to draft him in the top three spots in the preseason.  Haha, oops.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Crabs gon’ eat, whether you like it or not. The best advice I can give is move out of the way when they come through your town. If they request buckets of your finest chum, drop it on your porch and back away slowly. From east to west, from north to south, and every where in between, Crabs inhabit this fine land. They might be your UPS driver, insurance agent, or state senator. They’re your husbands, friends, and neighbors. They are a secret society of highly intelligent fantasy baseball masters, and Samurai’s of the comment section, prepared for battle at the drop of a hat. I am of course discussing the inhabitants of Razzball’s own 30 team dynasty league The Razz30. It’s been a month of elite level play, with several teams still in the hunt for the 4 playoff spots in the AL and NL. Our trade deadline came and went on Monday, and there was action galore up until the last bell. As we close in on the end of our first year of independence, I’m glad to report that the state of the league has never been stronger. To all my smooth gooch rocking, white monster drinking, thirsty villains, get out the spreadsheet. Claws Up!!!

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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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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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What if I told you there was a pitcher on the Indians with a sub-3.00 ERA with a swinging strike rate above 12%. This mystery man has been a cog in the gears of Francona’s first-place ballclub after some wondered whether their devastating loss in game seven of the World Series could be overcome simply by adding Edwin Encarnacion. What if I told you I’m not talking about Corey Kluber?

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