To anyone from Southeastern Massachusetts my title means something to you. If you’re anything like me it signifies the first time in your life you were severely disappointed. I can still remember packing into my parent’s station wagon with another family my parents were friendly with. We were headed to the “World Famous King Richard’s Faire“. Six year old Ralph couldn’t believe I was headed to THE fair of THE King Richard. I mean he was the best king ever, and here I am headed to his fair! Me, lowly 6 year old Ralph with a golden bowl cut! Welp, much like everything else in life since, it was a massive disappointment. What was supposed to be a day of jousts, knights, kings and princesses, quickly turned into reality. That reality was drunk bikers with swords, mutton, and the inescapable smell of feces and urine. The strangest part is it smelt just as much like urine as it did poop. It was as if the two smells were competing for dominance, each pushing itself to it’s limits but neither overtaking the other. Needless to say I never went back. I could have, but I did better things with my time like drinking or masturbating. What does this have to do with Garrett Richards and his most recent start? Well let’s just say I was excited, only to be disappointed. That’s my big market tease, trust me you’re bound to be disappointed…

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There’s an old expression in Major League Baseball, “As the sun sets on one Weaver, another rises from its ashes.” I have to say it was rather prophetic to predict the spontaneous combustion of Jered Weaver’s career. Then again, it’s not like there weren’t clear signs that we had reached the end of the line with our most recent Weaver. I mean the man was throwing 67 MPH in his last few starts, or years, but whatever… That brings me to today’s subject, our new shiny Weaver, complete with new car scent! I’m of course alluding to Cardinals rookie phenom Luke Weaver. The 24 year old right-hander got his first taste of the big leagues last year to mixed results. He looked brilliant at times, and caught too much of the plate at others. The issues with Weaver are rarely related to his pitching however. He’s had an inability to stay healthy over the course of his career, never exceeding 120 innings pitched in a season. As for the player himself he has one of the more exciting upsides of any arm in the minors, mixing swinging strikes, with weak contact, and elite control. Since his most recent callup in late August, Weaver has posted back to back starts with 10 Ks and 1 walk, while limiting his opponents to a .224 batting average against. There’s nothing I love more than digging into the start of a player I’ve been touting for a year plus. It’s even better when that player’s twitter handle (@DreamWeava7) has a Boston accent! I’m in LOVE!! Previously Weaver has ranked 48th (pre-season), and 60th in my mid-season, which is lofty praise. As anyone who reads my prospect work will tell you, I discount pitching prospects pretty heavily for fantasy purposes.  Enough of the small talk, here’s what I witnessed in Weaver’s Sunday start.

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There’s a narrative making the rounds that today’s Pitching Profile subject Collin McHugh just started throwing a slider. This on it’s face isn’t completely true, his repertoire included a slider two years ago, but he scrapped it in 2016 in favor of a cutter. So the “throwing a slider now” people are insane, and this is open and shut case. Right, Ralphie?” Actually, their narrative is partially correct, because while he did formerly throw a slider he didn’t go back to the pitch he scrapped before last season. He’s throwing a different slider. A reworked version he picked up from clubhouse showboat Brad Peacock. Who picked the pitch up from some shoe salesman named Jordan Jankowski, who picked his up from a decoder ring at the bottom of a box of Count Chocula. Anyway, back in 2015 when McHugh experienced a break through with the Astros, he threw his “old” slider nearly 45% of the time. It’s funny that everyone forgot he threw a slider back then, considering it accounted for such a high chunk of his usage. In fact he threw his breaking pitches, (he also has a high spin-rate curveball), 67.1% of the time.  Leading his 27.2% fastball usage to rank as the second lowest in the majors behind only R.A. Dickey during the 2015 season. Before 2016 began McHugh’s usage of his ineffective slider was scrapped completely for a cutter, and an increased reliance on his hook. The results didn’t change, in fact in someways they got worse, but that’s not important, and here’s why. Fast forward to 2017, and McHugh missed a majority of the season’s first half with an elbow injury. The player that has emerged since is a completely different animal. Throwing his fastball more than 50% of time, and with a new and improved low 80’s slider, one with increased movement from his former offering. The question for today, “Is this a new and improved model or just a redesigned Grand Am?”  Let’s look under the hood and see.

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We go over Adam Jones later on the podcast.  Kidding, no one gives two effs about Adam Jones.  I mean, I’m sure he’s a pleasant enough guy.  I don’t mean no one gives two effs like a person from Boston before they all became magically woke this past weekend.  I’d let Adam Jones date my daughter, if I had a daughter.  Shoot, he can date my mom if he wants; I got one of those.  I just want Adam Jones in my family!  *snaps fingers*  They’re creepy and they’re kooky, all together ooky; The Adam Jones Family.  Nah, it isn’t about him on why no one gives two effs about him, it’s because of how boring he is for fantasy.  Not bad boring, just boring boring.  Don’t put words in my mouth.  Shut up, Random Italicized Voice.  Yesterday, he went 4-for-4, 3 runs and his 23rd and 24th homers, hitting .281, and had zero hits the game before, and will likely have zero hits today because he needs to level out yesterday’s wonderful with a strong helping of boring.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It feels good to finally be able to use a Demi Lovato song in my title. Forget Chad Kuhl let’s talk about Demi! What star power! What charisma! What a voice! Name another song besides the one in the title! You can’t!

**inner-monologue** Wait, don’t take that bet. Don’t show your true colors when you don’t have to. I mean, it’s not like I Ralph Lifshitz am actually a Demi Lovato fan. PFFT! That would be preposterous! **inner-monologue-out**

Chad Kuhl of the other hand, different story. Now he is a someone who’s fandom I’d consider! (You don’t believe me do you?) The 24 year old righthander, has followed up a promising rookie campaign with an inconsistent 2017. That’s not to say this season hasn’t had it’s bright spots. He looks on pace to reach at least 150 innings, his velocity has jumped nearly 3 miles per hour on the fastball, his swinging strike rate is up, and despite a 4.52 ERA, he’s been slightly unlucky (68.5% LOB, .316 BABIP). Luck aside he’s struggled to limit contact, and has always walked a few more batters than you’d like to see. Since the calendar turned to July, Kuhl has been a top 30 starter going 4-2 over 10 starts with a 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .211 BAA, and his 21% K% is up about 2% from his career norm. More than likely this is a hot streak but with a player this young it’s best to see for ones self. Today we’ll dig into Kuhl’s most recent start vs St. Louis at home to get a closer look.

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Greetings from beautiful New Jersey. If you say otherwise, as someone born and raised in New Jersey I am legally obligated to fight you with my shirt off. I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules. Even though I am just here visiting, these laws are still binding. Strange, I know. But true. Very true. Ask Grey if you don’t believe me.

Given how the first 20 weeks have gone, putting two Dodgers pitchers at the top of this list just seems like a tease. We know what is going to happen by Monday, so why do we torture ourselves? If we have learned anything this season, it’s that Dave Roberts hates every single one of us and does not want us to be happy. Luckily, both are owned in 100% of RCLs, so we can safely ignore them without feeling too guilty. 

As for value choices this week, Streamonator likes three starting pitchers who are owned in less than 75% of Razzball Commenter Leagues for a positive value. The value choices for this week are:

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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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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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Let’s just go on what logic tells us.  Not Logic, the rapper, but logic the thing you’ve been chipping away at with your weed smoking.  In 2015, Billy Beane traded Drew Pomeranz to the Padres for Yonder Alonso.  At the time, we have to assume Beane wanted a slugging first baseman.  A guy that could hit 25+ homers.  Okay, so they dealt with terrible Alonso for two years, and, then, when they get what you think they had to be hoping for, they trade him for a prospect (Boog Powell) that many believe is a bench player.  Now, even if Powell pans out, you had in Alonso what you wanted already.  I’m beginning to think Beane just does trades to do trades.  If you were to hear in fifteen years that Beane was trying to make the A’s worse to get out of Oakland, would anyone be surprised?  Moneyball 2 is going to be starring Jamie Kennedy and straight-to-DVD.  Any hoo!  Alonso loses some value going to the M’s because he’ll likely platoon with Danny Valencia (hit his 13th homer on Sunday), though, I guess it could be argued this is a positive move for Alonso, because he’s hit .188 vs. lefties this year.  As for Powell, the A’s might promote and platoon him because what do they have to lose?  Or rather, what do they have to win?  If they’re lucky, Boog will bring some of his trademark ribs.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Baseball’s parity is better than any other sport.  You can go into the season like, say, the Rockies.  No chance at all of the playoffs with no closer, no pitching, an injured offseason acquisition and be a favorite for the playoffs in July, without that offseason acquisition doing anything, not getting anything from your returning superstar shortstop and defying gravity with a pitching staff keeping a team above water even at one mile high.  Then, on July 31st, parity goes out the window and all teams doing well get much better and teams struggling sell off everything.  Speaking of “I’m rich bitch,” the Dodgers traded for Yu Darvish.  The deadline was mostly, “Well, there goes a middle reliever,” and, “Another middle reliever?  Snooze,” then, at the last moment, the Dodgers swooped in and grabbed Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani, two more middle relievers.  Just like LA to want two Tonys, like  Oscars aren’t enough.  Oh well, nothing big this year.  When, thirty-five minutes after the trading deadline, the Dodgers announced, “Psyche, fake-out, we got Darvish too.”  Los Angeles is about the best landing spot a fantasy owner could hope for Darvish.  He has a 9.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 3.81 xFIP, but was pitching in the 5th best offensive park.  Hello, NL West, Dodger Stadium and facing the Giants and Padres.  Now you see LA brewin?  Yu sexy, get me some Trojans.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?