Just like last week when I had too many outfielder injuries I am going to save all my starting pitcher fill in options for the bottom of the article. There are simply not enough credible fill in starting pitchers to take seriously. Eventually you’d be asking me “Really Kerry? You want me to start Livan Hernandez this week in his celebrity softball appearance?” Yes. Yes I do. That’s really all that’s left. Unless you want me to embarrass myself and recommend Matt Cain starting in Coors Field.

As always, you’ve got league-specific injury questions? I’ve got league-specific injury answers. Leave your question in the comments below! I love talking with the Razzball community.  

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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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The list of two-start starters for Week 16 is pretty ugly. Not only did it take some time to materialize as teams figured out their rotations following the All-Star break, but once the dust settled and we had a good idea of who would be starting when many of the names we were left with were not all that appealing. Sure, the high-end options like Kershaw (for now), Strasburg, and Greinke were there, but the meat and bones of the list were lacking.

Just ignore Clayton Kershaw. At this point in the season, I am convinced that Dave Roberts reads this post every week and then trolls us all by changing his rotation on Sunday night. He is at the top of the list as of this writing, but that could easily change in the next few seconds. The Dodgers have a dozen or so possible starting pitchers, and Roberts shuffles or adjusts his rotation pretty frequently.

One name to take a look at this week is the soft-tossing Brent Suter. While he does not exactly light up the radar gun, he has been very effective in his recent stint as a starter for the Brewers. In his last two starts, he shut out the Orioles over six innings while striking out eight and then allowed just two earned runs over 6 ? innings against the Yankees while striking out five before the break.

Throughout his career in the minors, Suter has been consistently solid-yet-unremarkable. In other words, he has never really been great but hasn’t been bad, either. He has a 3.44 ERA across six seasons in the minor leagues while throwing to a 3.12 ERA during his time in the show. His 2.96/2.78/8.23/2.63 (see chart below) is also solid.

Streamonator does not like him as much as I do. The ‘nator has Suter up around its 20th best option or so (with a negative value), while I have him at the top of the Standards category below, which puts him around 15th or so. He is, however, only owned in 1% of all RCLs, so he should be available to everyone reading this except the one person who is in the league with that one guy or gal who already picked him up.

If you are in need of an arm in the short term, especially in a two-start week, you can do worse. You can do better, too, but I like Suter as a guy who can offer some solid short term numbers. Other guys Streamonator likes for the upcoming week who are owned in less than 50% of RCLs: Matt Moore, Zack Wheeler, and Rafael Montero.

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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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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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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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Another week, another Clayton Kershaw start pushed to Monday. At least this week they moved the start before I wrote and submitted this article. If they move it again Saturday morning, then I will be convinced that Dave Roberts is just doing this to troll me every week. As of now, he is your top two-start starter for Week 12. He might even deserve his own tier.

For Week 12, there aren’t a ton of attractive options after our first two tiers. In previous weeks, we have had middle-of-the-road arms with some good peripherals or some recent success that were available in the majority of leagues. This week, though, I’m not crazy about any of the starters on this list that are going to be available in most leagues. Just look at the numbers in the chart below.

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It is the time of year where we see daily grind injuries. Sore backs, back stiffness, back discomfort etc. A lot of injuries that just accumulate from playing six games a week in the summer heat. If you thought we’ve had a lot of injuries so far — I have a sneaking suspicion there are going to be more of these type of injuries. Not season ending — just break down injuries. If you have an opportunity to acquire a multi-position player like Brandon Drury, Danny Valencia, Chris Taylor or Taylor Motter you might make it through these injuries better than your opponents. 

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You know what Tuesday’s are good for… SAGNOF.  And remembering to put your recycling out.  Funny enough, I am correlating the two this week.  Co-mingling, if you may.  This week, I wanna bring something old, something not so new, and he wears blue… pajamas.  (Because p-jays make the man.)  Let’s look at some old SAGNOF gold and the familiar name that is Eric Young Jr..  Hell, this is SAGNOF, it ain’t a beauty contest… it’s not even that B.S. 15-buck prize from Monopoly when you land on the community chest.  Why I like E.Y. Jr. is multi-faceted; First, he is on a team where he doesn’t have to throw base-running as a caution to the wind.  The Angels are second behind only the Reds’ legs in steals, and with an 80% success rate, they prolly won’t be choosing another tact to manufacture runs while Trout is mending his fin.  He isn’t sexy, and he has a track record of being a good for a few games then falling off a plateau, but since receiving regular at-bats, it is in the same breath as Trout going down.  He has an OBP of over .410, and if you think it’s kind of a fluke, check his minor league stats prior to call-up.  His OPS was at .950 in 44 games at Triple A with 15 steals.  The days of stealing 50-plus bases ala 2013 are long gone, but if you need to find a place for a steal here or there, check the Angels ownership and steals totals.  Maybin, Simmons et al.  So with that, let’ see what else is shaking in the 90-feet of thievery department.  Chart added for flavor.  Cheers!

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