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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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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Oakland promoted Franklin Barreto this weekend, and a friend of mine who I only see when he’s mowing my lawn said, “You got to go to The Mission if you really want a Barreto.”  Recalling my 1600 Yelp reviews of every Chipotle in Los Angeles county, I exclaimed, “No way, Jose!”  But he replied, “Mr. Grey, my name is Julio.”  Then we laughed, and, even though he laughed with jajajajaja and I laughed with hahahaha, we found a common ground.  As for fantasy, Prospector Ralph said, “Barreto offers hard contact, some speed.  Gets caught a lot, and who knows how much the A’s send him.  He’s exciting though.  Upside guy with a low floor this season.  Now can I go back to bitching about Tanaka?”  There ya go!  Right from the prospect whore’s mouth!  I tried to get Barreto in all of my leagues, but, alas, he was gone.  Yesterday, he went 2-for-5, 1 run, after homering in his first game on Saturday.  He’s worth a flyer in all leagues in case he sticks with Semien.  Ew.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Since Corey Kluber returned from the DL, he’s been lights out.  Then lights on.  Then off.  On.  Off!  Nothing but glow sticks.  The sweet smell of body odor, ganja and herbal ecstasy rises.  An Asian man with pigtails walks by with a Red Bull and you see he’s wearing a diaper that reads “Change me.”  And…the…music…DROPS!  What?  He is a Kluber.  Yesterday, he went 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 hits, zero walks, 11 Ks, lowering his ERA to 3.58.  Shin-Soo Choo-Choo, next stop 3.25!  Kluber has had some great years, says Private Obvious.  “You’ll never replace me!” says Captain Obvious.  Kluber’s great years are looking up at this season’s peripherals thus far.  He has his highest K/9 (11) and his best xFIP (2.98) since his Cy Young year, which happens to be the fifth best xFIP in the majors before Clayton Kershaw.  I’d guess Kluber comes up short of his Cy Young season’s 2.44 ERA, but there’s little reason why he can’t be a top five starter for the rest of the season.   Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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From the land of Pilgrims, Cranberries, Sachems, and Ocean Spray, it’s Middleborough, Massachusetts’ own Sean Newcomb. A true Masshole through and through, over the course of his time in the minors, he’s refused to throw strikes with any regularity. This all changed last week, as Newcomb crushed two XL Great One’s from Dunks, and a marble cruller, before crushing the souls of the Mets. I’ve long followed Newcomb’s career dating back to his high school days at Middleborough. As he’s the rare professional sports product from my corner of the world. After some ups and downs, mostly due to control, or lack there of. Newcomb made his triumphant major league debut a little over a week ago, and in the process looked phenomenal. Flashing control and command he never possessed before. So today, we dig into the second start from the young lefty, at home vs Miami, and Giancarlo. A tough task for the rookie… Oh yeah, then we rank some pitchers.

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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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