It feels like just the other day the baseball regular season started.  You wrote “I heart baseball” in permanent marker on your arm, then you met a girl who wrote “I heart guys who heart baseball” on her arm, then, during sex in July, you screamed out, “Give it to me, Giancarlo!” and now you don’t have baseball or a girlfriend.  C’mon, calendar, make like a soldier and turn to March.  The only cure for the post-baseball season blues — recapping the preseason top twenty lists and being hand-fed Doritos.  First up, Cool Ranch and our preseason Top 20 Catchers for 2017.  It’s important to look back before we look ahead to 2018.  To paraphrase the one and only B-Real, “How do you know where you’re at, if you don’t know where you’ve been? Understand where I’m coming from?”  (If you missed it, I interviewed B-Real last year on our podcast, though that might not have been as good as our Jose Canseco interview.)  It wouldn’t be fair for me to preseason rank the players, then rank them again in the postseason based on my opinion, so these postseason top 20 lists are ranked according to our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater.  It’s cold hard math, y’all!  Please, for the love that all is holy, don’t ask me if this is for next year.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2017 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

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I’m tag teaming today’s post with FredWord who had to attend a quaint country wedding where wifi doesn’t exist.  Fred wrote up some pitchers, and I’ll fill in the rest.  Also of note, this is typically a day for FantasyDraft content, however, they have shuttered their baseball doors early to make way for fooseball.  Harumph!  The nerve!  No harm, no foul though, we’ll just pass the content over to FanDuel for the final week.  Now, onto Fred’s lede:

Please raise your hand if you were kicked out of the playoffs last week. Phew! I thought I was the only one. I’m still a bit numb from being kicked out the first week of the playoffs. I refuse to log into my app to salvage a 5th place finish. Instead I logged in early the first morning to scavenge any free agent rookies who might be a keeper next year. I have turned all my attention to DFS for the final week of baseball. An interesting pick for today is Jharel Cotton ($5,900). Cotton is coming off a groin injury and likely will be under owned. He gets a favorable matchup at home vs the Rangers who tend to strikeout a lot. In his last start against the Rangers he had 9 k’s in 6 innings. Probably the biggest factor to this equation is Cotton is from St. Thomas Virgin Islands who was recently devastated by hurricane Irma. Cotton is going to be pitching with a lot of emotion today. This would be more of a tournament play as there is always risk playing a guy coming off interest.

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond?  Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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Erasmo Ramirez was masterful Friday night in what was one of his best starts of the season going eight strong innings against the we-don’t-lose Windians, allowing just three hits, one earned run and striking out a season high 10 batters. Erasmowing down hitters? ErasMo Innings, Mo Strikeouts? ErasMost definitely more comfortable in Seattle than in Tampa? Ugh, I know. Headlines are hard you guys, I ran out of steam about three weeks ago and I’m sorry but that’s the best I’m going to do. However you headline it, after being wang-jangled around the Rays pitching staff, from starting rotation to bullpen and back again, Ramirez has settled nicely into the starting pitching job he deserves since being acquired by his old team, the Seattle Mariners, in July. He holds a respectable 3.79 ERA in 10 starts with the M’s since, but it’s the 52/13 K/BB ratio that really raises my eyebrow, Dwayne Johnson. If we remove a hiccup he encountered with a rough start in Houston, Erasmo has three quality starts in September with a 22/4 K/BB ratio. Yes, more please! He gets to finish his season strong with a favorable start next week in Oakland, and outside of the obligatory Matt Olson home run, I could see him pitching a successful outing there. At about 10% owned, Ramirez is a streaming option readily available in most fantasy leagues if you’re looking for an easy win to push you over the edge. And if you’ve been out of contention for weeks and are still reading this, first, Ramirez could be a decent late-late round sleeper to consider for 2018, and second, thanks for sticking with us and not jumping ship to fantasy football coverage (which you can check out here). You guys are the true Razzball MVPs. Except of course for the writing staff, obviously, they the real MVPs, especially me.

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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So with September baseball upon us, I offer one tidbit of DFS knowledge that can end up being the difference between winning and losing on a given slate. September baseball means far more late scratches, as teams with expanded rosters are more willing to tell a player to sit a game out if he injures himself in warm-ups or just doesn’t feel right that day. For example, yesterday, two Indians were scratched and the White Sox starting pitcher was scratched, all well after the lineups were announced, and all after DFS lineups locked. Granted, the scratches were not players who were likely to be played in any DFS lineups (maybe Zimmer, but if you were using Greg Allen or Rodon in your lineups, please email me so I can challenge you to h2h matches), but there’s been plenty of scratches over the last few days of players that were relevant to DFS lineups. So the one piece of advice I can offer is that when you build your lineups, try, where possible, to keep as much of your lineup “open” and flexible, so that if there are late scratches, you can make pivots where possible, since both FanDuel and DraftKings offer late swap for baseball. Now, that does not mean make an entire lineup of 10pm night-game players, because often times the best plays are from the early games, but it does mean that if you’re deciding between two players at similar price points for a position, and one plays at 7:05 and the other at 10:05, I would give the edge to the 10:05 guy as it gives you more flexibility in case there is a late scratch somewhere else in your lineup (unless the 10:05 guy would be the only late night player in your lineup – in which case I would actually advocate for an entire lineup of 7:05 guys so that you have no risks of late scratches whatsoever). Basically – unless you’re building an entire lineup of 7:05 starts, which means no risk of late scratches, you should try to have as many late starts as possible (all else equal of course, don’t choose an inferior play simply because the player starts later) to keep your lineup open as much as possible.

On to the picks once another post lock scratch happens…

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond?  Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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Who doesn’t love them some BOGO sales? Girls love them, hell even flamboyant fake baseball players like it.  I prefer the pun value in them better than buying two pairs of shoes, only of which I need one.  Which leads us to Javier Baez.  I equate him to that sushi roll that you aren’t sure that you like and don’t exactly know what’s in it.  Like a Ahi Tuna special, but in a baseball hat.  Entering play (as of me writing this) he had 21 Homers and 9 steals.  Not fantastic by any stretch of the SAGNOF variety, but I wanna see if there is more juice to squeeze out of the North Side orange.  We are fully entrenched in the here and now of fantasy, but always need to be looking to next year.  So with his uptick in speed over the past eight games (3 steals), making everyone aware of their surroundings in the SAGNOF world seemed like a good spot to write about Javy for the first time this year.  Batting average is not what you want him to be a stalwart on your team, but the 21 taters with 12-15 stolen base potential with SS, 2B and 3B eligibility heading into next year, he is someone with name value that you may want to ask to your fantasy prom.  Enough with the debate about Baez for now and later, let’s get to the Stealers and Savers for the week…  Good luck down the stretch lads!

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James Shields has given up a home run in 11 of 13 games this year. Outside of the first 2 games when he gave up 2 each, he’s given up at least 5 hits a game (he’s gone more than 6 once this year and that was 6.1). He’s walked someone in every single start. This is a more flavorful way of saying what you already know – Shields is terrible and won’t have his option year picked up in 2019 (that’s right, we’re going to have another year of James Shields to pick on). The other plus about this game is it’s in Texas and it’s going to be hot. Also, Shields’ splits this year are hilarious. When a left hander is in the box, he strikes them out 15.7% of the time and walks them 12% of the time (with a normal .313 BABIP), gets a ground ball 35.7% of the time and allows a home run on 23.6% of his fly balls. All of which is leads to an unfathomable 9.17 FIP and a 6.86 xFIP. Yes, loyal readers, James Shields has a FIP over 9 vs lefties. The worst FIP I can find vs lefties is Jose Lima’s 6.14, including an 8.29 in 2006 and Lima’s 8.29 was in only 7 innings. James Shields is having a legendarily bad season vs lefties (he’s actually relatively decent vs righties with 21.2% strikeouts and 8.2% walks for a 4.14 FIP and 4.73 xFIP). So given all of this information, here’s what I would do: play Texas Rangers lefties as much as physically possible, with Mazara and Gallo being the top ones, but all of them are good plays. As for the righties, they aren’t nearly as good as the lefties, first, because each Rangers righty you play is one less Rangers lefty to play if you’re going to have four Rangers, and second, a lot of the Rangers righties are expensive. That said, in a vacuum, the righties are still good plays as it’s hot, James Shields is on the mound and when he’s out of the game, the White Sox gas can of a bullpen will come in and suck. Beltre leads the righties since he hits righties pretty well over his career (113 wRC+) and has hit them well this year (.382 wOBA). Basically, play all the Rangers you can.

On to the picks once James Shields allows another home run to a lefty…

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond?  Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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Because I am always late to the writing party, I figured why not just add another Bryce Harper column, but with a Michael Taylor happy ending.  So what’s-his-face got hurt and now Mike Taylor returns from the DL to save the day.  Gone one day and BH is now what’s-his-face.  It sucks, but injuries happen.  That is why waivers and free agent pools exist.  So before Taylor inured his oblique in early July, he was on a torrid pace that was making him an asset for fantasy.  Now what capabilities will he have with that injured oblique?  Since this is the SAGNOF report, we only care about one thing.  Increasing his SB total from 10.  The thing in his favor is that the Nationals lineup is going to change slightly.  Because of the absence of “some guy”.  Small ball and base-to-base stuff still wins and it may have to happen without a middle of the lineup thumper (besides Zimmerman).  I can’t believe I just called him a thumper, well… suspend disbelief for a minute and just assume I didn’t mean it.  Taylor may take a few days to get into the swing of things but Bryce isn’t walking through the door anytime soon, so at-bats and top of the order stuff are coming. Happy SAGNOF’n!

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I’m going to break this down to you nice and simple like Minnie Pearl would’ve liked it.  Guys that bust and you don’t want next year, you should be rooting for in the 2nd half.  That’s guys that bust, not guys with a bust.  Please, Billy Butler, stop pretending to lactate by dripping milk on your shirt.  The reason you want them to succeed in August and September, because A) They’re prolly on teams that have checked out and are checking on our fantasy football content (Football RCLs sign up today; smooth transition), so no harm, no foul.  B) You want people to get excited about them next March because of their 2nd half, while you ignore them, because you know they’re not good.  Then the cycle starts again.  They draft players that were good in the 2nd half, those players are not good in the 1st half next year, and they check out again.  Rinse, repeat.  C) There’s no C.  Yesterday, Josh Donaldson (2-for-4, 4 RBIs) hit his 14th and 15th homers, and has four homers this month.  Here’s to him helping all of those tenth place teams move up to ninth and exciting everyone again next year!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The fastest answer to the title is that no, you can not just fix what Trea Turner was giving you and the lack thereof for the next few weeks.  Dude was a man among spatulas.  Twenty two steals in the month of June alone was more then four teams in the entire majors.  For fantasy, he was the only person over 20 in the last 30 games, only person in double digits in the last 15, and now he will get you zero for the next, presumably, six weeks…  So where do you turn?  The answer is: I wish I knew, because the waiver wire is not going to give you that type of production.  Trade?  Sure, if you have the assets, or you can just plain ignore the stat.  Interestingly enough is that if he is gone from the league, it kind of evens the playing field for steals across the board.  Billy hasn’t been Billy in some time, Dee is probably the most prestigious thief left right now is universally owned, and the waiver wire is littered with 2-3 steal guys every 10-game types.  I am not saying that losing Trea Turner is a good thing… it is an excellent thing for everyone that doesn’t own him.  If you are the sad owner of him, replacing Turner is not the biggest need.  In reality, you just need to maintain the fort ion the steals department.  That’s where me and this column come in.  SAGNOF to your wildest content.  The waivers are now your oyster at the SS, OF, or wherever you had TT employed.  Moves a plenty should be made and don’t be afraid to play match-ups versus catchers or pitchers or both.  Luckily for you, I have supplied one after the bump.  Happy post-Independence day.  Cheers!

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Scooter Gennett had the game of his life yesterday.  Well, isn’t he Vespecial?  You say to me, “Unkie Grey, can I sit on your lap metaphorically and you tell me why Scooter hit so many homers?”  Sure, Nephew, it’s simple.  A story of my Scooter in two tweets:

I am the first person in the history of fantasy baseball to bench two hitters for games with at least three home runs in the same season.  *opens oven, sticks head in oven, opens The Bell Jar to read*  Ugh, could someone check on the pilot light?  You might be asking yourself why I had Scooter on my bench, while you coyly bat your eyelashes.  I’ll explain, you coquettish bastard!  He was hitless the entire previous week!  WHAT THE EFF?!  Any hoo!  Scooter had a big game, and will now be invited to all the same parties as Mark Whiten, but Scooter is not much more than a hot schmotato.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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