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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For the last few days, I’ve been in New York for my grandfather’s 90th birthday.  With each passing year, he gets more casually racist, and, let’s just say, he didn’t start at zero.  I told him Byron Buxton hit three homers on Sunday, and he said, “Byron?  What’s he, a Jew?”  I told him, no, I don’t think so, but, of course, he can’t hear so well, so he continued, “I didn’t think Jews played sports.  Well, I guess he’ll at least be good with the money he makes.”  Then he went on a twenty-minute rant about how he’d have more money if he was Jewish (he’s Italian).  If you read Who Is Grey Albright?, you’ll know that I was raised by my grandparents, so let’s hope the apple rolled far enough away from the tree.  Otherwise, I’m gonna be writing roundups in 40 years like this, “Byron Buxton Jr. – He has better contact rates than his father, and prolly can find a good interest rate, ya know, because Jew.”  Here’s my grandfather with the entertainment we got for the party.  For those of you that grew in the tri-state area in the 1980’s, you’ll be familiar with the entertainment:

Any hoo!  Byron Buxton went 4-for-5, 4 runs, 5 RBIs and three homers (11, 12, 13) and his 24th steal.  A triple slam and legs?  What a glutton for wonderful!  From the 1st half to the 2nd half, his average went from .216 to .309; his K-rate is down from 31% to 25%; his OPS went from .594 to .903; his ISO went from .090 to .245, and his OBP went from .288 to .350.  Beginning to think real adjustments have been made for 2018, because everything’s been better in the 2nd half.  His 2nd half has been bigger and better than the pictures I saw recently of Tiger Woods, if you catch my drift.  (Okay, so the apple doesn’t roll that far from the tree after all.)  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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This is the last issue of Ambulance Chasers for the MLB! I’ll be switching over to the NFL starting next week on Razzball Football. I’ll be trading in my DL-60’s and DL-10’s for PUP’s, Q’s, O’s and D’s. Lots and lots of big ol’ D’s. If you have still have fantasy baseball injury questions you can find me on Twitter and ask me: here.

Nine starting pitchers got bit by the injury bug this week, most of them Dodgers. I feel like there’s been a Dodger in every issue of Ambulance Chasers this year.  Since there are so many starting pitchers on the DL I’ll be giving you three fill in options at the bottom of this article rather than struggling to find nine viable starters on your waivers. What? You want me to recommend Clayton Richard? Let me have my pride!

Click here to join my RCL Fantasy Football league on Fantrax!

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As oft-misheard lyric is, “Eddie, are you okay?  Are you okay, Eddie?”  For those millennials who are reading, misheard lyrics were lyrics you thought you were hearing in songs before you could just Google, “[song name] lyrics.”  For 25 years, people went around singing, “I can see clearly now Lorraine is gone,” and were just happy to be rid of Lorraine!  R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) was just a chorus and four minutes of jumbled words, and that…sounded…fine!  So, is Eddie Rosario okay, or is he just okay Eddie?  Yesterday, Rosario went 2-for-5, 4 RBIs with his 17th homer as he hits over .400 in the last week.  Some notes about Eddie:  he’s gone hitless in only two games in August; has five steals to go with the 17 homers; is hitting .303; has a .209 ISO which is tied for 56th in baseball; and now hits at the top of the order.  He should be grabbed in all leagues, and, I’m moving close to him becoming my 2018’s Max Kepler.  *inhales deeply*  Ah, the sweet smell of embarrassment.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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On the ones and twos, it’s not DJ Khaled, with a cigar in his baby’s mouth, dropping another one in a major key.  It’s yo’ boy, DJ LeMahieu (4-for-5, 4 runs, 1 RBI), the French-sounding EDM mixmaster, spinning his wheels around the bases.  Yo, DJ LeMahieu, what you got to say about that?  “Pouvez-vous chicken francaise?”  Yo, you sound like me pretending to be French!  Next up throwing down, it’s Mark Reynolds (3-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBIs and his 25th homer), the man, the myth, the Mini Donkey.  All brays to you!  Then how about Trevor Story (3-for-4, 6 RBIs and his 17th and 18th homers) finding his way into back-to-back home run games, like succinylcholine finds its way into back-to-back Forensic Files.  Then there’s Carlos Gonzalez…Actually, you still suck!  So, the Rockies, scored (fill-in-number, too high to count) last night, and Jon Gray did all he had to do — 6 IP, 2 ER, 7 baserunners, 6 Ks, which in Coors is all you can ask.  His peripherals are gorgeous — 8.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.59 xFIP, but something I failed to remember this past preseason, it’s still a struggle to start him in Coors.  I mean, shizz gets ugly fast like a reality TV person at a reunion show.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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The Mets continue to move towards the future, promoting their top first base prospect, Dominic Smith.  They are cautiously optimistic.  Adverbly restrained because the last time they were unbridled in their enthusiasm, it was about this great deal Bernie Madoff was telling them about.  Okay, let’s think back to a less cynical time.  When the birds chirped, and they made you smile.  When your dad carried you on his shoulders, and you were on top of the world.  When you peed the bed, no one tried to commit you to rehab.  People pinched your cheeks without you having to pay some stranger on Craigslist $75.  A time of joy.  Wonder.  No Splenda.  So, what can we expect from Dominic Smith?  Did someone say ‘no Splenda?’  Well, it wasn’t my words (it was)!  Smith looks like a 17-20 homer guy with a solid average and even better OBP.  Might be a better real life player than a fantasy one.  I’d take a flyer everywhere to see what he does if you need average first, which was the original America First slogan.  Average First!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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Tim Beckham was a perfect 4-for-4 Friday night at Camden yards with his fourteenth home run of the year. He’s now homered in back to back ball games. Welcome to Baltimore, Timmah! Where everyone hits everything. Beckham’s bomb came off Tiger’s ace Justin Verlander in the second inning to tie the game at one. He added base hits in each of his next three trips to the plate. Sure, his .279/.331/.453 slash is nothing to write home about, but that was with Tampa. Let’s leave the past in St Petersburg and let’s look at that slash line for Beckham since arriving in Baltimore: .688/.688/1.375! Much nicer, right? And that 2.063 OPS? Unreal! OK, so maybe I’m having a little too much fun with small sample sizes but the truth is Tim Beckham is a hot little crab cake right now! He’s 11-for-16 in his last four games with three doubles and two homers. He’s also scored five runs with four RBI in that stretch. As long as J.J. Hardy is sidelined, Beckham should see playing time every day and you need to ride him while he’s hot. Also, for a player in the midst of a career year in Tampa, playing in the friendly Camden confines and in a much stronger Orioles line up should only help his production. He’s out there in about 85% of leagues, if you’re in need of a hot middle infielder, there are few bending it hotter than Beckham right now.

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

Please, blog, may I have some more?