It’s hard to pick which Ross is hated more: the one in Friends whose character is so annoying David Schwimmer could never get work again, or the dynamite starter for the Nationals, who even after pitching mad impressive through his first few starts, wasn’t even the first SP to get the call when Stephen Strasburg went back to the DL yet again.  Why wasn’t he the first call?!

After Joe Ross‘s first run in June, I kept him in the ranks a few more weeks even without a for-sure rotation spot, and when Strasburg tweaked the oblique, I was ready to vault him into the top-50.  But nooooooo, instead they use, I dunno, Taylor Jordan or someone who doesn’t matter?  C’mon Nats, what did Ross ever do to you?!  Finally the Nationals got Ross back up to face the Mets last week in a decent – albeit underwhelming – start given the matchup, so I decided to break down his 5th MLB start at the Pirates, in a pitcher’s duel Sunday afternoon against Gerrit Cole.  Here’s how Ross looked:

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A NASA engineer who plays fantasy, “Houston, we’ve Scott a pitcher!” Then he tries to high-five another NASA engineer, but their 180 IQs can’t figure out a hand slap. A gay man in the Bay Area who plays fantasy, “I see a run on Minute Maid mimosas thanks to the Kaztro!” Then he tries to high-five his friend and it becomes patty cake. A Real Housewife of Houston sees that Scott Kazmir was traded to the Astros and gets on the phone with her husband, “You want me to hide our oil futures in which bank account again?” Okay, that had nothing to do with Kazmir. For the past three months, I’ve been saying to trade Kazmir in July and guess who reads Razzball. Yo, Beane, I’m on a treadmill as I write this — simpatico, my brother! Crap, I just hit ‘Begin Workout.’ How do I shut this off? I just wanted to stand on the treadmill! So, Kazmir takes his 2.38 ERA to Houston and I can kinda understand it from the Astros’ perspective. If they get ten starts from him instead of Feldman, then it’s a score since they traded low-level prospects. Kazmir is from Houston so he’ll be able to play in front of family and friends, which is great if this were Little League and needed a ride home. He has only 15 1/3 IP in The Juice Box, so his numbers there are irrelevant. O.co is a -co park like Petco or Metco and stands for Overstock(ed on foul territory), but Minute Maid isn’t exactly Coors. Keuchel, McHugh, McCullers and Velasquez have done fine there, and I think this is a fairly lateral move out of the wishbone offense. What?! Grey must be reading JayWrong’s fantasy football rankings. The only thing that really stops Kazmir from performing is his health, which is almost definitely going to fail him. Damn, I should’ve been a doctor. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, Michael Brantley went 4-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBIs with his 7th homer. One big day for a 2nd rounder is more than Ian Desmond owners can say. Yes, everything’s better when compared to Ian Desmond. “Maw, this spinach is still half-frozen and spinach juice is dripping into my Salisbury steak.” “In some countries, all children have is a 2nd round draft pick of Ian Desmond.” “You’re right, maw, you’re right. I’m an ingrate!” That’s a 34-year-old you after coming up from your mom’s basement for dinner. One of my biggest regrets of this season was not labeling Brantley a Noid and telling you to avoid. I didn’t rank him in the preseason crazy high so you would draft him, but I didn’t outright say, “Look elsewhere, prematurely balding man.” Meh, I guess my regrets could be worse. I mean, look at Lindsay Lohan’s last ten years. If you own Brantley, I think at this point you have to hold tight and either go down with the ship or hope some of his cream rises — mixed metaphor points! If you don’t own Brantley like me, well, whew. I’m empathetic though. Kinda. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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With the first half now in the books, it’s time to take inventory on the OBP/OPS delights and surprises and forecast a bit for the second half.

Let’s start at the top with the undisputed OBP/OPS King of the first half of 2015, Bryce Harper. Harper has paced the league in both categories since late April and hasn’t looked back yet. Harper has a .464 OBP and a whopping 1.168 OPS. Only Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt are really in the neighborhood with respect to either category. I do expect Harper’s blistering first half to be the best we’ll see from him. I don’t expect another 1.168 OPS going forward, but he should still wind up in the top spot or so in the season’s end, so don’t expect significant regression. Remember those commercials that showed Harper yucking it up next to the Bambino, in grainy, black and white? It seemed absurd at the time, and it still is, but Harper is at least holding up his end of the bargain when Sports Illustrated dubbed him “The Chosen One.” I’m all in on Harper for the second-half and in 2016 and beyond.

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Before you accuse Jose Tabata of leaning into a pitch with two outs and Max Scherzer on the brink of a perfect game, let’s take you back to 2009. The then 19-year-old Jose Tabata was with his wife, the 54-year-old, Conchita Alonso Rivera Consuela Charlynn Torres, and she was pregnant. Conchita etc. would tell Jose to lean into her belly to hear the baby, and Jose leaned. At supermarkets, at carnivals, at the car wash, Conchita etc. asked Jose to lean and listen, and he did. Of course, there was no baby in her belly, it was actually a Betsy Wetsy doll that she shoved under her shirt. Later when Conchita etc. was arrested for falsifying a pregnancy and kidnapping a baby for Jose and her to raise as their own, they would meet at the glass partition in prison and she would tell Jose to lean in. Times were good, Jose leaned in. Times got rough, Jose leaned in. So, on Saturday, when the Pirates were one out from having a perfect game thrown against them, Jose did what he always did — he leaned in. After that no hitter, Max Scherzer has a 10.8 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and a 1.76 ERA. So, yeah, he’s a top three starter, if not the best this year, and he is amazing. No kidding; hey, sorta like Tabata and his wife! (There is a lot more truth in this opening paragraph than you’d likely ever imagine. Just Google “Tabata wife” if you don’t believe me. Happy belabored Father’s Day, Tabata!) Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Remember when you used to open a pack of baseball cards and were only looking for the rookies? DFS Fantasy Baseball has been just like that for me this season. Instead of sliding my thumb from left to right on paper, it is now sliding up and down on my cell phone, looking for players like Kris Bryant, Joc Pederson, and Carlos Correa. I can’t remember a season where this many rookies have made such huge impacts early on. In DFS, DraftKings will price rookies that have just been called-up really cheap. Kyle Schwarber was only $2,200 on the first day he played. Now he is $4,000. Even at that price, he’s still a good option, especially at the Catcher position.The Cubs prospect was the best hitting player in the minors until his call-up a few days ago. Play him while you still can because it’s been said by Cubs’ management that he’ll be sent back down to the minors after the interleague games. By this time next week you’ll be back to picking your Catcher last and not caring who you pick. As much as I love the rookies, playing them in DFS can be daring. It’s important to look at the match-ups even more so than other players. I’m definitely staying away from a rookie hitter when facing a top pitching ace. Check out some more rookies I like today.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 25 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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I need to redirect some of my anger. Strasburg has ruined a lot of that sun that’s shining in the smoggy sky. Not owning Harper has hung over me like a wet blanket that has a mixture of Rougned Odor and Marcus Semien’s last names. There’s dandelions to be picked and goofy rhymes to chant while jumping rope with a bunch of little black girls if I can just pull myself out of this fantasy funk. You know what I need? A rookie pitcher! Those have never gone wrong before, minus Velasquez, Foltynewicz, Erasmo, Taijuan, Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez, that one game where Syndergaard gave up like a zillion runs in less than five innings and Eduardo Rodriguez’s last game. Other than that, nothing wrong with a rookie pitcher! With that said (reversal time!), sounds like Matthew Wisler is being called up by the Braves. Here’s what Prospect Mike has said about him, “Safe and boring, but useful in fantasy. Wisler’s arsenal includes a plus fastball and a plus changeup with good control of both. The lower strikeout numbers and mid-rotation ceiling limit his overall upside, but the low risk and proximity balance it all out. Sorta of like how I balance writing for Razzball with hating Grey.” Aw, c’mon! PM nailed Wisler there. He doesn’t have huge upside or downside, due to solid control. In shallower leagues, I’d wait and see, but in deeper leagues he’s the kind of guy I’d grab immediately. Now, excuse me, I’m going to jump rope. I can read, I can dance, I have a hole in the seat of my pants! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Thank you, Jesus Guzman! Or Jesus Alou or Jesus Colome or David DeJesus or whatever baseball Jesus you pray to! Anthony Rendon was activated! “Hello, God, it’s me Grey. I have no more requests…Well, maybe one more. Could you allow Rendon to hit? Okay, you being such a literal God will prolly take that to mean, he’ll get at-bats and ground out. I mean, can you allow him to hit for a high average, some power, some speed and just be better than Logan Forsythe? I’ll take my answer off the air.” Honestly, I have no idea what to expect from Rendon. Some players — Josh Hamilton comes to mind — get countless injury updates from the media no matter how small the news. I feel like with Rendon it’s been radio silence since he was DL’d. Every few weeks there would be a ‘playing in rehab games’ update, but very little else. So, the realistic side of me wants to think he’s going to struggle like it’s spring training for him. The fanboy side of me thinks he’s gonna hit a zillion homers and steal a trillion bases and make everything right. Likely, he’ll be about as good as Yunel, but, due to his name recognition, will soothe my middle infidel nerves for a few weeks. Yesterday, he went 2-for-4 and, well, he’s back, and that’s all that matters. Thank you, Jesus Montero! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Let me start by saying that for once, I’m not going to complain about the Thursday slate. Weird, I know. There are only seven games today, but after messing around with the slate and pricing, I’m pretty pleased with the options tonight.

But see one of those options, can’t be called that. No, instead, we have to call him mandatory. Tournament, cash, side bet with Grandma — it doesn’t matter. It is Matt Harvey day, and while it’s lost its luster the past two times out, he’s a must for today’s slate.

Straight to the cash, homie.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 20 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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Yunel Escobar (+31.3%) was the most added player in fantasy baseball this past week. The 32-year-old middle infielder who hasn’t reached double digits in home runs since 2011 and has never stolen more than 6 bases in a single season. The same player who hasn’t produced a batting average above .258 since the 2011 season. Yup, that Yunel Escobar. So, what exactly is going on here? Is he a late bloomer? Early zombino? Well, through 35 games and 150 plate appearances, Escobar has launched 2 homers and is 0-for-1 in steal attempts. His BB-rate is down (6.7% in ’15; 8.9% career) and his K-rate is up (12.7% in ’15; 11.3% career). On the plus side, his 23 runs scored and .326 average are among the NL leaders. However, that average is being fueled by an unsustainably high .364 BABIP (.302 career), and while his current 21.7% LD% would represent a new career high, his 17.5% FB% would easily represent the lowest mark of his career and all but ensure another single digit HR campaign. Unless your league includes douchebaggery as a category, ride the hot streak then cut bait at the first sign of trouble. Here were a couple of other big adds and drops in fantasy baseball from this past week:

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