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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R.A. Dickey held the Nats in check last night pitching seven innings of three-hit baseball, allowing one run, a walk and striking out seven. Hey, Atlanta, 2012 called, they want their Cy Young back. Might as well send them 2012 Matt Kemp as well. I think he was banging Rihanna at that time? Mmm. Wild wild wild thoughts. Unfortunately for Dickey, Jim Johnson failed to lock down his win allowing three runs on four hits and a walk for his seventh blown save of the year. Methinks Braves might be a team to watch if they could figure out their ugly bullpen. Arodys Vizcaino come back soon! Irregardless! Despite posting just two wins in the stretch, R.A. Dickey has been absolutely en fuego over his past four starts going at least six innings in each, while allowing just one run or less (27.0 IP, 17 hits, 3 ER, 23/6 K/BB ratio). Also with Dickey back to being fantasy relevant I have so many phallic jokes I have saved for you guys!  Let’s see now…oh no, I’m blanking! Nothing worse than a Dickey blog that fires blanks. Unless those blanks are shutouts! How about, Dickey got a rise in Washington? Wait. Pause. Am I actually suggesting you pick up a 42 year old knuckle baller who pitches for the Braves? Well, I’m just saying for a player available in over 80% of fantasy leagues, the 1.35 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over the past two weeks is worthy of your attention. Maybe he can recapture some of that 2012 magic. Okay I got it, last one–Dickey was standing at attention last night, but Johnson blew his happy ending. Boned! Cough. Ahem. I will see myself out.

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

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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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If you’ve hung with me on previous Saturdays, you’ll know that in real life (where I’m Victoria in a hat rather than Victoria on a hat), I live in Canada. And so on this first day of July, I’d like to take the opportunity to say happy birthday to my adopted homeland! Because today is Canada Day, which is like your Independence Day, only with more beavers and people saying “sorry”.

The magic number of the day is 150. That’s how old Canada’s turning today. It’s how many “Canada Day Sale!” emails have arrived in my inbox in the last 10 minutes. It’s how many degrees below 0 it is here, every single day of the year. It’s how many Altuves you need to stand on so you can pat a moose on the antlers. It’s the thread count of my plaid sheets. And it’s how many strikeouts Chris Sale is going to record against the Toronto Blue Jays on our nation’s birthday. (Some of these things may not be true.) Historically, the Jays who have faced him have hit a collective .184. Josh Donaldson has the best shot, having gone 5-for-18 with two home runs against Sale in the past, but offset that against his .150 (magic number!) average in the last week, and I think this match-up is pretty safe. So for my FanDuel slate today, I’m happily paying $11,600 for El Condor, even in Canadian dollars, and I’ll live with sticking the rest of my lineup together with maple syrup and poutine gravy. No, really — you’ll see what I mean.

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There is no truth to the rumor that Elvis Andrus stole his entire playing career from “Fats” Domingo, “Ivory” Roberto Kelly or Nate King Colbert.  Elvis hits the covers off the ball better than Cam “Carl” Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis Brinson.  It is not Elvis’ fault that the way he plays the bat is seen as an appropriation of a top shortstop of yesteryear.  He’s got the chops to knock down that axe!  (All guitar knowledge I possess was used in that nine word sentence.)  Yesterday, Elvis Andrus had the best game of an already great season, going 3-for-4, 3 runs, 4 RBIs with his 8th and 9th homers.  On our Player Rater, he’s in the top 20 overall.  Not for shortstops, for all hitters and pitchers.  Love me tender!  Some of the names he’s above Giancarlo, Correa, Mookie and Dee Gordon.  Love me sweet!  Never let me go!  Well, not so fast there.  If I thought you could actually get value for Andrus in a trade, I could see it since he’s likely at his peak value.  Unfortunately, there’s little chance you’d get back in a trade anything resembling Andrus’ value, so I’d Bubba hold Tep.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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Our Commissioner Manfred presses his intercom, “Please escort in the Guatemalan baseball stitchers.”  Manfred’s secretary brings six men dressed in blanket ponchos and straw hats.  Their leader steps forward, “Mr. Manfred, the Capri Suns you have us using to juice the balls is not working.”  Their leader pulls out a baseball that is dripping with Ecto Cooler.  Manfred turns in his seat, silhouetted with the setting sun.  He lights a Virginia Slim 120 and pulls, coughing slightly.  “I no longer want the balls juiced.  Now….I want you and your friends to go to Dodger Stadium and blow.”  “Mr. Manfred, we are not sex workers!”  “Not blow like that!  Put your lips together and blow.”  “Like Bogey and Bacall?”  “Yes!  Now go!”  …And this was how Dodger Stadium became a launching pad.  Yesterday, Corey Seager (4-for-5, 6 RBIs) hit three homers (10, 11, 12), Yasmani Grandal (3-for-5, 2 runs) hit his 7th homer and Cody Launchangler (1-for-3, 2 RBIs) did it again, hitting his 22nd.  Granted, someone needs to put Cody Launchangler in carbonite for Cooperstown — we can’t risk something happening to him playing baseball! — but this Seager guy is pretty good too, huh?  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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