After Rafael Soriano once again looked like his apologetic alter ego, Sorry-yo, Matt Williams said the Nats won’t have a set closer. Let’s backtrack to August 18th, it was a day after the fourth time Soriano had given up runs in the matter of two weeks. At that point, I wrote there was a problem, and I grabbed Drew Storen. That was three weeks ago, and things haven’t gotten better. So, why was I able to spot there was a problem with Soriano three weeks prior to the Nationals manager, Matt Williams? Terrific question. There’s a few possible reasons A) Matt Williams’s Oakleys are worn to shield TV cameras from showing he’s actually asleep. B) Matt Williams can’t find steroids that make him smarter. C) There’s no C. D) In a secret meeting in Bud Selig’s wood-paneled basement in Milwaukee in 1999, Major League Baseball declared that every team must have at least one Mark McGwire. Matt Williams was elected to be Arizona’s Mark McGwire. (Sosa was elected to be the Cubs’ McGwire, which is why he bleached his skin.) The experiment to have a McGwire on every team was a success at first, but soon the players that were elected to be McGwire began to say, “I’m not here to talk about the past,” every time any question was asked. The biggest offender of this was Matt Williams, so, rather than risk being found out, MLB made him the Nats manager. Any of these reasons could be right, but it’s probably D. So, with Soriano in trouble, the Nats could go to Storen, Tyler Clippard or Matt Thornton. My guess is it’ll go in that order, and yesterday Storen got the clean save, helping his case. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Alright Head-to-Headers and Weekly League players. This is more than likely the most important week of your season. You’re either kicking off the first round of playoff match-ups or you’re grinding out the last week trying to get that ever elusive playoff birth. Not to worry my peeps, the Legendary Lifshitz is back and ready to drop some two start pitcher science on y’all. In fact I’ll be taking over as your captain from here on out and into 2015. That’s right! I’m your 2015 Two Start Huckleberry! Think of me as the top prospect getting called up for roster expansions with an eye on the starting job next year. You know like Xander Bogaerts but less of a disappointment. Unless you’re my third grade teacher Ms. Schultz. Then I’m more of a disappointment. What can I say the women had high hopes.

As for the roster of Double dippers, it’s not bad. Lots of good streamers and ton of middle of the road options. I’ll try and focus a little more on the arms with lower ownership levels, knowing those are the guys you’ll be looking to for the extra counting stats to put you over the top. This is one of the most fun times to be a fantasy baseball manager. This is for those digging through the wavier wire looking for that streamer to get you into the dance, or that spot starter to help you lock down that swing category to get you into the next round of the playoffs, or even the roto owner looking to capitalize on the less savvy owners who hit their innings limits this week. May you use this as your guide good sirs! Unless you’re in a league with me, then I hope all your pitchers get shelled. Sorry but I’m in it to win it no matter the cost!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Adam Wainwright went 6 IP, 3 ER, 9 baserunners, 5 Ks as he was out-dueled by Jeff Locke (7 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 8 baserunners, 3 Ks). Wainwright being out-dueled seems to be the norm lately. In August, his ERA is 5.17 and he says he’s going through a ‘dead arm’ phase. Ways that a dead arm could help (in no particular order): tricking a zombie while playing dead, making your other arm feel more alive, doorstop, can’t pick up a bill because your wallet is in the dead arm pocket, screaming out “Sorry, dead arm!” when cutting off people while driving and making your Bernie Lean more believable. Ways that a dead arm won’t help: pitching. Verlander’s arm must be so dead that necrophiliac stray dogs try to constantly hump it. You have to hold onto Wainwright and hope he comes out of it, but obviously this was not what you wanted to hear. By the by, Rudy tells me after he learned his wife was preggers with twins he went through a ‘dead penis’ phase. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

“Richards is talking to trainers but remains on back. Injury appears to be serious.” That’s how the news was tweeted out yesterday by the Angels beat writer. If Agatha Christie were around today, she’d adapt that tweet and name the novel, 140 Characters On A Train Wreck. Then it would be re-released after a train disaster with its new title, The Pitcher’s Trap. No matter the title, there was and will only be one antagonist, the Fantasy Baseball Overlord, who gets his jollies from the misery of fantasy baseballers. You sit on his lap; he says, “What do you want this season?” “A healthy pitcher.” “Ho, ho, ho, no.” Arm injury, oblique, hip impingement, parallel parking impingement because of a stupid cone, broken toe, Tommy John surgery, Tomas Juan surgery in Mexico, forearm strain and now a knee. The Angels best options are Wade “Joey” LeBlanc, Randy “Team Jacob” Wolf and Chris “Lord” Volstad. They are all horror shows. Mean’s while, it sounds like Garrett Richards will miss the remainder of the season, but hopefully will be fine for next year. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Shameless cross-pollination!  Yes, just as shameless as Tony Parker cross-pollinating Brent Barry’s wife, I’m hijacking the open of my post to let you know Fantasy Basketball rankings have begun!  I hope Grey doesn’t suspend me for conduct detrimental to the team… I’ve got my top 50 up earlier than anywhere else (well, no one has recent rankings up!) and if you suffer fantasy depression through winter, and/or hate that Fantasy Football is nothing but pure luck, Fantasy Basketball is the rebound (womp womp) for you!  The mix of percentages and counting stats appeal the Fantasy Baseball-ist in everyone, so if you’ve thought about trying hoops, hop over to basketball and into an RCL when they open next month (I sense another hijack coming…)!

“Get back to the diamond JB, this is a friggin’ baseball blog!”  Fine!  Has any pitcher in the initial top-50 (non-injured) had as tumultuous a season as Danny Salazar?!  Maybe Justin Verlander… But now he’s injured too!  Salazar pitched like a gangbuster (…? can you be only one gang buster?  Ask Ness…) closing out last year, but lower velocity, control issues, and just overall ineffectiveness were so bad he went back down to AAA.  After two months in the Minors, Salazar has been pretty good in 4 of his 5 starts since the call up in late July, including a decent outing yesterday.  Just can’t get deep into games!  To be honest, I haven’t watched a single Salazar start this year (using all my Indians time on Corey Kluber, k?!), so I decided to break down his afternoon against the Orioles and if he needs to be scooped up in more leagues even if his rotation spot is non-guaranteed:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

James Paxton continued to pitch well last night versus the ferocious Tigers tossing six innings, allowing five hits, one run, walking one and striking out a pair to move to 3-0 on the year. We shall call you, Pax the Destroyer! Pax is also one of Guardians of the Galaxy, believe it or not. No, not the tree or the raccoon. No, he’s not Scott Hatteberg from Moneyball or the smoking hot green alien either, but the other guy. The big guy. Yeah, him, apparently, he can pitch too. Since returning from the DL at the beginning of the month, he’s got a 2.16 ERA in three starts, giving up 4 ER, 15 hits and 4 walks while striking out 11 in 16.2 innings against some of the leagues top offenses (Baltimore, White Sox and Detroit). Sure, the stats aren’t overwhelming, but he’s still adjusting after returning from four months on the DL with a strained lat, and if you take his early season stats into account, the Destroyer holds a 0.94 WHIP and a 24/6 K/BB ratio. Also, the sample size is tiny, but the .236 BABIP and the 2.61 xFIP sure are pretty to look at. The M’s need Paxton to step up big time down the stretch, and I think he could do the same for your fantasy team. Pax the Destroyer gets the Phillies next week, and he’s undefeated, getting better by the start. He’s available in little over 70% of leagues and you don’t have to be a space pirate, a weird alien tree man, or a even Xandarian collector to see he could be worthy of a pick up in most leagues.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball Friday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Who misses Making the Band? I know I do. For the uninitiated and unhip (not really) of the early-aughts, it was a reality show about Puffy (or Diddy … or whatever he went by back then) and his never-ending quest to form the world’s greatest rap group. It was an epic failure on the music front, but damn, it was good TV. It also spawned one of the greatest Chappelle’s Show skits of all time. How does this relate to baseball? It doesn’t, but the title makes me giggle and should serve as a reminder to fade Zack Greinke against the Brewers tonight. The price is steep ($10,400), and he just hasn’t been that good lately. He’s also surrendered 9 ER in 10 IP versus his former crew, so I’m shutting down the studio on Zack Attack (bonus points if you get that reference). Now, let me spit hot fire about who I like tonight.

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!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

You know when Shin-Soo Choo (2-for-4, 2 runs and his 10th homer) is hitting homers there’s a Dong Party going on. Dong Party is also my lead single off my album, “Who Let In All These Guys?” The CD cover had me dressed like a sailor, begrudgingly hoisting a man for a keg stand. None of this is ringing a bell? That’s weird, but it did perform better in Asia than here. Choo hadn’t homered since July 4th and only has 4 homers since May 22nd and is hitting .238. Can we say bust? If you can’t, you might want to see a speech therapist. Also joining the Dong Party was J.P. Arencibia (3-for-5, 4 RBIs and his 7th homer). That Arencibia is one spicy meatball! You know what one meatball said to another meatball? What’s up, metaball? What? No good? Okay, I won’t submit it to Highlights. Arencibia has 4 homers in the last eleven games, and has been known to go on a dong run. For those of you who just found us today Googling “dong run.” We won’t judge you here. Next up, for the Dong Party was Robinson Crusoe. He’s got a novel idea. It’s about a shipwrecking. Quite the yarn! Chirinos (3-for-5, 3 runs and two homers) has 11 homers on the year, and I’ve enjoyed owning him in a few two-catcher leagues, but he’s hitting .237 and I wouldn’t get too excited, especially not while you’re at a Dong Party. Finally, arriving at the Dong Party with a homer in the first inning was Adrian Beltre (1-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs and his 16th homer). Getting a bangfizzle at a Dong Party is such a bummer. By the by, Such A Bummer was my follow-up single. Tell me if you want the Sound Cloud link. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The trade deadline was three days ago. By now fantasy experts like Trojan Croftbell and Cocky Karazola have picked over these deals until the bones were showing, and gone over the “slashes” these guys compiled while “toeing the rubber” and talked you, and themselves really, in-and-out of pickups until they were dizzy. There’s no other way to analyze this. Unless you take some of the moving parts to Week 19 of the Two-Startapalooza party!

What happens to the headlining acts is obvious. Jon Lester is a must-start almost every week. In the post-season, he becomes Orel Hershiser ’88, or at least Billy Beane and any long-time A’s fan that shudders at the thought of Orel Hershiser ’88 hopes. David Price scratches the surface of the Must-Start layer some weeks, but more often than not he’ll break the barrier thanks to some interesting non-sabermetrical splits. This year, Price had way better numbers away from the Trop (6-2, 2.74 ERA) than inside of it (5-6, 3.41). Which also means he had the same numbers on grass than on turf, and of course the Tigers play on the green stuff in Detroit (as opposed to the Rockies, who play on the green stuff in Denver, but that’s different).

Then there’s the other guys. It might not seem like what happened to John Lackey and bed crapper Justin Masterson matters as much, but as Twitter pal Ralph Lifshitz pointed out to me on my feed (@NiceRazzball), the Cardinals can turn anyone into a solid starter (see: Jake Westbrook and Joel Pineiro, Lifshitz said, and to that I say point taken). That being said, and I feel like I’m going to be saying that a lot this week – getting something out of Lackey is one thing, but getting the Masterbaterson to get right on a consistent basis is something else. Can you imagine rolling that guy out in the playoffs? Yipes!

Drew Smyly, who got the shaft in the Price deal and goes from a nice park on a winning team to a mediocre team in a crappy stadium, falls down at least one tier per week. He becomes a stat-piler guy for those in search of Two-Starters. Jesse Chavez falls off the radar completely, as he ends up in the A’s bullpen. I’ll miss seeing his oops-I-crapped-my-pants mug every week.

A few of these guys get a double dip this week. For some more Two-Starters, keep on reading…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Cardinals traded for one of the most unreliable starters this year, Justin Masterson and his 5.51 ERA. Ouch. The Cardinals fell asleep and the Indians drew a shaft and balls on their forehead. People are snickering at you, Cardinals, because you have a shaft and balls on your head. Unless it’s a non-Leaning Tower of Pisa that is partially obscuring a tractor trailer so all we’re seeing is its giant wheels. Then, it’s a lovely scenic landscape, but you still got had. This saves the Brewers a lot of trouble because I heard they were going to trade for Masterson and then ‘accidentally’ leave him behind on their next road trip to St. Louis. No reason to obfuscate, my dear Milwaukee friends. Masterson gets a slight uptick in value just going to the NL, but he needs to prove he’s healthy and able to throw a Quality Start before I’d start him anywhere. So, he’s gone from a Waiver Wire guy, to an On My Bench Until He Shows Something guy. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?