ONE. MORE. TIME. And to avert the risk of sounding like JB’s EDM music when Joe Ross gets mentioned in the podcast, I’ll just leave at that rather than continue on. WE’RE GONNA CELEBRATE But for real, we could celebrate, because it’s CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK! If you’re still reading this series all the way to Week 26 it’s because you mastered your league standings well enough to either throw down in flavor town, I mean title town, with another owner, or you’re battling for the final few points in roto. Well done, fantasy chaps. Well freaking done.

Now, since there is just one final two-start pitcher entry for the 2016 series, we’ll keep it 100 to the max by cutting through the fluff puff piece at the start and cut to the chase. It’s the Championship, after all, so you’re likelycjust riding your stable of thoroughbreds that got you here. You know, like Max Scherzer. Get it? To the MAX? Ha, had to try one last time. But you knew to throw him; however, if you’re in need of a SP pickup for the final dance, stick to the highest tiers only. Think of it as confidence tiers for all the marbles. Let me say it this way: don’t effing touch the bottom tier. Just stay away. Period. No need for questions or comments…don’t risk your entire season on one of those guys. Done.

Now for the rest, there are some wonderful two-start pitchers for this 2016 swan song. Here’s how the rest of the pitchers stack up for Week 26!

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If you’re reading this you’re either a) in the fantasy baseball semifinals or championship matchup, b) a die hard Razzball fan that reads everything posted, 3) you enjoy my writing, or d) you thought this was fantasy football. Since all of the options besides the first only happen in my midnight delusions of writing (which is currently happening), I’ll just lock it in that you’re in the fantasy baseball playoffs. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

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If that gif above doesn’t make you a little happy, then finding this gem on the waivers. somehow. still. well, it has to. At this time of the season most of the main contributors have been gobbled up; we know who they are, we know what September call ups to target, and we know who is already shut down on the teams that suck. And yet, there are always creepers. With three weeks left finding the right ones can mean all the world of difference. Last week’s creeper, Asdrubal Cabrera, jumped up to 30% ESPN ownership (obviously because of this series), guys like Byron Buxton ballooned so much in ownership that I can’t highlight them, and players like Kevin Kiermaier continue to make my creeper highlight look ever so good. Who’s creepin’ this week?

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I almost began this by calling each of you a cotton-headed ninny muggins. For those of you still paying attention, and still in contention, I wasn’t speaking to you. Trust me, this isn’t a jab to the heart of your fantasy fandom, but rather a jab to the heart of those dad blam stats I extract every. single. effing. week. Haha, yes, they’re what carry this article, outside of these little intro words that a grand total of four three of you read, and they matter greatly when determining which starters should get the nod in the two-start realm. But…this week, and maybe others in September, some of the numbers may not add up to the prettiest math on paper. And I just may get salty if you say the numbers next to the name I’m bout to highlight does over the next seven days. So, deep breath. No need to name call. We can keep it rockin’ and ready to rage like when the song in the gif above hits the radio. And by the radio, I of course mean the loudspeakers in a baseball stadium in between innings with some annoying dancer and the team’s baseball girls doing a country jig. Which name? Ol’ Cotton Eye Jha.

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Listen, I know as well as any that it’s difficult this time of year to really hunker down and focus on baseball. Football’s in the air, the leaves will start changing soon as the temperature drops, summer’s officially over and did I mention that football’s here? But as much as your tendency is to check out, you gotta spent through the tape if you want to finish strong. No lie, I won a Roto championship on the final day by closing a three point gap thanks to my pickups. It happens! So while you league and others are wandering off into the beautiful horizon of fantasy football (I write on the football side, too!), now’s the time to take your advantage like the tortoise vs. the hare and make up ground on these fools! Whether it’s the foresight to pickup Yasiel Puig like two weeks ago, jumping on board the Tim Anderson bandwagon last week, or scurrying into the waiver wire bin to find this week’s creeper, get every advantage you can.

Speaking of this week’s creeper, here’s a sneaky name that probably deserves more mention among the top MI tiers, but always seems overlooked come draft season. Oh, and allows for incredible team and article names…

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Like a vagabond hipster too afraid to settle down, this one could have gone in a thousand different directions: “Stop! Hameltime.” “Sledgehamel” “Hamel ‘Em Home” “Drop the Hamel” Haha, when you’ve been around for nearly a decade as a dominant pitcher your name is bound to be punned and used more times than Grey’s transaction count in his RCL. So, I’ll take the phrase that chooses to play on the words of truck drivers everywhere declaring their lead foot flushing it to the floor, and get to show one of the dopest gifs of a Marvel character out there. Not the best (wonderful for a litany of opportunities through text), or a close second, but definitely up there, just like Cole Hamels age.

Hard to believe Cole Hamels burst onto the scene ten years ago during the glory years of the Phillies, but as a 22-year-old he managed a 9.86 K/9 in his rookie season (his career high). Fast forward to his 32-year-old season and he’s still going strong at 8.90 K/9 and 3.38 BB/9. The age keeps getting higher, but the perception keeps dropping, unfortunately. That BB/9 is the highest of his career, and he’s outperforming his FIP by a significant amount (2.91 ERA to 3.86 FIP). SO, why in the world am I highlighting him? Because he’s not pitching at Arlington this week!!! Let me introduce you to splits, ladies and gentlemen. Or, well, primarily gentlemen. And if I’m introducing you to splits, haha, you need to immerse yourself in everything Razzball over the next five months or so before Spring Training. We’ll get you there. Don’t worry. Now, back to Cole…

Pitchers and baseball players emerge and evolve all the time. Hamels is no stranger to this. His 2016 look? 2015 Dallas Keuchel, without the historic W-L record at home to earn a Cy Young. Everyone’s low on him, but when he’s on the road he’s arguably a top 5 SP. Take a look:

HOME – 5-2 with a 4.10 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, .270 AVG against, .779 OPS against, 16.2% HR/FB, 4.44 FIP
AWAY – 9-2 with a 1.97 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .203 AVG against, .578 OPS against, 10.1% HR/FB, 3.38 FIP

And would ya look at that…Hamels is pitching AWAY from Arlington TWICE this week! He should roll through the AL West in Week 23, earning a slot with the top tier. Here’s a bold prediction for the combined two starts: 15.2 IP, 10 H, 1 HR, 3 ER, 4 BB, 16 K. You take that every time.

Here’s the full ranking of who else I’d take in Week 23!

Want to take on myself and other Razzball contributors and readers in a Fantasy Football League for prizes? Join here!

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Can we talk about the SS position right now? Seriously, it’s like 2004 travelled into the future, made like rabbits to triple itself, and then gloriously handed it’s crown to the offspring that will eventually put them all to shame. Ok, maybe not to shame…there’s no far less PED’s, but sweet mercy if this crop of shortstops ain’t something to behold. Let’s give a little rundown: Seager, Bogaerts, Correa, Lindor, Desmond, Tulowitzki, Machado, Villar, Nunez, Miller, Segura. That’s 11 guys. So, for a 12-tea standard league there’s no use in reaching big time for a SS, as I haven’t even mentioned Turner (he’ll get the eligibility next year), Swanson (still two years away from becoming the next Jeter), Semien (could be the 2017 Schoop), Ramirez in his breakout, the young’n Russell or the sneaky good Crawford. However, there’s another name vying for that 12th spot. Someone not so small (6’1″, 180 lbs) that fits the mold of one of the first four names mentioned and is blossoming into a pro hitter before our eyes. Someone worthy enough as a Creeper to get his name written in the tab of this article enough to relegate all the prior names to last name status so far. Someone named…

Want to take on Razzball writers and contributors in the great game of Fantasy Football? For Prizes? OH MY GOD YES. Where do you sign up? Great question! (Even though you didn’t technically ask. I mean, you might have, but I couldn’t hear you…) You can join here!

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Rest easy, Dodgertown, it looks like your savior lefty has returned to the mound after bated breath. And after his triumphant return in the west he’ll be coming over the mountains to the east climbing hills a mile high. It’s part Gandalf coming from the east on the fifth day, mixed with a splash of Malibu Rocky (think ‘Malibu Ken’…but with Sly Stallone’s growl) and a heaping of Clayton Kershaw.

But wait (gasp!)…it’s not. There’s no Kershaw to be had! In his stead we see a genius front office deadline move come to fruition as none other than Rich Hill took the mound against the Giants this past week and slayed them in route to a 1-0 win. Blisters be damned! Now, Rich Hill’s no slouch; hasn’t been for a few years now. In fact, his numbers trump those above him in our two-start pitchers rankings this week, but both perception and name value may leave Hill a little underwhelming in the eyes of players. How mistaken you’d be if you fall on that side of the line. Let’s examine a little closer, and give a few words as to why my confidence is heavyweight strong for Hill in Week 22.

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For this one I admit you need some Fallon, or an annoying college girl’s exclamation of agreement, to lighten to mood. After all, the Creeper of the Week for Week 21 was compared to none other than Jeff Francoeur back in June by FanGraphs. And, unfortunately, it wasn’t that far off. However, said player also miraculously graded as a 75 overall player (almost unheard of) days before the start of the 2015 season. Ratings like that rarely translate into a washed up player at age 25. Yet, here we are near the end of August 2016 and our Creeper is currently sitting in AAA. Raking in AAA, but AAA nonetheless. And in case you’re wondering, I realize that I haven’t done a good job, no, any job of convincing you to roster the upcoming player, but that’s what the next paragraph is for. So…channel your best sorority girl: YAAAAAAASSSSS! (And then just continue the rest of his name.)

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In college my roommate would, for no reason at all, walk in our living room and yell, ‘Hot Cross BUNS (emphasis on the word ‘buns’)!’ I had no idea what this was, and presumably figured he was referring to something have to do with a ba-donk-a-donk. And yep…you’re welcome for using ba-donk-a-donk in an article. Now twice.

When I cautiously researched what my Van Wilder of a roommate was talking about my it all made sense. And no…there were no body parts involved. Instead I found these warm, pillowy, sugary bread rolls. That’s essentially what a Hot Cross Bun is: sugary bread. My initial hesitations were eradicated when he made them for us a few weeks later and I partook in the riches of those carb machines. Does any of this justify why in the balls he came in shooting those three words, most likely taken from a nursery rhyme? Um, no. He was strange. One of the smartest and strongest dudes I knew, but like a master level warlock or something in World of Warcraft. He was unique.

I recently had a similar experience. Not with a shirtless 21-year-old roommate, but with the sensation of joyous revelation when I realized Dylan Bundy was good. Really good. Again. For the first time.

If you take his most recent start away (8/17) he only surrendered 10 ER since the end of June, albeit through some long relief outings. But once the former #1 prospect in baseball stepped into the rotation he hasn’t slowed down. To start the year Bundy was relegated to sporadic relief with no real structure to his usage, and even when he took the mound he wasn’t spectacular. However, since the beginning of June opponents are hitting <.220 against him, and he’s striking out batters at rates close to what we saw in the minors currently 8.40 K/9 on the season). Injuries derailed his opportunity to shine before now, but 23 he’s still an incredible prospect that is flashing signs of becoming an ace. And soon. Mike Podhozer at FanGraphs lays out an remarkable case for Bundy’s elite stuff. In short, batters have a hard time not swinging at his pitchers, and when they do they have a hard time making contact. That’s what we call a good combination. Like sugar and bread. Mmm…thank you British bakers for providing that delicious treat. And thank you Dylan Bundy for finally ascending into the elite stratosphere. It’s about time.

Now I’m gonna go stuff my face in some pastries. Here’s how the rest of Week 21 stacks up!

Want to take on myself and other Razzball contributors and readers in a Fantasy Football League for prizes? Join here!

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