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SAGNOF ALERT!!! And maybe who you’re not thinking of (unless of course you tetras’d the title together in your brain place). No, we’re not talking Travis ‘All I Do is Singles/Steals’ Sebastian Jankowski, although he could bring some value if you’re looking solely for steals. But there’s a better option out there. Someone who preseason had the chance to be Jarrod Dyson 2.0 with enough at bats. And then the at bats didn’t come. This isn’t the first time that storyline played out, though. Every spring training there seems to be some player that comes along, plays well, gets some low key hype leading into the draft and then absolutely bombs. Typically those players wallow in the kiddie pool of minor league baseball mediocrity all year until a September roster expansion call-up, but sometimes…sometimes they prove they belong far before September. I was hopeful it would be mid-April that we would see these stats accumulate for our Creeper of the Week, but an 0-16 start effectively ruptured all chances of contributing early and exited his presence from our fantasy minds. Now, with a 5-5 game under his belt and 5R/3SB in his past three games, somebody’s creeeeeeepiiiinn….

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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I mean, is there any other photo that more represents the name Phelps this summer? Wait. (Checks the photo again). Hang on.

There we go! Haha, sorry about that. Who’s that other dude? HE’S NO DAVID PHELPS! I tell ya that much…

Now, in all seriousness, David is no Michael, but in Week 20 he has the potential of bringing your fantasy baseball some significant value. And we’re not talking GOLD-TONED value, for all you Razzball Podcasters (thanks for that one, @Grey). While only starting two games this year, Phelps is producing a career year. By far. With a K/9 over 11 the Marlins have used him in multiple situations leaving to his 5 W and 3 SV. He’s been valuable in his role, but moving into the rotation for this week could bring great things. The Marlins are in the playoff hunt and need some fresh breath to get some elusive wins of late. Enter Phelps. And enter the Reds and Pirates lineups.

Phelps LOB% (Left on-base %) is a large reason his stats look so great (88.5%), but all the peripherals match up to his impressive surface stats of ERA (2.40) and strikeouts (11.03 K/9). It will be interesting to see how he translates his success through a lineup a second and then, hopefully, a third time, and he’ll need to do better than his history as a starter, but I have every reason to believe he can. The Reds are a porous team with a few traditional bright spots in the lineup, and the Pirates offense has tried its best to suck enough to rival the Braves in season-long numbers. Phelps is on the road for both, but has a good defense behind him and features a great shot at scoring some W.

Lastly, unlike many of the pitchers highlighted in this series, David Phelps is ACTUALLY AVAILABLE FOR PICKUP! He’s only owned in 10.2% of leagues. He won’t go past 6 or 7 innings, but it’ll be enough to bring great value.

Here’s how the rest of Week 20 stacks up!

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The English major in me is just teeming with excitement for the title of Week 19’s edition. Any of you ever read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game out there? (And damn it, I know I’m geeking out right now. Whatevs.) The quick premise of the book is that there’s a special boy who has a greater ability than anyone else to defeat an enemy in what is posed as a simulated game. I won’t spoil the rest, but suffice it to say, he’s special because he wins. All the freaking time he wins. Even though he’s not the most imposing character he wins. And it’s just like his fantasy baseball namesake:

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I’ve made jokes about the man. I’ve dropped the man. I’ve laughed at the thought of the man. And now I’ve referred to him as the man. Yet he’s a kid. Somehow still only 27, Rick Porcello is bucking the trends and rolling in Boston this year.

Truthfully, it’s not even fair to say he’s ‘bucking all trends.’ Yes, his numbers are significantly better than last year, and he’s been absolutely lights out in the second half with a 22:4 K/B ratio, but not that much has changed for Porcello over the past four years. His K/9 is similar to the past two years. His BB/9 is on par. He’s leaving a small portion of more runners on base than last year, but not at a high enough clip (6%+) to truly make an impact. Yet we sit here at the start of August 2016 and Rick Porcello is 14-3 for the Red Sox after tossing a CG last week with 8 K in the win. He’s been largely yawnstipating since coming up as a 20 year old for the Tigers in 2009, but he shouldn’t be ignored due to his past or his potential negative name perception. Porcello will end up in the Top 10 for Cy Young, if not higher. Now, after the last 200 words hopefully you’re thinking the same thing I am…but why? If pitch percentages are similar over the past four years, and there are no changes with the surface stats, how is it that Boston has an ace in Porcello (a gift from baseball heaven since David Price apparently forgot how to lead a staff)?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s all about the value. In the preseason, it’s about the risk vs. the reward in finding value. You know, good ol’ ROI. For instance, this year if you wanted to take a gamble on a massively hyped rookie destined for great things, it may have cost you a fifth round selection. Which rookie? Corey Seager (and maybe even earlier in some drafts, especially those around the LA area). Seager exploded onto the scene late last summer after dominating the minors for the Dodgers. Has he failed to bring a net positive ROI from that fifth-round valuation? Of course not. Check out his line to date: .307/66/17/47/1. He’s topping his projections, universally owned and helping fantasy teams climb atop the leaderboard. But who am I kidding…it’s just a waste of space to talk more about Corey Seager. You’re not picking him up. And you’re overpaying to trade for him. So, instead, why not go for the guy that’s Corey Seager Lite (spelling intended…you’ll see…)? On pace for a .260/70/22/60/8 mark, this week’s Creeper of the Week is just waiting to boost your MI, SS in a bind, or OF due to injuries.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yes, this is a two-start article, but we’re going let this edition serve as a reminder of a few things for the rest of the fantasy season as Andrew Casner was recently the star of a trade between the Marlins and Padres. As a result, let us remember:

  1. Andrew Cashner’s not good.
  2. Leaving Petco Park to pitch is not good. (Even with improvements to the Park Factor, it’s still a net positive for pitchers)
  3. A horrendous pitcher that throws twice in a week isn’t a better option; they’re an exponentially worse option.
  4. Andrew Cashner’s not good.

Did the Marlins actually break their bank in this trade? No, and they’ve done that before (see: post WS win seasons). However, I may rather have all four players on the Padres side of this deal rather than the post-hype non-sleeper Andrew Cashner and, wait for it, Colin Rea. Now pitching in Miami, Cashner has a few things in his favor, like facing the Philies and Braves more often, but with only eight weeks left in the season the opportunities are minimal.

Let’s also set a record straight: Matt Shoemaker (the other SP I considered highlighting) Andrew Cashner is not. For a long stretch this season Matt Shoemaker has mirrored the norm of Clayton Kershaw. Cashner’s upped his K’s in his past 3+ starts, but let me close this little segment about why points 1 and 4 above are stout: he’s having the worst season of his career without an inflated stat, like BABIP, to blame for the numbers. 4.76 ERA, 4.94 FIP, and worse in every major category from 2015.

It may be worth it in real life for the Marlins as they push for the playoffs, but for your fantasy squad Andrew Cashner’s still not good. Which, this week, makes him doubly bad. Don’t break your bank to go get him.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Didi

The best leaders walk in a room and everyone knows their presence. Without even being aware of why sometimes, the attention magnetically focuses towards them. It’s like gravity. Leadership gravity. And in order to have it there is normally a glimmer of gregariousness written into the fabric of the leader; everyone’s thankful that they are exactly where they are. In baseball it’s seen in the locker room: they walk in, everyone feels it; they say a word, everyone listens; they’re at their plate, everybody watches.

The Creeper of the Week for Week 17…he doesn’t have that. Haha, a little bait and switch there for ya. Nope, I don’t peg him as the leadership gravity type, but he followed perhaps one of the greatest leaders with it in baseball history: Derek Jeter. For all his overhyped meh of fantasy baseball, you can’t argue The Captain’s leadership presence on the Yankees, and the lack of it now that he’s gone. I’d venture to say one element the Yanks have felt since Jetah hung em up is the black hole manning the field at shortstop; however, in his stead we find a player becoming so gregarious due to his rise as a hitter that he even decided to make his last name a play on that word…

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Dartmouth

Just look at him. Smiling. Slender. Smart. Coming in at a 190LBs while standing a svelte 6’3″ if you gave this man some wispy eyebrows, a cardigan and a pipe you’d have yourself a run-of-the-mill ivy league professor. In the greens of Dartmouth’s baseball team, though, you get Kyle Hendricks, the unbecoming, unannounced, unheralded almost ace of the MLB-best Chicago Cubs. Could it really be this dude that plays a massive role in reversing the Cubbies curse? In a word:

YES.

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I ain’t too proud to beg, sweet darlin’. Please, don’t leave me, girl. (Don’t you go!)

Truth is I could recite just about any Temptations song to you. Growing up with a dad who only listened to Motown and oldies, the moment I started to take interest in ladies I had a song for every occasion. Now, granted, I was about 10 or so when I asked out my first girlfriend, so the stakes weren’t crazy high. But whether a fifth grade swing or a fifteen year old fling, my adolescence knew how to swoon a girl. And I know how to spot a keeper.

Now if I gotta cry to keep you, I don’t mind weepin’ if it’ll keep you by my side.

Will tears flow from my now 30-year old eyes as I’m writing this? Um. No. That’s one thing I’ve matured in since the teenage years (and for the sake of my friends, my family, my wife, my children and my masculinity, thank Heavens). But I’d do just about everything I could short of that to make sure I got this week’s Creeper of the Week onto my roster and, in keeper leagues, locked in for next year. And if you miss out on him, you’ll be bregging to get him from someone else. See what I did there?

  • Alex Bregman, SS (17.1%) – So what if the ‘Stros decided not to bring Bregman up to start the second half. They’re just being silly. Just about the only universal commentary from the All-Star Weekend was that Alex Bregman was overwhelmingly ready for the Majors. He raked two extra-base hits in the Futures game, and has his signature already written and waiting on him at 3B in Houston. The beauty of playing the hot corner with the SS eligibility, a la Manny Machado, is that he must have enough pop to play there while being eligible at a weak position. Bergman has the potential to come up and challenge the numbers of any of those top SS listed in the rankings below. And since this is all about finding a player owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues, welp, now’s your chance. His 17.1% mark will balloon to north of 65% within a week of his call-up. And why all the fuss? The #2 overall pick in 2015 has dominated at the plate by producing 23 HR and 18 SB in his first 600 MiLB ABs across the top four levels. He doesn’t K much, walks about 10% of the time, and currently sports a .388 ISO in 11 AAA games, surpassing his .263 mark in 62 AA games. Sweet mercy, come and come quick, young man. You’re being patiently awaited for on 5 of my teams. Thank you! And for you that pick him up…you’re welcome.

Now enough creepin’…let’s get to the Rankings. BUT WAIT!!!

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Michael Scott

And they’re off! Again! For the Second Time! Part Two! Two Dragons! (I’ll secretly do almost anything to word sneak in an unsneaky way Starchy & Hutch‘s ‘Two Dragons‘ reference into juuuust about anything. You’re welcome.) But for real…it’s the second half! (Insert explosions, fireworks, train horns, sirens, babies screaming, and horses charging) I got all the feels!

Here at the balls of Razz we’ve already posted many-a rankings for the second half to prime you for the stretch run (@Grey, @malamoney, @Big Magoo). And well, here comes another. If you showed up looking for the Week 16 Tw0-Start Pitcher Rankings, tough luck…the MLB teams are characteristically late in announcing much of anything valuable coming out of the All-Star Break, so we don’t know the rotations for Week 16. The three game soiree that is the first weekend of the second half is the recalibration many teams needs after taking the week off. By the time this article is posted there may be a list of Two-Start options available, but as for when I’m penning this piece it’s unfortunately not. So, I’ll join the bandwagon of the other writers and personally lay down the challenge to ol’ @JB Gilpin, my pitcher counterpart, and say that these rankings are the ones you need for the second-half in evaluating Starting Pitchers. He may be 6’7″, but I’ll take him out faster than Jose Canseco’s interview on the Razzball podcast two weeks ago (Seriously…if you haven’t heard it yet, sweet mercy, go download that sheen right meow).

And without further adieu, which no one actually uses in any common vernacular anymore outside of that phrase, here are the Top 100 Second Half Starting Pitcher Rankings! Hopefully some of the top options throw twice next week!

Note: I have not looked at JB’s or anyone else’s rankings at Razzball yet. I know, I’m a great teammate. But I wasn’t influenced by theirs in any capacity.

Please, blog, may I have some more?