When MLB shutdown on March 13th, we all assumed the season would start up again by April. It was just down for a few weeks, we figured. Baseball would continue, as it always would. Then we were boarded-up into our homes, and baseball wouldn’t return until…June, right? June would be fine, we thought. 100 games they could play, and we could all have some semblance of a season. A distraction during darker times. Then June 1st came and went and we were like, “They can still get 100 games in if they start on that magical day:  July 4th.” Of course, we thought, Rob Manfraud is secretly a genius and the season would start back on our nation’s greatest holiday. The day that saw the birth of George Washington, Ben Franklin, Rob Thomas, literally every great American’s birthday. July dot dot dot Fourth. Fireworks and baseball, and everyone would stand, one hand over their mouth, one hand outstretched so no one was within six feet, and baseball would rise from the ashes like Joaquin Phoenix. Then that passed, and it became clear MLB would start with no fans just to get in the bare minimum of a season as a precursor for their real moneymaker, the playoffs. Finally, when games began, there was a DH in the NL; 7-inning games; runners starting innings on 2nd, and teams shutting down for a week with protocol breaches. Ah, yes, wonderful, terrific protocol breaches. Yet, through all that, we preserved through the craziest fantasy baseball season on record. And on wax, if you’re old school. If you made it to this point, you deserve congratulations. Doesn’t matter if you won your league or not. You deserve kudos for just getting through this season (two months). Also, because I’m in an especially touchy-feely mood, I don’t thank all of you enough. Without you, it would just be me making stupid baseball jokes, snorting and–Well, it is all of that, but with you it makes it feel like we’re all in this together. My over-the-internet friends. Be well and safe all offseason. I’ll be here, churning out offseason content and hoping for a slightly more normal 2021. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Someone had his white Vans on! Daniel Ponce de Leon had another strong start Friday night pitching 6.1 innings allowing just three base runners (1 hit, 2 BB) and one run while striking out six for his first win of 2020. He had a no-hitter going through the first six innings until an Orlando Garcia home run, the only hit he surrendered, ruined his bid. Damn Daniel, 2016 called–they want their meme back. I touched on PDL (can I call him PDL? sounds like a bad light beer) last week and concluded he was too risky to touch, but his 3.15 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 28/6 K/BB in September tell me something has definitely clicked. Considering he was rocking a 7+ ERA at the start of the month that gives you a sense of the strides he’s made in just a few short weeks. Perhaps he discovered the dot, dot, dot…fountain of youth? I’m sorry! I had to. Regardless the win was his first as a starting pitcher in 20 tries–that’s right 20! And yes, that is the record, albeit a fairly depressing record to hold. Maybe its these Brewers’ hitters, who he’s struck out 15 times this month to pad his 12.6 k/9 in 20 IP in September, or maybe it was finally getting the run support he needed (Cards scored zero runs for him in half his starts this year). More likely he started consistently locating his elevating fastball which allowed him to mix in breaking balls and keep opposing hitters off balance. Whatever it has been, his 4.96 ERA and 1.32 WHIP don’t tell the full story here. I’m going to choose to believe his 31.5 K% and .221 BABIP are more indicators of the pitcher DPdL is and he’s a player I’ll be keeping a very close eye on this postseason even if he’s just pitching in a middle relief role. So grab your white Vans and make sure they’re cleaner than the “WAP” radio edit because I’m telling you Daniel Ponce de Leon could be a a 2021 sleeper to watch!

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

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Baseball’s Rat Pack is back! A classic saxophone beat starts playing. It’s Bobby Darin’s Don’t Rain on My Parade. A disembodied voice can be heard, “Hey world here I am!” Just then Jose Altuve stands up from an umbrella stand, “Don’t tell me not to hit a deep fly, I’ve simply got to!” George Springer walks out banging on a bucket, “If someone takes a spill, it’s me and not you! Ow, my hamstring!” Alex Bregman walks out, and faux bashfully closes Altuve’s jersey, “Don’t bring around a cloud to rain on our 2017 World Series parade.” Yesterday, was a sign of old stolen signs. Alex Bregman (3-for-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs) hit his 5th homer, and came within a single of the cycle. The Hungry Man cycle! For 2021, Bregman seems less impacted by this egregious season. He was never going to reach last year’s peak, but he can also avoid this year’s nadir. Speaking of low points (segue!), Jose Altuve (3-for-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs) hit his 4th homer, and his 1st homer in more than a month. Mentioned this a few times on recent podcasts, but I tested positive for a 2021 Jose Altuve not being on my teams. He won’t be drafted in the top 25 again, and I’m not sure if he’ll be in the top 100. Finally, George Springer (3-for-4, 2 runs, 3 RBIs) hit his 14th homer, and, well, he’s acksually been good, when he’s been on the field, which, like usual, is nowhere nearly enough. Now watch the Astros get hot at the perfect time for the playoffs, and give MLB one of the worst storylines for a team contending for the playoffs since the 1920 White Sox were led by “Wearing Shoes” Jim Jackson, Joe’s dandy brother. “Take your shoes off, Jim! You’re embarrassing yourself!” Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Trevor Bauer (8 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 12 Ks, ERA at 1.73) is going to win the NL Cy Young. Sooner you come to terms with that, the better for your own mental well-being. You’ll be able to listen to relatives talk about how they saw Trevor Bauer on HBO’s Real Sports, and how Trevor Bauer invented ‘a ball spinning,’ and how he’s so old school with his notebook, but not a spiral notebook. No, no, no — a laptop that Bauer calls, “My Notebook.” You can hear about how Trevor Bauer’s best friend is his dad and how he can make any other pitcher better just by talking him through ‘The Process.’ You come to terms with all of this now, you’re gonna be happier later. Trevor Bauer does have two Cy Young-worthy years in the last three, so maybe there’s something to it. Not sure how that circle is squared with last year, which I still haven’t forgiven him for — 4.48 ERA in 213 IP absolutely killed me. For 2021, it’ll be hard for me to stay away, as it always is with Bauer. Hey, I’m a sucker for 12+ K/9 and the promise of a 2.5 BB/9 or lower. If Bauer can do that, he could have this level of success every season. Wonder if there will be people drafting him in the top five starters. Maybe if I’m in a league with Bryant Gumbel, or your uncle who watches him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

This is what they call in the biz a GAP — a General Appreciation Post. It has not been a general appreciation type year, but Juan Soto (1-for-4, 3 runs, 3 RBIs and a slam (12) and double legs (4, 5), hitting .345) aka Sexy Dr. Pepper makes me wake up at quarter to 6 every morning, jump out of bed like Dicky Fox and scream, “I love Juan Soto!” Then Cougs rolls over and mutters, “865,” which is the number of times she’s said to stop screaming that first thing in the morning. Listen, it’s been a trying year, and I appreciate all of you sticking with us through what was the craziest year on memory, and I’m not gonna get choked up, because I’m way more appreciative of Juan Soto. HE’S BETTER THAN TROUT. Sorry, but Mr. Al Caps is right. Sexy Dr. Pepper is 12 years old and he’s doing things not seen since 2002 when a headless ghost Ted Williams was teaching a bone-sober and dead Babe Ruth why he was striking out so much. It’s an absolute joy to watch. I think I like Treat Urner (3-for-6, 1 run and his 11th and 12th steals) partially because he plays with Juan Soto. In 2021, I’m not sure yet if I’m going to have Juan Soto in the top two, three, four or five, but this is only the beginning of that discussion which will go until 2030, when we’re all finally stepping out of quarantine like a bunch of vampires. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Lance McCullers‘s middle name is Inconsistent. It’s Irish. It was O’Inconsistent, but assimilation through Doc Ellis Island softened the edges. There’s some pitchers I love. That’s it. Just love them. Trevor Bauer, you seem like a total douche, but welcome to my teams! There’s a few pitchers I hate. Good luck getting on any of my teams aging pitcher who doesn’t throw strikeouts. Yo, have fun, Jon Lester, but not here, homey. Finally, there’s pitchers I go back and forth on. Do I love, hate or something else…indifference? This year was indifference for Lance McCullers (6 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 7 Ks, ERA at 4.24), due to coming off Tommy John surgery. For 2021, it’s going to be hard to figure out what to expect from him. Will I love, hate or…indifference? McCullers-Cullers-Cullers’s velocity returned, but his Ks have been kinda flat. He’s not getting a ton of guys to chase outside the zone, and hitters are making contact. The zone numbers are pretty average, but he’s also battled back from major surgery, and may not yet be at 100%. Do you really hold against a guy a goofy six weeks of stats with his stuff? Maybe, but if you’re holding anything against a guy to love to hate, then that sounds more just like love and you don’t know how to show it. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

“Ask not what your fantasy team’s pitchers can do for you, but what you can do for your fantasy team pitchers.” The number one thing you can do is have your fantasy team page open and curse and scream whenever a reliever comes into the game in a non-save shituation and gives up runs, or when you have a pitcher give up five-plus in under five innings, or when you bench a guy who throws a gem. That’s the least you can do for your country and your team. Yesterday, the Kennedy curse lifted, and Jack and Joe did you right: Joe Musgrove (6 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 11 Ks, ERA at 4.68) vs. Jack Flaherty (6 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners, 11 Ks, ERA at 4.84). In 2021, Jack Flaherty could be underrated. Imagine he’s not a top five starter next year, because of one bad start. Sign me up for some of that nonsense. Joe Musgrove is a trickier proposition such as, “I’ll do whatever for $50.” Wait, that’s a trick’s proposition. Since Musgrove’s IL stint, his fastball velocity wasn’t quite there, but yesterday saw him touch 95 MPH, and his slider was working for him. For 2021, I could see getting sucked in again by Musgrove, which inevitably will leave me mumbling, “Era, era, my ERA is a mess.” That’s JFK struggling to the finish line of a fantasy season, like all of us. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Rookie Alec Bohm continued his explosive September Friday night going two for three with a run and an RBI in game one and one for three with a run and his first career steal in the second game. Oh my, did he just steal a base! *swoons* Alec’s underwhelming power to start his career has made it hard on hilarious jokesters like myself who just want to pun all day and improv all night. No bombs for Bohm? What about a nice lip balm? Does that work? Fret not, Bohm-dot-com has picked it up lately with two Bohm-bombs in the past week. So maybe Alec is more of an opposite field contact guy than a  ding dong dinger guy? Or maybe it’s his first year in the league and once he adjusts he’ll be a monster and yes I’m absolutely going to draft him everywhere in 2021? Melikes the latter one most. His manager thinks he’s a future 40 home run hitter and Gabe Kapler seems to know exactly what’s up. *hard cough* But forget about the power for a sec, Alec has multi-hit games in nine of his last 20 starts, and has hit safely in all but two games this month. He’s slashing .359/.400/.551 with three Bohm bombs and 14 RBI in September and that’s no joke! I almost wrote this lede about another scrubby Red Sox prospect, but I didn’t (you’re welcome!) because I noticed Bohm was a BUY and was still criminally under owned at less than 35%! What gives? He should have been scooped up in August. Bohm could be the dot, dot, dot…spark your team needs to dot, dot, dot…explode in your final week of fantasy. I’m sorry, I have t,–and you have to pick up Bohm and win your final week. This kid’s gonna be a star–ha-cha-cha!

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

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Yesterday, Byron Buxton went (3-for-4, hitting .270) and hit his 11th and 12th homer. This is the 2nd time this year he’s homered in three straight games. Prior to this year, he had never homered three games in a row. What could be if Buxton could only stay healthy…*wavy lines* “Whoa, dream sequence! What’s this, a rainbow with a map to its natural end? I will follow this! Wow, only three years later to find the end of this rainbow, I should’ve drove! Hey, look…a pot! Let me see what’s in it…neat, there’s gold, and Buxton being a 40/20/.260 hitter in 162 games, and a young Pamela Anderson, and a battery for my calculator watch that I couldn’t find after the Radio Shack by me went out of business…this dream sequence is amazing!” *wavy lines* Oh, man, here I am still with a constantly broken Buxton and calculator watch. Dreams don’t exist. For 2021, Byron Buxton is going to once again be a total wild card who could be a top 20 outfielder, or act like one for about 80 games. 80 games of Buxton still comes out to…*plugs numbers into calculator watch*…8.6? Ugh, why’d Radio Shack abandon me? Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Another huge Yankees’ threat was activated last night, and he’s a big, big threat, I mean, big, big, big, it’s Aaron Judge, guys and five girls! And, wouldn’t you know it, the Yankees hit seven homers, with three of them from Kyle Higashioka (3-for-4, 5 RBIs with his 2nd, 3rd and 4th homer); DJ LeMahieu (3-for-4, 3 runs, 3 RBIs) hit two homers (8, 9); Luke Voit? Oh, you know Voit (1-for-4, 3 RBIs) hit one of them! He has 19! Clint Frazier (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) even got in on the action, hitting his 7th homer. Oprah screaming like a lunatic, “You get a home run! You get a home run! You get a home run!” Aaron Judge looks under his seat, pulls out a gift-wrapped box, “I get…an 0-for-4?” *hears Final Jeopardy music* “What is six games?” “Oh, I’m sorry, that’s wrong. Aaron Judge will be injured again in four games.” Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?