Not your Grandfathers Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

Grandpa-Donk handled a lot of wood back in his day, if you know what I’m saying. Not that kind of wood! Alright, maybe that kind of wood, it was the 60’s and from what I understand the donkey world was pretty open-minded back then. But the way G-Donk tells it, his hobby of woodworking accounted for the majority of his wood handling back in the day. The old donk enjoyed taking very rough pieces of phallic shaped lumber and smoothing them out into much less rough pieces of phallic shaped lumber. Because it was such intensive and sweaty work, he typically handled the wood shirtless with help from his completely platonic friend Jimmy.

I always think of these stories of my gramps and his very heterosexual buddy handling that rough wood together when I hear the name of my lede for this week’s top 100: Brandon Woodruff. Brandon had a rough start to his 2019 campaign himself, but has begun to mold his season into a masterpiece that would make even Grandpa-Donk and sweaty Jimmy proud. After a seemingly unlucky April, Woodruff has been silky smooth since the calendar turned to May, sporting a 1.55 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP with 29 strikeouts across 25 innings. Impressively, 11 of those innings came in his home hitter haven Miller Park against the Mets and Nationals, while the other 14 innings were tossed in scary road starts against potent Philadelphia and Atlanta squads! I don’t think he’s a sub 2.00 ERA pitcher, but this dude is smoothing out penis-shaped timber with the best of them at the moment. Woodruff has thrust himself a full 30 spots higher in my rankings this week, all the way up to #42.

Here are a few other guys who have been smoothing and thrusting lately…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Not your Grandfathers top 100 starting pitchers…

It’s been a rough month for Grandpa-Donk. The old Donk isn’t supposed to be climbing ladders in his advanced age of 90, but the garage roof needed to be tarred and he felt he was the only donkey for such an urgent task. You guessed it, gramps fell off the garage roof, but somehow he escaped with only a broken wrist. A couple weeks later, while in a cast, G-Donk decided to use that same hoof to hammer some nails into his barn. This resulted in a second trip to the veterinarian for the stubborn old jackass.

Clayton Kershaw reminds me a little of Grandpa-Donk. I mean, minus the senility, reckless abandon, and tail. Kershaw suffers from a herniated disc in his lumbar spine (lower back). While I’m not a doctor, I have been called “Dr. Donkey” several times; and I think that’s qualification enough for me to assert that, while the symptoms may subside, a disc herniation will not heal without surgery. Mr. Kershaw has had no back surgeries.

All of this is to say, I trust Clayton Kershaw to stay healthy about as far as I can throw him. Which isn’t far, because I’m a donkey, I can’t throw anything. While Kershaw has looked very good so far this season, and I do have him ranked at #10, I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time before Kershaw finds himself on the shelf for another two month stin,t or worse. If I happened to own him, I’d sell him for any arm in my top 20. You should be able to get a useful piece added on if you’re forced to settle for one of those back end top 20 names.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

Back when I was just a young Jack, Grandpa-Donk would regale all us little Donks with tales of his extensive world travels. The old donk especially enjoyed visiting Mexico. On his first venture down south of the border, gramps experienced the full wrath of Montezuma’s Revenge. His exact words, “Coming out both ends for days”. But somehow, after that maiden voyage to the other side of the Rio Grande, G-Donk never again suffered the Hispanic Hershey Squirts.

This reminds me of the curious case of Francellis “Frankie” Montas. Last year Montas started 11 games from the end of May thru October. After posting three quality starts in his first three outings, Montaszuma’s Revenge hit abruptly, as Frankie managed only 2 quality starts over the course of his next eight outings. The Runs were plentiful, if you know what I’m saying.

This season Montas has come out with some solid logs. Game logs, I mean. Thru his first four 2019 starts, the one named Francellis has thrown 23 1/3 IP, boasting three quality starts, a 2.70 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, an increased K rate, decreased walk rate, and loads of fiber in his diet. One cause for optimism this go round, is the addition of a nasty splitter to his repertoire this year which opponents are batting a measly .143 against. The splitter complements an elite fastball which is up almost one full mile per hour from last season, now sitting at an average velocity of 96.6 mph, along with an above average slider. Mr. Montaszuma has also been getting ahead of hitters often in the early going with a lofty 63% first pitch strike rate. Make sure Montas isn’t available in your league, I can wait.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

Overreaction is part of human and donkey nature. Recency bias is unavoidable. But in a world where those who adapt not only survive, but thrive, could the risks of overreaction be outweighed by the rewards of adaptation? Good question. You have a lot of good questions.

I remember a few years back when Grandpa-Donk smuggled a three pound rib-eye steak out of the grocery store under his shirt, even though he had $200 burning a hole in his pocket. Did my family overreact and make gramps come live with us? Of course not; we all had a nice laugh over some grilled rib-eye and went on with our lives.

But when Gramps-Donk caused a 12 car pile up on Dixie Highway, without a license, in a car he “borrowed” from his neighbor, that’s when we knew it was time to make a move. So we did what any good family would do and threw the old goat into that nursing home from Happy Gilmore. Adapt and thrive.

I’ll now relate this insensitive and poorly thought out analogy to starting pitchers in fantasy baseball. After a month of overreacting to mostly meaningless spring pitching performances, we finally have a two-start regular season sample for many pitchers; the March days of experimenting with drugs and new pitches are over, these guys are now trying their best to get hitters out. Two-starts may seem like a small sample, but in an age when most starting pitchers will only reach 25-30 starts, two-starts is actually 6-8% of their season. It’s time to start reassessing.

Before getting into some of my early season risers and fallers, I do want to address the Bartolo Colon sized elephant in the room: The re-juiced baseballs. Small sample sizes and that’s what she said jokes aside, I fully believe we’re headed for record power numbers this season. What does this mean for us as fantasy baseballers? I think it means the elite top tier arms are even more valuable than they already were. With a surge in power we can expect increased pitching rates across the board, meaning a guy who gives you 200 IP of sub 3.00 ERA can really move the needle. Just some food for thought as we monitor the ever changing landscape.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers… It was established in the first edition of 2019 Top 100 Pitchers: starting pitchers are much like grandparents. Exciting when they’re young and healthy, disheartening when they’re old and feeble. No reasonable mind would dispute the likeness between our elders and dudes who grasp and thrust balls for […]

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

Starting pitchers: You can’t live with em, you can’t win your fantasy baseball league and then use the championship trophy to score babes without em. I know, you won’t be able to do that second part either way, but it’s called fantasy baseball for a reason.

Starting pitchers remind me of grandparents. Oh boy, where’s Donkey going with this one? Don’t worry Grey’s random italicized voice, I won’t get into my James Shields pants peeing analogy.

When they’re young, visits with gramps and granny are full of excitement and unexpected gifts; those times are as magical as a Walker Buehler vs. Jack Flaherty locker room sword fight. But as time passes, and our elders age, it’s not all ice cream, pizza and 13 strikeout gems. Hips are fractured and ulnar collateral ligaments are severed. The pizza and ice cream is replaced by prune juice and fruit cakes, with a side of 8 earned runs in 2/3rds of an inning.  And of course there’s the erectile dysfunction, brought on by another Tyler Chatwood misfire.

In this biweekly top 100 starting pitchers column, I’ll track developments of decreased blood-flow, fractured hips and, most importantly, those mythical GILFs (Grandmothers I‘d Like to play Fantasy baseball with; what did you think it stood for?) as they rise across the fantasy pitching horizon. Here’s a little GILF tease along with my preseason top 100 to hold all you grandmother lovers over…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Cheers to you all out there in Razzland as we dive headfirst into the final week of the regular season! It’s been a mega weird year for pitching. Between the whole Opener/Primary Pitcher thing catching fire and fewer starters pitching deep into games, starting pitching is turning into a relatively fluid position. Looking towards 2019, it will be very interesting to see not only where the Primary Pitchers are drafted, but where the other uber-relievers are taken. Josh Hader is the most prominent name of the bunch, but there are plenty of other useful long relievers like Chad Green, Jeremy Jeffress, and Collin McHugh that are terrific for cheap K’s and ratio stabilization in deeper leagues. Heck, even in 10-12 team leagues with no move limits they make great fill-in options between streamers.

Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ve got one week left in front of us, and if you’re reading this you are probably still in the fight. There’s less movement than last week since I weighted our SP’s by skill and opponent last week and now basically there’s just 1-2 fewer starts left on the table. I’ll roll through some of the more notable options for the final week of the season. I also wanted to thank all of you for reading this year. I was truly impressed by the great commenters. Even if you disagreed pretty hard with something I wrote, you presented your case respectfully rather than getting all Twitter angry. I hope I’ve been able to help your season in some way with my analysis. Good luck in your final week, and I’ll catch you next year!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If Samuel L. Jackson were here – and how I wish he was – he would tell us all to hold on to our butts. This coming week is the final week of action for many head to head leagues, although the bulk of roto leagues keep rolling until the final day of the season. With such limited time left, I decided to switch things up a bit. While I updated the overall ranks per usual, I also factored in the remaining schedule. Names matter very little at this point in the season; what we need is production. There’s no time to worry about a struggling starter turning things around when he’s only got two or three starts left. Run with the guys who have been pitching well, and play the matchups. Start your studs. You know who they are by this point, and there aren’t many of them. With this altered ranking system in mind, there are some pretty huge rankings swings this week. Rather than do a deeper dive on a handful of risers and fallers like usual, I’m going to highlight a double handful of starters with interesting matchups and/or interesting second-half production.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well it was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it Michael Kopech owners? We wait all year for the call up, he gets multiple starts interrupted by rain, gets blown up for seven runs, and now won’t pitch a meaningful inning until 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery to fix his torn UCL. ISN’T BASEBALL FUN. I AM HAVING A BALL. You know what else is fun? Trying to rank starting pitchers when multiple teams aren’t even using starting pitchers anymore. Now it’s “openers” and “primary pitchers”. What am I supposed to do with this?! Ranking a hundred damn starters is hard enough without this Opener business to deal with! Come on MLB managers, throw me a friggin bone here! Where did my bottle of gin get to…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here we go, ladies and gents! It’s the home stretch! We’re into the last month of the season, and I moved some guys around on the list to reflect that. I don’t like to be super aggressive moving guys around for the most part. However, with just a couple weeks left, it’s more about “who do I trust now” than “who do I trust long-term”. More than ever it’s about immediate return and playing the matchups. This is the point where I’m a lot more apt to cut a fringy player for a matchup I like (shameless Streamonator plug here). We’re going to look at more risers and fallers this week as opposed to any new blood, since there isn’t much of interest. I imagine that will be quite different next week with September call ups flooding our rotations. We did have one last waiver trade of note (I guess) with Gio Gonzalez moving to Milwaukee. It’s a pretty lateral move for him, which is to say that his value will remain close to nil in mixed leagues. Perhaps the Brewers will be able to unlock something in him the way the Cubs have with Cole Hamels, but Milwaukee’s pitching coaches haven’t been known to work wonders, so I’m pessimistic on that potential outcome.

Please, blog, may I have some more?