Not your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

Grandpa-Donk: World traveler, meteorologist, woodworker, Señor Crappers spokesperson, and wise elder. One fact you may not know about Gramps is that his favorite movie is King Arthur. The old Donk and his friend Sweaty Jimmy have a thing not only for handling wood together, but also for the Knights of the Round Table. After a long day of working with each other’s sweat moistened wood, it’s not uncommon to see G-Donk and Jimmy together watching Sir Lancelot’s feats of courage while spooning ice cream into one another’s mouths like very normal heterosexual men.

Speaking of Sir Lancelot, have you noticed what Lance Lynn has been up to? If Lynn had pitched in that crazy London Series there’s a decent chance he would’ve been knighted. Fun fact: Granddaddy-Donk was knighted back in the 60’s; all it took to be knighted back then was some good smoke and semi-straight teeth.

As for Lynn, the 32 year old has compiled 14 consecutive starts of 6+ innings and he’s thrown 7+ innings in 9 of those outings. Since May 10th, Lynn has gone 8-2 with a 2.66 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 98 strikeouts in only 81 1/3 innings pitched. He hasn’t required Señor Crappers since that fart (which wasn’t just a fart) back on April 23rd.

Back in Week 12 I said, “The Lance Lynn brand has never been a best seller, but prior to last season Lynn had posted 3 straight seasons of 175+ IP with a sub-3.50 ERA. He’s added a half MPH to his average fastball velocity and he’s throwing a lot more sliders this year, leading to a career high K-rate through 86 innings. In 51 1/3 IP since May 1st, Lynn boasts a 3.63 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with 60 strike outs, and the FIP fairies are whispering that he’s actually been even better than that. Anyone care for a bowl of Lance Strasburg? Mmmmm salty beard!” I sound pretty smart, for a Donkey.

So, can we call it square for the whole Kikuchi debacle yet? Speaking of The Kooch, he’s been looking a little better of late. Watching him pitch no longer makes me want to slam my junk in a car door. I may have to see if the the ole Kooch Razzwagon will fire back up. Fair warning: The Koochwagon only has three tires and no steering wheel, but the acid spiked punch never runs out!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Not your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise, but Grandpa-Donk is what they call a “Donk of all trades”.  At one point in his legendary life, the venerable jackass even tried his hoof as a weatherman. In fact, he was one of the first weatherdonks on television back in the ’50s.

When I was just a little donkus, no bigger than Trevor Bauer’s poodle, Gramps would gather all us youngins round and tell us about his days of Hollywood stardom. The weather forecasting tools back in his time were just as primitive as the are now, so he was frequently way off on his prognostications. But he always delivered his forecast with the classic family wit, mixing in his token skyarrhea toilet humor and even the occasional dong joke, which was very risque back in his day. Grandonkey would always finish his meteorology tales with one bit of sage advice, “Find an occupation where you can be wrong 90% of the time and people still come back for more”.

Writing the Top 100 Starting Pitchers post in 2019: the year of the juiciest of juiced balls, and baseballs, I imagine is exactly like being a weatherdonkey. Just other day, when The Kooch was getting lit up for the 17th consecutive outing, G-Donk called me up to tell me how proud he was that I had discovered my niche. Actually, he called to ask where he might find a fresh pair of Señor Crappers, but I could sense the pride in his voice.

The only thing we know about 2019 Starting Pitching is there’s going to be lots of rainy days with a few random sunny days mixed in, followed by a tornado which will destroy what’s left of your already fugly ratios. Your 2019 fantasy pitching staff is more or less going to be Seattle with a little bit of Kansas, but we’re all living there in rainy tornado alley with you; so quit your whining and grab an umbrella!

Speaking of umbrellas, Mike Minor has provided a pleasant refugee from the storms this season, and he’s only become sturdier as the summer monsoons set in, sporting a 1.70 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 37 June innings. Unfortunately, there’s some large red regression fairies lurking here, the first of which is a massive and unsustainable 97.5% strand rate over this past month. Pair that with a lucky .200 June BABIP, and Donkey begins running for new shelter. I’d aggressively shop Minor if someone in your league thinks he’s actually a top 20 pitcher, but I wouldn’t sell him for a cup of Grey’s baby gravy. I’ll take a guy that might continue getting lucky over a cup of Grey goo any day.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

You’re at the local grocer staring at a shelf in the cereal aisle, wishing you were watching baseball and/or Naked and Afraid. Perched next to each other on the shelf are a $4.00 box of Cocoa Puffs and a $2.00 box of Choco Spheres. Do you choose the known quantity name brand or take a gamble on those mysterious spheres at half price? It was always an easy choice for frugal old Grandpa-Donk, he didn’t build his fortune of Donkey-units by purchasing the luxury orbs of chocolate. To this day Gramps would poop himself if we ever brought home a box of Depend’s Diapers. It’s Señor Crapper’s or nothing for the old timer.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not your Grandfathers Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

These baseballs are juicy. Juicier than Grandpa-Donk’s drawers the first time he visited Méjico. The juicy balls are causing some major volatility among our starting pitcher ranks this year. Few pitchers are exempt from the pitcherocalypse. Carlos Carrasco has suffered from severe constipation each of his last three outings, Tyler Bauer ate some questionable China-Buffet during May, and Patrick Corbin’s Gatorade was spiked with laxatives in Cincinnati this past Friday. Even the mythical Yusei “The Kooch” Kikuchi has required adult diapers for his two recent explosions.

As the driver of the Kikuchi Razzwagon, I do apologize for crashing us into a Porta-John these past two weeks. There’s been talk of The Kooch tipping his pitches; I like the narrative, it makes me feel a little better, but I’m not sure it’s true. His command was flat out awful in those two blow ups, as hitters teed off on his hanging off speed pitches. It was also his third time facing the A’s and second time facing the Angels; his funk may suffer from the law of diminishing fantasy returns once teams have gotten a good look.

Regardless, I can’t blame anyone for moving on in 10-12 teamers, but I might give a reach around thru this buy-window in deeper leagues. Is that a buy-window or a guillotine? Just leave me alone random italicized voice! The Kooch is a crafty veteran who will benefit from some extra rest this week, a trip to the laundromat, and a heavy dose of prune juice. Don’t be surprised if there’s another dominant run in store as we get the Kikuchi Razzwagon back up running, and deodorized, this summer.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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?

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?