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!

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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.

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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…

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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.

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For the first time since I can remember (which isn’t that long really, thanks vodka) I added far more players back to the list than I took off. Huzzah! It felt good to not have to scrap for back-end-non-difference-makers. We even got Michael Kopech, finally! It even sounds like Eduardo Rodriguez should be back this week, although the same cannot be said about teammate Chris Sale or not-teammate James Paxton. Michael Fulmer returned after a lengthy absence and tossed 4.2 scoreless innings, which gives me hope that down the stretch he can pitch more like the player we expected back in March. Dylan Bundy, unfortunately, put up another dud and is completely off the list. You simply cannot deploy him right now. Here are some of the other notable starters from this past week of action.

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I typically come in here flinging jokes and happiness around like a monkey with his poo, but this week I’m distraught. This list is decimated. As most of you know by now, I don’t rank injured players, and with that angle there are plenty of shlubs at the back end of the list that are barely rosterable even in deep mixers. At this point, I can’t even just say that about the back end. The grossness keeps rising. This week alone we’ve lost (take a biiiiig breath): Chris Sale, Trevor Bauer, James Paxton, Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda (to the pen), Tyler Skaggs, Jeremy Hellickson, Dereck Rodriguez, Marcus Stroman, Mike Montgomery, and Carlos Martinez (to the pen like Maeda). To make matters worse, we are approaching September when virtually no one is placed on the DL – they just get skipped. That reminds me of what Big Pun’s catchphrase would be if he were a pitcher; instead of “I ain’t a player I just crush a lot” he would tell folks “I ain’t on the DL I just get skipped a lot”. Catchy tune. So anyway, it’s pretty hard to trust anyone on this list beyond the top 15, and I just can’t remember a year when pitching was this bad. But we will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!!

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This week…was a project. I had to miss last week (although I did get to run into Johan Santana and Rod Carew at Target Field…you know, NBD) so there was a lot to catch up on this time out. I also have to qualify that with only a handful of weeks left in the season, you can take these ranks to be more fluid than in the past. The vast majority reading this are in standard 10-12 team mixed leagues. In those leagues, you can pretty much stream plus matchups with anyone outside of the top 60 and worry less about the actual ranking. Take full advantage of the Streamonator. Pick on the worst offensive squads in baseball – the White Sox, Orioles, Mets, Royals, Padres, Marlins, and Tigers are punching bags. Even the Reds, Giants, and Twins have been bad over the second half thus far, and sure aren’t going anywhere fast.

We have unfortunately lost Johnny Cueto for the season with Tommy John, and we’re still a ways off from the return of Stephen Strasburg, Carlos Martinez, Yu Darvish, or Michael Fulmer. Oh, and another qualifier: the Rays are making this list harder for me to make with this whole “Opener” business. I obviously have Blake Snell on the list, but I’m gonna go ahead and treat their long relievers that actually go fiveish innings as starters. Yonny Chirinos and the newly acquired Tyler Glasnow make the list, though their roles are somewhat murky. Fantasy-wise it’s actually a bit of an advantage for these guys as far as accumulating wins. Fewer starters than ever in MLB are going 5+ innings to qualify for the win; with the Opener taking care of the first inning, all the other guys have to do is toss four innings to qualify for the dub. There’s a lot of new blood on the list this week, so rather than spending time with some of the risers and fallers, we’ll peep the newbs. That’s as cool as my slang gets, by the way.

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I’ve gotta say, it’s nice to have a full week’s worth of games to work with. Last week felt a little like picking nits, and I’m nary a nitpicker. One thing I still would like to see though IS SOME FRIGGIN CALL UPS. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had even a couple of mid-level names like Shane Bieber or Freddy Peralta called up. You haven’t really even got any value from uber-prospect Walker Buehler since early June. It would be nice to infuse some new blood into this list, but we do have a fair bit of moving and shaking to discuss. We did see two impressive debuts in back-to-back days for the Cardinals in Daniel Poncedeleon and Austin Gomber. For our purposes however, I don’t think there’s much there. Poncedeleon was a fine conquistador of the minors, but is a low upside option as a starter and appears to be headed to the pen anyway. The same can likely be said of Gomber with Carlos Martinez supposedly back this week, although he makes for a more interesting starter if they were to stretch him out. There are at least some veterans that have crept on to the back end of the list to mix things up. I mentioned Homer Bailey in yesterday’s Two Startapalooza, whose fastball is up to 95 after a couple months on the DL, and he tossed his slider and curve more with good results. I’d like to write up Stroman, but there isn’t that much to say. I couldn’t tell you the last time he cracked the list, but he’s been solid over the last month or so, so despite the total lack of strikeouts he’s in the 90’s. Unfortunately, Stephen Strasburg is back on the DL (shocker) with neck issues. He returned long enough to torpedo your ratios for a week, so that’s nice. Here are some of this week’s newcomers, risers, and fallers.

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Considering there has only been one full night of games since I penned the last Top 100, there was more movement than I had figured there would be. I’m not one to rest on my laurels, you see. What the hell does that phrase mean, anyway? Isn’t a laurel like a Christmas wreath? Maybe I’ve just seen Blazing Saddles too many times. Many phrases don’t make sense though, if you think about them. How did “cut the mustard” become a phrase, for example? Nobody has ever cut mustard in the history of time. Unless they’re snorting lines of mustard off of their coffee table, I guess. Even when I freeze my mustard, I put it in an ice cube tray so it’s already separated and I don’t have to cut it before melting it upon my wiener. Think ahead a little, people. Mmm. Um, anyway, there are some pitchers to discuss. Eduardo Rodriguez, a top 30 starter according to last week’s list, is gone for at least a month due to ligament damage in his ankle. Jeff Samardjiza went back on the DL as quickly as he came off it, and I really wish he would just stay healthy but be bland so I can stop writing his confounding name. Carlos Martinez continues to be a headache and is back on the DL again. I don’t rank injured starters, so even though it sounds like a brief DL stint, I’m leaving him off for this week. His last stint was supposed to be a lot shorter than it ended up being, too. Steven Strasburg finally returned to action, but got pounded for six runs in 4.2 innings. He’s probably just kicking off rust, but I eased him in to the back end of the top 20 just to be safe.

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Well here we are, it’s the final Top 100 before the All-Star Break. It’s been quite the ordeal trying to keep tabs on every starting pitcher in baseball, but I look forward to writing this every week and I hope you enjoy reading it as well. It’s a bit of a wonky weeky with some players temporarily optioned to Triple-A over the break like Freddy Peralta and Shane Bieber. They’ll be back though, so I left them on the list. Unfortunately, Garrett Richards won’t be back, as he’ll go under the knife for Tommy John surgery. On the bright side we got Thor back, along with a couple of other less impactful arms like Trevor Cahill, Masahiro Tanaka, and Brent Suter. We lost Junior Guerra to the DL with a mysterious forearm injury, which is more worrisome than wearing white pants the day after hot chili night. No word yet on how Senior Guerra is taking the news. Enjoy the All-Star Break, everyone!

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