Hello, again. I forgot the comma last time. Oops. Back again with Part 3 of my little PBS period piece miniseries, which features Fantasy Baseball 2020 draft bargains due to the coronavirus situation we all find ourselves in (that’s the period piece element, in case you were having a hard time following my airtight analogy). At this point, I’m sure all of you have been touched in some way by this pandemic. It’s a crazy time to be alive, and I sincerely hope everyone reading this is doing okay. Continue to socially distance yourselves! Wash those filthy mitts! And this is the third time I’ve had to tell you to leave that booger alone. Just blow your nose really hard until it comes out. Use a q-tip if you have to, geez.

In COVID Bargains Part 1 (it wasn’t labeled as such, oops again), I talked about some big names who were sliding down some draft boards because of injury question marks. In COVID Bargains Part 2 (labeled!), I did some not-quite-as-big names. For Part 3, I’m focusing only on starting pitchers – specifically, starting pitchers who were likely to have some sort of cap on innings for 2020. I think it’s pretty safe to say that won’t be a talking point now. The elite starters go earlier in drafts because you’re getting 200+ elite innings as opposed to 150 or 175 or whatever. That matters even more in leagues where you get points for innings, but it still means more strikeouts either way. But again, I don’t think this is going to be much of a talking point this season. If you ask me, fade everyone not named Gerritt Cole and maybe Walker Buehler and go for anyone on this list instead.

No particular order here. Just a stream of consciousness type thing. I’ll probably forget someone. Let me have it in the comments!

A.J. Puk – OAK (NFBC ADP 247.26)

The Oakland A’s avoided a major scare with A.J. Puk. About a month ago, it was revealed he didn’t have structural damage to his shoulder. Shoulder injuries are scary, man. They can linger and pop back up any time they please. Sounds like Puk avoided a huge bummer after already missing all of 2018 with Tommy John recovery. One of my very favorite resources, FanGraphs’s Roster Resource, has Puk slotted as the A’s #5 starter. The Florida Gator product pitched quite well in 10 outings last season, all in relief. I have a very loose, gut-check kind of rule-of-thumb for pitchers – I like to see a sub-8 H/9 and a 10+ K/9. I don’t have any fancy schmancy reasoning behind it other than it means the guy has pretty good stuff. Puk posted a 7.9 H/9 and 10.3 K/9 in 2019. In his whole minors career, he’s never been worse than that.

Puk doesn’t have a lot of professional innings to his name, but he does have very good numbers in the innings he’s thrown. Back in 2017, he threw 125 innings in A+ and AA ball. Then he missed all of 2018 and came back in 2019 to throw 36.2 innings across A+, AA, AAA, and MLB play. That’s pretty damn impressive to rise from A+ to the majors after recovering from Tommy John. I’ll admit I don’t know what he was tossing prior to 2019, but last season he was averaging 97.1 MPH on his four-seamer. None of his offerings got barrelled, either, so that’s a nice little plus. Yeah, yeah, it was 11 innings. But 11 good ones!

Puk is Oakland’s #2 prospect according to MLB.com, so taking a stab at him late in your draft isn’t the worst risk you could take. What we’ve seen so far leads me to believe big things are in store.

Jesus Luzardo – OAK (NFBC ADP 117.59)

Let’s do this backward, shall we? I just covered the A’s #2 prospect. Well, here’s #1: Jesus Luzardo. This dude was untouchable last season! Oh yeah, it was only for 12 innings of work. But still. A lot to be excited about here. A’s fans might just have themselves some Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Mark Mulder 2.0 stuff going on with these two plus Frankie Montas. And there’s that Sean Manaea guy, too. And those bats! Oakland looks pretty damn good all of a sudden – if all these young arms pan out, that is. Luzardo gave up only two earned runs and whiffed 16 in his 12 innings last year. Only allowed five hits and walked just three. Like Puk, these were all relief innings, so it’ll be interesting to see if his dominance translates multiples times through a lineup.

Luzardo’s ADP tells you how hot he is right now. Sexy name a lot of people have their eye on, and for good reason. Entering 2019, he was a top prospect across all of baseball, and that’s just risen higher for 2020. He’s pretty much been elite at every level of his pro career – doesn’t give up many hits, doesn’t walk at an egregious rate, and strikes out a hella lotta batters. Luzardo is rockin’ a 2.47 ERA across all levels, even MLB. Dude’s got the stuff. Baseball Savant doesn’t have a ton of data on him with only 171 total pitches thrown, but can’t complain about what you see:  .152 xBA, .298 xSLG, .228 xwOBA, and almost a 30% difference in K% and BB%.

Lance McCullers Jr. – HOU (NFBC ADP 190.39)

Kinda weird to me that Lance McCullers Jr. is only 26 years old. It feels like he’s been a fantasy baseball bummer for a long time, yet he’s still got time to get healthy and have a nice career. His limited career thus far has been very good, and he even eeked out an All-Star bid in 2017. Little McCullers falls in my unofficial sexy zone for his career numbers – 7.9 H/9 and 10.1 K/9. I also have a soft spot for oft-injured guys in any sport who just can’t ever seem to put a full season together. McCullers feels like one of those who would be a true star if able to showcase his skills consistently.

As we all know, Little Mac missed all of 2019. Back in 2018, he pitched only 128.1 innings, which is the most he’s ever done.  In three of his four MLB seasons, he’s been able to make 22 starts, but never more than that. It may come to the point where his career high in innings is closer to the league average if this 2020 season ever gets underway. And if that’s the case, and if Little Mac can replicate 2018’s numbers, then we could be looking at a superstar season. Looking at 2018’s Statcast numbers, McCullers was 16th overall in launch angle against at 5.1. All the other stuff looks pretty good, too. He could work on that walk rate some, but his other stuff makes up for it for the most part. Despite all the voodoo surrounding the Astros this year, they’re still gonna be a force. McCullers should outperform that ADP pretty easily assuming he’s healthy.

Tyler Glasnow – TB (NFBC ADP 69.03 (nice))

I’m rounding that 69.03 down to 69…NICE. Tyler Glasnow, man. That’s a name I’ve had on my radar for 15 years it feels like from his days in Pirates system. Things didn’t pan out there, but he’s been everything and then some since becoming a Tampa Bay Ray. Command (and health) were the only things plaguing his otherwise sensational stuff. Somehow Tampa fixed his walk issues, and he was absolutely unhittable last season. In 12 starts, he posted a 1.78 ERA, 5.9 H/9, 2.1 BB/9, and an 11.3 K/9. His record was 6-1. The Statcast metrics are just absolutely ridiculous; I mean straight up video game stuff. Glasnow dominated in just about every aspect imaginable – he was in the top 2% or 1% in xBA, xSLG, wOBA, xwOBA, and xERA. I mean, it’s like he got on The Show 19, edited his own stats, and made himself the best pitcher in the game. Then somehow channeled that virtual self into real life.

Durability has always been a concern with Glasnow, and last season was no different. He got shut down after a May 10 start but came back to pitch a few times in September, though never more than 4.1 innings at a time. It’s likely Tampa would be watching his innings closely in 2020 – he’s never thrown more than 124.1 in a season, and that was way back in 2014. A condensed season might just be ideal for Glasnow owners.

Shohei Ohtani – LAA (NFBC ADP 117.31)

I talked about Shohei Ohtani in the last piece mainly for his bat. Let’s get into the pitching side of things. It’s hard to predict what new manager Joe Maddon will do with him, but Ohtani’s arm is a little sexier in my eyes if his innings are more comparable to other starters. Yeah, he still won’t pitch every five days like most, so don’t forget that. But in a short season where no one is getting elite innings, I don’t mind that as much.

Ohtani didn’t pitch at all in 2019 thanks to everyone’s favorite surgery, good ole Tommy John.  Is someone named Tommy John collecting royalties on all these? I mean, damn. Everybody gettin’ their TJ on. So, Ohtani is still recovering from that and was slated to come back around mid-May for pitching duties, even though his hitting wasn’t affected. Looking deeper into his offerings, I was surprised to see his fastball velocity is elite, but the spin isn’t. It was by far his most-used pitch, and batters teed off on it in 2018, with a .382 BA and .539 SLG against it. That’s ugly. But his other three pitches were very effective. Didn’t throw a curve much, but when he did, it worked. His slider and split-finger were especially deadly. The whiff rates were high and the batting metrics were minuscule. Maybe all this time off has given him time to figure how to make his fastball more effective. Who knows. All I know is I’m excited to see the dude sling the rock again, even if there’s bound to be some rust to shake off at first.

Other Names To Keep An Eye On

All right, that’s all the extensive writing I feel like doing on players. But there are some other names I want to toss out there, I just didn’t want this to turn into an honors thesis or something.

Julio Urias – LAD (NFBC ADP 151.14)

Probably most people expected an innings cap for Julio Urias coming into 2020, but it’s been said somewhat recently that they’re gonna let him do his thang. No limits. Just some beast mode Urias. He’s never gotten all that close to even 100 innings in a season, but it looks like he’s gonna get his shot to fully break out this year.

Alex Wood – LAD (NFBC ADP 354.62)

Oh look, Alex Wood is a Dodger again. 2017 and 2018 were good years for Wood in blue, but last year as a Red was…not. Wood is hurt a lot, so there’s always a good deal of risk with him, but he figures to get a look in the rotation for the NL pennant favorites. And with that ADP, why not scoop him up?

Griffin Canning – LAA (NFBC ADP 307.27)

Griffin Canning pitched 90.1 very good innings last season. I’m not 100% sure there would be a potential innings restriction on him, but I’m always a tad wary of the first year of being a full-time starter for fantasy purposes. Maybe I’m alone on that. I’m okay with it, if so.

Chris Paddack – SD (NFBC ADP 54.54)

I was on the fence about putting Chris Paddack in here, but I figured I’d err on the safe side. He pitched more than many thought he would in 2019, so it’s not crazy to think he’d get full reign in 2020 after being a truly elite ace last year. But it’s also not crazy to think they’d want him to take it a little easy since he looks like he might be a franchise type.

Dinelson Lamet – SD (NFBC ADP 122.64)

That’s a helluva 1-2 punch the Padres are packing. Dinelson Lamet is a strikeout wizard, but he only has 187.1 MLB innings to his name. A very good 2017, nothing in 2018 thanks to (you guessed it!) ole TJ, and then a baller 2019. Lamet was bound to be capped around the 150-160 mark. Now, you can draft him with confidence.

Michael Kopech – CWS (NFBC ADP 279.33)

According to MLB.com, Michael Kopech has been a top-20 prospect since 2017. His brief spell in the majors in 2018 was part awesome and part awful. He looked untouchable, but then he got slapped around like a little leaguer. The stuff is sizzling, and if he’s healthy for 2020, then he’ll blow past that ADP. Kopech squeezed in a single perfect inning with one strikeout before all this COVID business.

Dylan Cease – CWS (NFBC ADP 278.21)

Dylan Cease is being drafted almost at exactly the same time as his fellow White Sock (is it White Sock? Sounds weird). Cease tossed 73 innings last year, flashing some brilliance along the way. He looked especially good in September, so hopefully he can pick that right back up. Cease and Kopech could be the nastiest duo in the league before long. Both were probably going to be handled pretty carefully this season, so it’s good news for their owners if the season is short.

Zac Gallen – ARZ (NFBC ADP 125.38)

Last but certainly not least is Zac Gallen. If you don’t take much stock in just 15 starts, then whatever. But I am all in on this guy. Gallen went 3-6 last season pitching for the Marlins and D-Backs, with a 2.81 ERA, 7.0 H/9, and 10.8 K/9. His AAA numbers were nuts. The walks spiked in the MLB, but he barely walked anyone down in the minors so I’m not overly concerned. He’s only 24 years old and doesn’t have a lot of mileage on the arm yet, so Arizona likely would have been looking to handle him carefully in 2020.

Okie dokie, folks. That’s all I got. Keep these youngsters on your radar! Fade those old geezer household names and get these guys instead. You’ll be very happy you did. Comment below or hit me up on the Twitter at @jkj0787.

 

 

 

 
  1. Wake Up says:
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    I’m considering going…

    Bichette
    L Robert
    Sano
    Gallen
    Franmil
    Urias

    In one of these nfcb places… what are your thoughts on that?

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Like em all! Realllllll high on Franmil this year. Dude rakes more than a dad with a yard full of maple trees.

      • Gallen gonna get more K’s than a Black Jack bookmaker bookmarking a backpacking trek through Bangkok with a checkmark wearing a buckskin after kickboxing a kabuki kamikaze with kinfolk in Kuttawa, Kentucky…

        • JKJ

          JKJ says:
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          Lmaoooooo

  2. LenFuego says:
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    One other point worth making about starting pitching is that the top starters in normal seasons get a boost because, due to off days and the lack of doubleheaders, they are able to start every 5th game, or even more. E.g., Justin Verlander has made 34 and 35 starts the past two seasons, or one out of every 4.7 games played by his team. With the number of games you can expect to be packed into a shortened season, the top starters will likely fall to starting, say, one out of every 5.5 to 6.0 games.

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      For sure, good call pointing that out!

  3. KrazyIvan says:
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    Spencer Howard?

  4. JKJ

    JKJ says:
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    I put him in Nate Pearson territory. Not sure he’s going to get called up, but easily could sooner rather than later. PHI is a lot more competitive than TOR is, so I’d wager the Jays have less to lose by letting Pearson have a go. Howard hasn’t ever played above Double-A. This is all assuming Howard doesn’t win a spot outright, which he could.

    • LenFuego says:
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      “PHI is a lot more competitive than TOR is, so I’d wager the Jays have less to lose by letting Pearson have a go.”

      I feel kind of the opposite about this – a competitive team seems *more* likely to call up a high-performing pitching prospect because using up that year of control is in the service of trying to win a championship. Non-competitive teams are strongly disincentivized to burn that year of control.

      • JKJ

        JKJ says:
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        I feel ya on that. I’m more talking after that service-window period passes. I feel like Pearson might as well get called up sooner, unless whoever wins the PHI’s #5 job starts to suck butt. But Pearson getting a job right out the gate would not be the wisest move.

    • Joe Wrobel says:
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      If I am reading this correctly, it seems that with a schedule this season of 110 games, which right now is speculative, it does not make sense to pay the high auction values that the top tier pitchers would normally….meaning, Example -take deGrom, but only if his $35 auction value is nicely discounted.

      • JKJ

        JKJ says:
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        Basically, yes. I’ve honestly only drafted twice so far this season and got Cole in the 1st both times, but that was before the outbreak. Felt like it was a good pick in both draft spots (wasn’t gonna take him any earlier than where I was slotted). He’s less useful now somewhat, but I’m still banking on him being the best at the end of the year. I won’t be drafting him there in any more drafts, I’ll tell ya that much!

  5. baby seal says:
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    Was the title supposed to be *reluctance? Haha. This is a great post!!

    Puk — kinda out on him w/ the hype (depending where the draft is though, maybe would grab in my ESPN home league, but not on NFBC), shoulder issue is scary, and I can’t help but shake the feeling he’s ultimately going to be a reliever.

    The flip side of the coin on guys w/ IP limits will be more valuable is twofold, IMO: 1) Starters who go deep into games will be even more valuable. 2) Guys who are consistently going 4-5 IP are going to be a huge pain in the butt.

    BONUS) If season is 120+ games, all the people who drafted expecting 80-100 games are going to be in a brutal spot.

    I have a feeling these A’s prospect pitchers will get babied more than people realize. Just a gut feeling. Give me Montas over the other guys. I do love Lizard King’s stuff, though… and his command is awesome. Just too much hype right now (better believe his ADP is going to skyrocket).

    Lance — would rather him of all the limited IP guys you wrote an essay on. Cheapest ADP, he’s pitched successfully in the majors before, and quite possibly has the best curveball in the game. But again, I’m wishy-washy on him. Usually don’t need a SP by then. I am worried about these injury-prone guys… getting injured and missing a larger % of the season than usual.

    Glasnow — a guy that I was completely off before — but now, like Grey, thinking about it. I think the ones who liked him will likely just take him earlier now, so probably still won’t get him. SERIOUS durability issues. Like, really bad.

    Ohtani — agreed I’m excited to see him sling it again. Would be really great for baseball if this guy could stay healthy and be a force on both sides of the ball. Sportscenter would eat that shit up. Still too much of a headache for me to own, though.

    Urias — NOW WE’RE TALKING! Good price, great stuff, has a spot, let’s go! For what it’s Werth, he pitched 120 innings in 2016. His MLB numbers are *legit.* Think he may finallyyyyy be healthy. Worth it for me, especially in a 12 team, I own him in my RCL.

    WOOD IS MY GUY! Even before all this shit went down. ‘Nuff said.

    Canning — out w/ the injury.

    Paddack — 0% worried about him pitching innings this year. My only concern is that he likely gets pushed up a round now, and I’m likely out there.

    Lamet — I liked him before — but was always getting Montas first, or some of the other guys later. I had genuine 5 IP worries w/ him. But now, he’s turned into a target. I want those high K/9 guys.

    Kopech, Cease — good ones. You forgot to mention the obligatory *Grandal is an amazing framer and will magically turn them into aces* line. ;-)

    Gallen — one of the guys I was getting if I didn’t land Montas. Lynn, Fried, etc. are the others. This is a guy I’m even more on now, because I feel like him and Lamet already “got their hype” — so they may not move up much more at all. Everyone will be chasing Lizard King, likely Montas gets pushed up too, sadly. At least I’m already well invested there. So these “pre-hype” Corona guys are becoming my new targets.

    Going to follow you on Twitter — I’m @Rinaldi224.

    Later!

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Can’t really dispute anything you said up there in that mini manifesto except for there’s no typo in the title. The thanks are indeed reluctantly given. Appreciate the fact you dug this piece enough to respond accordingly!

      Canning’s situation does worry me. He missed time last year with elbow issues and it’s in this weird limbo now. And agreed on Puk…there’s talk of him starting, and he’s projected to do so at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all for him to turn into a reliever.

      I imagine most if not all of these guys will have rising ADPs in the days and weeks to come. The whole purpose of this series was to help people grab them at a bargain before that happens! Just trying to play a small part in this crazy world we live in.

      • baby seal says:
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        Of course, thought it was really good!

        This is my manifesto — like the Unabomber — be very, very worried.

        Totally makes sense. Wasn’t saying that you were wrong or didn’t know that. Completely separate thoughts just to see what you had to say.

        Cheers

  6. Chucky says:
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    Grandal’s framing expertise might be moot point, in the event they go with robotic home plate umpires. Then a strike or a ball, might actually be called a strike or a ball, notwithstanding who is pitching, batting or the count for that matter, i.e. 3-0 cripple pitch strikes.

    • baby seal says:
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      There’s no way they go w/ the robo ump. Would be crazy and cause serious issues w/ the umps, IMO.

  7. David says:
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    Good stuff! If you had to pick a team for dynasty and could keep any 6 from the perspective team, which of the 3 would you select? H2H, 5×5: Detroit, Seattle, or KC? Which is the better organization top to bottom? Thanks

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Preciate it!

      I’d have to dig deeper to fully answer, but off the top of my head I’m gonna lean KC for Mondesi and Bobby Whitt Jr. lurking in the shadows. Though, Boyd in DET is filthy good, and Mize should be as well. I tend to lean in favor of bats for fantasy. More of a premium there. Lots of viable pitching sources.

  8. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    What do you think about McKay in this shortened season setup?

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      I’m not 100% sold there’s room for McKay to be a starter. Maybe he could pitch his way into one, I suppose. Certainly has the strikeout pedigree for it. I read somewhere that Ariel Cohen’s projection system is high on him, but I haven’t look at that directly. Cohen was the most accurate projection guy according to FantasyPros last season, for what it’s worth.

      • baby seal says:
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        for what it’s *Werth

        Agree on McKay. I was going to say, maybe take a shot if he was going like 50-100 picks later. He has fallen about 30 slots from Jan. So, going in the right direction at least.

        DAMN, Wood has moved up like 100 picks. All depends how these things shake out!

  9. Allan from Concord, N.C. says:
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    Again great article . Believe it or not my pitching keepers are : Gallen , Luzardo, Rodriguez,E.,Soroka, and Gore and my RP is Nick Anderson, Everybody hates Rodriguez ,Why ? Oh yes, I see he only won nineteen (19) games. I am crying all the way to the bank.

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      That’s a hell of a core. I’m not crazy about E-Rod – metrics aren’t fantastic and I don’t see as many wins with the turnover that’s happened in Boston. Could be wrong! I like him fine, I just don’t think he does it again. I am crazy about every other name you listed, though.

    • baby seal says:
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      Very solid!

      I’m off him because of the BB% / WHIP. But he did get a lot better in the 2H. For me, it’s more of a strategy thing. I pretty much structure my drafts around which SP I want and where I’m going to take them, then figure out the hitting around that.

      If I were to wait on my #3, he would be one of the guys I’d target, for sure.

      He’s more of a floor than a ceiling play, which I think gets underrated nowadays — but in the NFBC — it’s all ’bout dat upside, baby! (at least the ADP, haha)

      • JKJ

        JKJ says:
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        Yeah I feel like people look at him like an ace, and he just ain’t. The WHIP is ugly, and his H/9 is too. More hits means more runs eventually, I don’t care how good you are in a jam.

  10. Ron says:
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    Leave the booger alone! Haaaa. Wish i read that 15 min ago tho

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      I’ll confess; I don’t always follow my own advice…

  11. baby seal says:
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    Ignore this post. Testing something out with the em dashes on here… thanks haha

    1. That should lock up the Braves Saves—one way or another.

    2. PITCHING — I am

    3. Or do I need to write like so — hmmm

    • baby seal says:
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      Oh yeah, testing worked! Thanks

  12. Eddie Spagetti says:
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    Who would you rather roster of these 3?
    10 team league h2h 7×7

    Canning, Puk, Gray?

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      I answered you on Twitter, but I will again here so people don’t think I ignored you :) purely selfish reasons here. But it also gives other commenters a chance to chime in!

      Safest bet is Gray. I think last season is repeatable and Cincy is gonna be pretty ding dang good. Puk has the highest upside, so if we’re talking keeper/dynasty then I’d take him. Canning is the least of these by far given his elbow issues right now. Can scroll up to see a discussion on that!

  13. LaRockakis says:
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    I guess Mancini probably won’t play this year. Is that why you forgot to write about him a third time?

    • JKJ

      JKJ says:
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      Lol was he supposed to be in the O’s rotation this year? That one slipped by me! My bad again.

      • LaRockakis says:
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        Haha! (Grey cackle). Sorry, dude. It was early and my brain was mush.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Haha!

Comments are closed.