Who could be this year’s Chris Sale or Brandon Finnegan? Those two made their Major League debuts in the same year in which they were drafted: 2010 for Sale, 2014 for Finnegan. Sure, both of those players got their feet wet via abbreviated action in the Minors, but “feet wet” might be an overstatement. If anything, their spikes got a little damp, then dried off by the time they arrived in the realm of the AL Central. Sale made just 11 Minor League appearances for a grand total of 10 1/3 innings pitched, while Finnegan bested him with 13 appearances and 27 frames. 2020 draftees won’t have the same opportunity to prove themselves against MiLB talent, but they’ve also been gifted with the uniqueness of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which opens the door for all sorts of insanity and unprecedented strategies from MLB brass.

Therefore, we have to call it a wash. If all goes according to plan and we do indeed get a 60-game season, 2020 is going to be super weird. As a result of that, I’m not the first person to openly predict we will see a 2020 draftee appear in the Bigs this year and I certainly won’t be the last. My expectation is that we will see one-to-two recently drafted players appear in the MLB this season. Although I can’t say with certainty who exactly that will be, I can attempt to do so using the information that’s out there. That’s precisely what I’ll be breaking down in this post by providing you with a list of pitchers who have an outside chance to contribute actual fantasy value in your league this year, ranked from the most likely to the least likely.

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Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty), Pit Master and prospect analyst, joins the show to breakdown this years MLB draft. We discuss the teams that had the best draft as well as the Top 10 picks. We breakdown Max Meyer and Zac Veen who may have the most upside in this years draft class after Spencer Torkelson. Ian gives us the best tips and tricks to make the best BBQ. Brisket, Ribs and burgers are some of his favorites to cook. What are yours?

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I let out a full-throated cackle when I wrote the title. I don’t know how to predict wins in a 162-game season. In a 60-game season? Dress up your four cats in players’ jerseys and spin a bottle. Whether the Fanta lands on Hairy Styles or Cat Stevens, don’t matter, pick them up, because they could lead the majors in wins. I was saying to Rudy the other day, I don’t know if it’s fortunate or not to roster Freddy Peralta. He could be the 3rd thru 6th inning guy every third game and lead the majors in wins, or he could be unrosterable. (Brewers are especially problematic with Corbin Burnes, Peralta, Josh Lindblom, Brett Anderson, and Eric Lauer. Start Brandon Woodruff and Adrian Houser and pray for rain, but since MLB has a hard stop date, there’s no time for rain, so spin the bottle and hope it lands on Purry Mason.) So, with a 60-game season, what is a fantasy baseball strategy for wins?

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Well these have certainly been an interesting few days. Sunday, I hit the brakes on my 40-man scuba dive because I wanted to dance among the raindrops of roster decisions and come back soaked in fantasy baseball goodness. 

Making a team’s 40-man roster has always granted players an edge in getting a promotion. Every season when we’re waiting for our favorite prospects to get the call, we watch a parade of misfit toys already on the 40 get that chance first. Especially in some organizations that don’t like to toggle the 40-man. In the variation of baseball we’ll get this year, this under-contract advantage seems greater than ever. 

If you’re in a deep league, making semi-regular rounds dissecting 40-man rosters can give you a predictive edge. If you’re in any league, really, how can it hurt to know who’s likely to get called up next at a given position on a given team, no matter how anyone’s hitting or pitching?

Can’t hurt, right? 2020 will be all about maximizing short-term opportunities, so let’s hop in the pool and swim a lap around the American League West.

Note: everyone mentioned in this article is included in the 60-man player pool. 

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When assessing starting pitchers, savvy fantasy players look at a wide variety of measures. Velocity, stuff, BABIP, Statcast, 2019 performance…balancing out all of the available metrics to determine cost (draft slot, $ value) is the name of the game.

Today we’re going to look at a metric I rarely see discussed in the pre-season: strength of schedule (SoS). In-season, SP matchups are gold, whether you’re playing DFS or streaming in season-long. But before the year, I rarely see analysis go any deeper than AL-vs.-NL comparisons. This makes partial sense because we don’t know what a rotation will look like beyond the next week, making projecting out specific matchups impossible.

At the team level, however, we can get get a pretty good handle on who may have advantageous matchups and who will have a tough road in front of them. More specifically, we’re interested in the extremes: How frequently will each team face really tough matchups, or really easy ones? These are actionable (start/sit decisions). For the rest – the fat part of the bell curve – we’ll mostly be making decisions based on individual SP talent, not matchup.

One other note: in a 60-game season, each SP only gets 10-12 starts, meaning SoS will be more important than normal. In a reduced season, there isn’t time for the schedule to balance out. If a Rays pitcher has to face the Yankees three times, that’s 25-30% of their 2020 season stats, and you may want to downgrade them on draft day.

I’m basing this analysis on the proposed breakdown of the 60-game schedule found on MLB.com:

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Another week and another actual show about baseball! Imagine that? We’re off politics again and back on that fantasy baseball flow. Grey and I dive into the 60 man rosters and then have an in depth conversation on how to attack pitching this season. The long and short, nobody knows but pitching is going to be filled with landmines for a variety of reasons. It’s the latest episode of the Razzball podcast. Now with 60% more baseball!

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So we’re gonna have a season, maybe, hopefully…..who knows.  But we need to be prepping like there’s going to be one.  So let’s take a look at some of the specifics that have come down from MLB with the new plan for the season and how it should effect how you handle injuries/Covid related issues going into the year.

First off, the rules.  MLB released a list of precautions when they and the players’ union approved the deal for the 60 game season.  Testing is the biggest thing we need to keep an eye on.  Everyone’s getting tested for active Covid-19 as well as antibodies upon reporting to Spring Training 2.0.  They will not be cleared for work until they tests negative for Covid (we’ll come back to this).  In season, players will undergo multiple “symptom tests” per day (temp checks and “how are you feeling” questionnaires).  They will also be tested every other day.

So what happens if someone tests positive?  Well, each team has to put in place their own Covid handling program that meets certain minimum requirements.  The biggest thing though is that, in order to be cleared to play, a player must test negative twice within a 24 hour period and show now symptoms for 72 hours.  This is a big deal.  There’s no real rhyme or reason for how long Covid stays in your system, but even asymptomatic cases seem to last a minimum of 14 days.  I looked into some prominent cases that took place over in Europe when Covid hit some of their soccer leagues: Callum Hudson-Odoi, a winger for Chelsea tested positive for Coronavirus at the beginning of March.  He wasn’t able to test negative until the beginning of May, despite showing few symptoms.  Paolo Dybala, who plays for Juventus, tested positive in mid-March and was asymptomatic.  He wasn’t cleared until almost the end of May.  Suffice to say, it’s going to be case by case when it comes to each one of these testing scenarios, but I think it would be wise to treat a positive test like a month long or more injury when trying to evaluate how to handle your roster.

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On our Steamer Fantasy Baseball Rankings, which have been updated to a 60-game season, we have 1,310 players ranked. 645 of them gained value. Some, for unstints, gained $0.1 of value like Juan Soto. Another hundred had zero value change like Christian Yelich. Another 600+ lost value. These are their stories. *Law & Order sound effect chung-chung* This post will feature the top 20 players who lost the most value from doing nothing but bingeing Netflix for the last three months. Who knew Love Is Blind could hurt one’s fantasy value? “I’m gonna go with George, he’s so funny.” “Okay, Jenn, here’s George…He’s a sign spinner for State Farm!” Anyway, here’s the top 20 biggest negative value changes for fantasy baseball pre vs. post-shutdown:

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I tried to open my eyes, but the sun was beaming death rays directly into my pupils. It was hot and sticky, like September in NYC hot and sticky. Yuck. My head was groggy and my body was aching. With my eyes no longer melting, I was able to survey the land. Trees. Lots of trees. Mud, bushes. What the hell had happened to me? Just as the synapses in my brain were starting to fire, I began to hear something in the distance. Boom da da. Boom da da. Boom da da. I reluctantly rose from the ashes and set forth towards the drum beat. I was thirsty as hell. Hopefully, there was water. Lots of water there, as nothing would be more satisfying and refreshing. After trekking for what seemed like days, which was in actuality more like 10 minutes, the Boom da da, Boom da da, Boom da da turned into BOOM DA DA, BOOM DA DA, BOOM DA DA. I had arrived. My thoughts of water all but dissipated, as the discovery of Niko Goodrum, a 15/15 player during a normal season at pick 239 in NFBC drafts, quenched the thirst for all facets of my life.

Goodrum is 28 years old, 6′ 3″, 218 pounds, and bats from both sides of the plate. He was selected by the Minnesota Twins back in 2010 with the 71st overall pick. In eight minor league seasons in the Twins organization, Goodrum produced a .250/.333/.379 slash with 42 homers and 122 stolen bases in 2796 plate appearances. The walk rate was routinely above 10% while the strikeout rate was in a palatable range of 25%.

In 2017, Goodrum elected free agency and signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers. He made the opening day roster and became the super-utility player for the major league club, playing all four infield positions along with the corner outfiield spots. His two seasons with the Tigers had been remarkably consistent.

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Awwwwwww yeah!! Baseball is on like Donkey Kong! Real talk, I was really pessimistic once we got through May with no plan in place. But here we are, with baseball on the horizon. It’s a summer miracle. Back in the day, before all this nonsense started up, I was focused on winning your head-to-head categories leagues. I promise we’ll get back there, but first I want to discuss logical options of how to alter your head-to-head categories leagues to adjust to the shortened season. With the altered schedule, it looks like we’re going to have 10 weeks of regular season baseball. In most of my head-to-head leagues, the playoffs last between 4-6 weeks, which means we’d have 4-6 weeks for the regular season. That’s not enough weeks to face all of your opponents and certainly not enough time to establish fair records for playoff seeding. So, just like when I tried to fit into my 10-year old suit, alterations need to be made – major alterations. Let’s take a look at a couple of options to keep your head-to-head categories leagues both fun and competitive.

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