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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For the first time in a long time, we’ve got more impact starters returning than vacating the list. Huzzah! I look for any reason to party, and that’s reason enough for me, baby. Break out the purple drank! Carlos Carrasco spent a little more time on the DL than we expected, but he’s back comfortably inside the top 20. Johnny Cueto and Garrett Richards both return to the top 35. Jeff Samardjiza is even back, unfortunately for his owners. Let’s hope his fingers work on his splitter more than they work on his flowing locks of hair. The list looks a bit weird this week because of the returners. Some of the guys that I tried to jump up the list really didn’t get too far, like if Mario was a real-life plumber trying to leap over a cactus. There aren’t a lot of newcomers of note, so let’s focus this week on risers, fallers, and the real losers who fell off the list.

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What a difference a week makes. A week ago there wasn’t a ton of movement, but this week I felt like an overhaul was in store. We’ll get to the risers and fallers in a little bit, but first there is a bit of scuttlebutt to address. No, not Scuzzlebutt the basket-weaving monster who lives in the mountains of South Park and has Patrick Duffy for a leg and a stick of celery for an arm. SCUTTLEbutt. The largest of which has to be the surprise demotion of Rockies Opening Day starter Jon Gray to Triple-A Albuquerque. Gray had a particularly heinous 5.77 ERA, so bad that Mariska Hargitay had begun poking around Coors Field to keep an eye on things. His FIP, however, is a sterling 3.07 (11th best among qualified starters), and his K-BB% is 21.8% (12th best). You can’t even point to Coors Field as causing his troubles, with a 5.89 road ERA. This looks like incredibly bad luck, but with this demotion clearly the team is focused on something mechanical. It’ll be pretty hard to hang on to him in standard mixers, although he may not be down for too long if they fix what needs a-fixin’ right quick. I’d try to hold him in a bench spot if you can in 15+ team leagues. Elsewhere, there aren’t too many notable promotions, but there are a few new names on the back end to peep.

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Surprise!! Kershaw is back! Again. Hopefully for the last time. We all love Kershaw whether we own him or not (come on, the guy builds houses in third world counties in his off time). Therefore for the good of baseball, Kershaw should be allowed to have a personal masseuse on the field at all times to loosen him up between pitches. Anything that back needs, get that masseuse in there and rub it out. No more DL stints! Someone get me Manfred’s number. Of course, for every give there is a take, and we lost Carlos Carrasco to a nasty comebacker off the elbow. It doesn’t sound like he’ll be gone too long, but he’s off the list this week. Outside of that we had a relatively quiet week for starting pitchers. We lost the likes of Aaron Sanchez and Jose Urena to the DL, but those guys aren’t leaving anyone’s season hanging in the balance. Michael Wacha does appear to be gone for a significant amount of time with an oblique strain though, and that is a more significant loss. Despite the fact that he seemed obscenely overrated by the Razzball community, I didn’t want to see him go. Especially considering he’s being replaced by John Gant. Yay. We’re also in that dead zone before the midseason call ups, so we don’t have too many debuts to discuss this week on the list. Most starters pretty much pitched like you’d expect them to this week as well, so there wasn’t a ton of serious moving and shaking. That makes this sound like a bit of a dance, which I guess it kind of is. I prefer the Mashed Potato, myself. Since there isn’t a ton of movement, I want to touch on some of the guys I haven’t talked about this year in addition to a few newcomers to the list.

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Whew! It turns out taking a week off from ranking these guys makes for a lot of work the next time out. As you might imagine, there is a bit more moving and shaking than normal this week. Surprise surprise, we’ve also had a slew of injuries that continue to take it’s toll on the top 50. We’ve lost Stephen Strasburg, Walker Buehler, and Garrett Richards most notably, with Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard looking lost for extended periods. The aces that are left continue to dominate though, and Trevor Bauer has worked his way into the top 10. We did get Madison Bumgarner back, but he hasn’t looked very sharp and I’m wondering if he belongs in the top 20 at this point. Carlos Martinez has been killing his owners since his return from the DL himself, yet his upside makes it hard to drop him too hard just yet. On the brighter side of things, Tyler Skaggs, with whom we planted flags several weeks ago, continues to climb the list in glorious fashion. Also, I still have no idea how Ross Stripling is suddenly an ace, but he keeps shoving and I keep ranking him higher. I’d consider selling depending on what you’re getting in return, but I’m probably just enjoying the ride if I have Stripling. Let’s go in depth on a half dozen other Risers, Fallers, and Newcomers of interest this week.

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What a disgusting tease of a week that was. Some people like to be teased I suppose, but in this very important fantasy baseball circumstance I’m not all about it. Just as I was all set to toss Clayton Kershaw back into the fold, he leaves his first start with back tightness and it’s back to the DL dungeon for at least a month. Same story with Alex Reyes, who I was all set to gush about this week. Sadly, he left his first start with the Cardinals after just four innings and is lost to the DL for a long, long time with a “significant” lat strain. The loss of Kenta Maeda is sad since he was pitching so well, while the loss of Jeff Samardzija is less so since he’d been horrendous. Addition by subtraction? Perhaps. We also lost Noah Syndergaard, although hopefully this will be the only week he drops from the rankings since his finger injury isn’t considered to be serious. Because of all the injuries and a general lack of blow-ups from mid-tier starters, there weren’t a lot of fallers this week. So rather than nitpick a few minor laggards, let’s look at a bunch of new entries to the Top 100, and a couple risers as well. I feel like such an optimist!

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Hey, for a change we didn’t have a devastating injury this week! Huzzah! Not only that, we got ourselves a few newcomers to the list who are pretty exciting. The top 20 remains relatively unchanged, although Patrick Corbin gets a bit of a ding for the continued diminished velocity and a dip in his whiffs. Speaking of whiffs, can you Snell that Snell? Snell has a freakin’ 2.78 ERA and has had to face the Red Sox three times already. He’ll come down from that mark for sure, but he’s still really good. I didn’t write him up fully, but I trashed Zack Godley nearly 20 spots. I was as patient as I could be, but those 2017 K:BB gains have evaporated. I also believe I had Reynaldo Lopez a bit high given his lack of strikeouts, and his .218 BABIP through 10 starts is pretty absurd. Let’s check out some more of the interesting movers and shakers this week.

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Another week of pitching injuries with precious few callups, and the back end of this Top 100 is getting ugly. I ranked Carlos Martinez last week with the expectation that he would miss just a single start, but at this point he’s missing multiple turns so he’s out. Intriguing rookies Mike Soroka and Joey Lucchesi are DL’d, and Freddy Peralta really came down to earth in his second start. We’re creeping closer to June when we should expect to see a few more high profile callups…and Alex Reyes looms. His most recent start was 7.2 1-hit, shutout innings with three walks and 13 K’s. Seems ready to me! If you don’t have him stashed yet and he’s still available in your league, stop whatever you’re doing (reading, I suppose) and remedy the situation. If I were forced to rank Reyes before he makes a MLB start, I’d probably initially slot him in around SP30. Chris Archer is at SP29, and I don’t think he’s giving you anything Alex Reyes can’t.

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It’s rough to start a list that brings me as much joy as this with the sad trombone, but this is how we have to begin when we lose Clayton Kershaw. Sad trombone. There’s no current timetable for his return from biceps tendinitis, and the most recent update has him playing catch from 60 feet for five minutes. Yippee. I like to think he’s actually just practicing an eephus and he’s going to start working it into his repertoire. In any case, he’s not close to a return. Sadly, DL trips have become commonplace for Kershaw. At this point you have to bake a DL stint into his projection every year, and to me that puts him squarely behind Mad Max and Sale moving forward.

Kluber is also showing a few chinks in his armor, so that dude has to watch out for pointy objects. While he’s got a cool 2.62 ERA, his FIP is 3.94. His swinging strike rate is down a full 5% from 2017 while his contact rate is up 9%. He’s getting fewer reaches out of the zone and is missing far fewer bats in the zone. I don’t foresee an implosion of any kind per se, but among elite options he’s got my eyebrow raised.

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