Please see our player page for Alex Wood to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

August 3-9, 2020

The Major League Baseball 2020 season is a mess, and this is a post about it. As of Saturday night, 104 players and 24 staff/training members had tested positive for coronavirus since the inception of the season, with 42 cases identified in the last week. Boston Red Sox star and former Tier 3 member Eduardo Rodriguez has been shut down for the 2020 season following myocarditis that was associated with his bout of coronavirus. 20% of MLB teams had games postponed this weekend, with the Marlins and Phillies not having played since last week. At the time of writing, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stated that he intended for the remaining teams to continue playing the truncated season, although there are reports that if more positive cases erupt on Sunday, then a work stoppage would follow. There’s a non-zero chance that if you’re reading this on Monday afternoon, baseball is again in a holding pattern.

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Yesterday, the Mets debuted their 2017 1st round pick, David Peterson, and he went 5 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 9 baserunners, 3 Ks. Here’s bit of tid on him:  Tall dude, stands about 6’6″. *standing on my chair, arm up in the air* About yay high. Fastball velocity sits *gets off chair, points at my framed picture of Angela Lansbury* low 90’s. Slider and curveball are *looks around to illustrate, points at colored-in Denny’s placement of a cowboy, realizes that won’t be enough, takes crayon and draws a cape on the cowboy* That’s a super okie. As in okie doke. C’mon, that was an easy one. So, lots of okie-doke usually equals okie-dookie, but he has solid command, so he might be a four to five real-world starter, which makes him good for Streamonator in shallower fantasy leagues. In a short season, there could be some value here. He should at least limit damage, as he did last night in Fenway. Also, Prospect Itch wrote about 500 words on David Peterson in his 2020 Mets fantasy baseball prospects writeup, and only one overt threat directed at me. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Camp is starting up and it’s weird out there folks.  Split squad positionless scrimmages, Covid tests, opt outs….baseball is back!?!  This whole thing feels like the Jessie Spano caffeine pill freakout from Saved By the Bell…”I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so…..scared”.

First round of Covid testing is coming back and there’s plenty of interesting names that have tested positive: Jesus Luzardo, Eduardo Rodriguez, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Hector Neris, DJ Lemahieu, Tommy Pham, Scott Kingery, Mitch Keller, Ryan O’Hearn, Salvador Perez, and Kole Calhoun are notable confirmed positives.

Of these, most fall into the “asymptomatic” category and should return to the team soon (hopefully).  Hector Neris was already around Phillies camp this week, and Joey Gallo already has one negative test under his belt.  He should be good to go soon.

The most serious case looks to be Freddie Freemen.  The Braves are being candid about exactly what Freeman is going through, but they’re not expecting him back to camp any time soon.

There’s several other guys who are missing from camp still with no given reason why.  Some teams are releasing positive tests, some teams aren’t stating what’s keeping players away but letting us read between the lines.  This list includes: Aaron Nola (who was seen around Phillies camp earlier this week similar to Neris), Yonny Chirinos, Juan Soto, Kenley Jansen, Gavin Lux, AJ Pollock, Tony Gonsolin, Yordan Alvarez, Jose Urquidy, and Josh James.  The Astros, as well as some other teams, have had issues with their testing in terms of getting results quickly, so that may be holding up the ‘Stros players, but these are all guys to keep an eye on.

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[places soapbox on ground, stands tall]

Starting pitchers are more important this year. But you should still take hitters first. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

For most fantasy league formats, you are chasing wins in 2020. Thus, WAGNOF (Wins Ain’t Got No Face). With starting pitchers, you’re looking for #1/#2 starters on good teams, who will pitch a lot of innings and contribute to Wins, ERA, WHIP, and K. Relievers with great K/9–even middle relievers–will help immensely with ERA, WHIP, and K. But wins? Welcome to the Twilight Zone. Whereas wins used to the be the domain of starters (and Twins’ middle relievers), we’re already getting reports of top pitchers having inning limits and pitch counts. So, we’ll be seeing a lot of wins going to middle relievers, which makes it much more difficult to predict that category (unless you’re a lifelong Twins fan, holla!). If you don’t believe me on this, then take the advice from three-time Trout Fishing Champion Grey Albright. If you’re in a league that uses Quality Starts, the top three tiers of pitchers are even more valuable because you’ll be relying on pitchers who stay in games AND who don’t give up earned runs. The coronavirus and the style of play in 2020 placed a high scarcity on pitchers who meet these requirements. That said, crafty managers can combine mid-tier pitchers with relievers who provide elite ratios and make an effective pitching staff that will win leagues. So, let’s teach you to be a crafty manager.

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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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True story: DonkeyTeeth calls me up on the ol’ Twitter machine this morning.  Me, I’m just awake from dreaming of 5-year-old Blair riding out in my dad’s Buick Skylark into the Minneapolis night to celebrate the Twin’s 1987 World Series win.  Suddenly Donkey’s typing: “Top 100 Switchers.” And I’m like, “Donkey, it’s 7AM, I’m not ready for that!” He types into the Twitter machine, “TOP 100 PITCHERS!” So I say, that’s fine, here: 1) Beer, 2) Sangria, 3) Margarita… . Donk does it. You know. He starts typing, but doesn’t finish. The little dots on the bottom of my Twitter machine beep out in morse code–or whatever code Jack wants to call it–that causes mental insanity among so many people. I’m transfixed. The next use of a nuclear code, you know it’s going to be preceded by those little waiting dots. President Swift will have to verify the code with Vice President Lovitz but only after they clear their notifications. Finally, Donkey’s message comes across. “2-for-1 pitchers at BWW if you get there before 9AM. See ya.” That’s the level of training they give here at Razzball. I tell ya, I get no respect at all. 

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Alanna Rizzo (@Alannarizzo), host/reporter for the L.A Dodgers joins the show to breakdown this loaded Dodgers team. We discuss where we think players will bat in the order and who will have the biggest impact. Will Gavin Lux stay in the bottom of the order? Is the catching position Will Smiths to lose? The starting rotation is loaded with great lefties. Who holds down the 5 spot? Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Jimmy Nelson could all get a shot. Alanna gives us her insight on who holds down the rotation. We also dove into one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. Alanna also tells us how great it has been covering Clayton Kershaw and others throughout the years, her favorite ballparks and some other fun memories!

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I’ve been really struggling on a monthly basis to write these articles. It isn’t because my love of baseball, or sports is gone. It’s simply from waiting with anticipation for an entire month to get a confirmed framework for a season to provide true actionable information to you the reader, and then as the article deadline slowly approaches… once again… nothing. So I bite my lip and carry on into the great speculative arena of a potential MLB season as we are all doing. Ironically, the approach the MLB and the players association are taking to negotiating a 2020 season seems to be the root cause of this push the article, get nothing, write speculative article cycle. The two sides are going to take this negotiation down to the last minute and play deal or no deal. I don’t blame either side. It’s business, from both the owners and players perspectives, and there are A LOT of moving parts here. However, I do believe we are coming down to the wire and the MLB can ill afford to miss the natural bump they would receive in even a partial season in viewership. As this deadline is trickling down it seems that the framework for the season is becoming even more narrow. At this point, we haven’t heard any other speculation since the 3 division 10 team proposal approximately a month ago. In my mind, this must be the working plan for the 2020 MLB season going forward. In analyzing these divisions, considering the addition of the designated hitter for the NL teams I see some clear winners and losers:

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Day 17,881 of Quarantine and I ran into an old friend of mine at the supermarket. We wrestled over a roll of toilet paper and he tried to pull my mask off my face, but I’ve glued it on. A muffled laugh as I kicked him in the groin and walked off with the toilet paper. Cougs and I will be crapping tonight! So, the top 100 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball were updated with new projections for a 100-game season. With this series, I took a look around the 2020 fantasy baseball rankings to see if there’s any differences now that we might only play a 100-game season. Projections have been updated on all my positional rankings. Tomorrow, I’m unveiling a new series, it’s gonna pack a punch. Too bad it’s not packing a lunch. I don’t have a Whole Foods delivery window until the end of May. Anyway, here’s thoughts on the top 100 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball with the new Corona timeline:

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These are some strange days that we’re living in. Alexa – play the album Strange Days by the Doors. Nothing like a little mood music. For the past 28 days, I’ve been stuck in a house with my wife and twin five-year-old boys. Since my wife is a teacher, she’s spent half of the time teaching remotely. For me, that means I’ve been dadding-so-hard. I’ve become an expert obstacle course builder, an expert in all things monster trucks, and unlocked that special part of my brain that has to do with Pokemon. Secret time – my favorite thing to do while playing hide and seek is to pretend I can’t find them and get five minutes of quiet. UPDATE – I found that if I hide in my bed, under my comforter, they can’t find me. This is a game-changer! In other words, send help. I need sports so badly.

In my fantasy drafts that have already taken place, I’ve ended up rolling the dice on Yasiel Puig a lot. Like, we’re at an alarming rate. If you want to consider this a puff piece on Puig, that’s fair, but this is also a time for me to dive into Puig and reflect. We’ll dive into Puig for fantasy purposes, as well as take a look at why the 29-year old outfielder – one that’s averaged 25 homers over the last three years – is still without a team.

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