Please see our player page for Andrew Heaney 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.

For Mother’s Day, MLB uses pink bats. My suggestion for Father’s Day is bats with hairy bags hanging off the handle. This suggestion appears to fall on deaf ears, even though I go through the proper channels, filling out all the comment cards in the lobby at MLB headquarters. Even chitchatting with Jim, at security, for way longer than most people! No one hears my suggestions! Shoot, I was typing that instead of saying it out loud in the lobby. Hmm, my bad. Hope everyone’s Father’s Day was nice, with a special shoutout to the fathers who are “yelling at cars on their street to slow down” years old. You know who you are (all of you). So, all the fantasy fathers got good news this weekend, major rookie nookie incoming (not from their wives, as usual). First call-up was Alex Kirilloff, after being in my Friday Buy. Not sure if we’ll talk about him today on the podcast, since BDon spent the last six weeks talking about him incessantly like he lost a bet. Next up was Riley Greene, as he started in the majors on Saturday. Dan Pants gave you his Riley Greene fantasy on Saturday. I’ve been giving you a Riley Greene fantasy for the last six months. If you don’t pick up Riley Greene, you hate winning and America. You’re a Communist. I’m sorry, please enter your driver’s license number in the comments. We need to send people to your house. Finally, the Pirates made all our dreams come true. No, they didn’t dissolve into other teams, so all their pitchers could become aces. They called up Oneil Cruz! Literally just gave you my Oneil Cruz fantasy. It’s all there. The “it” I am referring to are his five tools and my post. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Sum of All Fears with rookie pitchers is they will do things to you that you never want done. Things Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Jim from The Office would try to stop by running and screaming through a Washington landmark, while diving for a helicopter that is lifting off. In the Ryanverse, Joe Jack Ryan and Joe Exotic should never interact, but here they are. Spies are taking shortcuts trying to get Tigers into the country from Bengal to sell them to finance a far-off arms deal with a rebel army in Latin America that is illegally trying to take down a corrupt government. Joe Jack Ryan is exactly who you want because of his command of the strike zone, and what it means to be an American. “Sell those tigers if the price is right. We’re running tigers for arms,” a corrupt CIA agent says to an actor that looks like a Latin Phil Hartman. But what they don’t know is Joe Jack Ryan is actually hiding inside of one of the Tigers, having taken them down himself in Minnesota. Any hoo! Joe Ryan went 7 IP, 0 ER, 1 hit, 1 walk, 9 Ks, ERA at 1.17, as he does exactly what I was hoping when I told you in the preseason, “In the big picture/pitcher, he’s about the command, and it’s as beautiful as advertised. The zone% on his pitches would’ve been 45.9%, or 5th in the league if he qualified (in 2021). Obviously, he didn’t qualify because he only was in the league for 26 2/3 IP. By the way, in those MLB innings, he had 10.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 0.79 WHIP (!!!), and a 3.43 FIP. Bit too in the Zone% because he gave up a few homers, but those numbers are ace-like. I wouldn’t expect better peripherals from Shane Bieber as far as K/9 and BB/9. 10+ and 1+ absolutely works. And by “works,” I mean it f*cks. Rookie pitchers are the devil incarnate with their blowups, but Joe Ryan has the makings of a ‘safe’ rookie starter, due to his command.” And that’s me quoting me! Hopefully, Joe Jack Ryan is wearing a giant bird suit next week when he takes down the Orioles. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ll be honest: a lot of the job of a fantasy sports writer is constrained by search engine optimization and giving audiences what they expect. This article, for example, is ostensibly about starting pitchers. But what *is* a starter, anyway? So many teams are using openers now. So many teams are letting pitchers go 4.2 IP, or piggybacking, or bullpen games, or long reliever, or, or, or. And tee-bee-ache (pronounce that last word softly, like you’re staring longingly into its eyes waiting for the next clause), starters don’t require a mass of innings pitched to be effective for fantasy baseball. In 2021, Corbin Burnes finished SP5 with 167IP, Carlos Rodon SP10 with 132IP, Jacob deGrom SP13 with 92IP (!), Freddy Peralta SP14 with 144IP, and so on. Unless you’re in one of those quality starts league — which I established in the pre-season were just different ways of slandering a Win — you could really roll with any number of “pitchers,” broadly speaking, and do fine.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Shohei Ohtani went 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 hit, 1 walk, 12 Ks, ERA at 4.40, and 2-for-4, 1 run, 2 RBIs, and is that one of the best single game performances of all-time? Yes. So commonplace from Ohtani that it’s become expected? Also, yes. He’s just so good always, that it’s kinda like a pimp’s favorite phrase, ho-hum. What more can you say? I can’t do a lede for Ohtani after every one of his extraordinary performances, because they’re going to happen once a week. Is he one of the greatest players ever? Yes. What’s truly remarkable and shows you how incredible he is: He’s on a team with a top 20 hitter of all-time and he’s made people forget about Mike Trout. Making Mike Trout obsolete on Mike Trout’s team? That is truly extraOhtaniary. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What transpired this preseason: Coolwhip reached out to me to see if I was going to write a Nestor Cortes sleeper, because he liked him and wanted to write one. I said, “Nah, I don’t think I’m going to write one, but I like him too!” What Coolwhip didn’t know, what no one could’ve known, I hadn’t looked at Nestor Cortes at all. I said I liked him because Coolwhip said he liked him. Then I waited for Coolwhip to give us his Nestor Cortes sleeper, and, after he did, I said, “Yeah, exactly, that’s what I would’ve wrote too!” Stats and image provided by Coolwhip:

“(M)ain thing to note is in 2021 Nestor started 14 games. Before that, he had only started a grand total of… (carry the 1… multiply by square root…) 2 games. 2 games, that’s it. So this was a bit of a new foray for him. It’s not often that you go from the pen to starting and your numbers improve drastically. Not just a little mind you; but by every conceivable measure, he got better. His K-rate went up, BB-rate went down, and he cut home runs in half while suppressing hard contact and limiting runners.”

Nestor did this by scrapping the sinker and curve, and replacing them with a cutter. Also, he varies his release point a lot, like nearly every pitch. I half expect him to throw right-handed occasionally. Yesterday, Nestor Cortes (5 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 12 Ks, ERA at 0.00) threw an immaculate 4th inning, and changed his release on nearly every pitch. This is magic:

In 9 1/3 IP this year, Nestor Cortes has 17 Ks. That’s in two starts, or one Nolan Ryan start. Pardon me while I put my eyes back in my head. Nestor Cortes’s 16.4 K/9, 0.96 BB/9 and -0.26 FIP is pretty good, if you’re lacking for adjectives. You really have to be impressed with Nestor so far this year, he’s looking as brilliant as me blindly agreeing with Coolwhip. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

All right, here’s the actual title: Contingency Exegesis, or How I Learned to Love the Fact that Jacob deGrom is Already Hurt. No, nononnono, I don’t mean it like, I like that he’s hurt. Rather, it’s the kind of mindset that I now get to enter where I consider the other 1,000 other possibilities that I didn’t take in the draft that I love. I didn’t draft deGrom [goes and checks Fantrax] anywhere this year. Or Max Scherzer. Of course I didn’t — I either got Corbin Burnes in round 1 and then waited until round 972 for SP2, or I got Shane Bieber in round 4 and then got Kevin Gausman in round 7. In the cosmic scheme of things, these are all just happenstance draft decisions. There are trillions of ways you could draft a roster. You could draft a fantasy baseball every minute from now until the sun goes black and still not draft the same team [stares at all those hypothetical drafts with Seiya Suzuki in the 1.01]. Regardless of how much I behave like Carl Sagan, us fantasy baseballers down here on this pale blue dot are basically done with draft season. A bunch of you are already in the black hole of fantasy sports because you chose Jacob deGrom as your SP1 (and if you drafted him as your SP2, you’re clearly reading this website for the sexy Greinke images and not the articles). So! Let’s talk about what to do when the inevitable happens: your favorite pitcher gets hurt. Or the sun goes black. One of those things will happen below. Don’t hold me to a high standard. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The current world record to beat the original Nintendo Entertainment System classic video game Super Mario Bros –from a fresh start to evading Bowser to save the princess — is 4 minutes, 54 seconds, and 881 milliseconds. The second-fastest time is 4 minutes, 54 seconds, and 914 milliseconds. A human thumb can’t twitch fast enough to accurately clock the difference between first place and second place (although I bet you’re trying to prove me wrong right now). That one-thousandth of a percent faster time by the elite speed-runner Niftski has placed him at the top of the Super Mario Bros speed-running pantheon. Many speed-running fans believe we have reached the human limit of optimizing the Super Mario Bros speed run, meaning that everything about the game has been studied, examined, optimized, and played out. In other words, if you decided to go pick up Super Mario Bros and try to speed run it today, you would have the work of hundreds of thousands — nay, millions — of other runs that have shown you the optimal path to complete the game in the best possible time. To arrive at the top of the speed-running leaderboards at this point, one would need a confluence of skill and luck: they would need to be skilled enough to pull off the necessary moves AND successful at lining up each and every one of the low-chance maneuvers in order to succeed.

Of course, this whole speed-running spiel is a metaphor for fantasy sports: we fantasy sports-ers have draft optimizers, lineup optimizers, draft analyzers, projections, and people competing to be the best in the world. Only, the difference is, is that people can make a lot of money or social capital in fantasy sports. Speed-running Super Mario Bros isn’t something that Niftski can do to make a million dollars in one night or even one year. But for a fantasy sports fan, you could win any number of contests through multiple providers — whether they be season-long or daily fantasy sports — and walk away much richer or much more respected. OK, maybe not either of those, at least for most of us. But when providers like NFC, DraftKings, FanDuel, and so on are paying out millions of dollars to players every year, there’s a natural human urge to, at the very least, wonder how to climb that metaphorical fantasy mountain and stand atop it for a short while. The same sentiment applies to even the most mundane fantasy player who wants to win their friends and family league just to show up Uncle Ken, the guy who both introduced you to the un-edited cuts of Star Wars and the flavor of tequila on your 16th birthday.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hidey-ho neighborino! Is that phrase trademarked or just very, very old? Fine, let’s dismiss the formalities and get straight to the nitty-gritty: men who throw balls. Hard. We’re at the point in the pre-season where we understand that the MLB and MLBPA are definitely far, far away from any sort of agreement on a contract. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s actually a “realistic” contract that’s been shared between the groups and we’ll see that contract appear the first week of March, just in time for a shortened spring training and perfectly-timed Opening Day. But that’s just me spitballing labor negotiations, and what do I know other than the chords to every song on Green Day’s Dookie album? I suppose I know pitchers somewhat well, and wouldn’t you know it — I’ve got a pitcher listicle for you! A Pitchsticle!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This is the top 100 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball? This is the top 100 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball! Which means. Dot dot dot. This is the end of the 2022 fantasy baseball rankings. I can reclaim my fingers! Wait, I still have to do the top 100 overall and top 500 overall. Hmm, that was short-lived. Subscriptions are up and running, and they come with our Fantasy Baseball Draft War Room, now for auction leagues, snake leagues, Best Ball leagues and AL-Only and NL-Only leagues. Here’s Steamer’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2022 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. As always, my projections are included, and where I see tiers starting and stopping. If you want an explanation of tiers, go back to the top 10 for 2021 fantasy baseball and start this shizz all over again. Anyway, here’s the top 100 starters for 2022 fantasy baseball:

NOTE: All 2022 fantasy baseball projections are based on a 162-game season, and will be until we hear definitively there will be less games, due to the CBA. Also, I’m going on the assumption the NL is getting the DH.

NOTE II: All my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now.

NOTE III: Free agents are listed as just that and not yet projected. Once a guy signs, I will write out their blurb and add in projections, or remove them, if they sign in an unfavorable place. They are ranked currently where I think they might be if they sign on for a full-time job.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Tigers must be picking my brain, because Eduardo Rodriguez was on my short-list for a 2022 fantasy baseball sleeper post. I am asking the Tigers politely: Please, stop picking my brain, after just recently going on a Scarecrow-esque spiritual journey of going from no brain to a half brain to a full-full brain. People with full-full brains call them “full-full brains,” right? Yes? Cool, thanks. So, last year, Eduardo Rodriguez went 13-8 with a 3.32 FIP, a 10.6 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. If you’re like me — a full-full brain person — then you’re likely thinking, “Hey, this guy never mentioned his ERA or WHIP!” Smart, we are. Talk like Yoda, I do. I didn’t mention those stats, because I wanted you to see how good Eduardo Rodriguez was before telling you how bad Eduardo Rodriguez was. If you just saw those numbers, you’d be like, “This guy with a full-full brain is telling me Ed-Rod is good, and those numbers are showing me Ed-Rod is good-good, so how would he even be a 2022 fantasy baseball sleeper?” Good question for someone who doesn’t sound full-full in the head like me. Ed-Rod had a 4.74 ERA last year in 157 2/3 IP. Ha, that’s awful, and why I think a lot of people will be ignoring him. Eduardo Rodriguez was very unlucky in 2020, then in much different ways he was unlucky again in 2021. Focus on his xBA numbers, because that’s what’s gonna f**k us (pun points!):

Look at those xBA’s. That’s crazy. Every single pitch should’ve produced better results, except his slider (more on that in a second). His velocity was down a hair in 2021, but it was really down in April, after a full year off, then it hovered up. Not quite reaching 2019 levels, but close enough. I’m not worried about velocity losses. Fenway is not a great park for BABIPs, so can dismiss some his bad luck across the board, but *that* much bad luck? Did he walk under a ladder on the way out to the mound every game? If he were traded after 2019, and he had a new home park in 2021, I might say these BABIPs might not regress, but this guy is clearly being unlucky and that will correct itself. Quick take away unrelated to the xBA numbers is he’s starting to figure out his slider, which has been a long time in the germination pod. Since 2015, he’s been throwing a slider and the values that it’s produced are all negative, which makes me chuckle a little. He’s still trying it, and it still is not great. Either way, last year was the best, uh, negative it’s been at -0.14. To give you an idea of how to compare that, in 2019, it was -2.31. That’s very bad. Don’t think that means a lot, but if his slider becomes a positive pitch for him to go with his cutter, fastball and change, three pitches that were all extremely positive as recently as 2019, Ed-Rod’s not going to be a sleeper that becomes a number two, but he’ll be an ace.

I’ve been a fan of Ed-Rod for so long, I painted his face on a kitchen cabinet that I call my Ed-Rod cupboard and it’s where I store my Top Gun-themed collectible Big Gulp cups. He’s rewarded me with two seasons of 3.82 and 3.81 (who are you, Khris Davis with the number .247), then I was out last year, due to him missing 2020, but it’s time to get back in. 2022 might be the year where we finally see him realize the immense upside. For 2022, I’ll give Eduardo Rodriguez projections of 14-7/3.77/1.24/217 in 191 IP with a chance for more. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2022 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?