Greetings and welcome back to the Mike Maher Hurricane Irma Shelter. My apologies for taking last week off, but it seems like I got out of South Florida just in time. I am now safely in the Pocono Mountains, where hurricanes dare not stray. Blizzards, on the other hand…
Hopefully, you all survived a week without me, especially as rosters expanded and probable pitcher lists were thrown further into confusion. This is the time of the year where it really gets dicey. We are all either in the home stretch or are in the playoffs in H2H leagues, while daily lineups and probable pitchers are more unpredictable than ever. Aces and top hitters for teams with guaranteed roster spots are getting extra rest now that each team has roughly 115 players available for each game. It’s not just Dusty Baker and Dave Roberts making our lives difficult anymore. Now, it’s all managers.
These two-start starters lists, regardless of where you look each week, are never going to be 100% accurate. Too much can change throughout the week and even over the weekend. These are just projections based on recent history and how the schedules line up. This week, multiply that by about a gajillion. If expanding rosters (and bullpens) weren’t enough to throw things off, Hurricane Irma and her friends are making sure to take care of the rest.
This week more than ever, you will need to double and triple check these starters on Sunday night and Monday morning. Some are all but guaranteed to change between now and then. Now, for the value picks from Streamonator this week:
Luis Severino is set to lose his Cincinnati V-plates today. That’s cool kid slang for “virginity”. So I guess while we’re on the topic, what does a virgin and a virgin have in common? The more they get slammed, the looser they get. Hopefully the same isn’t true for Sev’ in his ninth home start against the Reds. I could make so much more sexually awkward Dad funnies, but it’s probably time to think outside the box (wink emoji). Back to beisbol, Sev is perhaps one of your better DFS plays on this fine Wednesday. He’s coming off a seven inning six kayyy shutout at Safeco last week, and even though he comes at a price of $9,600, he’s one of your better options. Here’s the rest of the hump day slate:
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Way back in April the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Commonwealth of Independent States, sent the notorious “Player To Be Named Later” to the Baltimore Orioles for Parker Bridwell. At the time Bridwell was an unheard of 25 year old righthander with less than 20 innings above AA. The move flew under the radar to most of the baseball world with the exception of the Bridwell family, and an eccentric dyslexic real estate agent named Shelly with a passion for anything bird related. See no one at the time, could have foreseen this unheralded pro in his 7th season in the minors helping a major league ball club. Fast forward 3 months, and here we sit about to breakdown Bridwell’s 6th major league start of 2017 against the contending Tampa Bay Rays. What a world!
I really wanted to start this post with a quote, something like “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, or something like that. I figured that was a great way to offer hope and encouragement regarding the “second half” of the season. Let’s face it, with this whole “seamingly” out of nowhere spike in offense the last two seasons, there’s one inevitable conclusion. Pitching sucks!!! I mean we’ve been holding onto any shred of decency available. Look at Jason Vargas! Why am I ranking Jason Vargas? Does he have some sort of magnificent secret about these new Hi-C joints MLB is calling balls? Why the hell is he so much better than Justin Verlander? I have too many questions! I’m supposed to have answers! Here’s the truth, as if I’ve been lying to you before. There’s maybe 20 matchup proof starters in all of baseball, and then the rest of them you have to be careful with to varying degrees. Now, that’s not necessarily true for points formats, or deeper leagues with quality starts. Or even those with a greater emphasis on counting stats over ratios. But in our RCL formats, or any 5×5 roto with innings or starts limits, you must choose wisely. Around every corner lurks a roofie to your ratios. Just because Jordan Montgomery has been good more often than not, that doesn’t mean I’m up to a level of confidence that I’d start him in Colorado. Nah mean? Nod along. If you’re having trouble knowing which starts to avoid, check out Rudy’s Stream-O-Nator. It’s the perfect objective voice on those tough decisions you won’t get in your own head, or from your friends. That is, if you have friends with voices in your head and all. Anyway, be careful out there, and good luck in the second half.
I need to come clean about something. It’s embarrassing, and I hope once I tell you you don’t judge me. This is a bit of a trust fall for me. Okay, the truth is, whenever a player breaks out, I start singing Breakout by Swing Out Sister. I put down the convertible top on my canary yellow Sebring, flipping down my sunglasses, adjusting my spandex shorts, because they ride up all the time, and Tommy Pham, fist pump, BREAKOUT!
In Triple-A, Pham had 10 homers and 20 steals in 2014, but, like some many young hitters with the Cardinals (really, only hitters; pitchers they have no problem promoting and playing), they’ll play someone like The Federalist and never give a prospect hitter an opportunity. Now that Pham’s about to turn 30 (in nine months), the Cards have finally given him playing time. There’s nothing here long-term, but he does have power, speed and, finally, the playing time, so, Swing Out Sister and BREAKOUT! And, y’all who think I don’t keep it real, Tupac would date Swing Out Sister, then send her a letter from prison, breaking it off, only to realize halfway through the letter, he shouldn’t break it off, he should BREAKOUT!
Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:
Legit, this is longest July 4th weekend of all time. In 1776 on July 4th, Ben Franklin grabbed six ladies, and was like, “This will be better than Flag Day. We will call this Flagellation Day. Now twerk with a firework!” That lasted for three days until Ben yelled out an Astros’ hitter last name and called for a volunteer fire department to put out his redness. Any hoo! Ian Desmond hit the DL with “I wanna rest for a few extra days before the break.” It’s an epidemic that is going around the majors right now. This especially sucks for those that had him in their weekly lineups because you’re getting ziplock. But, for the rest of us, we got Raimel Tapia (3-for-4, 2 runs and his 2nd homer). Fun fact! He has a brother who drinks too much and can’t control his lasciviousness. His name is Felasleepon Tapia. Raimel gets a huge boost in value with Desmond’s DL stint. He’s a grab for every league, especially if you need SAGNOF. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
How many of you remember the watershed 1993 film Dazed and Confused? In this coming of age saga, a young righty, with the flowing locks of Sampson himself, embarks on a journey that will change his life forever. It is in that film where we first meet Mike Clevinger. I could go on a lengthy diatribe about the film with the Indians righty supplanted as the protagonist, but I already did that a year and a half ago when I first introduced you to Mr. Clevinger. It’s like I’m watching my kids grow up right before my eyes. Either way Clevinger is long haired and goofy just like Mitch from Dazed and Confused. Not to toot my own horn, but to totally toot my own horn, I called this developing breakout a year ago. The Indians acquired the former 2011 4th rounder from the Angels back in 2014 for pen arm Vinny Pestano. Since then it’s been a classic Cleveland starter story, as the organization focused on bringing Clevinger along first as a pen arm, and now as a starter. With a 14.1% SwStr, and a 28.5% K%, there’s some signs that Clevinger, in a season of disappointing starters, could be a diamond in the rough. Let’s look under the hood, and then go pitch by pitch through his Sunday start vs. the division rival Detroit Tigers.
In honor of week thirteen of the major league baseball season, I thought I’d brieftly mention the topic of superstition. You always hear how superstitious baseball players are, but I’m starting to think baseball fans, and especially fantasy baseball players, may be just as afflicted. In general, I think of myself as one of the more pragmatic, least superstitious people I know… until it comes to baseball. I KNOW there is no such thing as a jinx, particularly during a baseball game happening hundreds of miles or more away from wherever I happen to be, and yet my behavior would often suggest otherwise. Last week, I actually benched Trevor Story in one league, in an attempt to “get him going” in another, figuring that the minute I hit the reserve button, he’d go off for a couple of home runs that night (spoiler alert: he didn’t).
One of the things I love most about baseball, but particularly covering prospects, is when a guy I totally missed on pops up, and exceeds expectations. Sure, I could become obsessed with my own reputation, and shoot down any suggestion that I missed on a player. But what fun is that? So, when it comes to Nick Pivetta, I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t see this coming. Hell, I wrote up 15+ Phillies prospects, and name dropped another 7-8, and didn’t even mention Pivetta. Fangraphs covered 33 Phillies prospects, and Pivetta ranked in at 27! All this to say, that the “out of nowhere” label is somewhat appropriate when it comes to the Phil’s righthander. After an outstanding outing vs the Red Sox at home a few weeks ago, the strikeouts, and numbers in general seem to be trending in the right direction. So why not check him out, and see if we in fact have a breakout bubbling. Before we begin, big shouts to Oaktown Steve, who’s been hyping up Pivetta in the comments the past few weeks like a Sabermetrics Flavor Flav. Only he turned in his giant clock (read that fast), for an abacus, which I’ve heard can get a bit bulky when worn as a necklace. Anyway, let’s get into Pivetta’s last start vs the Cardinals at home, the second time he’s faced the Redbirds in four starts. He’s going today in Arizona, so maybe we’ll see if he’s worth rolling out… Actually no rookie pitcher with a heavy fly-ball approach should be started in Arizona, but that’s just common sense. On to the profile!
Yesterday, Kyle Schwarber was demoted to Triple-A to clear his head. But Joe Buck would’ve cleared it for him! Guess Schwarber is just one less thing for Joe Buck to plug. Joe Buck is now the new Crying Jordan meme. Also, yesterday, Jason Heyward was DL’d. Right now, Joe Maddon is like, “All I need is Ian Happ. And this chair. All I need is Ian Happ, this chair and this remote control. And Tommy La Stella. All I need is Ian Happ, this chair, this remote control and Tommy La Stella. And these Buddy Holly glasses. Happ, chair, remote, La Stella and these glasses! That’s all I need!” I’m sure Schwarber will be back at some point, but, in most mixed leagues, you can move on. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball: