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A new week, a new group of players to rank!

Welcome to this week’s edition of 2023 Top Keepers. The focus this time around is on starting pitchers.

As a group, I like starting pitchers more than relievers. At least with starters you don’t get the wild inconsistency that you get from relievers. Yes, a starter can have a bad year or one can come out of nowhere to have a great season. But as a whole, there is a little more projectability with this group.

Sticking with Youth

Unlike my top reliever’s list, where talent is the top factor in determining who the top keepers are, age plays more of a factor in these rankings. When it comes to keepers, I am giving a little more weight to dynasty leagues, and age plays a huge factor in that. If 27-year-old Zac Gallen is comparable to 31-year-old Kevin Gausman, then give me the 27-year-old Gallen.

Injuries also knocked pitchers down a little more than they do in my position rankings. I’m always a little weary of pitchers coming back from injuries. I probably shouldn’t since they always seem to bounce back these days. But nevertheless, I am not one to easily change my ways. So sorry, Jack Flaherty, for being in Tier 5. But perhaps you should stop getting hurt or at least post great numbers when you return from an injury.

A quick note: ages are as of now and obviously the team is who they played for this past season. Teams may change for 2023, ages certainly will.

Anyway, enough of the banter. Let’s get rolling with the Top 2023 Keepers – Starting Pitchers edition.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Major League Baseball isn’t supposed to look this easy this deep into a guy’s career. Miguel Cabrera’s got five homers on the year! Albert Pujols now has more homers than everyone in the league since August 14th, except for Aaron Judge, and he doesn’t have less homers than Judge, he has the same amount! All the hype about Judge and Pujols has same number of homers as Judge over the last six weeks! Pujols is 78 years old, and has 15 homers since August 14th! I don’t care if they’re meatballing him and Rob Manfred is sticking a PEDs needle in Pujols’s butt after he exits the shower. This is incredible. This isn’t supposed to be possible by a guy heading to the grand sunset over the bleachers. Yesterday, Albert Pujols went 2-for-2, 2 runs, 3 RBIs and his 23rd homer, as he hits .268. He’s having a better season than Eloy Jimenez! On top of everything yesterday, Pujols tied Babe Ruth for 2nd on the all-time RBIs list with 2,214. That is such an absurd number of RBIs. Go ahead, and average 110 RBIs for 20 years, and you get close! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Usually start writing these posts after the game has concluded, but for the Orioles game yesterday, I started working on the Anthony Santander lede about five hours before the game ended. The game was like: Run, run, five runs, seven runs, eleven runs, then fifteen pitcher changes. Has the game ended? I don’t know, and, at this point, it’s no longer my concern. Anthony Santander (3-for-5, 3 runs, 3 RBIs and his 32nd and 33rd homer) is my concern. He now has four homers in the last two games; six homers in four games; 33 homers in 153 games–Wait, that becomes less impressive again. Santander becomes the 2nd player in MLB history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game four times in a season, joining Ken Caminiti, who did it during his MVP year. Six homers in a four-game span hasn’t been done since the hottest schmotato of all-time, Luke Scott. During Luke Scott’s run, he actually went on Fallon with a schmotato that resembled him. Crazy times. Lucky the season’s gonna end soon or Anthony Santander would pass Judge in…*does quick math*…twelve days. For 2023 fantasy, I bet Santander is still underrated even though he has a 18.6% strikeout rate (excellent for a power hitter), 14.5% HR/FB (not at all obscene), and expected stats that back up just about everything he’s doing. Is he Anthony Santander or Anonymity Santander? Damn, Guy Fawkes, don’t be so Anonymous. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

You’re going to be hearing a lot about Ezequiel Tovar this offseason, so why not get started now? *phone rings* One second, sorry. “Hello? Yes, this is Grey. Yes, Grey Albright. Yes, the one with the luscious mustache and full head of hair! Yes, the only person who is five-seven but looks at least six-one! Yes, you’re talking to him! This is Future Me? Grey? I thought your voice sounded familiar. What’s up, Future Me, if I may call you that…Call you Mr. Albright? Uh, okay. What’s up, Mr. Albright? Ezequiel Tovar is hitting .350 with power and speed next year? That’s awesome! What do you mean it’s not awesome? Why? Because Bud Black’s playing the 32-year-old Scott Schebler at shortstop? Is Scott Schebler hitting well? Should I pick him up in eight months? Hello…Hello…?” I think he hung up. So, sounds like the Rockies will be calling up Ezequiel Tovar now. Grab Ezequiel Tovar in all keepers, absolutely. He’s a 20/20/.300 hitter that will call Coors home. For this year? Prolly wait and see, but if the Rockies are playing him, I could be interested shortly. How shortly? Like 5′ 7″ but appears 6′ 1″ shortly? Maybe. Did I just give you my first 2023 fantasy rookie? P to the erhaps. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Fresh goes better in life with Vientos, fresh and full of life! Ahh…The Metsmaker! Sorry, that was stuck in my head. Now, hopefully, it’s stuck in your head too. Mets called up their next great hitting prospect, Mark Vientos, after Starling Marte went to the IL. Can Vientos play outfield? Absolutely not. Can Vientos run? His speed has been described as “an 80-year-old baby crawling with tennis balls on its knees.” Can Vientos hit bombs? To the freakin’ moon! He kinda reminds me of a young Evan Longoria. Now take everything you’ve thought about Longoria over the last seven years, scrub it from your brain, and think about Longoria as if this is 2016. Your brain in 2016, “Rays should lock this Longoria guy up for another ten years! He’s amazing! Wait! They let Longoria go? Wow, what a mistake! They just let a perennial 30+ homer, .270 hitter go! Rays will be in last place for the next decade. What a bunch of losers!” So, your 2016 brain is kinda remembering correctly. Longo was good at that point. Mark Vientos can be good too. Prospect Itch has more concerns about his batting average in his top 100 prospects. For this year, do I want Mark Vientos in a redraft league? No, I’d want Eduardo Escobar. Or maybe even Evan Longoria. Anyway. here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Frequent commenter, PK, said the other day, “We have Hunter Greene, and now Hunter Brown in the big leagues. Just need a Hunter Orange to complete the redneck trifecta!” And I haven’t stopped thinking about that, so now you also have to think about it. Hey, PK, save the genius stuff for me! Or, Hunter Brown (6 IP, 0 ER, 3 hits, 1 walk, 5 Ks), as was the case yesterday in his MLB debut. At some point, the Astros have to stop creating top flight arms, don’t they? Wait a second! You know how the A’s went from attracting fans with OBP to allowing fans to have sex in the bleachers (sorta true, google it, if you don’t believe me), from Moneyball to NoMoneyball to Hornyball. Maybe the Astros are going from the Cheaty Cheaty Bang Bang Scandal to some other scandal we don’t know about yet that turns guys like Framber into aces. Mentioned this on the podcast the other day, which is on Youtube, and will be out on our regular podcast channel today, when discussing Hunter Brown. Astros get so much more from their starters than anyone expects. Why? Is something suspicious going on? Sorry, cheat once and I always think you’re cheating. With Hunter Brown, people actually expect nasty stuff, and with good reason. He has a filthy 85 MPH curve, 96 MPH slider — that’s right, 96 MPH! That’s the fastest slider in the majors this year, outside of deGrom — and a 97 MPH fastball. If you didn’t watch him, all the pitches looked devastatingly good. Now’s the time when I turn this back into the here and now and for this year, you’re likely better off with the Streamonator than holding Brown. Also, holding Brown is how one gets sepsis. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

And thus the Gunnar Henderson Era begins, not with a whimper but with a cocking of a ballpoint pen, and the cursive of a signature by the 108-year-old Peter Angelos, signing the contract to bring Gunnar up to the majors. “Gunnar, bend down to hear what Mr. Angelos wants to tell you!” His agent yells to him. Gunnar obliges, and Peter Angelos just blehs like Dracula. It’s a fantastic scene, and one Gunnar shouldn’t soon forget. Gunnar won’t be forgotten by fantasy baseball people either, i.e., Us! (Jordan Peele’s second best film. Though, after Get Out, I think they’re all tied, if we’re being honest. Any hoo!) Gunnar Henderson is everything you want — speed, power, contact. He’s Bobby Witt Jr., but better. Call him Better Witt Jr. Actually, call Bobby Witt Jr., a poor man’s Gunnar Henderson. Call him Slingshot Henderson. Itch had Corbin Carroll way above Gunnar Henderson in his top 25 prospects, and, honestly, I don’t know why. You can ask him. Gunnar’s not even particularly high on his top 10 Orioles prospects. Perhaps Itch was once bullied by a 23-year-old who was balding and looked like Cal Ripken Jr. Who’s to say? I’m grabbing Gunnar in every league. With only a month left, he might do nothing, but Gunnar also might immediately click click boom. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you’re anything like me, you’re currently in grass-stained covered sweatpants trying to eek out an extra minute of summer before the kids go back to school. Or, apparently, for most of you southerners, your kids have been in school for like two weeks. Somewhere out there, there’s SouthernwhereBlair who writes for RassBalls and discusses tight-pantsed pitchers. Or maybe that’s just me projecting my best self. Thanks, therapy! ENYWHEY. Let’s spend the next 1800 words discussing our favorite pitchers and why they make our pants tight.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Gnats are bringing up their 1st rounder from 2020, Cade Cavalli, who sounds like someone from Laguna Niguel who is on The Hills: Rebooted. “Hey, Cade, I know you drove my Ferrari last night into our pool, and your father and I are not mad, but Dad is disappointed, and I’m too zoinked on quaaludes to really care.” Kristin Cavallari’s new boy-toy, Cade Cavalli will make his MLB debut on Friday. He made the top 100 fantasy baseball prospects for dynasty leagues. Does that mean his pitches dy…*pinkie to mouth*…nasty?! Die nasty? No? Yeah, I don’t know either. Here’s what Itch said previously, “A late convert to full-time pitching, Cavalli brought some untapped upside to the MLB draft and landed at 22nd overall to the Nationals, who are never afraid to snag a first-round arm talent with question marks. Cavalli thrived as a pro and climbed three levels, dominating in A+ and AA before getting knocked around in his first tour through Triple-A. Cavalli suppressed home runs and induced ground balls all year, striking out 175 batters in 123.1 innings along the way. He’s a thick 6’4” 235 and looks like a linebacker on the mound. Love to see him flatten Grey.” Not cool, man! That was from the preseason, and Cavalli has looked much better this year in Triple-A. With all that said (here’s where I reveal I just wasted your time), I’m not grabbing Cavalli in any mixed leagues, but I will be cyclops’ing him. Especially if he’s hanging with Heidi, Spencer and Lauren. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The MLB playoffs are still a month away, but your fantasy baseball playoffs are practically here! Your starting pitching philosophy changes dramatically when the stakes are high and time is limited. If you’re a strong team in the playoffs, you’ll want to use pitchers with confident outcomes. If you’re a weak team, you might need to make some risky pitcher plays to stay in the running — but nobody expected the #6 seed to advance anyway, right? When the expected outcome is “lose,” you should take every risk you can to put variance in your favor and win. 

Let’s jump right in to the actionable items. As mentioned last week, I am no longer providing the hierarchical ranks — the data window of remaining MLB games is insufficient to move the ranking needle on up-and-coming pitchers. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Triston “Dr. Sticks” McKenzie is so skinny, he hula hoops with a Cheerio. McKenzie is so skinny he uses floss as toilet paper. I have a dad bod but want to identify as skinny–am I trans-slender? Triston McKenzie may get his nickname from his lack of girth, but last night McKenzie left no meat on the bone for the White Sox, as he fired 7 innings of two-ER ball while striking out a career-high 14 batters, lowering his ERA to 3.11 in the process. This wasn’t just a good game for McKenzie; it’s the continuation of at least the last month, as he’s got a 2.95 ERA over his last 33 IP, with a 28/8 K/BB. Pay no attention to the xERA of 4.04 and xFIP of 4.08, or the K% that’s has dropped 2 Ks per 9 IP from 2021, and enjoy the fantasy goodness Dr. Sticks is currently giving fantasy owners as the Guardians chase the AL Central division title. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?