There’s a narrative making the rounds that today’s Pitching Profile subject Collin McHugh just started throwing a slider. This on it’s face isn’t completely true, his repertoire included a slider two years ago, but he scrapped it in 2016 in favor of a cutter. So the “throwing a slider now” people are insane, and this is open and shut case. Right, Ralphie?” Actually, their narrative is partially correct, because while he did formerly throw a slider he didn’t go back to the pitch he scrapped before last season. He’s throwing a different slider. A reworked version he picked up from clubhouse showboat Brad Peacock. Who picked the pitch up from some shoe salesman named Jordan Jankowski, who picked his up from a decoder ring at the bottom of a box of Count Chocula. Anyway, back in 2015 when McHugh experienced a break through with the Astros, he threw his “old” slider nearly 45% of the time. It’s funny that everyone forgot he threw a slider back then, considering it accounted for such a high chunk of his usage. In fact he threw his breaking pitches, (he also has a high spin-rate curveball), 67.1% of the time.  Leading his 27.2% fastball usage to rank as the second lowest in the majors behind only R.A. Dickey during the 2015 season. Before 2016 began McHugh’s usage of his ineffective slider was scrapped completely for a cutter, and an increased reliance on his hook. The results didn’t change, in fact in someways they got worse, but that’s not important, and here’s why. Fast forward to 2017, and McHugh missed a majority of the season’s first half with an elbow injury. The player that has emerged since is a completely different animal. Throwing his fastball more than 50% of time, and with a new and improved low 80’s slider, one with increased movement from his former offering. The question for today, “Is this a new and improved model or just a redesigned Grand Am?”  Let’s look under the hood and see.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For the last few days, I’ve been in New York for my grandfather’s 90th birthday.  With each passing year, he gets more casually racist, and, let’s just say, he didn’t start at zero.  I told him Byron Buxton hit three homers on Sunday, and he said, “Byron?  What’s he, a Jew?”  I told him, no, I don’t think so, but, of course, he can’t hear so well, so he continued, “I didn’t think Jews played sports.  Well, I guess he’ll at least be good with the money he makes.”  Then he went on a twenty-minute rant about how he’d have more money if he was Jewish (he’s Italian).  If you read Who Is Grey Albright?, you’ll know that I was raised by my grandparents, so let’s hope the apple rolled far enough away from the tree.  Otherwise, I’m gonna be writing roundups in 40 years like this, “Byron Buxton Jr. – He has better contact rates than his father, and prolly can find a good interest rate, ya know, because Jew.”  Here’s my grandfather with the entertainment we got for the party.  For those of you that grew in the tri-state area in the 1980’s, you’ll be familiar with the entertainment:

Any hoo!  Byron Buxton went 4-for-5, 4 runs, 5 RBIs and three homers (11, 12, 13) and his 24th steal.  A triple slam and legs?  What a glutton for wonderful!  From the 1st half to the 2nd half, his average went from .216 to .309; his K-rate is down from 31% to 25%; his OPS went from .594 to .903; his ISO went from .090 to .245, and his OBP went from .288 to .350.  Beginning to think real adjustments have been made for 2018, because everything’s been better in the 2nd half.  His 2nd half has been bigger and better than the pictures I saw recently of Tiger Woods, if you catch my drift.  (Okay, so the apple doesn’t roll that far from the tree after all.)  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The image of eating salt always reminds me of one of my favorite Futurama quotes.  The “Death by snu snu” scenes are easily my all-time favorites though.  Enough about Futurama though and let’s talk about my boy, Charlie Morton.  Morton has been by streaming delight in the RCLs since he returned in early July.  In that time span he has never given up more than 4 earned runs and has never struck out fewer than 5.  Those numbers scream safety, which also means, boring.  I wouldn’t go in thinking Morton is winning you a GPP today, but he’s a perfect cash game play at a nice price ($17,400).  He’ll be squaring off against the California Angels of LA and/or Anaheim who are third to last in team OPS.  Granted, Mike Trout is back now, but I’m still comfortable with picking on the Angels.  So, pass the salt (Or, as he’s going by this week, “Ground Chuck”) in cash games and let’s take a look at who we’ll be pairing up with Morton and who to look at in those GPPs below:

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Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Lucas Giolito went 6 IP, 4 ER, 6 baserunners, 4 Ks as he was called up to take Reynaldo’s rotation spot.  The shine, as they say at the complaint desk for a shoeshine man, has come off Giolito.  I was all ready to mock Keith Law.  I was going to look at what Law said in 2012 vs. now, but I overestimated Law.  This past winter he said Giolito could be a #1 starter.  I can’t imagine what he said in 2012.  Likely that he’s the best starter in the draft.  He wouldn’t have been alone with that.  Most loved Giolito at the time.  Also, as that last sentence sounds, he was the most loved Giolito, with Sammy “The Bull” Giolito a distant 2nd.  Lucas’s value has rebounded a bit this year vs. last year.  In Endorphin Ralph’s top 100 prospects in the 2nd half, Giolito was ranked 82nd.  As a fantasy baseball prospect list vs. a real baseball one, that’s a solid ranking — or is that a solid Ralphing?  For this year, I’d avoid outside of the best matchups.  Rookie pitchers bring more heartache than your high school sweetheart friending you on Facebook.  “Ugh, she’s happy?  Such BS!”  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It feels good to finally be able to use a Demi Lovato song in my title. Forget Chad Kuhl let’s talk about Demi! What star power! What charisma! What a voice! Name another song besides the one in the title! You can’t!

**inner-monologue** Wait, don’t take that bet. Don’t show your true colors when you don’t have to. I mean, it’s not like I Ralph Lifshitz am actually a Demi Lovato fan. PFFT! That would be preposterous! **inner-monologue-out**

Chad Kuhl of the other hand, different story. Now he is a someone who’s fandom I’d consider! (You don’t believe me do you?) The 24 year old righthander, has followed up a promising rookie campaign with an inconsistent 2017. That’s not to say this season hasn’t had it’s bright spots. He looks on pace to reach at least 150 innings, his velocity has jumped nearly 3 miles per hour on the fastball, his swinging strike rate is up, and despite a 4.52 ERA, he’s been slightly unlucky (68.5% LOB, .316 BABIP). Luck aside he’s struggled to limit contact, and has always walked a few more batters than you’d like to see. Since the calendar turned to July, Kuhl has been a top 30 starter going 4-2 over 10 starts with a 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .211 BAA, and his 21% K% is up about 2% from his career norm. More than likely this is a hot streak but with a player this young it’s best to see for ones self. Today we’ll dig into Kuhl’s most recent start vs St. Louis at home to get a closer look.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Greetings from beautiful New Jersey. If you say otherwise, as someone born and raised in New Jersey I am legally obligated to fight you with my shirt off. I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules. Even though I am just here visiting, these laws are still binding. Strange, I know. But true. Very true. Ask Grey if you don’t believe me.

Given how the first 20 weeks have gone, putting two Dodgers pitchers at the top of this list just seems like a tease. We know what is going to happen by Monday, so why do we torture ourselves? If we have learned anything this season, it’s that Dave Roberts hates every single one of us and does not want us to be happy. Luckily, both are owned in 100% of RCLs, so we can safely ignore them without feeling too guilty. 

As for value choices this week, Streamonator likes three starting pitchers who are owned in less than 75% of Razzball Commenter Leagues for a positive value. The value choices for this week are:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As the season rolls along, my choices for starters to profile should be wearing thin. Luckily for all of you, myself, and my relationship with anyone not in the Crab Army, spot starts and rookie callups give me the perfect intersect of my two worlds. Now as any good Seinfield fan knows, worlds colliding can be catastrophic. Just ask George Costanza. That however is not the case for your loyal and eccentric Prospector/Pitchspector. It’s all good on this end. Why? Because I’m more than happy to dig into the ratio roulette that is rookie starting pitchers. In the grand tradition of my messiah like activity on the prospect side, I’m here to observe these wild cards, provide my take, and lead you on the path to true fantasy salvation. This is a really long winded, and pompous, way to say I’m profiling Reynaldo Lopez’s White Sox debut today. I’ve been lower on Lopez than many other prospectors in the industry. For what feels like two years now, I’ve been constantly banging my shoe on the table of the United Prospect Nations, sternly proclaiming that “Lopez is a pen arm!” I’d make a joke of my followers storming the town square with Pier 1 style tiki torches, but the rest of the Lifshitz clan prolly wouldn’t appreciate that. Anywho, here’s what I saw.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Atlanta Braves top prospect/hot shot rookie/middle infielder/the “New” Georgia Peach Ozzie Albies hit his second career major league home run in just his ninth career major league start going 2-for-4 with the 3-run bomb. Albies has basically been doing what we expected/wished/hoped/prayed Dansby Swanson would do all season: hit baseballs. Well, luckily for us there’s plenty of young middle infielders in the sea. By the way, were you impressed by my Shelley reference in headline? You didn’t think I’d miss a chance to mention one of my favorite non-Shakespearian sonnets, Ozymandias, did you? Speaking of English romantic poets (killer segue, I know!), the 20 year-old Albies was slashing .285/.330/.440  at Triple A Gwinett, and the kiddo’s got some game-changing speed with 21 steals in 91 games. If those numbers aren’t romantic or poetic enough for you I don’t what it is you’re looking for. Funny enough, I said the same thing to my real life human girlfriend. He hit just nine home runs in the minors but its pretty clear the power is on the way, with two dingers already in just nine major league starts. Friday night was Ozzie’s first multi-hit game in the bigs, and with the homer and 3 RBI he seems to be adjusting well to his new surroundings and getting plenty comfortable at the plate. Grey told you to BUY this week, and he gushed about him here. In keeper/dynasty formats you should own him already, but I think he’s worth a flier everywhere else based on his potential to help with speed/average. The .214/.313/.464 in just nine games is too small to take away from, but the two homers and 6 RBI are certainly an exciting sign for the young infielder and fantasy owners alike. This kid’s gonna be a star! Ha-cha-cha!

Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:

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While it’s all well and good that Noah Syndergaard got to be on Game of Thrones, I cannot fathom why the powers that be did not consider using someone who actually looks like he belongs in Westeros (albeit beyond the wall) – the ginger-god himself, Justin Turner. Seriously, how could they not get Justin Turner to play a freefolk. He legitimately looks just like Tormund Giantsbane – you’re telling me you couldn’t have him be Tormund’s brother (or long lost son), Turner Giantsbane? That’s a massive opportunity entirely blown by the writers and casting. Anyway, turning to DFS for a second, Justin Turner-Giantsbane is having quite a season so far. A career .284/.351/.419 hitter before the 2015 season, Turner had seemingly taken a big step forward over the past two seasons by posting numbers a step above his career to that point – .294/.370/.491 in 2015 (142 wRC+), and .275/.339/.493 (124 wRC+) in 2016. But just like how Tormund went from small character to a well-liked secondary character to a full-blown fan favorite, Justin Turner has gone from decent major league (everything up through 2014) to respectable major league hitter (2015-2016) to full blown MVP candidate this year by batting .348/.441/.561 (currently good for the 3rd best wRC+ at 166 – fourth if you want to include Mike Trout, which is mandatory because he’s Mike $%^&*[email protected] Trout). And of note is how he’s done it – so far in 2017, he’s destroying lefties on a level that even Edgar Renteria and Alex Rodriguez would be impressed by – so far this season, he’s batting .398/.489/.759 (222 wRC+) against lefties. Sure enough, he’s facing a lefty today, and not a good one either – Clayton Richard. Now, I will be the first to admit that his L/R splits in a single season are the product of small sample size. But while the lefty-mashing will likely regress, the righty-hitting will likely also likely regress (in the opposite direction) as he reverts towards his career norms of having no real split. And yes, it’s probable that the 2015-2016 Justin Turner is the “true” Justin Turner, but the 2015-2016 Justin Turner is still pretty damn good. And he’s in a great matchup, facing Clayton Richard today. So ride the ginger wave, and roster Justin Giantsbane. If he continues the 2017 Justin Turner, complete with lefty-mashing that can only be rivaled by Arya’s list, you’ve got an absolute monster today. And if he’s just the 2015-2016 Justin Turner? Well, you’ve still got one heck of a good play today.

On to the picks once Turner Giantsbane is a character in Game of Thrones

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It’s just like old times, as we here at Razzball are profiling a Brewers starter this week. I can’t put my finger on what that means, but I digress. The familiarity doesn’t just end there my friends, oh no, we just happen to be covering the MLB debut for one of the top pitching prospects in the minors, Brandon Woodruff. On the heels of a somewhat out of nowhere breakout in 2016, Woodruff exploded onto the dynasty league radar, and squarely into the ranks on several top prospect lists. After leading the minors in strikeouts last year, the righty credited an increased pace, thanks to the direction of AA pitching coach Chris Hook. After a solid showing in the challenging confines of Colorado Springs earlier this season, Woodruff was called up in mid-June to make a spot start. Unfortunately he was injured warming up, was scratched from his debut, and did a month on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Recalled Friday to face the contending Rays in Tampa, Woodruff might be an interesting stream down the stretch in re-drafts of all sizes. Let’s see how the highly touted rookie looks vs a seasoned AL East lineup. Not a bad litmus test.

Please, blog, may I have some more?