Please see our player page for Chris Archer 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.

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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Prior to be doing my fifteen-hundredth dart throw, Bartolo Colon. “Hey, listen, if you can get him cheap and with the NL DH–” *smoke rises from RoboGrey’s ears* Seriously, could someone unplug the MLB season, blow into the cartridge and plug it back in? On phone with AppleCare, “For the last few weeks, I’ve only seen the pinwheel on the baseball season, and the big brains at the Genius Bar have no idea what to do. Any suggestions?” For those not following too closely, the MLB owners are imitating Wimpy and saying, “We will kindly pay you next Collective Bargaining Agreement for a hamburger today,” and the players, crazily enough, are saying, “Hold up, you want us to play for 80% of our salary?”  And the MLB owners are replying, “Yeah, c’mon, you crooks, you have so much money.” Then the players are like, “You’re paying us but claiming to have less money than us? Ain’t that some shizz?” I expected this to be resolved by now, but resolution at this point seems like it’s going to come down to Head Idiot Rob Manfred, and him forcing the season into existence. If I’m reading all of the negotiations correctly, Head Idiot can force a 48-game season, but can’t force players to play. Make sense? No, of course it doesn’t! The Head Idiot said last week there would 100% be a season, and this week said there wouldn’t. In other words, the Head Idiot doesn’t even know what the Head Idiot can do because, get this, he’s an idiot. Some have speculated that MLB will force a 48-game season, but it’s way too early now since they have to play until September 27th, because of TV schedules, so they’re stalling for another week or two. All of that led to this breaking news yesterday:

If a season is forced, I wouldn’t be shocked if some big names opt out like Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and, really, anyone who has plenty of ‘eff you’ money. Once we have a set number of games, we will update our rankings and possibly remove players who aren’t playing. Also, as we talk about on today’s podcast, coming later today, I was against redrafting leagues, but if a lot of players are sitting out and we’re playing a 50-game season, then, yeah, it becomes unfair to try to play out a league drafted prior to all of this. On the other hand, maybe it’ll be fun to just play it out. I’m saying that last line in case any MLB owners or players are reading. Play it out! Anyway, here’s what else I saw for 2020 fantasy baseball:

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With baseball still on the proverbial shelf, most offseason concerns we had for injuries are gone.  We’ll cover a few small updates here today as we hopefully move towards some number of games this season.

The biggest news over the last few weeks was with Chris Archer.  The Pirates righty was shut down for surgery to correct “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome” this is the same issue that sidelined Matt Harvey earlier in his career.  Archer was already a shell of his former self, and really only someone you’d be taking a late round flyer on or picking up in a 2 start week hoping for some K’s, but this puts him on the shelf until the beginning of the ’21 season at best.

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A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at hitters who are being priced cheaper in 2020 than their 2019 stats would dictate. This week, it’s time to assess Starters using the same approach.

Recency bias suggests that 2019 performance weighs most heavily in our minds when making 2020 decisions. That certainly plays out in many scenarios, but there are other players who’s 2020 price is discounted compared to what just happened. I’m guessing that’s mostly due to the prevalence of projection systems in player valuation. A good projection system should absolutely be the baseline for your 2020 valuations. But as we know, these systems are slow to pick up on skill changes. Three year weighted averages & regression to the mean helps the systems get the most players right; but it also means they systematically devalue 2019 stats. The goal of this post is to look at what just happened (2019 performance) and find places where the market (ADP) isn’t pricing in those stats.

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From 2015 to 2017, Chris Archer threw over 200 innings in each season and racked up 252, 233, and 249 strikeouts respectively. Then, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates after the All-Star break in 2018, and was wheeled down into the basement lab of Ray Searage. When he resurfaced, Archer produced the highest xFIP, homerun rate, and walk rate of his career. Hip hip hooray for Ray Searage! Entering the Rona TBD season of 2020, Searage is out and Oscar Marin is in as pitching coach. Is there value with Archer, as he is the 67th starting pitcher and 244th overall player being drafted in NFBC drafts from 3/1/2020 to 4/26/2020?

During the three-year span when Archer was slicing and dicing American League East batters, he was primarily a fastball, slider, and changeup pitcher. So, of course, when Searage got a hand on him in 2018, he broke what was successful and incorporated the sinker/two-seamer into his arsenal. After not throwing the pitch for three years, Archer started throwing it over 10% of the time. Why do you ask? Well, throwing low in the zone and pitching to contact was an organizational philosophy, which neutered both Tyler Glasnow and  Gerrit Cole in the past. Good times.

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A wise man once said, “He who says he can and he who says he can’t are usually both right.” That was Confucius, who also once remarked to a bright young pupil on a particularly overcast day in 531 BC that “He who places his livelihood in the hands of starting pitching health is indeed the king of fools among us all.” I can assure you he said both of those things, and I can assure you that I will do my best to heed his insightful words as I reveal the pitchers on my 2023 All-COVID Team.

Like I said, Confucius was a wise man. He would have never dared use ESPN’s rankings to set up his fantasy baseball draft board. No, he would likely make his way to a site like Razzball, where he would study my 2023 All-COVID Team with great satisfaction before stumbling across this post. At this point, we would likely faint out of mere displeasure.

Projecting the top pitchers in fantasy three years from now is an asinine task in nature. Experts such as Grey who are able to nail preseason fantasy pitching rankings year-by-year have achieved quite a feat as is. To venture further into the unknown is, quite frankly, setting oneself up for failure. But, to heed my good friend Confucius’ words, I will be “he who says he can,” and I shall be right.

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The Pirates have become one of my favorite teams for whatever reason but this thing could get ugly. This roster has gotten rid of players like Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows since the beginning of last season and it’s left this roster looking like a dumpster fire. That doesn’t even take into consideration that Jameson Taillon is injured too, leaving the Buccos in big trouble. I’m sorry Greg Brown but that Jolly Roger is going to stay put a ton this season.

If you have any comments or questions, reach me here or on Twitter @Bartilottajoel

Also, if you want to see some other team previews or my bust picks, click here!

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

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It is important to maintain the fundamental rules of society. One of those rules being, respect your elders. Last week, I introduced luck regression candidates with less than 400 career innings pitched, and piggybacking off of that premise we must also account for our Restored Vets. In order to identify Restored Veteran pitchers who suffered from poor luck in 2019 I performed the following:

  • Gathered all starting pitchers with over 50 innings pitched in 2019. Thanks, Fangraphs.
  • Removed pitchers with less than 400 career innings pitched to isolate for Restored Vets.
  • Sorted to find only pitchers whose ERA was 0.5 greater than one of FIP, xFIP, or SIERA.
  • Eliminated any pitchers who did not have a metric under 4.5.
  • Deleted any pitchers without a top 30 WAR season in the past 3 years.

The result? 9 pitchers. I’ve removed 4 of those for reasons noted at the bottom. The rest of the group is evaluated below:

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With the top 80 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball, we are so close to the end of the rankings, I can almost taste it! Wait, that’s not rankings I taste, I bit my lip and it’s blood. I wonder if when Dracula bites his lip it’s like when Cougs goes out with her friends and I’m left at home while Emmanuelle is on Cinemax. I’ll go over exactly how to draft starters in a few days, but there are so many ways to skin a cat we should have PETA breathing down our necks. Also, I’m hoping to do the RCL signups next Monday. Stay tuned! Or not, your call. All the 2020 fantasy baseball rankings are there. Here’s Steamer’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. Here’s all the 2020 fantasy baseball auction rankings. At the top of that page there’s about 20 different league types to choose from. All projections listed are mine and I mention where I see tiers starting and stopping.  Anyway, here’s the top 80 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball:

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Before the start of the 2019 season, there was an article posted on MLB.com labeling the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation as possibly the most underrated in all of baseball. It highlighted Jameson Taillon as an emerging ace, with Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove showing great potential, and a full season of Chris Archer, who was ready to fix his 2018 struggles. It also mentioned Nick Kingham, Mitch Keller, and Jordan Lyles as great backend options. Unfortunately, we all know how this story ends. Taillon hurt his arm, Williams, Lyles, and Archer both posted ERAs over 5.00, Keller’s ERA was over 7 in his debut, and Steven Brault was their 2nd best pitcher. Yikes. Even Musgrove, who had a great season in his own right, posted an ERA of 4.49 and struck out less than a batter per inning, which isn’t great for fantasy purposes. Overall, the Pirates’ starters as a whole posted a combined ERA of 5.40; the 5th worst in baseball, and 2nd worst in the NL, only ahead of the Rockies.

The Pirates as a whole right now are a bit of a joke, and as a Reds fan it brings me great joy and pleasure to say that. There’s obviously some fantasy value in their lineup, with guys like Josh Bell, Brayan Reynolds, and Kevin Newman just to name a few, but what about their pitching, which was horrible in 2019?

Please, blog, may I have some more?