Ariel Miranda pitched a no-hitter yesterday through six innings and 112 pitches that had to be the worst six-inning no-hitter in baseball history.  Shame the M’s removed him before he gave up a hit, because this could’ve been an epic debacle — depicacle?  Remember those Hall of Shame books from the 1980’s that always featured at least one anecdote about Steve Lyons?  Usually that anecdote was of him undressing at first base.  Somehow that largely visual gag was depicted in literary prose in these books.  If they still had those books, Ariel Miranda’s six-inning no-hitter would’ve had a chapter.  He went 6 IP, 1 ER, zero hits, six walks, 5 Ks, ERA at 4.72.  Only thing that was missing was him taking his pants off on the mound or clowning around with Max Patkin.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There’s an old expression in Major League Baseball, “As the sun sets on one Weaver, another rises from its ashes.” I have to say it was rather prophetic to predict the spontaneous combustion of Jered Weaver’s career. Then again, it’s not like there weren’t clear signs that we had reached the end of the line with our most recent Weaver. I mean the man was throwing 67 MPH in his last few starts, or years, but whatever… That brings me to today’s subject, our new shiny Weaver, complete with new car scent! I’m of course alluding to Cardinals rookie phenom Luke Weaver. The 24 year old right-hander got his first taste of the big leagues last year to mixed results. He looked brilliant at times, and caught too much of the plate at others. The issues with Weaver are rarely related to his pitching however. He’s had an inability to stay healthy over the course of his career, never exceeding 120 innings pitched in a season. As for the player himself he has one of the more exciting upsides of any arm in the minors, mixing swinging strikes, with weak contact, and elite control. Since his most recent callup in late August, Weaver has posted back to back starts with 10 Ks and 1 walk, while limiting his opponents to a .224 batting average against. There’s nothing I love more than digging into the start of a player I’ve been touting for a year plus. It’s even better when that player’s twitter handle (@DreamWeava7) has a Boston accent! I’m in LOVE!! Previously Weaver has ranked 48th (pre-season), and 60th in my mid-season, which is lofty praise. As anyone who reads my prospect work will tell you, I discount pitching prospects pretty heavily for fantasy purposes.  Enough of the small talk, here’s what I witnessed in Weaver’s Sunday start.

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Yesterday, Domingo Santana had a double slam (23, 24) and legs (12).  Maybe it’s confirmation bias, but it feels like Domingo is just so much better on Sunday, right?  Carl Jung and Sting would say I’m onto something with this synchronicity.  As someone who doesn’t own Domingo anywhere, but wishes he did own him, I can understand when Jung and Sting speak of the duality of a man.  I get the sense Domingo Santana will be underrated in 2018 too.  Of course, I think this is crazy for a 25-year-old guy capable of a 30/15 season in a great home park.  As Sting specifically sang, there’s a little black man named Sunday.  He’s not the same old thing on Saturday.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

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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?

Yesterday, Phillip Ervin went 3-for-4, 3 runs, 4 RBIs and his 2nd home run and 2nd in as many games.  This blew my mind:  there was no mention of Phillip Ervin on this site since 2014, when then-prospector Scott Evans said, “We’ll have a much better feel for (Ervin) after he’s had a chance to settle in at a full-season assignment, but on the surface, Ervin looks like a potential 20/20 outfielder who’ll also help in AVG and OBP.   I hope Grey reads this in three years…IN HELL!”  Damn, some animosity there.   Now, the real puzzler maker, as they say in the Haus of Rubik, Prospector Ralph hasn’t spoken about Ervin once.  So, I took it up with Endorphin Ralph on text, and he said, “He’s a 25-year-old, slugging fourth outfielder that’s Quad-A.  RUSNEY IS BETTER!!!”  So, Ervin’s a former 1st rounder, who might not be anything, due to weak contact he makes too often.  In Triple-A, he did have 7 HRs and 23 SBs with a .256 average.  He might just be a schmotato, that cools off and vanishes, but a speed/power combo plays in fantasy if he plays, which he is.  Better than Rusney Castillo?  WE SHALL SEE.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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?

I’m starting to think there’s a conspiracy on my FanDuel Saturdays: this is the 3rd? 4th? week in a row where the pitching options are either expensive or dismal or both. But we do have an @ARI game, huzzah: the Cubs are taking on the Diamondbacks. [Sidebar: this sounds like a nature movie in which a baby bear tries gamely, vainly, to defend his wounded mother from the evil snake, while everyone in the audience cries. (Sub-sidebar: I have a friend who tells me I always take things to the dark place.)] The Brewers have a good match-up at home versus Scott Feldman, too. Thus, we DFS warriors will make do as we can on the pitching front (Hyun-Jin Ryu, $8,200: I’m looking at you) and otherwise stack like the stacking great bastards we are.

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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?