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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This is an excerpt of a phone call Razzball intercepted during Sunday’s afternoon games.  Since every state involved is a two-party consent for recording, we cannot reveal who recorded the call, but it rhymes with Trudy Gramble.  Here, let’s listen in:  “Hello, this is the CEO of Super Ball, the world’s hardest, bounciest, craziest, shouldn’t-be-used-as-a-baseballiest ball.  Who is this calling?”  Our Commissioner Rob Manfred disguises his voice so he sounds raspy, “I’m Kathleen Turner.  I was wondering if you would sell me 70,000 Super Balls to not be used for baseball purposes.”  “Body Heat Kathleen Turner?  Not to get all James Lipton, but I am a huge fan of your–”  “Okay, toots…”  Manfred lowers the phone receiver, to his secretary, “Toots?”  Back into the phone, “Um, so don’t make me kill you and blame a different femme fatale.  I need those Super Balls.”  So, yesterday was bonkers for homers, yet again.  I will now list the home runs by guys in just the Astros game:  Yulieski Gurriel (2-for-5, 2 runs) hit his 11th; Jose Altuve (3-for-4, 4 runs, 3 RBIs, hitting .347) hit his 13th; Evan Gattis (2-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBIs) hit his 8th and Carlos Correa (4-for-5, 5 RBIs) and two homers, his 19th and 20th.  Holy Salami Tom, there’s a crapton of home runs this year.  I have two mixed leagues where I feel like if I’m not getting at least five homers per day, I’m falling behind.  Also, on a pitching front, if I can just maintain a 3.50 ERA, I could come in first for ERA.  By the way, I hope we’re not sued by Our Commissioner Rob Manfred, but something must be done.  Get the Super Balls out of baseball!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Controversy was a-brewin’ in the fantasy sports world this weekend when Matt Berry called out a Fantasy Pros writer for copying his article idea. Grey weighed in on it on Twitter, and then we continue that conversation to start off this week’s podcast. After getting all of the drama out of the way, we dig deep into the fantasy baseball world, discussing the Trea Turner injury, Freddie Freeman and Aaron Sanchez’ impending returns, and Clint Frazier’s callup. We also try to find some hope in a group of falling aces (Cole Hamels, Jake Arrieta, and David Price), while getting excited by a group of young up and comers (Mike Clevinger, Jon Gray, Luis Severino, and Jose Berrios). Finally, I congratulate “nightpandas” on another hard fought Razzball Only FantasyDraft Contest victory (there will be no contest this week), and also implore you to head over to Rotowear to get 15% off their awesome shirts by entering promo code “SAGNOF.” It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Podcast:

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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.

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Greetings from beautiful Sandestin, FL. I am on vacation for a long holiday weekend, but I am so dedicated to Razznation that I am taking time away from the beach to make sure you still have the information and insight you desire this week.

Before we get started, feel free to ignore Clayton Kershaw. I have no inside information that he might not start twice this week, but it seems that every week that he is on the list Dave Roberts and the Dodgers change things up on us. Going forward, if he is on the list, just assume that he will be removed. If he is not on the list, assume he will be added. Roberts and Co. are determined to tinker with their rotation every week, possibly just to mess with us. Since he is scheduled to start twice as of this writing, I assume that that will no longer be the case by the time you are reading this roughly 18 hours from now.

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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!

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Oakland promoted Franklin Barreto this weekend, and a friend of mine who I only see when he’s mowing my lawn said, “You got to go to The Mission if you really want a Barreto.”  Recalling my 1600 Yelp reviews of every Chipotle in Los Angeles county, I exclaimed, “No way, Jose!”  But he replied, “Mr. Grey, my name is Julio.”  Then we laughed, and, even though he laughed with jajajajaja and I laughed with hahahaha, we found a common ground.  As for fantasy, Prospector Ralph said, “Barreto offers hard contact, some speed.  Gets caught a lot, and who knows how much the A’s send him.  He’s exciting though.  Upside guy with a low floor this season.  Now can I go back to bitching about Tanaka?”  There ya go!  Right from the prospect whore’s mouth!  I tried to get Barreto in all of my leagues, but, alas, he was gone.  Yesterday, he went 2-for-5, 1 run, after homering in his first game on Saturday.  He’s worth a flyer in all leagues in case he sticks with Semien.  Ew.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

From the land of Pilgrims, Cranberries, Sachems, and Ocean Spray, it’s Middleborough, Massachusetts’ own Sean Newcomb. A true Masshole through and through, over the course of his time in the minors, he’s refused to throw strikes with any regularity. This all changed last week, as Newcomb crushed two XL Great One’s from Dunks, and a marble cruller, before crushing the souls of the Mets. I’ve long followed Newcomb’s career dating back to his high school days at Middleborough. As he’s the rare professional sports product from my corner of the world. After some ups and downs, mostly due to control, or lack there of. Newcomb made his triumphant major league debut a little over a week ago, and in the process looked phenomenal. Flashing control and command he never possessed before. So today, we dig into the second start from the young lefty, at home vs Miami, and Giancarlo. A tough task for the rookie… Oh yeah, then we rank some pitchers.

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When Ryan Zimmerman hits a homer, they should play the Coming to America clip where Murphy says, “In dee face,” at the basketball game.  Speaking of Africa (sentence intro commonly found on fantasy baseball blogs), why is it called Out of Africa if it’s in Africa?  Granted, I’ve never seen that movie, but the one thing I know about it is that it is in Africa!  Straight Outta Compton is in Compton, but they get OUTTA OF COMPTON!  This post is brought to you by Meryl Movie Lovers, or MeMoLos, as they’re commonly referred.  Two more homers for Ryan Zimmerman yesterday, bringing his season total to 19 homers.  Shame I didn’t believe in him (and still don’t).  Why do I have more doubt than Meryl Streep in a habit?  Answer me that, MeMoLos!  He’s 32 years old, and, in his last two years, he had 15 and 16 homers.  In eleven years, he’s only topped 26 homers once.  So, don’t even give me that crap that I should’ve seen this coming.  He’s hitting .372!  Last year, he hit .218 and .249 the year before, and only hit over .300 one year in his career.  He’s not having a career year.  Nope.  He’s combining all of his years together into one year, putting them into a Magic Bullet, pulverizing them for five minutes and drinking it.  And, like Meryl sold French cuisine to an American audience in Julie & Julia, I’m still selling Zimmerman.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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If Tyler Chatwood ($15,300) never had to step foot in Coors Field again, he would probably be contending for the Cy Young every year… ok he wouldn’t be, but thats how good he has been on the road since 2013. Only Clayton Kershaw ($25,200) has a better road ERA during that span. Chatwood has a 2.35 ERA this season so far on the road; now he gets the low hitting Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates ranked 25th or worse in each of the following hitting categories: Runs, HRs, avg, and OPS. So you can say he is set up nicely against that line up. Kershaw is also on the slate and has to go on the road against the defending American League champs. The Cleveland Indians offense has  been horrendous versus LHP (.236 AVG .691 OPS), making Kershaw an automatic play in cash games. There are some nice pitching options that won’t cost you an arm and leg, though, so let’s take a look at the picks…

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Please, blog, may I have some more?