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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Rich Hill threw a perfect game yesterday — he pitched into the tenth inning and didn’t get a blister.  Are we measuring perfect games for Rich Hill differently now?  I thought that was his standard.  How about this?  Rich Hill threw a perfect game through nine innings if Logan Forsythe would’ve stayed down on a grounder to third, which leaves Forsythe with nothing but hindsight.  The irony is thick like Nicki Minaj.  Yesterday, Rich Hill went 9 IP, 1 ER, 1 hit, zero walks, 10 Ks, lowering his ERA to 3.32; his only blemish was a tenth-inning, lead-off, walk-off home run by Josh Harrison, oh, that spoil sport.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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.

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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.

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On Saturday night, Bryce Harper lunged for first base, slipped and his leg went the wrong direction.  Like two white guys meeting, one goes for the handshake and one goes for the hug and it just goes awkwardly wrong in every way.  Atticus Finch had much more success stepping on his white base.  Owning Harper on multiple teams, I looked at the latest news Saturday night, and I saw:

Devastated.  Crushed.  C’mon, thesaurus, give me another one.  Thankfully, it was revealed as the best possible outcome for him, a bone bruise.  Still, not a great outcome for us with him on our fantasy teams, since he will be out for the better part of the rest of the season.  Don’t worry, I have Jose Pirela!  *sticks head in oven, puts on The Bell Jar book on tape*  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, Joey Votto went 2-for-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs with his 30th homer as he hits .314 with a .438 OBP.  Not only is Votto hitting for a high average, but he’s also hitting for power, and, you kinda get the impression, if he wanted, he could hit for a higher average with no power, or a lower average with more power, or no average, no power and pitch.  Personal Anecdote Alert!  Fast forward a blurb if you’re not interested.  When I was in my teens, I went to baseball summer camp.  The guy who ran it was a Yankees’ scout, so he’d have players come in to teach us fundamentals.  One guest was Mike Pagliarulo.  I know, I know, this is like the opening monologue before someone sings Springsteen’s Glory Days at karaoke.  Any hoo!  Pags was the best hitter I ever saw within three feet of me.  One kid there was a minor league pitcher, and Pags was so dramatically better than him, it was obvious the kid would never go anywhere.  If Pags wanted to hit a home run to right against this kid, he did.  Up the middle?  No problem.  Home run to left?  Sure, why not?  So, my point (!), against this minor league pitcher, Pags did what I imagine Votto does against major leaguers.  Votto is my Pags of the majors.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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.

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We have a bit of a light lineup this week due to some off days on Monday and Thursday, so Week 19 will be more of a challenge to find value among the Two-Start Starters. It sounds like Max Scherzer is going to be healthy enough to go and make his two starts, but that only helps out Scherzer owners and not the rest of us who are looking for some available value.

Even Streamonator is down on Week 19, as there weren’t any available starters owned in less than 75% of RCLs with a positive dollar value. There is one possible exception to that statement*, but we’re not going to let statistically-based advice from Streamonator stop us from rolling the dice this week, right?

There are, however, a few starters in our Replicas that I would roll with this week who might be available in your leagues. It will likely be harder to grab at least two of these starters in an RCL where waivers and ownership are a bit more savage, but all three are owned in less than 75% of ESPN leagues.

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Ozzies sure seem to always be MIs.  Oswaldo Arcia must not have been allowed to change his name, he should’ve switched with Orlando.  I’m at the waiver wire like this, “Go shopping…Go shopping…Let’s all go shopping…Go shopping…”  Ya know what?  I’m just gonna leave this here…

I’m at the Albies Square Mall!
I’m at the Albies Square Mall!
I’m at the Albies Square Mall!
I’m at the Albies Square Mall!

You have to love Biz’s way with words.  Can only be described as slow and methodical.  Ozzie Albies can best be described as mini-Altuve.  What’s he a dwarf?  You little person, Ozzie Albies Square Mall?  He has a ton of speed (70 score), and makes contact, while his power has made serious gains.  Or GAINZ, according to Endorphin Ralph.  He’s a must grab in all leagues, and could be a top 25 fantasy player for dynasty leagues.  This little guy is big-time.  Unlike Ozzie Guillen and Ozzy Osbourne, this Ozzie will use his bat for something useful vs slapping and biting.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Maybe Carlos Rodon is a bit more high, ahhh, ummm, profile than the usual pitching, ahhh, ummm, profile candidate I cover. After all, at points over the last few years this is a guy who’s been universally owned. Things have definitely been a different story in 2017, as he missed all of April and May, and most of June recovering from a biceps injury. Following two strong starts upon his return, we’ve seen “Bad Carlos” over the last three turns. The former third overall pick has been steady, but inconsistent throughout his first two seasons in the big leagues. Apt to spells of poor control and command, that typically led to some ugly pitching lines. Is that what’s happening here? Simply a case of “Bad Carlos”? Good or bad, something has obviously been amiss the past few starts, let’s take a look under the hood and see what’s going on. Are these problems fixable or is there a lingering injury? On Sunday Rodon faced the red hot Indians and my guess is you already know what happened. Here’s what I saw.

Please, blog, may I have some more?