Please see our player page for German Marquez 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.

Dudes and five lady dudes, pitching is going to be a mess in 2020. Pitching is usually where I excel at pinpointing guys to draft and avoid, and right now I’m looking at an array of hot takes: “Top starters are more valuable! “Top middle relievers are more valuable!” “Tops are bottoms, and I’m not talking about baseball anymore!” I can’t tell hot takes from shiitakes. Usually I’m able to say, “With 100% confidence, I would not draft a top starter.” This year, if you’re saying anything with 100% confidence, you’re lying. Seriously, don’t trust anyone who is confident in predicting anything in a 60-game season. We’ve never seen anything like this and may never again. Embrace it? Sure. But “Be Water” like Bruce Lee said, and adapt. With so few innings to prepare for the season in Summer Camp, will top starters even be ready to go? That alone should shut up the “You need top starters” people. With so few innings in the actual season, that should also shut up the “Don’t pay for starters this year” people. Instead, let’s just break down the categories, and see if we can’t just win those. Laura also just gave you a solid look at possible ERA strategy. So, with a 60-game season, what is a fantasy baseball strategy for ERA & WHIP?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

[places soapbox on ground, stands tall]

Starting pitchers are more important this year. But you should still take hitters first. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

For most fantasy league formats, you are chasing wins in 2020. Thus, WAGNOF (Wins Ain’t Got No Face). With starting pitchers, you’re looking for #1/#2 starters on good teams, who will pitch a lot of innings and contribute to Wins, ERA, WHIP, and K. Relievers with great K/9–even middle relievers–will help immensely with ERA, WHIP, and K. But wins? Welcome to the Twilight Zone. Whereas wins used to the be the domain of starters (and Twins’ middle relievers), we’re already getting reports of top pitchers having inning limits and pitch counts. So, we’ll be seeing a lot of wins going to middle relievers, which makes it much more difficult to predict that category (unless you’re a lifelong Twins fan, holla!). If you don’t believe me on this, then take the advice from three-time Trout Fishing Champion Grey Albright. If you’re in a league that uses Quality Starts, the top three tiers of pitchers are even more valuable because you’ll be relying on pitchers who stay in games AND who don’t give up earned runs. The coronavirus and the style of play in 2020 placed a high scarcity on pitchers who meet these requirements. That said, crafty managers can combine mid-tier pitchers with relievers who provide elite ratios and make an effective pitching staff that will win leagues. So, let’s teach you to be a crafty manager.

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If MLB is actually able to pull off an abbreviated 2020, I’ll have four or five drafts/auctions the week of July 23rd. Right now, even though I’m not planning on veering far from my normal draft plan, I do realize that some major adjustments in strategy may need to be made for what will certainly be a bizarre season, and I’m still pondering potential tweaks to my game plan in case I have any brainstorms about what might give me an edge in 2020.  One thing I have decided to do is to pay a little less attention to ratios and more to counting stats this year, assuming they’ll be slightly more predictable with such a small sample size of a season.

Speaking of ratio stats that may be harder to control than ever this year, a while back I saw a suggestion somewhere on Fangraphs or a similar website mentioning the notion of punting ERA as a strategy for this season.  There was no follow up in terms of how one might go about doing so, and it seemed like a crazy idea to me, since punting ERA without destroying WHIP seemed impossible even from an on-paper standpoint.  But in an effort to at least consider out of the box ideas this year, I decided to follow up the thought by trying to put together a pitching staff that I felt had a solid chance to be relatively successful once I didn’t take ERA into account at all, largely using last year’s performance as a guide.  Even though prior year’s performance isn’t necessarily an indicator of what will happen in the present even in normal times, looking at things through this lens has, if nothing else, revealed some numbers that surprised me a bit. The bottom line is, if I’ve decided that I’m not going to put as much stock as usual into ratio categories like ERA — and I think I have — then I may have discovered a few starting pitchers that I’ll be more interested in drafting for 2020 than I would have guessed.

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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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“Crisco, Bardol, Vagisil: any one of em will give you another two to three inches drop off your curveball.”

This immortal moment comes courtesy of Eddie Harris in the transcendent classic, Major League

In this exchange with young fireballer Rick Vaughn, Harris articulates the typical path for a pitcher. 

“Haven’t got an arm like yours. Gotta put anything on it I can find.” 

Wily oldsters pick up tricks like Robert Kraft to help themselves keep up in a young man’s game, and they seem to be keeping (and/or setting) the pace better than ever. Blending the fire of youth with the wisdom of experience is no small task, but we’ll try to do just that here today, synthesizing short and long term value to build rankings prescient enough to help any dynasty leaguer build his own double three-peat.

So throw me a line if you’re seeing an angle I’m not. This project is on-going and stretches all the way back to early March when I met some oldster moving plutonium out of the trunk of his DeLorian.

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It’s Day “Thinking about Delilah of Hey There Delilah meeting Virginia from Meet Virginia and what they’d say to each other” of the Quarantine. You know the normal stuff you think about it. The top 60 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball were updated with new projections for a 100-game season. With this series, I will take a look around the 2020 fantasy baseball rankings to see if there’s any differences now that we might only play a 100-game season. Projections have been updated on all my positional rankings. Anyway, here’s thoughts on the top 60 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball with the new Corona timeline:

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Best part is that if you shake anyone’s hand, the cocktail in the title can be used as a disinfectant. So (with forty-six oh’s), we could have baseball. Just in Arizona and Florida. That was the news reports on Friday. By today that news will likely change. Tomorrow, we’ll hear something else. On Wednesday, well, on Wednesday, we’ll hear there’s one place Coronavirus still hasn’t affected. The MLB season can be played out in full. Allow me to set the scene:  A manager comes out for a mound visit, “Just trust your stuff. Please. It’s freakin’ freezing,” as baseball plays out its 162-game season in Antartica. With the Florida/Arizona schedule the MLB has floated, the Mets will face the Astros, Nats, Cards and Marlins. El oh–oh, eff me and my Pete Alonso shares. “Hello, I’m Gary Cohen, and the Mets are coming off a 15-minute road trip to Ft. Lauderdale where they saw Scherzer, Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. Now they return home for two 7-inning doubleheaders vs. Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, then it’s off to see the Cards and Jack Flaherty.” Luckily, I doubt it happens. I mean, maybe. Right now, everything’s on the table, which is a good sign that baseball will happen. But everyone in Florida and Arizona? I guess it’s not absolutely crackers, but I don’t see why playing there is any better than just playing in empty stadiums in their home cities. Is it more manageable because everyone’s in one place? Travel is not an issue for MLB teams with private jets. Long-term residences in Arizona or Florida is easier? I guess, maybe, but if teams have people come in to those residences to clean the rooms, are the maids tested? Are the Jersey Mike’s employees tested from where Mike Trout ordered his subs? Because you know homeboy loves the roast beef sub and calls himself Jersey Mike. My point is players will be at risk in Florida or Arizona. So, a Grapefruit/Cactus League season is interesting, but doesn’t solve all or really any issues. Though, I do wish I drafted German Marquez in one league with the thought he won’t have one game in Coors. Oh, and Nolan Arenado outside of Coors becomes like a 4th or 5th rounder. Anyway, here’s what else I saw for 2020 fantasy baseball:

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For those of you familiar with online auction draft rooms, you know the constant refrain to which the article title refers. Waiting for that final, SOLD, to make sure you can mark the player off your list. Well, I was invited to join the CBS NL auction league hosted by Scott White with many names that you’re likely more familiar with than mine.

Spreadsheets on Spreadsheets

Let me start by plugging Rudy’s tools as part of the Razzball subscription. The War Room alone is worth the price of the subscription and is something I take into every roto or categories draft. Grey can give you the hard sell over in his write up though.

I combine Rudy’s War Room with my auction values. I think of auction values in tiers of players with a range of dollar amounts for that tier. If you have a dollar values assigned to tiers rather than specific player values, you can wait for the value or anticipate the cliff coming in that tier rather than being strict on a specific number.  There is, of course, that delicate balancing act between not overspending early when everyone is flush with money and waiting too long while missing out on all of the top options.

Before entering the auction, I lay out the positions on a spreadsheet and input various dollar amounts for different spending in the auction. It helps me to see what rosters may look like if I take a $45 Christian Yelich vs a $30 Pete Alonso. How spending various amounts at hitting vs pitching can adjust a team’s construction.

It’s nothing fancy, just an Excel spreadsheet using the sum function at the end of each column.

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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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As someone who lives in Colorado and considers the Rockies “My Team,” I’m ecstatic to get to write their team preview. With that said, I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a fan because how the hell can anyone be a fan of the Rockies? It’s fun to watch these guys mash baseballs in Coors Field but it’s embarrassing to watch these pitchers crap the bed year after year. That’s simply the nature of playing in Coors Field every year and it makes for some weird baseball. That will surely be a major focus of this preview, so, let’s go ahead and get into it!

Please, blog, may I have some more?