So, how’s everyone holding up without baseball every day?  I don’t know what to do with myself!  Yesterday I wandered into a Starbucks and told the coffeerista about Marcus Stroman for 2018.  Then I sobbed into a cheddar scone until someone asked me to leave.  We’ve gone over the final 2017 fantasy baseball rankings for hitters and the top 20 starters.  This is different than Final Fantasy rankings where you rank Final Fantasy 1 thru Final Fantasy 15.  That’s hardcore nerd shizz!  This is simply fantasy baseball, we’re softcore nerds like Emmanuelle is to porn.  So, there’s no more of these godforsaken recap posts left.  You’re welcome.  I, my over-the-internet friend, will be talking next about 2018 rookies.  Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2017 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

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*fumbles with an envelope, Hillary Swank stands next to me, watching on, embarrassed for me*  And the Teoscar goes to…Teoscar Hernandez!  Hillary Swank leans into the microphone, “Well, he was the only one nominated.”  Ugh, totally unnecessary Swank!  I should’ve pointed out how she was checking out Hugh Jackman’s wife the entire time on stage.  I picked up Teoscar before yesterday’s game for the runs because he was leading off, I never expected such a windfall of gorge.  He went 2-for-5, 4 RBIs with his 6th and 7th homer in only his 73rd at-bat.  That’s 20 hits total for him, with seven going gonzo.  This is better than Million Dollar Baby!  Yeah, I hope Hillary Swank’s Google alerts are going bizzonkers today.  Not ready to announce my love for Teoscar for next year, I am more of an IFP Spirit Awards guy, but you have to grab Teoscar for these final days.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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As the story goes, Daniel Mengden entered the Lion’s Den Friday night with a 6.59 ERA through 17 career major league starts, and somehow left the game with his first career complete game shut out allowing just two hits and striking out seven retiring the last 11 batters in the row for his first win of the year. He looked dominant at times allowing only two base runners in the outing with Philadelphia not being able to manage any hard contact off the young right hander, who’s got a funky handle-bar mustache and an even funkier looking windup/delivery. This was by far the best start of the 24-year old’s young career, and just his second scoreless start in the majors. He added his first career hit as well and scored a run to help his cause. Whata night for the youngster! After struggling with a 6.50 ERA, and 1.61 WHIP through 14 starts last year, and two subpar outings in May/June of this year, Mengden has returned to the rotation in September and now put up back-to-back quality starts including a six inning two earned run performance against the fearsome Astros line up last week. Mengden may not be the safest fantasy option out there on waivers, but the A’s seem to be playing the role of spoiler late in the year and he remains a pitcher available in most leagues. I’d take a flier on Mengden, bible readers know how Daniel fared against the lions, let’s hope he can keep it going as he heads to the Tigers den next week in Detroit.

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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There’s a common term sociologists use called, The Tide of Uze.  Everything that encompasses everyday life is on The Tide of Uze.  Brushing your teeth, walking your dog, Jose Abreu, they’re all on The Tide of Uze.  There’s small pleasures to be found with them, but they’re so consistent they are often lost amongst other more exciting things.  However, this past weekend The Tide of Uze was raised by Irma GAWD!, the fantasy football kickoff and me going to a Dodgers game with Dr. Kenneth Noisewater, a frequent commenter who was in town.  I didn’t rank those per their importance, I’ll leave that to you.  Big weekend for the world, right?  (Yes.) With the Tide of Uze raising, it lifts everything that was floating on its surface, which meant Jose Abreu had a career weekend.  On Saturday, he hit for the cycle, and, not to be outdone, he homered twice on Sunday (2-for-3, 3 RBIs, home run, 30 and 31).  His season numbers are now 85/31/90/.302/1.  All preseason I talked about how I wasn’t getting a 1st baseman in the first two rounds, so I was drafting Abreu everywhere, and I was nervous about it.  Let’s just say I’ve learned to appreciate The Tide of Uze.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend but we are back to reality and have a full slate tonight. Since you are probably tired/hungover sitting at work, I am going to make this quick and easy to read. One Stack option that stands out to me is the LA Angels as they get to face Kendall Graveman tonight. The Angels have made some moves to push for the final Wild Card slot and they have paid off as the Angels have been playing some good baseball as of late. Over the last week the offense has been clicking, hitting .291 and an OPS of .861. They just ripped Graveman recently and I believe it should be a similar fate when they square up tonight. With Mike Trout and Albert Pujols having some serious BvP success, they should both be in your lineup. As well as Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, Kole Calhoun and CJ Cron, they should be able to rack up some points for your line up.

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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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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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I’m going to break this down to you nice and simple like Minnie Pearl would’ve liked it.  Guys that bust and you don’t want next year, you should be rooting for in the 2nd half.  That’s guys that bust, not guys with a bust.  Please, Billy Butler, stop pretending to lactate by dripping milk on your shirt.  The reason you want them to succeed in August and September, because A) They’re prolly on teams that have checked out and are checking on our fantasy football content (Football RCLs sign up today; smooth transition), so no harm, no foul.  B) You want people to get excited about them next March because of their 2nd half, while you ignore them, because you know they’re not good.  Then the cycle starts again.  They draft players that were good in the 2nd half, those players are not good in the 1st half next year, and they check out again.  Rinse, repeat.  C) There’s no C.  Yesterday, Josh Donaldson (2-for-4, 4 RBIs) hit his 14th and 15th homers, and has four homers this month.  Here’s to him helping all of those tenth place teams move up to ninth and exciting everyone again next year!  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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