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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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?

The Cleveland Indians may never lose again! Friday night the Tribe won their 16th straight game, the longest streak in baseball this season, and the longest winning streak since the Oakland A’s won 20 in a row back in 2002 (and that team had Jermaine Dye and Chris Pratt!) Kind of gives you that good old fashioned hometown community pow-wow feeling. Relax Isaiah Thomas, you’re a Clevelander now. Regardless! Mike Clevinger has been a big part of the winning streak and he continues to pitch well winning his third straight start Friday night going six innings, giving up just three hits and three walks while striking out seven for his ninth win of the year. In his past three starts, Mike has gone 18 innings, allowing just 10 hits and no runs, with a 22/7 K/BB ratio lowering his ERA from 3.97 to 3.30 in that stretch. Clevinger Assemble! Mike is available in little over half of fantasy leagues, and he’s getting hot at just the right time for playoff stetch. He gets a nice home start versus the Detroit Tigers next week and after limiting them to three hits last week I will definitely be starting him there, especially if they’re going for some kind of silly 21 game win streak record by that point! Or did I just jinx by writing all this? Whatever! Pick up all the Indians! And put all your fantasy faith on Believeland right now, folks, you need to ride this magical streak while you can because the Indians keep winning! Let’s give them the chop!

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

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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September 1st, playoff races begin to solidify, wins are objectively worth more than they are in April (it’s true, just ask every stupid MVP winner who won it on the basis of a strong September instead of the better player). The Dodgers are chasing the ghost of the 1998 New York Yankees. The waiver trade deadline passed and Justin Verlander got traded to the loaded Astros, Brandon Phillips got traded to the Angels (the same quality of player, obviously). Albert Pujols is continuing his quest to be the single worst player ever to have 100 RBI, and also, Albert Pujols is extremely bad (-1.8 WAR) and is signed through 2021. At what point do the Angels just say enough is enough and waive him? If the Angels miss the playoffs by 1 game (or 2, considering that he’s likely to finish with at least a -2 WAR), do they then blame a “lack of execution” or would they blame the decision to play Albert Pujols for 150 games – again, he has a -1.8 WAR, a career worst strikeout rate (15.2%), a career worst swing & miss rate (8.8%), a career worst swing rate (47.7%), a career low walk rate (5.9%) and .237 BABIP. Further, one can’t really say that the BABIP seems low and is likely to rebound because one has to keep in mind that he’s Albert Pujols with foot, leg and knee problems and has run a low BABIP for 5 years now – the .237 is low but not that low for current Albert Pujols. All of this has been a long way of saying that Albert Pujols should not be on the field for the Angels the rest of the year, and perhaps not on the field again, period. I can even make that long-winded rant DFS relevant, as the Angels have one of the best matchups (as will be discussed later), but despite this, do not play Albert Pujols, at least until his salary drops to something like $2,200, because there isn’t a planet where a -1.8 WAR, 74 wRC+, 1B is worth $3,100 .

On to the picks once Albert Pujols drops to $2,000

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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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Greetings from beautiful New Jersey. If you say otherwise, as someone born and raised in New Jersey I am legally obligated to fight you with my shirt off. I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules. Even though I am just here visiting, these laws are still binding. Strange, I know. But true. Very true. Ask Grey if you don’t believe me.

Given how the first 20 weeks have gone, putting two Dodgers pitchers at the top of this list just seems like a tease. We know what is going to happen by Monday, so why do we torture ourselves? If we have learned anything this season, it’s that Dave Roberts hates every single one of us and does not want us to be happy. Luckily, both are owned in 100% of RCLs, so we can safely ignore them without feeling too guilty. 

As for value choices this week, Streamonator likes three starting pitchers who are owned in less than 75% of Razzball Commenter Leagues for a positive value. The value choices for this week are:

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On the ones and twos, it’s not DJ Khaled, with a cigar in his baby’s mouth, dropping another one in a major key.  It’s yo’ boy, DJ LeMahieu (4-for-5, 4 runs, 1 RBI), the French-sounding EDM mixmaster, spinning his wheels around the bases.  Yo, DJ LeMahieu, what you got to say about that?  “Pouvez-vous chicken francaise?”  Yo, you sound like me pretending to be French!  Next up throwing down, it’s Mark Reynolds (3-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBIs and his 25th homer), the man, the myth, the Mini Donkey.  All brays to you!  Then how about Trevor Story (3-for-4, 6 RBIs and his 17th and 18th homers) finding his way into back-to-back home run games, like succinylcholine finds its way into back-to-back Forensic Files.  Then there’s Carlos Gonzalez…Actually, you still suck!  So, the Rockies, scored (fill-in-number, too high to count) last night, and Jon Gray did all he had to do — 6 IP, 2 ER, 7 baserunners, 6 Ks, which in Coors is all you can ask.  His peripherals are gorgeous — 8.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.59 xFIP, but something I failed to remember this past preseason, it’s still a struggle to start him in Coors.  I mean, shizz gets ugly fast like a reality TV person at a reunion show.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?