Please see our player page for Joe Musgrove 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.

[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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When assessing starting pitchers, savvy fantasy players look at a wide variety of measures. Velocity, stuff, BABIP, Statcast, 2019 performance…balancing out all of the available metrics to determine cost (draft slot, $ value) is the name of the game.

Today we’re going to look at a metric I rarely see discussed in the pre-season: strength of schedule (SoS). In-season, SP matchups are gold, whether you’re playing DFS or streaming in season-long. But before the year, I rarely see analysis go any deeper than AL-vs.-NL comparisons. This makes partial sense because we don’t know what a rotation will look like beyond the next week, making projecting out specific matchups impossible.

At the team level, however, we can get get a pretty good handle on who may have advantageous matchups and who will have a tough road in front of them. More specifically, we’re interested in the extremes: How frequently will each team face really tough matchups, or really easy ones? These are actionable (start/sit decisions). For the rest – the fat part of the bell curve – we’ll mostly be making decisions based on individual SP talent, not matchup.

One other note: in a 60-game season, each SP only gets 10-12 starts, meaning SoS will be more important than normal. In a reduced season, there isn’t time for the schedule to balance out. If a Rays pitcher has to face the Yankees three times, that’s 25-30% of their 2020 season stats, and you may want to downgrade them on draft day.

I’m basing this analysis on the proposed breakdown of the 60-game schedule found on MLB.com:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Today concludes the fantasy baseball sleepers‘ portion of our program. *nudges homeless woman sleeping on my couch that I tried to get Cougs to agree to a threesome with* No more sleepers, Francine. Meh, I’ll let her rest. Like the outfielders to target, this post is necessary. You need to target the right names at the end of the draft for starters. Last year’s starters to target post included Kenta Maeda, Chris Paddack and Brandon Woodruff. They’ve moved way up ranks this year with one making the jump to my top 20 starters, and, well, can you believe ESPN ranked Paddack 263rd overall last year? Yeah, well, Woodruff was unranked by Yahoo and ESPN. As with other target posts, these guys are being drafted after the top 200 overall. A quick aside portion of the program, as for the coronavirus aka Covid-19 aka “The Disease That Apparently Hates Baseball,” I’m not pretending it’s not going on, but some people still have drafts, and if I liked these guys before the virus started karaoke’ing to Public Enemy’s Shut ‘Em Down, I still like them. There are upcoming RCL drafts, and I plan on doing another NFBC league for s’s and g’s to pass time until the National Pastime returns. Is there more interest from you in another NFBC draft vs. me vs. youse? Let me know in the comments. (Side note within side note:  If NFBC is still doing new leagues, I’m hearing conflicting reports.) Also, all Steamer hitter projections have been updated to 100 games, and all 2020 fantasy baseball rankings have been updated. Anyway, here’s some starters to target for 2020 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

B_Don and Donkey Teeth are joined by Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) of Pitcher List. We ask Alex about his pitching strategy and how it changes in his various industry leagues.

The guys talk about the different strategies being utilized for the RazzSlam, as Alex fits closer to the Donkey Teeth/Grey build than what B_Don tried. Later on, we discuss how the approach in the 15 team snake darft TGFBI and the 15 team LABR mixed auction before breaking down his teams. DT connects with Alex over their shared belief that a Gallo/Gary Sanchez build won’t tank their batting average.

We ask Alex specifically about some of his pitchers and what we can expect from guys like: David Price, Zack Wheeler, Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and more.

B_Don and DT ask Alex about his Jameson Taillon interview from how he was able to reach out to some of the more interesting points from the interview. Cannot say it enough, if you enjoy pitching discussions, it’s a must listen.

As Taillon works his way back, we talk about which spring training stats might matter. While you’re stuck at home avoiding coronavirus, you might as well listen to some baseball talk.

Side note: Here’s the chart I discuss during the podcast for 2019 spring training velocity increases.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Pirates have become one of my favorite teams for whatever reason but this thing could get ugly. This roster has gotten rid of players like Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows since the beginning of last season and it’s left this roster looking like a dumpster fire. That doesn’t even take into consideration that Jameson Taillon is injured too, leaving the Buccos in big trouble. I’m sorry Greg Brown but that Jolly Roger is going to stay put a ton this season.

If you have any comments or questions, reach me here or on Twitter @Bartilottajoel

Also, if you want to see some other team previews or my bust picks, click here!

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

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Our 2020 Razzball leagues are in signup mode. Robot in Signup Mode, “I am entering contest to win Razzball t-shirt even though I’ve never seen a robot wear a shirt. Starting….” The Robot begins to peter out, “…New…Fad.” Oh no, the Razzball Robot has died! *screaming to heavens* What hath you forsaken me?! Heavens, “Focus on the ESPN rankings, you moron.” Wow, the heavens do not take well to histrionics. So, this year’s ESPN rankings are a tad goofier than I remember them, but maybe I just got smarter — Smarterened? Smartered? Became the smarts? Meh, I don’t know. What I do know is ESPN has Tim Anderson ranked 143rd overall and that made me cackle like a hyena for so long a group of white-jacketed asylum workers showed up at my house and tried to cart me away. Me singing to the tune of Pharcyde, “Can’t keep gettin’ carted awaaaaaaaaaay…Can’t keep gettin’ carted awaaaaaaaaaay…Can’t keep gettin’ carted awaaaaaaaaaay…” Any hoo! I’m clutchin’ my pearls like a Barbara Bush hologram and about to take out some ‘perts! *slowly, menacingly sharpens index finger for more incisive typing* I’m about to cut up somebody with words! Now let’s open a window and defenestrate ESPN’s 2020 fantasy baseball rankings. To the tune of Major Tom, I call this Major Dumb:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Before the start of the 2019 season, there was an article posted on MLB.com labeling the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation as possibly the most underrated in all of baseball. It highlighted Jameson Taillon as an emerging ace, with Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove showing great potential, and a full season of Chris Archer, who was ready to fix his 2018 struggles. It also mentioned Nick Kingham, Mitch Keller, and Jordan Lyles as great backend options. Unfortunately, we all know how this story ends. Taillon hurt his arm, Williams, Lyles, and Archer both posted ERAs over 5.00, Keller’s ERA was over 7 in his debut, and Steven Brault was their 2nd best pitcher. Yikes. Even Musgrove, who had a great season in his own right, posted an ERA of 4.49 and struck out less than a batter per inning, which isn’t great for fantasy purposes. Overall, the Pirates’ starters as a whole posted a combined ERA of 5.40; the 5th worst in baseball, and 2nd worst in the NL, only ahead of the Rockies.

The Pirates as a whole right now are a bit of a joke, and as a Reds fan it brings me great joy and pleasure to say that. There’s obviously some fantasy value in their lineup, with guys like Josh Bell, Brayan Reynolds, and Kevin Newman just to name a few, but what about their pitching, which was horrible in 2019?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hiyo, whaddup, it’s ya boy, Grey Albright, the King of SWING! SWING, which abbreviates to Swiss National Guard. See, I got this certificate with my Swatch watch–Any hoo!  Today is the top 60 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball.  You think we’re late into the 2020 fantasy baseball rankings here, but, in this post alone, you might be able to put together a pitching staff. So, let’s do this! Here’s Steamer’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. All projections listed are mine and I mention where I see tiers starting and stopping. Anyway, here’s the top 60 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?