What is up people! It’s Monday afternoon for most of you, and that case of the Mondays has you thinking about the next worst thing in your life. No, not the death of your dog, Peaches. Yes, that’s it! The state of your fantasy baseball pitching roster! It’s beer thirty somewhere, so crack a cold one, and let’s explore the exploding world of starting pitching in the third installment of the Top 100 Starting Pitchers series!
Live for today. That’s what they tell me. “They” are BASE jumpers, so I’m not listening to them, which is why I’m living in a bubble with the NBA players. “Hey, LeBron, where can I get some bubble tea?” “Ah, man, I hear ya, players be gossiping like crazy.” “What are you talking about? I want boba.” So, the Marlins vs. Orioles and Yankees vs. Phils had to be canceled due to an outbreak within the Marlins’ clubhouse. The Marlins couldn’t play back in Florida vs. the O’s, and might’ve infected the Phils’ visiting clubhouse, so the Yankees weren’t going in there. All in all, a totally well-functioning pandemic. By which I mean, it’s terrible for us, but this virus is doing well for itself. “Manfred, man” hasn’t been uttered so much since “Blinded By The Light” was a hit in the 70’s. Now PPD stands for Pandemic Please Desist. Right now, the MLB is waging an age-old war: Everyone’s safety vs. Capitalism. Not to impersonate the Garbage Pail Kid, Nihilistic Ned, but capitalism usually wins that. Of course, don’t misunderstand my glibness for not caring (that sounds like a Common lyric); I’m just trying to be real with you. As for fantasy, I moved all Marlins, Orioles, Yankees and Phils out of my lineups until further notice, and tried to bench all Marlins in my weekly leagues. As they say, WHEEEE!!! Again, “they” are BASE jumpers. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
“But wait! The season has already begun!” Razzball nation cries out.
Yes good people — but many teams didn’t announce their starting rotations until yesterday — and some still haven’t! So there’s going to be a bit of extrapolation on my part trying to predict exactly who is going to be starting, on what day, against which team, with what weapon and in what room. The San Francisco Giants for example have a game in a little over 5 hours as I’m writing this and the scheduled starter is that young, fire-balling, lefty from Korea: TBD.
If you’ve found Razzball you know what to expect from a weekly two-start pitcher column. Every Saturday morning I’ll highlight the starting pitchers who have two starts in an upcoming week and I’ll rank ‘em and tier ‘em. Tier 1 — you can basically ignore reading this section each week. If you need me to tell you to start Gerrit Cole for both games of his two-start week — you don’t deserve Razzball’s content! But tier 2 through 5 is where your money is made, your bread is buttered and your week is won — well maybe not tier 5. Tier 5 is not for the faint of heart. That’s where your money is lost, your bread is burnt and your week is lost.
As the season progresses I’ll be able to also recommend/reject certain pitchers based on their match-ups and stadiums. Again — for your top tier pitchers, this won’t matter. But German Marquez against the Dodgers in Coors Field? Maybe leave him on your bench for that match-up. Unfortunately, this early in the season, I can make predictions on who I think will be a tough offense to face — the Marlins are atop the NL East standings so who knows what will happen by week 5?
One last thing to keep in mind — some teams will be implementing bullpen games. I won’t be including these in the two-start rankings. One or two innings pitched does not really constitute a “start” in my eyes.
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?
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.
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.
You ever draft, like, twelve teams and have eleven teams that are all very similar and one team that is nothing like the other teams? This, here, is that other team. In theory, this team could be my one good team and the other eleven could be garbage, but I sure hope that’s not the case. I started this draft like every other league this offseason — by taking Pete Alonso in the 2nd round. At that point, this team veered into a different direction to never return. For those not in the know, it’s a weekly, 15-team, 5×5, two-catcher league that lasts for 50 rounds and there’s no waivers. NFBC has decided to cut off new slow draft leagues like this one, so I don’t think we’re doing another one this year. Sorry, I wanted to do one more league too. I will now put on The Knack and change the words in my head to My Corona. Anyway, here’s my NFBC draft recap:
Welcome to the 2020 Razzball Team Previews! (Our “2020” comes with more Jay and less Barbara Walters!) (That joke is probably older than you!) Sorry for all the parentheses and exclamation points, I just get so excited when I think about Barbara Walters, and don’t even get me started on Hugh Downs… Regardless, here, you’ll find everything you need to know about each team to get yourself ready for the upcoming fantasy baseball season, Razz-style. So while you’re stretching your lats and relearning calculus to get that upper hand on your fantasy peers, why not also check out what the Padres have in store for you and your fantasy team? (I’m sure it’s postpartum depression, but hey! “Life isn’t as sweet without the sour.” I’m pretty sure that’s what Wil Myer’s spirit animal told him.)
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:
For some of you too young to remember (ya know, all of you 4-year-olds reading a fantasy baseball blog), Jose Reyes sat out after a 1st inning single in order to win a batting title in 2011. A weasel move if there ever was one. It’s like sleeping with Kate Hudson, Kate Upton and Kate Beckinsale then declaring you’re off the market for life because you’ve got the Triple Kate Crown. Not even trying for Kate Bush, Kate Gosselin or a Kate Spade handbag. You sold yourself short, just like Jose Reyes. Well, yesterday was, well, have I said ‘well’ yet, well, um, well, Mike Minor (8 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 12 baserunners, 9 Ks, ERA at 3.59) got 200 Ks on the season. He did. There’s no denying it, but here’s the path he took: He gave up five runs, didn’t look great, was at 117 pitches and came out for the 8th inning because he needed one more K for 200. Much to his chagrin, he threw a 1-2-3 8th inning on three pitches. So, would he come out for the 9th? You betcha, home slice! Skullduggery was afoot! He got another out, then a two-strike count to Chris Owings, when Owings popped up to Ronald Guzman in foul territory. Guzman, knowing Minor needed another K for 200, dropped the pop-up and his dugout cheered. Baseball: team sport. Then, on the next pitch, he struck out Chris Owings and got his 200th K on an 86 MPH winded-as-all-get-out fastball that was called a change with an eye roll on the 126th pitch. So, does this make Minor as bad as Reyes? Much worse? Or better because he was at least trying to do more? No one will ever be as bad as Jose Reyes! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball: