Please see our player page for Johnny Cueto 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.

Let me get this out of the way: some of these starts below might not even happen. Half of the Marlins are on IVs right now, COVID is about to spread like wildfire through the Cardinals locker room, the Nationals, Blue Jays, Phillies, and Brewers have also had some COVID scares themselves. 

Looking over these pitchers there’s a bunch of quality pitchers who had rough opening starts (Yu Darvish, Charlie Morton, Lucas Giolito, Carlos Martinez) that I’m willing to overlook. Some of them already bounced back in their second starts — but I’m treating these early starts as extended spring training. I know there’s a lot of anxiety and pressure since this is a short season, but just be patient with your pitchers.  

This week I’m ranking these tiers by Animal Crossing villager popularity. (Ask your kids about this one.) 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

“Have I been wrong, hypnotized, paralyzed, by what my eyes have seen,” sang Natalie Merchant the last time I saw her at Lilith Fair. As I lay there, on that hemp blanket, eating a homemade granola bar, I thought, “I’m buying whatever that Merchant is selling.” Sadly, I can’t have my soul enriched during these dastardly times by some female honkeytonks, unless I happen across something between my binge watching of Siesta Key. Then, yesterday, Nate Pearson (5 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 5 Ks) was as good as Natalie Merchant and Siesta Key combined. Yo, my man went from a 99 MPH fastball that had Nats’ hitters bulging their eyes to a backdoor 77 MPH dipsy with poise of a 15-year vet. The 99 MPH fastball is enough, but his secondary command, just dropping pitches in. Go to the top of a mountain and let out a chef’s kiss. This was against the defending champs, and he was like en bee dee. Massively impressed by him during Spring Training in March just off a few clips, but watching him for five innings has me convinced:  He can be this year’s Chris Paddack. He should be owned in 100% of leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Man, how good does it feel to be watching good baseball. I’ve been staying up until 4AM to watch Korean baseball during the quarantine and the MLB withdrawals were real. Watching these MLB players go at it is something special and I’m thankful that we finally get to watch these amazing athletes perform their craft at the highest level. If you’ve been following my work, you probably know where this article is headed. It’s our first streamer article of the season! This is going to be the craziest year in terms of streaming because of the 60-game schedule but that makes picking the right streamers all the more important. Without further ado, let’s get into my favorite streamers for the opening week.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Our long national nightmare is over (except for the actual long national nightmare that isn’t over — sigh, to be a person with parenthetical blindness and not have to read this caveat)! We did it, boys and five girl readers. We f*cking did it! Not us, per se. We didn’t do shizz, except draft some baseball players for fantasy. But, ya know what, that’s enough for me! See, with lowered goals and expectations, you’re never disappointed. It’s a zen thing; you wouldn’t understand. It was a mere nine months ago when we started talking about sleepers and rankings and…How old am I now?

Well, whatever, baseball is back and that’s all that matter. Singing like an absolute loon, “Baseball’s back and I want to get married — hey nah, hey nah — baseball’s back!” And, now in my mind, I’m married to Giancarlo Stanton. Ask yourself why you didn’t send us a wedding gift. Selfish much? Of course, Opening Day couldn’t have happened in any other way in 2020. It had to be met with cold-ass reality, which why Juan Soto tested positive for Covid. It sucks, Mr. Obvious said, but it’s also a reminder of what this year will be. It’s going to be waiver wire pickups, the Streamonator, the Hittertron and playing of matchups. If you’re curious and want to torture yourself, Juan Soto fell to 179th overall in the final 2020 preseason rankings. Stepping in to replace Juan Soto will be Andrew Stevenson, the James Spader of replacements. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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:

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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. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Maybe the real-life baseball season has stopped, but that doesn’t mean fantasy baseball has to. It’s all we have these days, really. Fantasy sports while we fantasize about real sports coming back. I feel bad for my fellow fantasy hockey folks – I get the feeling it ain’t coming back, even if regular hockey does. I’m not about that fantasy basketball life (I dabbled in my younger years – Tracy McGrady anyone? Had to have him on all my teams), but I fear it’s the same fate. Only fantasy football is unscathed…so far. Wild stuff happening on that front, too. Brady to the Bucs? Da BUCS?! DAFUQ! Gurley and Newton RELEASED?! Hopkins TRADED?! Maybe Watson, too?! Madness, I say!

Anyway. This is a fantasy baseball article. Almost forgot. It’s an important year for the fine ladies and gents here at Razzball: the inaugural season of RazzSlam! Big shoutout to the NFBC peeps for hosting it. Give ’em a follow on the Twitter at @TheNFBC. I had the honor of being accepted into League 2 (of 18). Some scrub ass writer for CBS is in it. Big deal. I’m kidding, he’ll probably whoop my ass.

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So, usually I have an idea if a team is good, and, if I don’t know that, I have some idea when the season will begin, but welcome to the year 2020 when all is unknown. I’m currently typing this with my hands tied behind my back so I don’t accidentally touch my facet–Face! Damn it, this typing with my nose is more difficult than I thought it would beet–Damn! This is giving ‘hunt and peck’ typing a new definition. More like ‘hen and peck’ amiright? Don’t answer me because you might accidentally transmit saliva into the air. Thanks, and remember, SOCIAL DISTANCING!!!, which is what I scream at Cougs every time she comes within six feet of me. Makes for interesting sleeping as our bed is about six feet in width. So, the RazzSlam is a Best Ball tourney with Points scoring. Everyone likely knows what a Best Ball league is, but, if you don’t, it’s when you draft a team and the computer manages it for you by choosing who are the best players, and you get those stats. It’s basically one fantasy league removed from the robots taking over and killing us all. Well, the last laugh is on you robots, there’s a virus beating you to the punch! Anyway, here’s my RazzSlam, 12 team draft recap:

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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?