To anyone from Southeastern Massachusetts my title means something to you. If you’re anything like me it signifies the first time in your life you were severely disappointed. I can still remember packing into my parent’s station wagon with another family my parents were friendly with. We were headed to the “World Famous King Richard’s Faire“. Six year old Ralph couldn’t believe I was headed to THE fair of THE King Richard. I mean he was the best king ever, and here I am headed to his fair! Me, lowly 6 year old Ralph with a golden bowl cut! Welp, much like everything else in life since, it was a massive disappointment. What was supposed to be a day of jousts, knights, kings and princesses, quickly turned into reality. That reality was drunk bikers with swords, mutton, and the inescapable smell of feces and urine. The strangest part is it smelt just as much like urine as it did poop. It was as if the two smells were competing for dominance, each pushing itself to it’s limits but neither overtaking the other. Needless to say I never went back. I could have, but I did better things with my time like drinking or masturbating. What does this have to do with Garrett Richards and his most recent start? Well let’s just say I was excited, only to be disappointed. That’s my big market tease, trust me you’re bound to be disappointed…

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Greetings and welcome back to the Mike Maher Hurricane Irma Shelter. My apologies for taking last week off, but it seems like I got out of South Florida just in time. I am now safely in the Pocono Mountains, where hurricanes dare not stray. Blizzards, on the other hand…

Hopefully, you all survived a week without me, especially as rosters expanded and probable pitcher lists were thrown further into confusion. This is the time of the year where it really gets dicey. We are all either in the home stretch or are in the playoffs in H2H leagues, while daily lineups and probable pitchers are more unpredictable than ever. Aces and top hitters for teams with guaranteed roster spots are getting extra rest now that each team has roughly 115 players available for each game. It’s not just Dusty Baker and Dave Roberts making our lives difficult anymore. Now, it’s all managers.

These two-start starters lists, regardless of where you look each week, are never going to be 100% accurate. Too much can change throughout the week and even over the weekend. These are just projections based on recent history and how the schedules line up. This week, multiply that by about a gajillion. If expanding rosters (and bullpens) weren’t enough to throw things off, Hurricane Irma and her friends are making sure to take care of the rest.

This week more than ever, you will need to double and triple check these starters on Sunday night and Monday morning. Some are all but guaranteed to change between now and then. Now, for the value picks from Streamonator this week:

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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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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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Clearly, the Razzball Vulcan Mind Meld is complete: just as the Mustached One put up a post addressing rookies, Dr. Easy and I had begun to wonder how the current crop is actually doing. We combed through the Razzball Season-to-Date Player Rater (STD PR) to see who’s living up to their hype. Who’s floundering in the face of big-league hitting or pitching? Who’s doing better than you think they are? Who’s doing worse? Why did basically no one draft Aaron Judge in the Razzball Commenter Leagues? We need answers! To get them, once more unto the Player Rater breach we go, my friends!

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Allow me to paint a visual metaphor.  A vetaphor.  The entire league’s pitching is cornered on the grounds of a wildlife preserve.  A tiger, we’ll call him Blister, stalks towards the league’s pitching.  There’s no way out, but the league attempts to urinate on Blister to keep him away.  Then, out of nowhere, Nat Gio, dressed as Lord Beasley, a world famous butterfly collector from Gilligan’s Island, rides his Eddie Bauer jeep into Blister’s den, and befriends the beast, saying, “I slay pussy,” then off everyone’s look, “…cats.”  Yesterday, Gio Gonzalez had yet another great start — 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 4 Ks, ERA at 2.49.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Gio hears people talking about the new baseball and how offense is up.  Maybe he’s the one pitcher who likes a tightly-sewn baseball.  Up until this year, he must’ve been like, “Geez, is this ball going to unravel when I throw it?”  Of course, his outlook for 2018 fantasy doesn’t look anywhere near as optimistic.  Besides his ERA, there’s nothing promising in his peripherals.  He has left 85.7% of men on base.  That’s more than a wife with a headache.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Valar morghulis. Who could predict that throwing over 150 innings every year since Felix Hernandez turned 18 would be dangerous? Oh, everyone? In pitcher years I’m pretty sure King Felix is 63 years old. Stash or Trash: Trash. He’s predicted to miss 3 or 4 weeks and I’d hate for you to stash Felix and miss your playoffs. This is the 3rd year in a row that Felix’s ERA has risen and it is now at the point where he should yield his “Mariners Ace” crown to the Kingslayer James Paxton. Fill In: German Marquez (44.7%.) It’s time for everyone’s favorite game show: “What Are This Colorado Pitcher’s Splits?!” Home: 4.31; Away: 3.86. Actually not that bad! Marquez has allowed more than 3 runs in only 4 of his 18 starts this season including his last 5 starts being quality starts.

Fantasy Football RCLs are here! Join one today to take on your favorite writers and other readers of Razzball for a chance at prizes!

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Let’s just go on what logic tells us.  Not Logic, the rapper, but logic the thing you’ve been chipping away at with your weed smoking.  In 2015, Billy Beane traded Drew Pomeranz to the Padres for Yonder Alonso.  At the time, we have to assume Beane wanted a slugging first baseman.  A guy that could hit 25+ homers.  Okay, so they dealt with terrible Alonso for two years, and, then, when they get what you think they had to be hoping for, they trade him for a prospect (Boog Powell) that many believe is a bench player.  Now, even if Powell pans out, you had in Alonso what you wanted already.  I’m beginning to think Beane just does trades to do trades.  If you were to hear in fifteen years that Beane was trying to make the A’s worse to get out of Oakland, would anyone be surprised?  Moneyball 2 is going to be starring Jamie Kennedy and straight-to-DVD.  Any hoo!  Alonso loses some value going to the M’s because he’ll likely platoon with Danny Valencia (hit his 13th homer on Sunday), though, I guess it could be argued this is a positive move for Alonso, because he’s hit .188 vs. lefties this year.  As for Powell, the A’s might promote and platoon him because what do they have to lose?  Or rather, what do they have to win?  If they’re lucky, Boog will bring some of his trademark ribs.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Maybe Carlos Rodon is a bit more high, ahhh, ummm, profile than the usual pitching, ahhh, ummm, profile candidate I cover. After all, at points over the last few years this is a guy who’s been universally owned. Things have definitely been a different story in 2017, as he missed all of April and May, and most of June recovering from a biceps injury. Following two strong starts upon his return, we’ve seen “Bad Carlos” over the last three turns. The former third overall pick has been steady, but inconsistent throughout his first two seasons in the big leagues. Apt to spells of poor control and command, that typically led to some ugly pitching lines. Is that what’s happening here? Simply a case of “Bad Carlos”? Good or bad, something has obviously been amiss the past few starts, let’s take a look under the hood and see what’s going on. Are these problems fixable or is there a lingering injury? On Sunday Rodon faced the red hot Indians and my guess is you already know what happened. Here’s what I saw.

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