Please see our player page for Luis Castillo 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.

We got a week in the books, folks, and I didn’t think I’d being doing another post this year after the unthinkable, unspeakable, most-obvious-thing-to-happen happened when a good quarter of the Florida Marlins team tested positive for coronavirus. Most would think when a worst case scenario like this occurs, the season would be halted, or at the very least restructured. (After watching some NBA last night, the bubble certainly appears to have been the way to go). But no. It’s just the Marlins, right? Who cares. I wonder to myself, “Self, would the reaction have been the same had 15 Yankees tested positive.” But they didn’t, it’s just the Marlins. The “worst” team in baseball. Besides this was a one off thing, right, what are the odds another team gets it? *Fast forward three days* Oh, three teams have it now, you say? Welp. And Commissioner slash idiot Rob Manfred claims he could shut down the season Monday if the “players aren’t more careful.” L-O-L. Careful like sending hundreds of players and workers back into situations where they not only have to travel, but its often impossible to maintain social distancing? So now we have six teams not even playing, teams that actually “matter”, and its an absolute mess not just for players and fans, but anyone trying to field a daily fantasy line up. Phew. OK, sorry for the tangent but this could very well be my final post of 2020, so I’m going to write about what I want, and I want to write about Taijuan Walker’s best start and first win in almost four years! After missing the majority of the past two seasons due to Tommy John, Taijuan Walker returned “home” to start in Seattle for the first time since 2016 Friday night. Walker looked dominant pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, two walks and striking out eight A’s. Tai consistently threw strikes and used his fastball effectively, topping out at 95 mph. Sweet sassy molassy! His Jordan cleats were hitting different, too. It’s always the shoes! The cutter was cutting, his breaking ball had good movement but it was really the way he commanded that fastball that made the difference. After a rough first start in Houston last week, it was an excellent rebound for Walker to get him and the M’s back on track. Rotoworld called a Walker add quote “risky” today, but as I ranted above, this season is all about risk, so why not take a risk on Taijuan Walker!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.) 

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Last week we took a look at some later-round hitting targets that can help catch you up in your batting categories. The gift I bring you this week is a look at some pitchers to target who appear ahead of their peers. Oh, the poo that I had to sludge through to do this research. I tried finding team notes for how they’re expecting to handle their pitchers in the early weeks of the season. I have to give a shout out to Jeff Zimmerman for his “Mining the News” articles over on Fangraphs. They were extremely helpful and a must-read. After sludging through the team outlooks about where teams expect their starters to be by opening day, I took a look at Derek Carty’s The Bat to try and find some values. The reason I used The Bat is that the projection system takes into account the team schedule, which, in a shortened season means a lot. The pitchers on this list have a pretty decent ADP range, but grabbing pitchers that aren’t going to throw limited pitches in their first couple of starts should give you a head start against the competition.

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Michael Simione (@SPStreamer) joins the show to talk pitching and streamers in a 60 game season. Michael gives us his breakdown on a streamer and what makes a great streamer in fantasy. We dive into the 70 page SP Streamer draft kit and some of the pitchers he has ranked. Why does he have Luis Castillo over Jack Flaherty? We also have some great rapid fire questions and get to know Michael and why he hates mashed potatoes and pickles. 

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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?

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[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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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. 

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Nick Pollack (@pitcherlist) joins the show to discuss how Pitcher List got created. We also discuss the process on what made Pitch Con such a successful event. Nick gives us some of his favorite pitchers as well as a Jose Berrios breakdown. We all give our earliest fantasy baseball memories and why Brent and Jordan started the podcast. Nick gives us his thoughts on why the Twins can’t beat the Yankees in the playoffs.

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Jeff Erickson from Rotowire joins Brent and Zach to breakdown the Cincinnati Reds baseball club. We take a deep dive into their outfield situation and who we think will start. Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Nicholas Castellanos and Shogo Aklyama will be battling for 3 outfield spots. We give you our insight on who we think will start. The Reds have 3 potential Cy Young candidate’s in Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray. Is Luis Castillo getting drafted to early? We take a look at ADPs in the rotation. The last part of the show we take a look into the Reds farm system and who we think will be the future stars for the Reds.

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A wise man once said, “He who says he can and he who says he can’t are usually both right.” That was Confucius, who also once remarked to a bright young pupil on a particularly overcast day in 531 BC that “He who places his livelihood in the hands of starting pitching health is indeed the king of fools among us all.” I can assure you he said both of those things, and I can assure you that I will do my best to heed his insightful words as I reveal the pitchers on my 2023 All-COVID Team.

Like I said, Confucius was a wise man. He would have never dared use ESPN’s rankings to set up his fantasy baseball draft board. No, he would likely make his way to a site like Razzball, where he would study my 2023 All-COVID Team with great satisfaction before stumbling across this post. At this point, we would likely faint out of mere displeasure.

Projecting the top pitchers in fantasy three years from now is an asinine task in nature. Experts such as Grey who are able to nail preseason fantasy pitching rankings year-by-year have achieved quite a feat as is. To venture further into the unknown is, quite frankly, setting oneself up for failure. But, to heed my good friend Confucius’ words, I will be “he who says he can,” and I shall be right.

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