Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Giancarlo Stanton is hurt again.
Before the shortened season, things were looking up for Stanton. The layoff gave him plenty of time to heal from offseason injuries, a shortened campaign meant he had a better shot of staying healthy throughout, and he had started the season off strong. It looked like everyone who’d proclaimed “well he ONLY has to stay healthy for 60 games” were on their way to a nice profit…..wrong. Stanton is now sitting on the IL with a minor hamstring strain that is going to sideline him for 3-4 weeks. Knowing Stanton, and knowing the Yankees, I would expect it to be more towards 4, if not longer. We’re venturing into total lost cause territory with Stanton. In his absence, Mike Tauchman immediately becomes startable in all formats and Clint Frazier is going to get yet another opportunity to show he can stick with the big club.
For next year’s All-Star Game: The best of the AL and NL will face off against just ex-Mets players. Maybe they can get Steven Matz (4 1/3 IP, 8 ER, ERA at 8.20) to pitch the Home Run Derby too. He’s useless otherwise. Oh, don’t worry, Matz is a great 2nd half pitcher, so wait until you see him around September 1st. Wrong city transpo line and total mixed metaphor, but the Nats T’d off on Matz like they were his daddy and Asdrubal Cabrera (4-for-4, 3 runs, 5 RBIs and his 2nd and 3rd homer) was in charge of doling out the punishment. Then Juan Soto (3-for-4, 3 runs, 3 RBIs and his 2nd homer) was the uncle who came in to tell Asdrubal that the Mets had enough, only to wait until no one was looking and lay a noogie on them himself. Then, as Sexy Dr. Pepper left the room, he tagged in Treat Urner (3-for-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs and his 2nd homer) who laid all 155 pounds of himself into them. If the Mets ever let Pete Alonso go, he might be the first to hit five homers in a game. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
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!
The 2nd game in a row Dinelson Lamet has taken a no-hitter into the 6th inning and, this time, it went into the 7th, ending up 6 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 hit, 11 Ks, ERA at 1.61. I’m about to start moaning out his name like a pizza deliveryman in a porn. “I didn’t ask for sausage.” “And I didn’t ask for my salad to be hand-tossed, but here we are.” There’s no whacks on Dinelson as he keeps the whacks off. Now paint the fence! *Dinelson starts painting Mejia’s glove* No, the fence, not ‘fense. Forget it, you’re beautiful. There’s nothing to gleam from 22 1/3 IP, other than to say he’s regularly hitting 97 MPH, and, while he only has two pitches, they’re good and there’s no reason to think he can’t keep something resembling this for 40 more innings. With a drooling sly grin, “Did someone order a Meat Lover’s?” Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:
For as batshizz crazy 2020 is, I will say that it is exciting. Maybe exciting isn’t the right word. Maybe batshizz crazy is the right thing to say, and leave it at that. Every day we have another rookie callup and I’m here for it, even if it might lead to roofies and waking up to wonder why a member of al Qaeda is making a lampshade out of your back skin. “Que quiero mi torso…lampshade?” Al Qaeda, “We don’t speak Spanish.” So, yesterday the Padres called up Luis Patino. My mom is always telling people about her kitchen cabinets’ faux patina, so this must be good. Check it out: Here he is in Prospect Itch’s top 25 prospects for 2020 fantasy baseball. Also, Prospect Hobbs wrote about 1200 words in his Luis Patino fantasy. I’m jazzed like hands and psyched like a shrink! Here’s a small snippet from PH’s post, “Even with just two refined pitches (and another two in the making), Patino has completely baffled right-handed hitters, as they produced a meager .163/.259/.220 slash against him in 2019. Clearly, Patino could step into a big league bullpen tomorrow and be elite. Like, ya know, the opposite of whatever Grey is.” Oh, man, cmon! So, is this the end of Joey Lucchesi of the Doing Crimes To Your Fantasy Team Crime Family? Not sure, but even if Patino is a long man in the bullpen, he’s worth a flyer in leagues 12-team mixed and deeper, depending on needs. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
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.)
“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:
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.
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.