Please see our player page for Matt Magill 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.

I consider myself a fairly optimistic person. Take this whole coronavirus thing. I don’t have it (or maybe I do — or maybe I do and don’t know it — or maybe I don’t and do know it and now you have it just from reading this article.) It’s a scary time, but I’ve tried to remain looking on the bright side that we’re all washing our hands, self-isolating, and wiping our butts so well that this thing will pass quickly. Then I started looking at the Mariners projected lineup, rotation and bullpen for 2020. Now I’ve covered the Tigers, the White Sox and the Royals to prove you can mine for fantasy gold in the darkest of baseball caves. But the Mariners might be my hardest task yet. It’s hard to be optimistic about this team.

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We know spring training is fully underway when a bunch of arms break. We’re sure to see more as soreness becomes less general and more devastating to our early drafts. The four-tier format is back for our closer report. This week, pandemic foodstuff themed tiers. I’d laugh but for fear that might cause me to cough resulting in those nearby turning mob justice on me. Let’s get to some news and notes on the reliever front first.

  • Emmanuel Clase – He of the hardest cutter in baseball is starting his Cleveland career off on a sour note. A back strain will likely sideline him for 8-12 weeks. This opens the door for fellow reliever wunderkind James Karinchak to solidify a leverage role. If you want a job relieving for Cleveland just have a hard to spell name, throw gas, and be in your early 20’s.
  • Jose Alvarado – Don’t look now but Alvarado looks sharp as ever. But Roto-Wan, Nick Anderson is *the* it closer of draft season?!? I have no issue with Anderson’s stuff, just his role. He factors into their ninth inning, no doubt. Let me ask you this, though. He saved some games for them last year since they’re a team that’s the most progressive in leverage roles, right? No? Ok, well he came over from Miami, who’s bullpen was a collection of molding leftovers. He racked up a bunch of saves there, surely? How about one save. Well, at least he’s a young prospect? Turns 30 in June. I don’t mean to rain on your Nick Anderson parade, and by “don’t” I mean I do, but he’s far from a lock. I’m betting on Alvarado seeing some of their saves as the lefty side of a committee in every league I draft that uses RPs.
  • Brandon Kintzler – Things are not off to a great start this spring for the presumptive Marlins closer. Like, walking four straight batters bad. I’d consider a spec play on Ryne Stanek early on.
  • Ryan Helsley – I’m not the Helsley guy but some people I respect (see: Matt Thompson, Nick Pollack) have made it a point to draft the young Cardinal in the late rounds. Their ninth inning is a mess to predict, as usual. Helsley also has an outside shot at the rotation it seems, depending on the health of their assumed starters.
  • Trevor Rosenthal – Rosie is the latest zombie reliever. He’s always been able to light up radar guns. He just has zero command at times, as in most of the time. The command seems to be there this spring, however. KC would love to add any talent it can to baseball’s most mediocre bullpen.
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Head-to-head fantasy baseball encompasses some of my favorite parts of fantasy – rivalries, strategies, and ties. Okay, maybe not that last one, but overall, it’s my favorite format to play. Like in roto leagues, you’re focused on compiling stats in your scoring categories (homers, runs, steals, strikeouts, etc.), but your matchup resets each week and you’re on to the next opponent.

Punting is one of my favorite strategies in H2H Categories, mostly because it allows me to not pay a premium for saves or speed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a) punting both or, b) fully punting either, but I do recommend a version of punting that I feel gives you an advantage over your opponents.

Here’s our disclaimer – This is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. You know your league and your in-season management ability. If you’re an owner who is excellent at scooping up new closers, then punting saves is a reasonable strategy to explore. These strategies are also not meant to be half-assed. If you’re leaving your draft knowing you need to find steals on the wire, take the time to find those steals. Now that you’ve been warned, enter the punting dungeon……if you dare.

 

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

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The ax fell yesterday on Luis Severino‘s elbow. That ax was wielded by Dr. James Andrews, who was wearing a Jason mask at the time of the news conference. A reporter stands, “Doc, do you think Severino can avoid Tommy John surgery?” Dr. James Andrews, breathy like Kathleen Turner with an unmistakeable Charleston accent, “I do declare,” Dr. James Andrews pats his mask with a handkerchief, “Severino’s time under the knife will be short, but his stay on the Injured List long.” He then scratched his arm with the ax and accidentally ripped his doctor’s lab coat. “If there’s no further questions, I will be going,” Dr. James Andrews stood, sticking out his arms in a Jason pose, and slowly left the stage. So, Severino and Dr. James Andrews have been acquainted and if you drafted Severino early, you’re ess oh el as they say in Acronyms R’ Us chatrooms. I’ve removed Severino from the top 40 starters and top 500 for 2020 fantasy baseball. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason in fantasy baseball:

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We close out the American League bullpens with the AL West. It feels like all of these teams have something to offer either in closer speculation or high wattage non-closers. Remember the golden rule of the saves chase: don’t overpay for closers. Opportunities come if you’re active on the wire.

I didn’t realize how upset I was about the sign-stealing scandal until I started writing this. If you’re an Astros fan and I’ve offended your delicate sensibilities below, you can go and discard them along with your stolen championships.

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If the Dodgers promote Gavin Lux, will that put them over the Lux cap? I said, will that put them over the…*looks up* Lux cap? Wow, no balloons dropped from my ceiling for that gorgeous pun. “Hello, is the balloons-in-the-ceiling salesman that came out to my house? Yes…I said, what I thought at least, was a grade A pun and I expected balloons to fall from the ceiling. Well, I was talking about the Dodgers promoting Gavin Lux. Yes, they said they will in September. Will he play? My guess is sure, why not? At least some days. They’ve got the division wrapped up and I see no reason why they won’t play him. Why do we care?  Haha, Mr. Balloons-in-the-ceiling Salesman, we care because he’s hitting .400 in Triple-A. Shoot, Ted Williams’ frozen head is on the other line. Hold on one second….Yes, Frozen Ted Head? Lux is hitting for power too — 13 HRs. Also, he’s got some light speed. Yes, I’m excited. He could be *the* September call-up, but he’s hitting over-.400 just in the minors, so you don’t need to be stunting on your .400 batting average claim. Yes, you too, and say hello to Jack Dawson, Walt Disney and the vault where they make astronaut ice cream…Okay, Mr. Balloons-in-the-ceiling Salesman? Hello? Are you there?” Hmm, he hung up on me. Any hoo! Stash Gavin Lux now. He’s arriving soon, and the Dodgers can afford to play him. It’s a…*looks up at ceiling* Lux-ury they have. Damn, these things never fall. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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What a disaster major league pitching has been this year. With the juiced ball on top of mounting injuries, we’re all plugging holes faster than Captain Ahab. If you’re in good shape in your pitching categories I recommend a conservative approach using a stopgap reliever until you can sort out something more permanent. Protect those ratios, maybe grab a few strikeouts, and figure out your fringe solution on your bench.

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Throwing a 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 12 Ks game against the 1927 Twins by Lucas Giolito can mean only one thing, today, we celebrate Lucas Giolito’s Star Mitzvah! Mazel tov! Here’s a check for $18.  Many blessings from your bubbeleh. But, oy, it’s hot in here, can we turn on the fan? Forget the electric bill for one day, it’s a Star Mitzvah! Your uncle, Shlomo, didn’t retire to Boca Raton and leave me with the money he won from scratch-off tickets so I can’t turn on the fan once in a while. Guys and five girl readers, Giolito is a legend. Who isn’t a Giolito fan? (Besides the Streamonator; why the long face, tin can head?) I’ve already given you my Lucas Giolito 2020 fantasy too, that’s what a legend he is. This is his 2nd insane game this month, and, brucely, it’s more fun to revel in great pitching performances this year than the 400th three-homer game. Last time, I said Giolito would be a top 15 starter. Now I’m starting to think I was being too low. Dude’s so lit he’s got that shizz in his last name! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Andrew Heaney has an eye on a prize and that prize is a 2020 sleeper article. “Grey usually puts sleepers out starting in December, and I know Oscar Mercado, Zac Gallen and, ugh, Delino DeShields are going to be vying for a spot on that list. Listen, all you can do is say your prayers, eat your kale and hope Grey picks your name.”  Delino added, “Usually one good game is all it takes.”  Oh, shut up, Delino! Yesterday, Andrew Heaney gave us a how’s your father without the small talk of asking how one’s father actually was — 8 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners (zero walks), 14 Ks, ERA at 4.31. He now hasn’t allowed more than three runs dating back to June (small bit of cherrypicking since he has gone less than 5 IP in some of those starts, but injuries and yadda). Heaney perfs (kids call them that) are solid if teetering on ‘just okay’ — 10.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 4.33 FIP. A solid September could vault him into a top 40 starter conversation for 2020, but the lack of health and propensity for homers makes me think he’s going to fall short of that bar. For right now, he’s an obvious own. “But no sleeper, right?” Shut up, Delino!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (19) | 2012 (23) | 2011 (12) | 2010 (21) | 2009 (23)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [92-70] NL West
AAA: [76-68] Pacific Coast League – Albuquerque
AA: [59-80] Southern League – Chattanooga
A+: [65-75] California League – Rancho Cucamonga
A: [67-72] Midwest League – Great Lakes

Graduated Prospects
Yasiel Puig (OF); Tim Federowicz (C); Scott Van Slyke (OF/1B); Hyun-jin Ryu (RHP); Stephen Fife (RHP); Paco Rodriguez (LHP)

The Run Down
After a holiday hiatus, we have returned to our MiLB preview series.  To get us back into prospect mode, let’s all scream Puig on three.  One, two, three, PUIG.  Good, we’re back.  We’re talking about the Dodgers today, a top-heavy farm, but a group that offers plenty of fantasy intrigue.  There’s a lot going on here from spots one to six, but things take a turn toward the boring when we reach the last four names of the top ten.  Still, Seager, Pederson, and Urias are all of the high-impact variety, while Lee, Guerrero, and Anderson should all develop into relevant fantasy pieces in their own right.  Combine those six with recent grads like Yasiel Puig and Hyun-jin Ryu, and this Dodgers org begins to take shape as one that develops well and spends wisely in the international markets.  That’s a particularly effective model for sustainable success.

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