Please see our player page for Mike Clevinger 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.

Not that long ago, I remember hearing a story. One I will recount for you here, but you can’t tell anyone else. Promise? Okay, there was this guy Brandon Bielak, and he was real into attachment parenting and had to put up with his stupid father, Nick, and dopey brothers, Tony and Joey Lawrence — Whoa. Well, the Teen Beat on, and I’m reading this from an old TV Guide with Miss Piggy on the cover, can you tell? Brandon Bielak is an enigma. Nothing exists on him, besides Matt Roush’s blurbs. Confession Alert! I used to collect TV Guides. What an absolute nerd. Any hoo! Bielak was found on waivers by me (or was it in an abandoned refrigerator — wait, wrong show), and he went 5 IP, 2 ER, 7 baserunners, 4 Ks, ERA at 1.76. He works with a 94 MPH fastball, and a ton of secondary pitches with the curve hooking hard, and looking especially nice. He’s very serviceable, bordering on more. He could be a back-end fantasy starter for years to come. Now, I’ve streamed this guy a few times, and Streamonator thinks Bielak next start is even better — with no Big Bang in sight. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s 1993. Funny man and lady slayer, Billy Crystal hosts the Oscars; Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time becomes a bestseller because guys buy the book to put on their shelves to be a lady slayer like Billy Crystal, and a mother and father fawn over a newborn: “What do you want to name him?” “I like the name Tejay.” “I think it’s an abbreviation.” “Does it have to be?” And with that Tejay Antone was brought into the world. Yesterday, he announced himself with a start vs. the Indians of 4 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 6 baserunners (4 BBs), 4 Ks, ERA at 2.08, but the line might not do it justice. He had a solid number of called/swinging strikes in yesterday’s game, and his 83 MPH slider, and 80 MPH curve really dips off the table from his 96 MPH fastball. Honestly, he looked to me like a great bullpen arm, or, if he can command his stuff, a high-upside starter. I kinda drooled at some of his offerings. Don’t think he’s there yet for mixed leagues, outside of favorable Streamonator matchups, but he went from off my radar, to definitely on it. As T.J. Lavin would say to a mirror, “You’re killin’ it, Teej!” Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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?

Finally we have what baseball fans have been craving for months, a full slate of games to enjoy.  Unfortunately, they are all over the place as far as start times and there’s only two night games.  I’m not sure what baseball thinks it’s competing with in the prime time slots, but we have plenty of day games to sort through.  The “Main” slate on FanDuel today includes from the one o’clock games all the way to five (ET).  In the four o’clock slot we’ve got Lance McCullers ($8,000) and the Astros taking on the Mariners.  Even with 16 teams making the playoffs now, the Mariners won’t be making a push.  It’s been almost two full years since McCullers last threw a meaningful pitch, so there is certainly some amount of risk involved with this pick.  However, that’s baked into the price as well.  It may take some serious memory, but McCullers was a 10/11 K/9 pitcher back in his heyday.  Could there be some rust?  Most definitely.  Will he still likely get the win?  Vegas says the Astros are a -260 favorite, so I think yes.  As Dustin May proved on Thursday, if a pitcher is cheap enough, you can still win some money with them only pitching 4+ innings.

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Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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?

Hello, again. Thanks for stopping by. I’m noticing talk ramping up around the fantasy baseball world on how to approach pitching with the short season coming up. It’s looking more and more like we’re going to get the shortest end of the stick the owners want us to get, if we get anything at all. I’m honestly not overly optimistic we get baseball in 2020, but I’m going to operate under the assumption we will get 48-ish games at least. So, if that’s the case, that sure ain’t a lotta starts per starting pitcher. I mean it’s like 10 tops, assuming the typical five-man rotation. So, what, 70-80 IP maximum? In a perfect world it’d be 90 with 10 complete games, so let’s shave a few off for safe measure.

It seems a bit counter-intuitive to suggest fading the top guys, at first glance. “But, like, JKJ, if there aren’t as many starts, don’t you want the best of the best to increase your chances of those being good starts?” you may ask. While I see the logic and merit in that mindset, I think you could get similar returns from non-top-tier guys in a drastically shortened season. It’s really their longevity and big innings that put them ahead of the pack.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at hitters who are being priced cheaper in 2020 than their 2019 stats would dictate. This week, it’s time to assess Starters using the same approach.

Recency bias suggests that 2019 performance weighs most heavily in our minds when making 2020 decisions. That certainly plays out in many scenarios, but there are other players who’s 2020 price is discounted compared to what just happened. I’m guessing that’s mostly due to the prevalence of projection systems in player valuation. A good projection system should absolutely be the baseline for your 2020 valuations. But as we know, these systems are slow to pick up on skill changes. Three year weighted averages & regression to the mean helps the systems get the most players right; but it also means they systematically devalue 2019 stats. The goal of this post is to look at what just happened (2019 performance) and find places where the market (ADP) isn’t pricing in those stats.

Please, blog, may I have some more?