Please see our player page for Mike Soroka 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.

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!

August 10-16, 2020

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The Cardinals, Marlins, and Phillies have born the brunt of the misery in this young baseball season thus far with Covid outbreaks and cancelled games.  This week, we’ve got a group of other teams that are getting put through the ringer with your more traditional injury issues…..”injuries classic” we’ll call it.  We’ve also lost some more big time arms for the remainder of the season as the herd starts to thin here.

Mike Soroka is out for the season after suffering an achilles injury in his latest start.  It’s a brutal blow for the young righty, and even a bigger blow for the Braves, who are now in a real crunch for arms.  This solidifies Touki Toussaint and Sean Newcomb’s spots in the rotation, but the rest of the rotation couldn’t really be worse shape given the recent DFA of Mike Foltynewicz and Cole Hamels still ailing.  Without a trade, it’s hard to see any potential fill in being roster worthy here.

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It’s always hard to know if a major league manager is being sly or stupid. Guessing stupid gets you right at least 75% of the time, sly is 24%. This time Maddon might be in the 1%. Maddon seemed to indicate Jo Adell was nowhere on the radar. Was he being sly, stupid or the rare 1%? The 1% happens when someone is injured and a prospect just needs to be called up twisting the manager’s arm. Thankfully, it wasn’t Shohei Ohtani’s arm that was twisted; enough has happened to that. So, Jo Adell was called up, seemingly to replace Brian Goodwin (hopefully). Prospect Itch wrote about 1,000 words on Jo Adell at his Jo Adell fantasy (which included Luis Robert — hum-ma-na). I wrote a few Jo Adell preseason outlook posts — one last year, one during shutdown. If you’re the type who doesn’t want to look at long-form writing and prefers a quick, “Give me the Cliff Notes, dude. I ain’t got time for work.” Pick him up. Everywhere. He’s. So. Good. I’m Giving. Him. The. One. Sentence. Treatment. For. Emphasis. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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[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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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.

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Can a baseball player both be a buy-low and a sell-high at the same time? I don’t know, maybe? And that’s what Schrödinger’s cat is all about. If you don’t like cats, or you’re allergic, you should still try and meet this Austrian physicist’s little furry feline. Why? Well, you came here for complex thought experiments in theoretical physics and quantum mechanics, right? RIGHT? No, you didn’t at all, but the basic concept is simple, I promise. Better learn this meow than later, ya know? This theory lies in the belief that information exists at the very miniature (we’re talkin quantum baby!) level, and that until we observe a result, that observation is in a flux state (quantum superposition).

So what’s up with a cat in the box?

Well, put a cat in one, (along with poison in a flask, and a Geiger counter). Once an atom decays, an internal monitor would react to the Geiger counter and break the flask. Now, if you’re still with me and not sending an e-mail to Grey complaining about my science sesh, just think about looking at the box. Think really hard as your staring at it. Stare at it for a while. Now, let me ask you this: Is the cat alive or dead? And that’s the point… The cat is both alive AND dead because we lack the information, despite knowing the two end results possible*.

All this is to say, that maybe, just maybe, Mike Soroka is a cat in a box. (And also: I’m a nerd.)

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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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Maybe the real-life baseball season has stopped, but that doesn’t mean fantasy baseball has to. It’s all we have these days, really. Fantasy sports while we fantasize about real sports coming back. I feel bad for my fellow fantasy hockey folks – I get the feeling it ain’t coming back, even if regular hockey does. I’m not about that fantasy basketball life (I dabbled in my younger years – Tracy McGrady anyone? Had to have him on all my teams), but I fear it’s the same fate. Only fantasy football is unscathed…so far. Wild stuff happening on that front, too. Brady to the Bucs? Da BUCS?! DAFUQ! Gurley and Newton RELEASED?! Hopkins TRADED?! Maybe Watson, too?! Madness, I say!

Anyway. This is a fantasy baseball article. Almost forgot. It’s an important year for the fine ladies and gents here at Razzball: the inaugural season of RazzSlam! Big shoutout to the NFBC peeps for hosting it. Give ’em a follow on the Twitter at @TheNFBC. I had the honor of being accepted into League 2 (of 18). Some scrub ass writer for CBS is in it. Big deal. I’m kidding, he’ll probably whoop my ass.

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