Please see our player page for Robbie Ray 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.

Most of the starting pitchers for week 3’s games haven’t even been officially announced yet. Pair this with reports that MLB is warning television stations to get their Big Bang Theory re-runs and copies of Shawshank Redemption loaded up and it’s hard to be optimistic about the season. The chart I’m working off only has 4 starters confirmed so I had to do some diggin’, scratchin’, and prognosticatin’ to try and determine exactly who might be a two-start pitcher for this week. Below, you’ll find 4 tiers below of week 3’s two-starters. They are in order of descending disappointment. That’s not to say you can’t find any one-start gems in the lower tiers, but I just can’t recommend rolling them out for both starts. 

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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:

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Daulton Varsho was called up by the Diamondbacks. His numbers in the minors are gorge, as in they will engorge you. 18/21/.301 in Double-A, and he’s a catcher. Oh…*climbs to top of world’s tallest stack of pancakes*…kay. Yo, Varsho, you the greatest living catcher ever? Varsho! Here’s what Prospect Itch said, “Prospects don’t get much rarer than Daulton Varsho. My estimated time for his arrival says late 2020, but that might be dependent upon Arizona deciding to stop developing him as a catcher. He struck out just 13.9 percent of the time while walking in 9.3 percent of his plate appearances. That along with his .301/.378/.520 slash line and 159 wRC+ in a decent pitching environment suggests he might be ready for the leap to MLB pitching right now. Can Grey take a leap?” Not cool, man. I haven’t been this excited for a catcher since I married my Cougar. My guess is he plays DH, since the DBacks ditched Kevin Cron, and already have Total Request Live and Rock the Vogt to catch. Playing time could be an issue, which is why I didn’t grab Varsho in every league, but I did try him in one very shallow league, knowing I can just drop him if he doesn’t work out. Yo, do you even lift, bro? Also, he’ll be in this afternoon’s Buy, which you could already be reading if you subscribe to our Patreon. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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So, how’s everyone doing after four days of games? Still early, right? Actually, it’s not early. It’s never early this year. Early took the first train out of the station with your wife and dog. Say goodbye to your life, Early walked off with it. Four days this year is approximately three weeks into a regular season. Four days into the season this year is a cherry and whipped topping into this sundae, and one scoop in there might be chocolate chip mint, which you have to skip because it tastes like sugary toothpaste. One guy whose entire Sunday was chocolate chip mint is Justin Verlander. Sounds like he’s out for the season with a forearm strain, which is usually a precursor for much worse news. Won’t speculate what this means for his career, but if this is the last time he plays, it truly bums me out, even if I never wanted to own him. He was glorious to watch, in and out of the bathroom mirror with Kate. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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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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[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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Okay, so we recorded this show over the weekend prior to the big news about Justin Verlander. Hearken back to a more simple time where yours truly was 100% secure in his second round selection of Justin Verlander in the 2020 TGFBI. Grey, this episode’s unlikely voice of reason tries to impress into my thick skull that pitcher’s are the worst. As it turns out pitcher’s are in fact the worst, but I cannot quit them. Any the who, we roll through another 50 pitchers and tell you who to draft and who to avoid as we navigate the unsuspecting waters of drafting pitchers in fantasy. It’s the Top 50 Pitchers for 2020.

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Our fantasy baseball trade analyzer just got a little better as you now have an option of valuing players by their full/rest of season value ($) OR their per game value ($/Game).

I think the $/Game metric is one of our more underrated/underused metrics so I am going to use this post as a primer on its value.

What is the difference between $ and $/Game?

The standard way of valuing fantasy players is based on each player’s projected stats for the full season (or rest of season once the season has started). These stats are converted into a total value. We find auction $ value (based on $260 for all starting players with a 67/33 hit/pitch split) to be the most intuitive scale for displaying player values but other methods like summing z-scores provide similar benefits.

The downside of full/rest of season projections for comparing players is they reflect both projected performance AND playing time. This is fine when comparing players with similar playing time projections but creates issues if playing time is uneven because one of the players is projected for less playing time because of injury, minor league time, unsettled role, etc. A full season value for a player with discounted playing time essentially treats all that missing time as a zero. We know for DL stints or minor league time that we can plug in a replacement and, thus, the full season stats will undervalue the player with discounted playing time.

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After breaking down my beloved Rockies last week, we’re going to keep things rolling here with another NL West team in the Diamondbacks. While the Los Angeles Dodgers are obviously the cream of the crop in this division, Arizona is a fascinating team. Almost as fascinating as their mascot, Baxter the Bobcat. Why the hell is a snake not the mascot? I mean, they’re the Diamondbacks, not the Arizona Bobcats. In any case, this is one of the most interesting teams this season (including their mysterious mascot), so, let’s get into it.

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It is important to maintain the fundamental rules of society. One of those rules being, respect your elders. Last week, I introduced luck regression candidates with less than 400 career innings pitched, and piggybacking off of that premise we must also account for our Restored Vets. In order to identify Restored Veteran pitchers who suffered from poor luck in 2019 I performed the following:

  • Gathered all starting pitchers with over 50 innings pitched in 2019. Thanks, Fangraphs.
  • Removed pitchers with less than 400 career innings pitched to isolate for Restored Vets.
  • Sorted to find only pitchers whose ERA was 0.5 greater than one of FIP, xFIP, or SIERA.
  • Eliminated any pitchers who did not have a metric under 4.5.
  • Deleted any pitchers without a top 30 WAR season in the past 3 years.

The result? 9 pitchers. I’ve removed 4 of those for reasons noted at the bottom. The rest of the group is evaluated below:

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