There’s an old expression in Major League Baseball, “As the sun sets on one Weaver, another rises from its ashes.” I have to say it was rather prophetic to predict the spontaneous combustion of Jered Weaver’s career. Then again, it’s not like there weren’t clear signs that we had reached the end of the line with our most recent Weaver. I mean the man was throwing 67 MPH in his last few starts, or years, but whatever… That brings me to today’s subject, our new shiny Weaver, complete with new car scent! I’m of course alluding to Cardinals rookie phenom Luke Weaver. The 24 year old right-hander got his first taste of the big leagues last year to mixed results. He looked brilliant at times, and caught too much of the plate at others. The issues with Weaver are rarely related to his pitching however. He’s had an inability to stay healthy over the course of his career, never exceeding 120 innings pitched in a season. As for the player himself he has one of the more exciting upsides of any arm in the minors, mixing swinging strikes, with weak contact, and elite control. Since his most recent callup in late August, Weaver has posted back to back starts with 10 Ks and 1 walk, while limiting his opponents to a .224 batting average against. There’s nothing I love more than digging into the start of a player I’ve been touting for a year plus. It’s even better when that player’s twitter handle (@DreamWeava7) has a Boston accent! I’m in LOVE!! Previously Weaver has ranked 48th (pre-season), and 60th in my mid-season, which is lofty praise. As anyone who reads my prospect work will tell you, I discount pitching prospects pretty heavily for fantasy purposes.  Enough of the small talk, here’s what I witnessed in Weaver’s Sunday start.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Ender Inciarte went 8-for-10 with two runs, 5 RBIs and two steals (18, 19), hitting .310.  That’s a doubleheader that would’ve made Ernie Banks blush.  And Ernie only blushed one time that we know of, the time Ernie confused Fergie Jenkins with Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas late one night at Harry Caray’s.  “Yo, Ernie, what you talkin’ about with my humps, my lovely little lumps?  And I don’t know what I’m going to do with the junk in my trunk, why do you keep asking?  You holding a garage sale?”  I don’t know why I enjoy the sweet stylings of Ender Inciarte so much.  I kinda hate guys like Adam Eaton, and we should call Ender, “Cheap Eats with Some Indian Guy Named Khan,” because he is nothing more than a cheap Eaton.  Maybe it’s because Ender always comes at a discounted rate to go with his “Yes, You Khan Cheap Eats” shizz.  Though, he is a fantasy beast for supporting actual beasts.  In other words, Ender is not making or breaking your team, but when you have guys that hit 40 HRs and .250, guys like Ender make all the difference as supplements.  “Did someone say supplements?”  What the hell are you doing here, Bonds?  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There’s a narrative making the rounds that today’s Pitching Profile subject Collin McHugh just started throwing a slider. This on it’s face isn’t completely true, his repertoire included a slider two years ago, but he scrapped it in 2016 in favor of a cutter. So the “throwing a slider now” people are insane, and this is open and shut case. Right, Ralphie?” Actually, their narrative is partially correct, because while he did formerly throw a slider he didn’t go back to the pitch he scrapped before last season. He’s throwing a different slider. A reworked version he picked up from clubhouse showboat Brad Peacock. Who picked the pitch up from some shoe salesman named Jordan Jankowski, who picked his up from a decoder ring at the bottom of a box of Count Chocula. Anyway, back in 2015 when McHugh experienced a break through with the Astros, he threw his “old” slider nearly 45% of the time. It’s funny that everyone forgot he threw a slider back then, considering it accounted for such a high chunk of his usage. In fact he threw his breaking pitches, (he also has a high spin-rate curveball), 67.1% of the time.  Leading his 27.2% fastball usage to rank as the second lowest in the majors behind only R.A. Dickey during the 2015 season. Before 2016 began McHugh’s usage of his ineffective slider was scrapped completely for a cutter, and an increased reliance on his hook. The results didn’t change, in fact in someways they got worse, but that’s not important, and here’s why. Fast forward to 2017, and McHugh missed a majority of the season’s first half with an elbow injury. The player that has emerged since is a completely different animal. Throwing his fastball more than 50% of time, and with a new and improved low 80’s slider, one with increased movement from his former offering. The question for today, “Is this a new and improved model or just a redesigned Grand Am?”  Let’s look under the hood and see.

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If I had a nickel for every time I streamed Matt Moore this season I would have probably six or seven nickels by now. Most of those nickels would have been thrown out of my second-floor window because the streams did not go very well. But, like any good insane person, I can’t help myself and am back for more. Or should I say back for Moore?

Matt Moore tops the Streamonator list this week for two-start starters owned in less than 75% of RCLs. At $15.50, he has the 7th highest value, behind only the six you see above him in the chart below. I would have to go back and look to be sure, but I think this is the first time all season that my top seven starters lined up exactly with what Streamonator projects. That is two opinions for the price of one, people. You can’t get that kind of bargain anywhere else!

While he sports a pretty ugly 5.38 ERA, he has tossed three straight quality starts. In those starts, he has allowed five runs in 20 1/3 innings while striking out nearly a batter per inning. His ERA of 4.09 in the second half is two runs lower than his first half ERA, which was inflated by an absolutely awful 8.88 ERA in June. June must have been when I was streaming Moore the most because that wound feels fresh.

His 4.51 FIP, while not great, is also almost a run lower than his ERA, so it seems that the Moore of late is leveling out to match up with what his peripherals are saying. While many of his numbers this season match up with what he has done throughout his career, there are a few concerns among the bunch. For starters, his swinging strike percentage is down. It’s not drastically down, as 8.9% is not a freefall from his career mark of 10.2%, but it is notable. His BABIP is slightly above league average at .329, while his 1.51 WHIP is up above his career 1.37 WHIP and the 1.29 he put up last season. His Hard% is up nearly 4%, and he is giving up a few more home runs this season, but then again who isn’t, right?

As for matchups this week, he has one great matchup against the Padres and one meh matchup against the Cardinals, who have been much better the last few weeks. The Padres have a wOBA of .291 over the last two weeks, which is good for third worst in baseball behind only the Mets and Nationals. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have the fifth best wOBA over that span with a .362 that is actually tied with the Marlins and Twins. The Cardinals start is a risk for Moore streaming, but his recent success and his matchup against the Padres make him one of the better two-start options this week. He is only owned in 28% of RCLs as of this writing.

As for other starters with a positive Streamonator $ value who are owned in less than 75% of RCLs, here is the entire list:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Michael Conforto left yesterday’s game on a swing and miss that dislocated his shoulder and a posterior capsule tear.  Dude fell like he was punched in the face by the Ghost of Muhammad Ali.  Anyone know if the Ghost of Muhammad Ali was at the game?  Float like a butterfly in a sheet…  Ever hear about the three drunk ghosts?  They were three sheets to the wind.  Take it, Highlights!  It’s yours!  This doesn’t sound good for Conforto.  Reports are saying he’s likely done for the year.  Taking over for Conforto will likely be Brandon Nimmo.  Laura Holt just gave you her Brandon Nimmo fantasy, as if she had some sort of premonition about Conforto.  Oh my god, she’s a witch!  Hand her a refrigerator and she if she floats!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It feels good to finally be able to use a Demi Lovato song in my title. Forget Chad Kuhl let’s talk about Demi! What star power! What charisma! What a voice! Name another song besides the one in the title! You can’t!

**inner-monologue** Wait, don’t take that bet. Don’t show your true colors when you don’t have to. I mean, it’s not like I Ralph Lifshitz am actually a Demi Lovato fan. PFFT! That would be preposterous! **inner-monologue-out**

Chad Kuhl of the other hand, different story. Now he is a someone who’s fandom I’d consider! (You don’t believe me do you?) The 24 year old righthander, has followed up a promising rookie campaign with an inconsistent 2017. That’s not to say this season hasn’t had it’s bright spots. He looks on pace to reach at least 150 innings, his velocity has jumped nearly 3 miles per hour on the fastball, his swinging strike rate is up, and despite a 4.52 ERA, he’s been slightly unlucky (68.5% LOB, .316 BABIP). Luck aside he’s struggled to limit contact, and has always walked a few more batters than you’d like to see. Since the calendar turned to July, Kuhl has been a top 30 starter going 4-2 over 10 starts with a 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .211 BAA, and his 21% K% is up about 2% from his career norm. More than likely this is a hot streak but with a player this young it’s best to see for ones self. Today we’ll dig into Kuhl’s most recent start vs St. Louis at home to get a closer look.

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As oft-misheard lyric is, “Eddie, are you okay?  Are you okay, Eddie?”  For those millennials who are reading, misheard lyrics were lyrics you thought you were hearing in songs before you could just Google, “[song name] lyrics.”  For 25 years, people went around singing, “I can see clearly now Lorraine is gone,” and were just happy to be rid of Lorraine!  R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) was just a chorus and four minutes of jumbled words, and that…sounded…fine!  So, is Eddie Rosario okay, or is he just okay Eddie?  Yesterday, Rosario went 2-for-5, 4 RBIs with his 17th homer as he hits over .400 in the last week.  Some notes about Eddie:  he’s gone hitless in only two games in August; has five steals to go with the 17 homers; is hitting .303; has a .209 ISO which is tied for 56th in baseball; and now hits at the top of the order.  He should be grabbed in all leagues, and, I’m moving close to him becoming my 2018’s Max Kepler.  *inhales deeply*  Ah, the sweet smell of embarrassment.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As the season rolls along, my choices for starters to profile should be wearing thin. Luckily for all of you, myself, and my relationship with anyone not in the Crab Army, spot starts and rookie callups give me the perfect intersect of my two worlds. Now as any good Seinfield fan knows, worlds colliding can be catastrophic. Just ask George Costanza. That however is not the case for your loyal and eccentric Prospector/Pitchspector. It’s all good on this end. Why? Because I’m more than happy to dig into the ratio roulette that is rookie starting pitchers. In the grand tradition of my messiah like activity on the prospect side, I’m here to observe these wild cards, provide my take, and lead you on the path to true fantasy salvation. This is a really long winded, and pompous, way to say I’m profiling Reynaldo Lopez’s White Sox debut today. I’ve been lower on Lopez than many other prospectors in the industry. For what feels like two years now, I’ve been constantly banging my shoe on the table of the United Prospect Nations, sternly proclaiming that “Lopez is a pen arm!” I’d make a joke of my followers storming the town square with Pier 1 style tiki torches, but the rest of the Lifshitz clan prolly wouldn’t appreciate that. Anywho, here’s what I saw.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Last week’s slate of two-start starters was pretty light, so it is nice to see our list back to being robust for Week 20. A week after not having any two-start starters with a positive dollar value who were owned in less than 75% of RCLS according to Streamonator, we now have three. Streamonator likes two of the starters and like likes another one. Enough stalling and fluff, here are your three beloveds for this week:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Phils’ manager, Pete Macktheknife, said, “Everybody wants to see (Rhy Hoskins‘) bat but Tommy Joseph has done well enough where there’s enough games left for him to show even more improvement.  It’s hard. You don’t want to put Tommy Joseph on the bench so maybe (having Hoskins play outfield) is a way to do it.”  Hey, quick question, anyone got a participation trophy for Joseph?  Sounds like he could really use one!  “I accept this participation trophy on behalf of all the players who are at positions where the club has a better prospect in the minors, but is too cheap to promote them.  Especially to my runner-up, Shin-Soo, way to keep down Willie Calhoun!”  A bunch of prospblockers, the lot of you!  Don’t even get me started on the absolute craziness that you risk putting your top prospect in left field just to keep playing Tommy Joseph.  Hoskins should be okay out there, but there’s a ton more risk with injuries in left field than standing on 1st.  I grabbed Hoskins in all leagues.  He was top 30 for Prospector Ralph’s top 100 fantasy baseball prospects, and might be the last big name to come up that can make a difference.   For this year, I’d say Hoskins = Mark Reynolds with way fewer Ks.  Long term, well, I won’t say Votto, but his OBP is insane for a kid.  Scouts call players kids, did I sound like a scout?  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?