Please see our player page for Walker Buehler 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.

[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?

When assessing starting pitchers, savvy fantasy players look at a wide variety of measures. Velocity, stuff, BABIP, Statcast, 2019 performance…balancing out all of the available metrics to determine cost (draft slot, $ value) is the name of the game.

Today we’re going to look at a metric I rarely see discussed in the pre-season: strength of schedule (SoS). In-season, SP matchups are gold, whether you’re playing DFS or streaming in season-long. But before the year, I rarely see analysis go any deeper than AL-vs.-NL comparisons. This makes partial sense because we don’t know what a rotation will look like beyond the next week, making projecting out specific matchups impossible.

At the team level, however, we can get get a pretty good handle on who may have advantageous matchups and who will have a tough road in front of them. More specifically, we’re interested in the extremes: How frequently will each team face really tough matchups, or really easy ones? These are actionable (start/sit decisions). For the rest – the fat part of the bell curve – we’ll mostly be making decisions based on individual SP talent, not matchup.

One other note: in a 60-game season, each SP only gets 10-12 starts, meaning SoS will be more important than normal. In a reduced season, there isn’t time for the schedule to balance out. If a Rays pitcher has to face the Yankees three times, that’s 25-30% of their 2020 season stats, and you may want to downgrade them on draft day.

I’m basing this analysis on the proposed breakdown of the 60-game schedule found on MLB.com:

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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. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Alanna Rizzo (@Alannarizzo), host/reporter for the L.A Dodgers joins the show to breakdown this loaded Dodgers team. We discuss where we think players will bat in the order and who will have the biggest impact. Will Gavin Lux stay in the bottom of the order? Is the catching position Will Smiths to lose? The starting rotation is loaded with great lefties. Who holds down the 5 spot? Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Jimmy Nelson could all get a shot. Alanna gives us her insight on who holds down the rotation. We also dove into one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. Alanna also tells us how great it has been covering Clayton Kershaw and others throughout the years, her favorite ballparks and some other fun memories!

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?

What a great week. Any time I have a legitimate excuse to binge watch Star Wars one day and bloat myself with an excess of Mexican food and homemade margarita slushies the next, it’s a good week. Making matters even better, I was able to catch some quality KBO action on TV, something that revealed that my thirst for baseball can be temporarily quenched by just about any bat-to-ball action – other than that time I was on a cave tour in Pennsylvania and a big brown bat flew into my crotch.

Although I know not every Razzball reader and writer is a die-hard Star Wars fan such as myself, this got me thinking: how can I incorporate these two loves of baseball and late 1970s-early 1980s science fiction? Since there are only three truly great Star Wars films, I had the idea to split my prospect writing into three categories: 1) A New Hope (breakdown of the six top-100 prospects in the Marlins farm system), 2) The Empire Strikes Back (analysis of Yankees right-handers Clark Schmidt and Deivi Garcia) and 3) Return of the Jedi (what to expect from Brent Honeywell’s long-awaited comeback).

As I began this project, it didn’t take long before I completely lost track of time down in a Honeywellian rabbit hole. What I mean by this, is that I was trudging along, minding my own business with my eyes glued to 2017 Honeywell tape on my iPhone, when I literally fell into a hole in the ground and had no choice but to research Honeywell’s outlook for the next three-to-four hours while I called for help. And that is how this piece went from one of my typical, wide-ranging prospect breakdowns to one focused on a singular arm: Brent Honeywell, the young Jedi Knight, the man who can do things on the hill that no one else can, but has long been struggling with his own inner battle of health and spiritual clarity. In this piece, I will not only break down Honeywell as a prospect, but speculate on his return to the mound, reasons behind his recent arm injuries and what level of health (or lack thereof) we might be able to predict moving forward.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The long-awaited finale to my COVID-19 Draft Bargains series culminates with a dive into starting pitchers who were looking at some innings restrictions for 2020. Since we aren’t likely to get a full season at this point, that’s kind of become a moot point for the most part. Here is a list of potential studs who could give similar returns to the household names who are being drafted much, much higher.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The thing about now is that writing about anything feels like writing about nothing. Thus is the nature of fantasy sports in a global crisis. The nature of sports themselves, we’re seeing. 

I’m supposed to be on Spring Break, man.

Or my students are. I never do much with it, if I’m honest. Just baseball stuff, really. I’ll watch last year all winter and try to see as much as I can in Spring, which is typically a lot over Spring Break. Used to play some video games. These days it’s just Fifa 16 because it only takes about ten minutes to pop in and finish a game. Think I just won the 2022 World Cup with Portugal. Just a fluke they offered me the job all those years ago.

Still had time for a draft with CBS around noon Friday. 15-team roto. First one post-shutdown for me, and though it was just a mock, it felt like pretty serious. I’m not sure why. I think it’s the fourth mock I’ve done with them this off-season, and I’m very thankful to Scott White and the crew for inviting me, but the previous ones were very clearly mocks while I was in the room, if you know what I mean. Maybe it was just me feeling like everything is serious. My wife can’t stop coughing and can’t get tested. Our daughter is around her a lot. It’s hard to avoid. 

Anyway here’s the team: (overall pick number in parenthesis)

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you drafted any time between the end of the season and now, and you took a SP with one of your top two picks, there’s a good chance you’re playing injury optimism roulette right now.  Someone put Jacob DeGrom, and Walker Buehler under full bubble wrap treatment as they’re really the only ones unscathed from the top 20 picks or so at the moment in the pitcher camp. Even Gerrit Cole had a Coronavirus scare with a fever last month that’s since subsided.  Let’s do some quick hits on where everyone is at the moment.

Editorial Note from the Donkey: Of course everything will be turned upside down if and when the MLB makes a decision on a delayed start to the season. Some of these guys will end up being great buy low targets if you have to draft today. Stay tuned and please be safe out there!

Please, blog, may I have some more?