Please see our player page for Zack Wheeler 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.

Camp is starting up and it’s weird out there folks.  Split squad positionless scrimmages, Covid tests, opt outs….baseball is back!?!  This whole thing feels like the Jessie Spano caffeine pill freakout from Saved By the Bell…”I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so…..scared”.

First round of Covid testing is coming back and there’s plenty of interesting names that have tested positive: Jesus Luzardo, Eduardo Rodriguez, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Hector Neris, DJ Lemahieu, Tommy Pham, Scott Kingery, Mitch Keller, Ryan O’Hearn, Salvador Perez, and Kole Calhoun are notable confirmed positives.

Of these, most fall into the “asymptomatic” category and should return to the team soon (hopefully).  Hector Neris was already around Phillies camp this week, and Joey Gallo already has one negative test under his belt.  He should be good to go soon.

The most serious case looks to be Freddie Freemen.  The Braves are being candid about exactly what Freeman is going through, but they’re not expecting him back to camp any time soon.

There’s several other guys who are missing from camp still with no given reason why.  Some teams are releasing positive tests, some teams aren’t stating what’s keeping players away but letting us read between the lines.  This list includes: Aaron Nola (who was seen around Phillies camp earlier this week similar to Neris), Yonny Chirinos, Juan Soto, Kenley Jansen, Gavin Lux, AJ Pollock, Tony Gonsolin, Yordan Alvarez, Jose Urquidy, and Josh James.  The Astros, as well as some other teams, have had issues with their testing in terms of getting results quickly, so that may be holding up the ‘Stros players, but these are all guys to keep an eye on.

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?

First Charlie Blackmon, now Freddie Freeman…Somebody check on Reggie Cleveland! Welp, this sucks. That’s me cutting to the chase quicker than the editors of the Fast & Furious movies. “Um, Vin Diesel’s been talking for like seven seconds, don’t we have any tire spinning footage?” That’s the editors cutting to the chase. There’s also the Entourage editors, who tried to cut around Chase. Or Ruben Tejada who would like to cut Chase. Any hoo! Freddie Freeman tested positive for Covid and is battling a fever. Besides the fear for Freeman, if something serious happens to a player, baseball’s not happening this year. Other players will walkout, and I wouldn’t blame them. Sorry, I know that’s no fun to hear, but you’re not here to be lied to. As for fantasy, these Covid positive tests are super hard to predict for projections and rankings. Of course, if drafting right now; you can’t draft Freddie Freeman in the top 20 overall. Not sure you can draft him in the top 50 overall, but that’s about where I’d risk it, and have updated my top 20 1st basementop 100 and top 500. I did blow the dust off my landscape architect degree and hedge with my new ranking of Freeman by not updating his projections. It’s just impossible to know if he’ll be out for two-to-three weeks, and fine for near the start of the season, or miss the whole season. Unknown risk is baked into his new ranking, but I left projections. Putting aside “Let the kids play,” MLB has adopted a new slogan for this season:  “Play!” “What? No, it’s not safe.” “I said, “Play!” Anyway, here’s what else I saw for fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So we’re gonna have a season, maybe, hopefully…..who knows.  But we need to be prepping like there’s going to be one.  So let’s take a look at some of the specifics that have come down from MLB with the new plan for the season and how it should effect how you handle injuries/Covid related issues going into the year.

First off, the rules.  MLB released a list of precautions when they and the players’ union approved the deal for the 60 game season.  Testing is the biggest thing we need to keep an eye on.  Everyone’s getting tested for active Covid-19 as well as antibodies upon reporting to Spring Training 2.0.  They will not be cleared for work until they tests negative for Covid (we’ll come back to this).  In season, players will undergo multiple “symptom tests” per day (temp checks and “how are you feeling” questionnaires).  They will also be tested every other day.

So what happens if someone tests positive?  Well, each team has to put in place their own Covid handling program that meets certain minimum requirements.  The biggest thing though is that, in order to be cleared to play, a player must test negative twice within a 24 hour period and show now symptoms for 72 hours.  This is a big deal.  There’s no real rhyme or reason for how long Covid stays in your system, but even asymptomatic cases seem to last a minimum of 14 days.  I looked into some prominent cases that took place over in Europe when Covid hit some of their soccer leagues: Callum Hudson-Odoi, a winger for Chelsea tested positive for Coronavirus at the beginning of March.  He wasn’t able to test negative until the beginning of May, despite showing few symptoms.  Paolo Dybala, who plays for Juventus, tested positive in mid-March and was asymptomatic.  He wasn’t cleared until almost the end of May.  Suffice to say, it’s going to be case by case when it comes to each one of these testing scenarios, but I think it would be wise to treat a positive test like a month long or more injury when trying to evaluate how to handle your roster.

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?

Welp. Everything was going perfectly according to the preseason plan. An entire finding aces preview series, a delightful set of early top 100 rankings, and then a final updated Top 100 starters list to be released today for the final 10 days of draft season. Things changed, and they changed quickly. As we don’t have any semblance of an idea when the season will start after the suspension due to COVID-19, it isn’t prudent to provide any sort of updated rankings at this point. Therefore, I’m going to provide weekly digestible pitcher profiles while we remain in limbo. Hopefully, we all do our part to contribute to the easing of the effectiveness of this disease for the greater good and baseball is back soon. Until that point, I’ll be here weekly to touch on pitchers with discrepancies between my original top 100 ranking and their ADP.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

B_Don and Donkey Teeth are joined by Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) of Pitcher List. We ask Alex about his pitching strategy and how it changes in his various industry leagues.

The guys talk about the different strategies being utilized for the RazzSlam, as Alex fits closer to the Donkey Teeth/Grey build than what B_Don tried. Later on, we discuss how the approach in the 15 team snake darft TGFBI and the 15 team LABR mixed auction before breaking down his teams. DT connects with Alex over their shared belief that a Gallo/Gary Sanchez build won’t tank their batting average.

We ask Alex specifically about some of his pitchers and what we can expect from guys like: David Price, Zack Wheeler, Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and more.

B_Don and DT ask Alex about his Jameson Taillon interview from how he was able to reach out to some of the more interesting points from the interview. Cannot say it enough, if you enjoy pitching discussions, it’s a must listen.

As Taillon works his way back, we talk about which spring training stats might matter. While you’re stuck at home avoiding coronavirus, you might as well listen to some baseball talk.

Side note: Here’s the chart I discuss during the podcast for 2019 spring training velocity increases.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

B_Don and Donkey Teeth are Goin’ Deep with the fantasy baseball pitching guru, Eno Sarris of The Athletic.  The guys discuss the RazzSlam format and ask Eno how he may attack the draft in more of a DFS style. Yeah, it caught me by surprise as well, but listen to see what Eno means.

The Goin’ Deep duo then ask Eno about some pitchers from his rankings that don’t line up with Grey’s rankings including Noah Syndergaard, Yu Darvish, Lucas Giolito and Patrick Corbin.  He tells us which pitcher he’s comfortable with in the 1st round and educates us as to what he looks for in his pitching targets.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

*rubbing hands together*  This is where things get interesting. Anyone could tell you Cole, deGrom, yadda-blabbity-blue are top 20 starters.  I could ask some bean counter in Modesto, California who the top 20 starters are and he’d know, and he counts beans! Anyone can count beans! Honestly, why is he counting beans? Seems like a waste of time. Unless he’s making sure each can comes with 239 beans, because one more would be too farty! Any hoo! The top 40 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball is a bit like the top 20 for 2020 fantasy baseball. It could go dozens of ways.  This is the way I went. Here’s Steamer’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. Also, Razzball Subscriptions are now open. Early subscribers get Rudy’s War Room. All projections listed here are mine and I mention where I see tiers starting and stopping.  Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?