I really wanted to start this post with a quote, something like “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, or something like that. I figured that was a great way to offer hope and encouragement regarding the “second half” of the season. Let’s face it, with this whole “seamingly” out of nowhere spike in offense the last two seasons, there’s one inevitable conclusion. Pitching sucks!!! I mean we’ve been holding onto any shred of decency available. Look at Jason Vargas! Why am I ranking Jason Vargas? Does he have some sort of magnificent secret about these new Hi-C joints MLB is calling balls? Why the hell is he so much better than Justin Verlander? I have too many questions! I’m supposed to have answers! Here’s the truth, as if I’ve been lying to you before. There’s maybe 20 matchup proof starters in all of baseball, and then the rest of them you have to be careful with to varying degrees. Now, that’s not necessarily true for points formats, or deeper leagues with quality starts. Or even those with a greater emphasis on counting stats over ratios. But in our RCL formats, or any 5×5 roto with innings or starts limits, you must choose wisely. Around every corner lurks a roofie to your ratios. Just because Jordan Montgomery has been good more often than not, that doesn’t mean I’m up to a level of confidence that I’d start him in Colorado. Nah mean?  Nod along.  If you’re having trouble knowing which starts to avoid, check out Rudy’s Stream-O-Nator. It’s the perfect objective voice on those tough decisions you won’t get in your own head, or from your friends. That is, if you have friends with voices in your head and all. Anyway, be careful out there, and good luck in the second half.

Below you’ll see this week’s update to the Top 100 starters. What’s changed is we haven’t had three days of unfortunate meltdowns and last minute 2PM on Monday DL placements, to throw things into flux. So no cloud of full on recency bias hanging over the whole thing. BT-dubs, I don’t remember a world before the phrase “recency bias”. It’s unbelievably overused, and I for one am contributing as much as I can to it’s exhaustion. It’s not just fantasy sports specific either. It’s multi-purpose!!!! For example, let’s say my wife says something to the effect of “Ralph, you’ve been terrible in bed of late”, I can claim recency bias, and then mention all those times I wasn’t. Oh, and I guess it works for pitchers, prospects, and (those icky, disgusting, and gluttonous) hitters too. Where am I going with all this?


Razzball Baseball

Updated Top 100 SP

(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto)

1 Max Scherzer, WAS 
2 Chris Sale, BOS
3 Clayton Kershaw, LAD
4 Alex Wood, LAD 
5 Corey Kluber, CLE 
6 Zack Greinke, ARI  
7 Stephen Strasburg, WAS  
8 Lance McCullers, HOU 
9 Carlos Martinez, STL
10 Madison Bumgarner, SF   
11 Jacob deGrom, NYM
12 Yu Darvish, TEX
13  Carlos Carrasco, CLE   
14  Robbie Ray, ARI
15 Luis Severino, NYY 
16 Chris Archer, TB  
17 David Price, BOS  
18 Michael Fulmer, DET    
19  Johnny Cueto, SF
20 Jose Berrios, MIN   
21 Jake Arrieta, CHC  
22  James Paxton, SEA 
23 Jimmy Nelson, MIL
24 J.A. Happ, TOR    
25 Jon Gray, COL  
26  Sean Manaea, OAK
27 Marcus Stroman, TOR  
28 Rich Hill, LAD 
29 Jon Lester, CHC  
30 Jameson Taillon, PIT 
31 Dan Straily, MIA 
32 Jeff Samardzija, SF
33 Jacob Faria, TB
34 Jason Vargas, KC   
35 Gerrit Cole, PIT 
36 Jose Quintana, CHW
37 Gio Gonzalez, WAS       
38 Zack Godley, ARI    
39 Brandon McCarthy, LAD   
40 Jordan Montgomery, NYY  
41 Michael Pineda, NYY      
42 Steven Matz, NYM
43 Ivan Nova, PIT   
44 Danny Duffy KC   
45 Drew Pomeranz, BOS  
46 Jake Odorizzi, TB   
47    Cole Hamels, TEX  
48 Dylan Bundy, BAL
49 Kenta Maeda, LAD
50   Sonny Gray, OAK
51 Carlos Rodon, CHW    
52 Taijuan Walker, ARI       
53 Mike Clevinger, CLE        
54 Mike Foltynewicz, ATL  
55 Aaron Nola, PHI   
56 Charlie Morton, HOU 
57 Ervin Santana, MIN    
58 Justin Verlander, DET    
59 Rick Porcello, BOS   
60 Masahiro Tanaka, NYY    
61 Mike Leake, STL  
62 Brad Peacock, HOU    
63   Felix Hernandez, SEA    
64 Aaron Sanchez, TOR   
65 Lance Lynn, STL        
66 C.C. Sabathia, NYY       
67 Alex Cobb, TB
68 Sean Newcomb, ATL  
69 Seth Lugo, NYM      
70 Jose Urena, MIA      
71 Jeff Hoffman, COL    
72 Dinelson Lamet, SD  
73 Ariel Miranda, SEA     
74 Marco Estrada, TOR        
75 Michael Wacha, STL   
76 Mike Montgomery, CHC      
77 Nick Pivetta, PHI   
78 John Lackey, CHC        
79 Trevor Cahill, SD            
80 Adam Wainwright, STL  
81 Mike Fiers, HOU       
82 Luis Castillo, CIN 
83 Tyson Ross, TEX     
84 Trevor Bauer, CLE   
85                               German Marquez, COL                                 
86 Scott Feldman, CIN   
87 J.C. Ramirez, LAA   
88 Ian Kennedy, KC 
89 Zack Wheeler, NYM    
90 Kyle Freeland, COL 
91 Luis Perdomo, SD   
92 Jaime Garcia, ATL  
93 Kevin Gausman, BAL       
94 Zach Davies, MIL 
95 Jason Hammel, KC  
96 Joe Ross, WAS 
97 Andrew Moore, SEA 
98 Jhoulys Chacin, SD  
99 Tanner Roark, WAS  
100 Trevor Williams, PIT


Disabled List (Ranking When Active):  Noah Syndergaard, NYM (8), Dallas Keuchel, HOU (13), Chase Anderson, MIL (29) Kyle Hendricks, CHC (33), Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS (31),  Matt Shoemaker, LAA  (54)Andrew Triggs, OAK (61), Matt Andriese, TB (68),Vincent Velasquez, PHI (73),  Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD   (75)Kendall Graveman, OAK (76), Matt Harvey, NYM (99) Brandon Finnegan, CIN (100)

Coming Up: Brandon Woodruff, MIL (DL), Chance Adams, NYY, Jose De Leon, TB, Brent Honeywell, TB, Jack Flaherty, STL, Luke Weaver, STL

Dropped off: Francisco Liriano, TOR, Jordan Zimmermann, DETEdinson Volquez, MIA, Jesse Hahn, OAK, R.A. Dickey, ATL, Tyler Chatwood, COLTy Blach, SF 

  • I often list the number of pitchers with SwStr% of 10%+ and groundball rates of 50%+, and I often hear the same complaint from the voices in my head. “What about the weak contact flyball guys?”. Don’t worry random commenter in my head, I got you. This week We’re listing all those with infield flyball rates, or IFFB%, of 10%+ and SwStr% of 10%+. These heroes are as follows, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Zack Greinke, Carlos Martinez, Jacob DeGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Robbie Ray, Chris Archer, Johnny Cueto, Dan Straily, Dylan Bundy, Drew Pomeranz, Masahiro Tanaka, Marco Estrada, Patrick Corbin.
  • There are 17 pitchers with that combo of swinging strikes and infield flies, and 11 of them are in my top 20.
  • Since returning from the DL Cole Hamels hasn’t been the guy of old, but he’s shown glimpses the past two starts. Over those 14.1 innings, Hamels has struckout 12 while only allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, and a walk. Small sample, but possibly a glimmer of hope. The upcoming opponents for the Rangers aren’t scary either, @KC, @BAL, @TB, MIA, BAL, SEA, @MIN.
  • Jason Vargas has been one of the most surprising breakout players in recency-bias-memory, and it’s been on the strength of his knuckle changeup. He throws the pitch 30% of the time, and the outcomes are exactly what you would expect from an elite offspeed pitch. It gets a high number of swinging strikes, with a 21.85% whiff rate. While rarely allowing contact with a BAA of .155.
  • Another veteran enjoying an uncharacteristically strong season is Ervin Santana and his two pitch focused approach. Santana throws his fastball or his slider 75% of the time, and each pitch has been successful at limiting good contact. The fastball boasts a .204 batting average against, and the slider is even better at .153. Unfortunately his breaking ball is the only swing and miss pitch in Santana’s arsenal, inducing whiffs at a 14.8% rate.
  • Since Robbie Ray ditched his sinker (more or less), started throwing his curve more, and some very good things happened. In fact he now has four pitches with a swinging strike rate north of 10%.
  • Over the past few weeks a great deal of talent has returned from DL exodus, and into the Top 100 Starters. Chief among them is Madison Bumgarner, who’s set to start this Saturday. The last two rehab outings were tough, but take those with a grain of salt. I don’t think you can expect him 100% with total certainty, but I’d be shocked if he’s anything less than 98.43%.
  • I took a long hard look at Rudy’s rest of season projections for starters, and I was a little shocked to see how much higher they were on Danny Duffy than I was. He’s had an injury plagued follow up to his highest inning total in a single season. He’s not missing bats like he did in his breakout 2016, and much of that is due to the year over year deterioration of his fastball’s dominance. In 2016, Duffy was getting 12.77% swinging strikes on his four-seamer, that number is just 7.25% this season. In turn the batting average on that pitch has jumped 40 points from .239 in 2016 to .279 in 2017. Makes sense that he’s throwing nearly 10% less four-seamers this year, which has led to a spike in slider usage. That’s not a great development for a player with a history of arm injuries.
  • The player rater isn’t very rosy about the rest of season numbers for a few starters in my Top 60. The biggest disagreement is over Ivan Nova’s rank; I slotted Nova in at 43, and Rudy slotted him in at 71. I get the lack of strikeouts dings his value but he’s had worth in ERA and WHIP, in a season where that’s more scarce than ever.
  • The player rater loves Tanaka rest of season, ranking him 24th from here on out. I’m sorry, but I have memories and emotions, and those prohibit such lofty ranks.
  • As is a running theme here at Razzball I’m the high man on Michael Fulmer. Serious question, why do you hate Michael Fulmer? He offers a four pitch arsenal, a mid-90’s velocity fastball, lots of groundballs, lots of infield flies, and great ratios. I understand the K’s are under 7 per 9, but are you really taking Lester, Porcello, even Cueto over him?


Follow me on Twitter @Ralphlifshitzbb, and check out my weekly Live Baseball Show on Fantrax YouTube channel Tuesday’s at 9 PM EST