If you’re anything like me, you’re currently in grass-stained covered sweatpants trying to eek out an extra minute of summer before the kids go back to school. Or, apparently, for most of you southerners, your kids have been in school for like two weeks. Somewhere out there, there’s SouthernwhereBlair who writes for RassBalls and discusses tight-pantsed pitchers. Or maybe that’s just me projecting my best self. Thanks, therapy! ENYWHEY. Let’s spend the next 1800 words discussing our favorite pitchers and why they make our pants tight.

News and Notes

Edward Cabrera: Do the Marlins have some sort of portable anti-humidor for their baseballs? Did they make a pact with BABIPataur, the God of Variance? Imagine, Derek Jeter teams up with Elon Musk to bore a hole into the earth while simultaneously sending Don Mattingly into space. This is the only way to reach the luxurious peaks and terrifying lows of variance. Jeets and Mattingly must communicate in parallel despite the great distance, which is why they got involved in the Marlins. Miami, with its soothing Sound Machine, turns out to be the perfect location to connect the highs and lows. ENYWHEY. Cabrera did the thing where he pitched 8 IP with less than a strikeout per inning and allowed no runs. BABIP of .111. 0.00 ERA and a 4.15 xFIP. None of this looks good unless you started him as a contrarian play in DraftKings and won a billion bucks because Wins payoff double for $5000 SP (sarcasm note: they don’t). On Mattingly’s space side: Cabrera’s swinging strike rate is a ridiculous 14%. Also up there with Space Mattingly: Cabrera has a 2.11 FIP since being called up in early August. On the down low with Jeets: Cabrera has nearly a 4 BB/9 over that same period, with BABIP sitting at .178. Are we dealing with variance or talent? I’m leaning a touch towards talent right now because has allowed a meager 9.3% line drive rate over the past month. Cabrera’s available in about 15% of leagues right now, and there’s just enough evidence that he can pull off this profile to be successful for fantasy managers. Add and start the rest of the way, but don’t be surprised if he takes your team down to visit Jeets in the depths of BABIP Hell. Sunday night update: Cabrera got tagged for 6 runs against the Dodgers. BABIPataur giveth and taketh.

Spencer Strider: Let’s due diligence Stridey! Since July 7, he’s 4-2 with a 2.87 ERA, 2.08 FIP, and 13.02 K/9. He just pulled off two quality starts in a row against the Cardinals and Astros and his swinging strike rate has still peaked near 20%. And people thought you should sell or avoid this guy. Hah! I laugh in their general direction. Loyal readers who jumped on the Strider train early in the season: you’re mostly welcome. Just don’t come around my house after 6PM because I’m probably crushing cans. I love recycling!

Mike Mayers: It must be Halloween! Mayers was one of the top Roleless Rob options going into the season. Unfortunately, he collapsed along with the rest of the Angels team. Oddly enough, with the 2022 Angels season trashed and the team reportedly looking for a new owner, Mike Mayers has been converted into a starter. Mayers is available in just about every league and has an interesting upside, although I don’t know if we’ll see it this year. He’s been knocked around a few times since beginning this piggy-back/starter gig in August, but there’s a promising swinging strike rate near 13% and a fastball that’s tracking in the +2/+3 runs saved realm. Mayers is throwing 5 pitches right now, and if he can learn anything from Spencer Strider or Robbie Ray, losing a couple of those pitches might solve his dilemma. Mayers is an interesting play for high-stakes leagues or spot start — after a tough matchup against the Yankees, he’s got Detroit and Cleveland on the schedule, which could be useful fantasy playoff matches. Tentative recommendation.

Nestor Cortes: Hit the 15-day IL with a groin strain, which is the worst timing for fantasy managers. Yes, it’s bad for Nestor too, but what about us grass-stained sweatpants-wearing fans? Groin strains can be troublesome and the Yankees have a 10-game lead over the Rays in the AL East, so we could see the kid glove treatment for Nestor to finish the 2022 regular season. As the pundits say, regular season for show, postseason for dough. If I’m the Yankees front office, I want Nestor fully healed for the playoffs and I send some random arms in to finish the end of the season to protect my de facto ace. Yeah, I said it. ACE.

Gerrit Cole: Speaking of the Yankees’ ace, Cole’s back in gear recently, with a 2-something ERA over the past 4 starts. His fastball velocity is also down about 2MPH over the recent starts, which is more nerve-wracking than any of the recent horror movies I’ve been watching. Don’t spoil The Sandman for me!

Blake Snell: Just when we thought we had reclaimed Snell from the Ineffective List, he’s off hurting us again. Snell’s recent woes are driven by an abominable 30% line drive rate, which is driving his BABIP into the .400+ range over his past two starts. BABIP is part “hit it where they ain’t” and part “can’t catch what flies past you.” We’re in the latter category right now, and I would be careful about his next start versus the Giants. Two starts from now, Snell is against the Diamondbacks, and I’d start myself against that lineup. [puts on Rolling Stones album, accidentally plays Sympathy for the Devil] Fingers crossed Snell corrects course here ASAP — the swinging strike rate is saying everything will be fine, but the line drive rate is saying “Drop and run far, far away.” Tentative sit recommendation.

Alex Wood: Guy’s been getting blown out recently but his swinging strike rate is still surging towards 20% in multiple games. His SIERA since July is a beautiful 3.21, and over the last 4 games, it sits a 3.48. Nothing here is screaming “7.00 ERA pitcher.” That said, it’s your fantasy team and regression can be a fickle friend. If you can’t wait for Wood’s upcoming 8IP/12K game that seems to be in the works, that’s fine, and you can drop him. If Journey is your favorite band, keep starting Wood and hang out by the nearest streetlight.

Dylan Cease: You know how every week I remind you that great pitchers go through rough times? Cease was doing that up until Sunday, where he decided to switch gears and go 8IP…against the Diamondbacks. Sure, we’ll count that as a comeback. In Cease’s previous 5 starts, he sported a sub-9 K/9 with a near-4 BB/9. His FIP in that period was 4.26 and xFIP neared 4.50. His pitches were on a downward velocity trend, with each pitch losing nearly 1MPH in velocity. Cease is nearing his career-high in IP and the White Sox are a complete mess of a team, so we may be seeing external factors coming into play. That said, any pitcher could make a comeback against the Diamondbacks this year. Cease is under team control for years to come, so the White Sox — regardless of who finishes the season as manager — don’t have a ton of reason to push him hard down the stretch. I’d be careful with his upcoming starts — we’re starting to see the evidence that he’s tiring out, but like Sunday demonstrated, he can still dominate against weaker teams.

Carlos Rodon: Speaking of the famous arm fatigue champion of 2021, Rodon’s recent starts featured his lowest fastball velocity of the year. Also, they were against the Athletics, Pirates, Diamondbacks, and Tigers. You know when you’re out for a bike ride and you hit a downhill plane and just coast? Keep an eye on Rodon’s next starts to see if his velocity is really a concern or if he was just coasting through the bottom-feeder teams.

Freddy Peralta: He’s baaaaaaaack! Whaddya know — a post with Mike Mayers and a “he’s back” reference. Yes, I realize spelling differences but just roll with me here — it’s spooky season! Peralta was supposed to miss the remainder of the 2022 season but then the miracle workers in Milwaukee revived him for their playoff run. Back from the dead — told you it was spooky season! Is it ever a good decision to bring back what was once lost? We’ll find out in 2023! Peralta is ramped up to 6IP but he still doesn’t have “his stuff” back. The fastball is still 2-3MPH slower than pre-injury, and some of his swinging strike rates have been closer to Martin Perez-levels than Peralta levels. If you’re in an inning-limited situation, you’ll probably want to move on from Peralta because his 7.3 K/9 rate since returning is fantasy irrelevant. But if you can wait another start or two for Peralta to get fully extended, you could reap major fantasy playoff benefits as Peralta gets ready for the MLB playoffs. Fingers crossed!

Sandy Alcantara: Doing his thing again. After doing his sub-6 K/9 thing and then getting chased by 6 runs in 3 IP, he came back with a complete game, 10K performance against the Dodgers. I’ve spilled too much digital ink about Alcantara this year, and the story remains the same: SABRmetrics views him as a boring, run-of-the-mill pitcher; traditional baseball card stats love him. In perspective, Alcantara is tied with Justin Verlander for highest xFIP of the top WAR earners, and Alcantara has the lowest K/9 by a nearly 10% margin. Alcantara’s SIERA is worse than Alex Wood, and you can see what I just wrote about him. Whatever. Maybe Bill James was wrong all along. Maybe Statcast is meaningless. Maybe I’ll be able to watch my Twins on a national broadcast. Nope! Rainout. Keep plugging Alcantara into your lineups.

David Peterson: I gave him a mild tout at the All-Star Break and he’s returned a fairly weird stat line over the past few months. After the All-Star Break, Peterson has made 4 starts and a couple relief appearances while putting up a 12.5 K/9 rate with an ERA in the 3.20 range and an FIP to match. His walk rate remains over 5 BB/9, which is plenty ugly and will limit his IP upside. If Peterson makes spot starts or sticks in the rotation, he’s worth a start.

Roansy Contreras: Re-arrived for a refill of coffee last week and has been pitching like a typical rookie — mediocre K and lots of walks. Contreras is a fine start for DFS or 16-team leagues, but there’s very little upside — the Pirates are probably just giving him extended MLB play in the hopes he sticks on the 2023 roster.

Clarke Schmidt: Holes in the Yankees rotation have opened up a spot for Schmidt, a first-round draft pick from 2017. Back in my grad school days, I always metaphor’d about how being a grad student was like being a minor leaguer — we’d spend like 6 years doing menial work only to finally get a shot at the big time when a professor got injured or went on extended vacation or whatever. ENYWHEY. Now that Cortes is hitting the IL, Schmidt gets to try out his hand in the starting rotation. 4.1 IP, 7 K…and just stop there and add and cross your fingers that he stays in the rotation. Whereas Roansy has a higher upside in dynasty but will be getting IP for the worst team in baseball, Schmidt could get those critical “Yankees want to preserve the rotation for the playoffs so they’re going to march out these other guys to keep the core safe” kind of innings. It’s really hard to make an SEO clickbait with that title, so stop giving a Schmidt and start him already.

What’s going on for your fantasy team? Let me know down in the comments, and hopefully, we can win some playoff matches for you!