Remember when it was July and we were all watching Stranger Things for the first time and getting Covid for the fourth time and I mentioned that a lot of fantasy baseball leagues were a matter of weeks away from the playoffs? Hey Siri, tell me what I said a few weeks ago. Weird thing is, Siri could actually do that, but Siri just doesn’t want you to know they could do that. Just like I could tell you that Grey has been wearing the same pair of “lucky” socks since 2007, but he doesn’t want you to know that. ENYWHEY.

As we look into the crystal ball that reveals the pitchers of the future, let’s take a special look to see which pitchers might take a breather along the way and become less useful for fantasy managers in the playoffs. Before we get too far, it’s worthwhile to note — this kind of discussion isn’t an exact science. However, there are factors that clue us in to which pitchers will be less or more useful to fantasy managers in the playoffs.

News and Notes

Tony GonsolinGonsolin is perhaps the least interesting 13-1 pitcher in MLB history. Even his 1.9 WAR recognizes this. I mean, Jose Quintana is 3-5 and has a higher WAR (2.2) than Tony Gonsolin (1.9). We’ve seen Gonsolin come back to earth recently, and he sports a 5+ ERA with a FIP near 4 over the past month. Probably more relevant to the fantasy playoffs, is that Gonsolin has made it to the 6th inning only once in the past month and in 3 out of his last 8 games. Gonsolin’s fastball is still doing its thing and he’s not exhibiting ridiculously obvious levels of “give me a break,” but Gonsolin hasn’t pitched more than 120 combined innings in a year since 2018. His IP count in 2022 so far? 110. What’s more, is the Dodgers will have a handful of starters coming back from injury who will need to get some innings under their belt before the real MLB playoffs. Those extra mouths will chomp IP, and whether they come at the cost of Gonsolin’s appearances remains to be seen. From a fantasy perspective, if your team has relied on Gonsolin this year, I recommend diversifying your pitcher portfolio fast. Dustin May is available in a ton of leagues and has a similar K/9 profile as Gonsolin. May will be back in MLB any minute — add him to balance out Gonsolin.

Nestor CortesIf there’s a classic profile for “load management,” it would be a guy like Nestor Cortes. Cortes has multiple years topping out around 110ish total IP, and Cortes just reached 112IP for 2022. But what’s really, really special about Nasty Nestor? His fastball is increasing in velocity as the year goes on. There are some weeds in the Nestor nest — a mere 7.7 K/9 over the past month with an xFIP above 4.00 — but the stats are suggesting that Nestor should finish out 2022 well enough for fantasy managers. With the recent announcement that Luis Severino will be on the IL until mid-September, the Yankees’ rotation is uncongested for the bulk of the foreseeable fantasy future. Stay nasty, Nestor.

Shohei OhtaniClearly, Ohtani’s never missed arm day. Whatever is going on with those limbs, I want some of that. Last year, when Ohtani was still “recovering” from Tommy John surgery, the Angels never quit Ohtani. They practically walked him up the mountain in denim and cowboy hats and made us want a sequel. So, 2022: the Angels are completely out of the running for a playoff wild card spot, and Trout and Rendon are hurt again. The Angels already discussed trading Ohtani at the deadline, and have indicated they’re interested in trade talks during the off-season. Even if the Angels decide that they’re holding Ohtani oh so close, then they still have to consider that Ohtani is up for arbitration this winter, and allowing him to pitch more could increase his wages. Perish the thought! But we saw something similar-ish happen last year when Shane Bieber said he was healthy enough to come back from injury, but the Guardians kept him away from the mound for most of the second half of the season. The fishwraps reported the “bonus” that Shane Bieber received when the Guardians rewarded a $6-million contract to their Cy Young-award winning, 2-time All-Star pitcher. Just so we’re clear, Antonio Senzatela — who is the same age as Shane Bieber and has half of the career WAR in roughly the same innings — makes $7.2 million per year. ENYWHEY. Think about the Bieber situation in the context of Ohtani. You’re the Angels, and you’re rebuilding around Ohtani via trade or via commitment. Do you keep Ohtani working hard in 2022, when there’s zero chance of the playoffs and a veritable cornucopia of arms willing to finish out 2022? Or do you let the face of your franchise –and the reigning MLB MVP — take it easy down the stretch and protect your investment for whatever you chose to do in 2023? This one could go either way. You choose your own outcome here, but I would be suspicious of pitcher Ohtani’s value in the fantasy playoffs.

Justin VerlanderThis [waves arms around at Justin Verlander being #1 on the Razzball Player Rater] wasn’t supposed to happen. 39-year-olds coming back from Tommy John surgery aren’t supposed to be the best pitcher in fantasy baseball, not when there’s guys like Miles Mikolas around. So, how ya doin’ Verny? Oy vey. Let’s get the Tiger out of the room: much of Verlander’s 2022 value has come from luck: he’s got 15 wins in 20 games started. He’s got an ERA that’s 1.20 points lower than his xERA, and 1.70 points lower than his xFIP. His SIERA — which is the most predictive stat once a volume of IP accumulates — is 3.30, which is [does napkin math] way higher than his 1.70 ERA. Mind you, 3.30 is still very good. It’s just not Pedro Martinez-levels of good. You know what they say: Red sky at night, Astros delight. Red sky at dawn, Astros take…prawns. I dunno. What’s clear is that Verlander should be tiring out soon, but there are some factors that come into play, like the fact that this could be his last year pitching. Verlander has a player option on his contract after 2022, but what are the odds he comes back? Not a lot of starting pitchers past 40 years old in MLB: Rich Hill and Adam Wainwright this year, and then the previous one was 45-year-old Bartolo Colon in 2018 (memories!). Verlander has $300+ million in career earnings, an MVP, 2 Cy Youngs, and a World Series ring. He could literally pitch until his arm fell off in 2022. But truth is, the Astros need a guy like Verlander in the playoffs, and they have a 12-game lead in the AL West. Perhaps the most likely narrative is that Verlander eases a bit on IP in the regular season (bad for the fantasy playoffs) and then cranks it up for the MLB playoffs (irrelevant for fantasy). That said, we’re dealing with a first ballot HOF’er — Verlander can call his shot. He’ll want to go out on top, and fantasy managers will ride along no matter what.

Logan WebbFastball in his last start was down 2MPH over his season average, and he’s approaching his career max IP. Tread cautiously.

Adam WainwrightNot that he’s a velocity monster, but he’s lost over 1.5MPH from his fastball in the past few starts. Watch out for pain, right?

Shane BieberFastball is still there, but it’s also 2-3 MPH lower than where it was in 2020/2021. If I’m Bieber, there’s not a ton of motivation to throw as hard as I can: the Guardians jettisoned a bunch of their top talent, and they’re still in second place in the worst division in MLB. What’s more, Bieber is still not eligible for free agency, and he won’t be for another fraking 3 years. Bieber’s been pretty good recently, but it’s worth pointing out that he’s 30IP over his 2021 volume already.

Shane McClanahanFor fracks’ sake people overreact to natural variations in performance. Long-time readers will remember that Gerrit Cole regularly goes through really tough spots every year. Like, Gerrit Cole has a 5 ERA over his last six starts and I’m still watching touts cheer him every outing. Over McClanahan’s last six starts, he has a lower ERA (3.41), lower FIP (2.76), and higher swinging-strike rate (16%) than Gerrit Cole. Why do people lose faith so quickly? McClanahan’s fastball is struggling a bit, but there’s no major sign of worry. Sure, he’s matching his career-high for IP and he plays for the Rays — tons of opportunities for IP limits coming up. But McClanahan’s style of pitching is efficiency-based, and he needs only 150-160IP to put up the same fantasy value as 180IP+ pitchers. Keep rolling with McClanahan through your fantasy playoffs. Variance is natural — there will be better performances and worse performances, and sometimes the timing of this variance is inconvenient for your fantasy success. But the far worse mistake is to doubt the stats behind a player’s success.

The Rankings

I’m cutting down even further — I think there’s only Garrett Whitlock remaining for the Roleless Robs. Feel free to start players in favorable matchups regardless of their ranking. Good luck!

Tier Name Team Confidence Own% L30$/G
1 Spencer Strider ATL 5.424 100 23.9
1 Carlos Rodon SF 5.264 100 22.6
1 Shohei Ohtani LAA 5.257 100 1.3
1 Shane McClanahan TB 5.176 100 -2
1 Max Scherzer NYM 5.054 100 39.2
1 Corbin Burnes MIL 4.992 100 -2
1 Gerrit Cole NYY 4.941 100 -4.4
1 Dylan Cease CHW 4.827 100 53.1
1 Brandon Woodruff MIL 4.822 100 1.9
1 Cristian Javier HOU 4.765 100 -21.4
1 Kevin Gausman TOR 4.666 100 10.7
1 Blake Snell SD 4.499 100 30.8
1 Aaron Nola PHI 4.176 100 16.3
1 Aaron Ashby MIL 3.922 98 -22.6
1 Zack Wheeler PHI 3.922 100 28.9
1 Shane Bieber CLE 3.899 100 35.5
1 Max Fried ATL 3.878 100 -11
1 Tarik Skubal DET 3.839 95 15.8
1 Hunter Greene CIN 3.833 55 5.1
1 Alex Cobb SF 3.825 70 -11.1
1 Yu Darvish SD 3.760 100 33.8
1 Justin Verlander HOU 3.672 100 64.5
1 Jon Gray TEX 3.658 66 10.7
1 Joe Musgrove SD 3.639 100 -38.4
1 Sandy Alcantara MIA 3.639 100 11.9
1 Luis Castillo SEA 3.606 100 29.5
2 Alex Wood SF 3.548 70 9.1
2 Corey Kluber TB 3.543 86 -12.3
2 Frankie Montas NYY 3.531 100 -5.9
2 Nestor Cortes NYY 3.518 100 -2.6
2 Tyler Mahle MIN 3.517 100 14.1
2 Garrett Whitlock BOS 3.510 100 -9.9
2 Pablo Lopez MIA 3.510 100 -27.4
2 Charlie Morton ATL 3.479 100 -2.6
2 Patrick Sandoval LAA 3.474 98 -35
2 Chris Bassitt NYM 3.472 100 8.8
2 Carlos Carrasco NYM 3.458 100 20.2
2 Martin Perez TEX 3.457 100 9.1
2 Merrill Kelly ARI 3.450 100 42.4
2 Robbie Ray SEA 3.448 100 -31.1
2 Framber Valdez HOU 3.424 100 -4
2 Alek Manoah TOR 3.413 100 20.2
2 Brady Singer KC 3.398 73 3
2 Zac Gallen ARI 3.393 100 7.7
2 Logan Webb SF 3.382 100 -13.6
2 Luis Garcia HOU 3.377 100 -3.5
2 Luis Garcia HOU 3.377 100 -3.5
2 Jose Quintana STL 3.361 39 -10.7
2 Tyler Anderson LAD 3.354 100 19.8
2 Tony Gonsolin LAD 3.346 100 0
2 Justin Steele CHC 3.344 16 -4.7
2 Jeffrey Springs TB 3.336 73 -4.2
2 George Kirby SEA 3.327 93 -2.2
2 Julio Urias LAD 3.316 100 34.2
2 Kyle Wright ATL 3.312 100 4.1
2 Sonny Gray MIN 3.290 100 -19.6
2 Luis Severino NYY 3.287 91 -103.9
2 Clayton Kershaw LAD 3.273 100 17.5
2 Marcus Stroman CHC 3.259 73 6.7
2 JT Brubaker PIT 3.257 14 -54.6
2 Logan Gilbert SEA 3.227 100 -35.8
2 Sean Manaea SD 3.218 95 -33
2 Triston McKenzie CLE 3.216 100 16
2 Jameson Taillon NYY 3.210 89 -24.7
2 Miles Mikolas STL 3.204 100 6.7
2 Jordan Montgomery STL 3.178 100 -25.3
2 Nick Pivetta BOS 3.147 43 -84.2
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martinrostoker
martinrostoker
1 month ago

Hi Blair,

should I stay with the plan;

1. start Mikolas and sit Aaron Ashby?

2. Start Tyler Anderson and sit Brady Singer?

thanks again!

martin

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
1 month ago

Hi Blair,

would you waive Jeffrey Springs to get Nick Pivetta?

thanks!!

Martin

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

thanks

Dude
Dude
1 month ago

14 Team Dynasty
A or B?

A. Ketel Marte, Ashby and Dunning

B. Nolan Jones, Jesus Sanchez, Brady Singer and Aroldis Chapman

Dude
Dude
Reply to  Dude
1 month ago

A. Ketel Marte, DJ Lamahieu, Ashby, Dunning

B. Nolan Jones, Jesus Sanchez, Jesus Luzardo, Brady Singer

martin rostoker
martin rostoker
1 month ago

Hi Blair,

I was thinking of your advice

I have Josh Bell, Rowdy Tellez, Wilmer Flores and Kris Bryant (IL) who are available to play first base. I was thinking of therefore offering CJ Cron and Jeffery Springs for Framber Valdez. Is this a good idea?

Thanks!!!

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

thanks!!

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  martinrostoker
1 month ago

no joy in Mudville. He turned it down. not unexpected. thanks for helping. As the legendary Bill Veeck said “ sometimes the best trades are the ones that you don’t make”.

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
1 month ago

Hi Blair,

1. One of the managers offered me Framber Valdez for Corbin Burnes who is my ace. i was going to turn it down. Do you agree?

2. He also has Yu Darvish and Shane Bieber on his staff. what about asking for one of these two as well as Valdez. Who would you ask for? i then could also add Jeffrey Springs if you think that I should. What are your thoughts?

thanks again!

martin

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

great advice! thanks!

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
1 month ago

Hi Blair,

Do you feel like a genus? i followed your advice and started Brady Singer (plus 30 points) and I also sat Mikolas at Colorado (he was minus 39 points). Thanks so much!

1. Singer’s next start is at KC against the Dodgers. I was going to sit him. What are your thoughts?

2. Singer’s next start after LAD is at Tampa. i was going to start him against TB. Do you agree?

3.St Louis’ Mikolas next start is at home against the Brewers. Would you start him?

Thanks again! Life is good when you make the right fantasy pitching dec!

martin

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

Thanks for remembering about GS.

i appreciate all these details!

martin

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
1 month ago

Hi Blair,

i am leaning to sitting the Cards Mikolas at Colorado. Do you agree?

thanks again for all your help!

martin

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

thanks so much!!!

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
1 month ago

Hi Blair,

always enjoy your in-depth responses!

is it worth trying to trade for Jesus Lazardo of Miami or Edward Cabrera of Miami? if yes, would your offer CJ Cron and Aaron Ashby?

Thanks!!

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

thanks!!

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

thank you!

steve stevenson
steve stevenson
1 month ago

Mahle is a top ___ AL starter next year.

Norman Ginsberg
Norman Ginsberg
1 month ago

I agree that a compressed list is appropriate from now forward. And as I read the list, I see at least 10% further omissions next week.
a. Severino; Jon Gray; Skubal; and Hunter Greene are no longer active.
b. Manaea; Pivetta; and Kyle Wright also now seem to have lost any relevence.

Don't be a Hader
Don't be a Hader
1 month ago

Maybe I just don’t understand your math. I’m confused by the high Ashby ranking.
He’s a loser of 4 straight, and a WHIP killer.
How do you lose to that Reds lineup??

steve stevenson
steve stevenson
Reply to  Don't be a Hader
1 month ago

His stuff is naaaaasty

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

Lynn is getting me excited. Velo keeps ticking up.

martin rostoker
martin rostoker
1 month ago

Hi Blair,

i am down to 340 innings or 56 starts.

Should I try to limit my picks to seven or eight starts per week. Do you agree with this approach? If i follow this approach then i would start:

1. Corbin Burnes at St. louis
2. C. Javier home against Oakland
3. Tyler Anderson at KC
4. Mikolas home against Milwaukee
5. Mike Clevinger at Washington
6. Pablo Lopez at home against Atlanta
7. Alex Wood at home against Pitt

1. Do you agree with the decision to start these above seven?

2. Please let me know if you would start or sit:

A. Jeffrey Springs of TB at Milwaukee.
B. Brady Singer at home against CHW
C. Alex Cobb at home against AZ
d. Miles Mikolas of StL at Colorado

3.Should I keep Aaron Ashby?

Thanks for all your help and insight!

Martin

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

Thanks! Great insight!

would you waive Ashby to pick up Justin Steele of Chi Cubs for Steel next start at home against Washington or considering my inning just pass on this move? His razz dollars are minus 7 although some fantasy writers like this start?

one other question. i was going to pass and sit the Giants Cobb at SD. do you agree?

thanks again so much for your detailed responses!

martin

martinrostoker
martinrostoker
Reply to  everywhereblair
1 month ago

great advice! thanks!