The most popular song in the universe right now is Running Up That Hill by art-pop super queen Kate Bush. The most common comment about that song I see on the ‘net is “Hey, have you heard the Placebo cover?” Yeah, I own that on CD. The second most common question: “Would Max from Stranger Things actually be listening to Kate Bush?” See, I thought the big “plan falls apart for the gang” moment would be when Max’s Walkman — truly, the uncredited hero of the series — ran out of batteries for the 98th time, or the cassette unraveled or warped or got put too close to a refrigerator magnet. I didn’t think the final boss interloper would be Alex from Stardew Valley doing Varsity Captain America and, you know, physically stepping on the Walkman.
To be honest, all the Kate Bush-listeners I knew of growing up were “on the internet.” Like, you knew these Kate Bush fans existed — much like Area 51 and the shadow people existed. Apparently, Big Boi was one of those fans. Like, really that fan. How must it feel to know something great exists, and you’re a fan for like, thirty years, but it’s mostly just you? It takes some sort of shared community moment for everybody else to understand, Yeah, I guess what you’re into is kind of great.
For me, the question isn’t really whether Max would listen to Kate Bush — I mean, Running Up That Hill has charted in the Top 10 in three separate decades. It’s not that obscure of a song. But more it’s the story of Max — the story of probably 90% of the readers here — that you’re the outcast and you’ve got one thing you like but nobody else likes it. Nobody else understands it. At least, nobody understands it, until they see the context. Then everybody sees that you were right all along. And I think that’s a takeaway of the R.U.T.H. phenomenon. You’re wondering if there’s a song that will save you.
Or maybe not a song. Maybe it’s baseball statistics. How many guys recite baseball stats and trends to distract themselves? Sorry 3 gals and 1 enby reader, I’m talking to the stereotypical boys here for a moment. You had a crap day at work, you turn on the game, you drink a beer so cold that you can make it through tomorrow’s meeting about re-ordering the widgets from a third-party vendor to save 0.5% on overhead. Or you’re feeling nostalgic, and you think back to sitting in center field with dad with a scorecard that only got filled out through the 4th inning before you got distracted by an ice cream sundae in an upturned miniature batter’s helmet. Or you’re in the process of being, as the kids say, frisky, and you start thinking about the difference between Tony Gonsolin’s ERA and FIP as a way to, you know, stay frisky.
When that moment that supernatural evil comes to claim you, will it be a song or stats or something else that saves you? I mean, you do you at that time — I don’t have the answer there. And I’m not saying what goes on in fantasy sports is artful by any means. But it’s a distraction, and it’s a focus, just like Running Up That Hill. And much like Kate Bush fans, you might need to wait a long-ass time before people really understand you. In the meantime, the best you can do is keep your batteries charged and the headphones on your ears. If I only could, I’d make a deal with god, and get him to swap our places…
News and Notes
Tony Gonsolin: 16 games started, 11 Wins, and the guy just survived 7IP while striking out only 3. There’s a whole bunch of “weak contact” aficionados out there who are dancing in the streets right now, celebrating hot takes on Gonso. But we always gotta go back to the coin toss metaphor. Gonsolin faced 24 batters in those 7 IP. He took care of 3 batters by himself. The remaining 21 batters put a bat on the ball and the ball went somewhere. In baseball, you’re either safe or out. Those are the only two outcomes. And 21 times in that game, a batter made contact with the ball. Like, Mookie Betts is a good fielder but he can’t be all over the ballpark picking up Gonsolin’s leftovers. The takeaway: Gonsolin has the biggest discrepancy between ERA and xERA among the top pitcher cohort (followed closely by Shane McClanahan, Sandy Alcantara and Justin Verlander…hmmm). Gonsolin is getting 2021 Julio Urias-levels of win luck right now and would finish the year 20-0 if the current streak continues. Even Rudy Razzball (I assume that’s his legal last name) is stunned at what Gonsolin’s doing this year (see below). Sure, Gonso is pitching well and got that dawg in him or whatever. But, soft contact is still contact. On the soft contact leaderboard next to Gonso are pitchers like Aaron Nola and Tyler Anderson (ERA=3.15) and Chris Bassitt (ERA=3.94). Outliers are great for fantasy sports — managers riding the Gonso wave right now are winning but they’re also getting Daft Punk-levels of lucky. Imagine you’re at the blackjack table and you’ve had a run of 11 hands of 19, 20, or 21 in a row. What a day! You’re absolutely cleaning up at the table and finally won enough chips to take your significant other to Morton’s Steakhouse and stay for dessert. You’ve won so much already — do you stay at the table? When all of your friends are saying, “Bruce (I assume your name is Bruce) — this isn’t sustainable, come back to the buffet and smash some crab legs while you’re ahead,” you should go crush those crabs. Nothing on Gonsolin’s radar says “Bruce, this is sustainable.” You’ve had your fun and now it’s done — soon enough Gonsolin’s balloon is going to deflate, and it will deflate quickly. Take your profits and move on, unless you’re the kind of Bruce that rides or dies. In which case, get your will ready.
— Rudy Gamble (@rudygamble) July 8, 2022
Chris Sale: Maybe you saw the video, or maybe you confused the video with whatever public freakout du jour video is out there. Sale, who definitely got that dawg in him, tore up the locker room after getting pulled from a rehab start with 5BB. Last week I speculated if Sale was really welcomed back in Boston this year. Sale can walk from his contract if he doesn’t like the hallowed patriot trail in Boston. Do the Red Sox like Sale? Because the Sox can just…not play him. That would be some kind of eff you, wouldn’t it? The odds are in favor that Sale plays this year and is fantasy relevant, but dynasty managers probably need to consider that Sale could find himself on a different team next year if this kind of behavior persists.
Andrew Heaney: Guy was supposed to miss a week or two and now we’re halfway through the season and he’s like Varsity Captain America in Stranger Things — skipping the entire second act to show up for his moment in the third act. Heaney is throwing in the outfield and still needs to do some rehab starts. If he is actually healthy, he’d be a great pickup for a fantasy playoff run. Just not a real-life MLB playoff run — like former Angels pitchers know anything of the playoffs, amirite?
Sandy Alcantara: Speaking of the variance monster, he came back to K-form this week with a 10K outing against the [checks notes] Angels. As I’ve noted all year, Alcantara is riding the variance wave and he’s been on the “fantasy useful” side for most of the year. I mean, if you thought the Gonsolin 7IP and 3K metaphor above was fun, try Alcantara’s 9IP, 7H, 3K outing from last week. Yeesh. Alcantara’s 10 punchout game was spurred by a return to his fastball — nearly 60% usage! When Alcantara had dropped his fastball usage to nearly 40% earlier this year, I wondered if he was trying to transition as a pitcher. Nobody wants to be known as “The guy who throws more fastballs than Lance Lynn.” That’s also when Alcantara entered a period of 40IP and 5.75 K/9. Yuck. ENYWHEY. I’m a broken record on Alcantara — his numbers don’t make sense for fantasy success. He’s drastically changing his pitch mix. He’s allowing a ton of contact, but it’s all going into the ground. His swinging-strike rate has been as low a 5% in games, and as high as…12%. 12% swinging-strike rate is like 1% skim milk. You drink that stuff but you question your quality of life. Best of luck to you fantasy managers riding the Alcantara train the rest of the year — I’ll be at the buffet smashing crab legs.
Carlos Rodon: Speaking of complete games, Rodon just threw a full 9 frames of 12K, 2BB, 3H. Rodon has allowed 1 HR over the last month while maintaining a near 11 K/9 and a sub-2.00 ERA to go with an even lower FIP. Rodon’s fastball is remaining fast, and fingers crossed that he won’t tire out over the fantasy baseball playoff run.
Spencer Strider: Record-breaking guy keeps breaking records.
More on Spencer Strider…
Strider is the FIRST ROOKIE in MLB's Modern Era (since 1900) with 11+ strikeouts and 2 or fewer hits allowed in consecutive starts. pic.twitter.com/BNIzgHqsEK
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 8, 2022
BRB, printing this article out, attaching adhesive to the front, googling “Spencer Strider Sell High,” and smashing my article into my computer screen to show those people. Wait, that’s not how we send articles?
Aaron Ashby: Let’s check out the biggest outlier on the confidence ranker and see what we can make of him. First, the bad: 2-6 record, 4.52 ERA. And the good? 3.22 xERA, 3.09 xFIP, 3.35 SIERA, and 11.2 K/9 to 2.73 BB/9 over his last 6 starts. Those last six starts — 6.37 ERA and 2.62 xFIP with a BABIP of .372. So, whatever Gonsolin is, Ashby is the opposite. 7 dingers allowed in 6 starts ain’t great, but many top pitchers have allowed that kind of batted ball profile over periods and you didn’t care. Ashby is 24, and has dealt with some forearm inflammation that landed him on the DL for a bit — but rather than the TJ kind of inflammation, this seemed more the “rookie” pitcher just getting a bit too much work kinda inflammation. The biggest threat to Ashby’s fantasy survival is the return of Freddy Peralta…might be worth chatting about that next?
Freddy Peralta: Peralta had been your fantasy stud for a year and a half and then he got injured and was supposed to miss the remainder of 2022. Yet, it’s July 10 and Peralta is pitching off a mound with a supposed return date of August/September. I mean, it’s really cute that the Brewers think they can compete with the Dodgers and Braves in the post-season, but at what cost? The Brewers core pitching rotation is locked in until like 2025 or something — there’s not a strict need to rush Peralta back to the field. ENYWHEY. If Peralta was dropped in your league, grab him now and cross fingers for a fantasy playoff run. If the Brewers fall out of the MLB playoff race at any time, we likely will see only a few stretch-out appearances from Peralta at the end of 2022, but Peralta could be making meaningful appearances for your fantasy team in September if the right circumstances unfold.
Hunter Greene: Since his 7 no-hit innings, Greene has a 6.23 ERA over 6 games started. But much like the story of every other underdog, Greene’s true skill stats say something else — his xFIP is 4.19 over that period, and his swinging strike rate averages 13% while touching 18%. He’s been playing with his pitch mix a ton (ranging from 40-60% fastballs) but his recent outings have seen his fastball average 100MPH. Whoa! Greene is 22 years old and has barely tested out his free Gillette razors and he’s got every chance to finish out the year strong — he’s already started 17 games and surpassed 85 IP, so there’s basically no reason to send him to the minors. Greene’s available in 50% of leagues and could be one of those “think ahead” type of players for your team — if your stud gets tired or injured or tears apart the clubhouse because he walked 5 batters, Greene’s 10+ K/9 could save your fantasy playoffs.
|3||Duane Underwood Jr.||PIT||2.347||-8.6|
|3||Enyel De Los Santos||CLE||2.341||-25.6|
|3||Mark Leiter Jr.||CHC||2.034||-12|
|4||Carl Edwards Jr.||WSH||1.986||-22.3|