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Welcome to week 4 — the week where all the data finally makes sense and the futures of every player become written in stone! Not really — that’s kind of the wonky thing about baseball — it might take years to make effective predictions about player performance (see Greinke comma Zack). For me, May is where I start to vaguely pay attention to baseball again because the stats are meaningful again. DFS becomes a bit more predictable, and the rest of us fantasy ballers (Grey’s mom’s word) are ready to spew out meaningful and actionable takes. Like, “Sit that clown Lucas Giolito! I kid, I would never bad-mouth a White Sox player [stares at Dylan Cease].

Let’s learn about some interesting players!

News and Notes

Mike Clevinger: After returning from Thomas John surgery, Sir Michael Clevinger — the gunslinger for the Christian Fathers — will be making his vengeful return against his former nation on Tuesday. Cleveland, beware. Fantasy managers: You do you. He’ll probably get 3IP, maybe 5 if he’s really efficient, but generally speaking, pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery have a slow ramp-up to their pitching duties. That ramp up? Not great for most fantasy formats. So, make it your own call and see what happens.

Carlos Rodon: I’m not saying “I told ya so” because Rodon only had a solid 15ish outings in his arm last year, but for 2022, Rodon is slicing through batters and looking like the beast his therapist told him he is. Hopefully, that therapist isn’t one of those primal scream practitioners.

Jesus Luzardo: We’d love to say that he’s risen again — I mean, it is Easter season — but Luzardo is leading the Confidence leaderboard in the “true skills look awesome but baseball card stats look crap” metric. Luzardo’s K/9 is right there with Rodon (and that’s also one of the tops in the league so far) and Luzardo has a 1.32 FIP to a 3.77 ERA. So, grab your followers and get walking through the desert and pick up Luzardo if he’s available, or maybe trade while his value is “low” with that 3.77 ERA.

Clayton Kershaw: All over the news as the Dodgers’ all-time strikeout leader, surpassing [checks notes} Fernando Valenzuela + Hideo Nomo + Kenley Jansen + Rich Hill. Whateva. You cool cats and kittens knew that I was way higher on Kershaw in the pre-season than every other ranker. Something, something, forearm tightness. Oh wait, let’s see how this goes. For the meantime, enjoy the ride and hope that the LA Baseball Team knows how to do workload management, just like another LA team: Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Trevor Bauer: Gonezo. Told ya.

Eric Lauer: Back into small sample-size territory! Lauer was pretty meh last year, but this year he’s lights out. My system loves him because he’s racking up innings and his FIP is, quite literally, sitting at my cutline threshold. Ya see, early in the season, there are a ton of outlier numbers, like all these negative value FIP numbers. The pitcher is somehow gaining runs for their offense! What a game! All of those numbers are going to inflate over time; no pitcher will finish the year with a -0.93 FIP. Ain’t happening. Don’t screenshot this and tag me in #badtakesexposed. I’ll get to those later. Lauer’s FIP is happy at 2.50, which is my somewhat arbitrary early-season cutline, thus he’s jumped into the first tier of pitchers. If his FIP was, say, 2.51 — like, he hit a batter or pitched one out less — he’d be in tier 2. Whatever. Buy Laurer. B’Laurer. Sounds like a character in my upcoming Klingon sci-fi saga.

Casey Mize: Ligament sprain. You know what a sprain is, right? [10 minutes of audience silence] Let me quote the Mayo Clinic: “A sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments” [throws up]. Yeesh, fantasy baseball is super gross. So, you know what happened with Dinelson Lamet? Remember him? No? OK. He was a top ten pitcher in 2020 before he got the sprained elbow all the kids are talking about. Remember Zac Gallen? No? He was [checks notes] a pitcher before he also got the sprained elbone. Casey Mize: a pitcher you’ll be remembering in 2023 because the sprained elbow ligament usually winds up in either A) middle reliever mode, or B) Tommy John. We wish you the best Mr. Mize, but fantasy managers can easily move onwards (just, not like the Pixar film with the semi-decapitated dad. Yeesh).

Hyun-Jin Ryu: Yikes. He should be returning vaguely soon, but I wouldn’t toss him in the starting lineup when he does. Forearm inflammation is typically bad news (don’t read my Kershaw blurb above), so I’m fine dropping Ryu or letting him lament on the bench while he heals.

Julio Urias: His FIP is nearly double his ERA, his BABIP is .170, and he’s walking 4 batters per nine. This is Jack’s complete lack of surprise. Sorry, my name’s EE-Double-ya-bee. I’m not saying “sell high,” but I am saying, “Don’t be surprised if the next couple outings look like Dippin Dots — expensive and ugly.”

German Marquez: Guy whose fantasy value is tied to Ks ain’t striking anybody out. Drop and move on; come back later if he figures it out.

Robbie Ray: The namesake of this article had a tough start to the year but bounced back with a 2 start week, tossing 11IP with 13K, 5BB, and a 2.03 FIP (which was way better than his 4+ ERA). The K/9 is back above 10 and now we just gotta move those BB/9 down and we’re good to go. Hold the line.

Josh Fleming: Well, this is a weird one. 2IP, 7 runs allowed…but NONE of them earned. I mean, what are we supposed to do about that? And the guy finishes with a 9 K/9 in that weird sample size. Again, I’m not here to ballyhoo the Roleless Rob, but there’s your Josh Fleming hype follow-up.

MacKenzie Gore: Was so bad last year that the Dads refused to call him up, but in 2022, one of baseball’s top prospects has already broken into my top tier. Hey NSA! Stop Googling “broken in”. Or maybe we need that government web traffic. ENYWHEY. Gore K’d 10 in 5 IP this last start and has 20K in 15IP on the year. Seems like his 2021 case of the yips/injury is gone (Gore’d? hmm) and we’re getting pure prospect freshness on the mound. Let him start from here on out. Speaking of wonky stats, Gore’s 2.51 FIP puts him that .01 points above my cutline, so if he had a 2.49 FIP, for example, he’d be up by Dylan Cease and Corbin Burnes.

Lucas Giolito: So why is Giolito in Tier 3? Beats me, let’s find out. In short, my system is concerned about the quality of hits against him (again, small sample size). So far, Giolito’s allowed a 13% barrel rate, which is about TWICE his career norm. Most notably, his “medium hard” [hehe] hit rate has taken a 10% jump, and only 10% of balls are considered weakly hit. This has produced a .357 BABIP, most of which isn’t luck-driven. Since the StatCast era emerged, us “baseball analysts” came to realize that BABIP is not a catch-all for pitcher luck; in fact, it’s heavily influenced by medium and hard-hit balls. If you smash a ball in play, it’s hard to catch it, right? Thus, the high batting average. This is combined with Giolito’s “lucky” 92% left-on-base percentage, which indicates we’ve got some regression coming, and that’s why my system is concerned. On the whole, Giolito’s K-rate is insane and his CSW% is above 35%, which bodes well. If he can limit the hard contact, I envision him jumping ranks very quickly.

Add These Guys: My system is telling me the following guys are under-rostered: Keegan Thompson, Jalen Beeks, Jakob Junis, and Blake Treinen.

The Ranks

Always do a sanity check. I’m providing free data that quite literally has a better or higher correlation to fantasy efficacy than many sites that charge an arm and a leg and don’t answer your questions. That said, I’m human and make mistakes; I also submit the article on Sunday so there’s a bit of lag. The source of this data is none other than Razzball itself. So, if you are winning money or having a great time reading the articles, please consider a subscription to the site or drop me a line in the comments and let me know I’m not wasting my life away for naught.

Here’s how to use the list:

  • Tier: 1=best, 2=everybody else for 12 team consideration, 3=deep league/dynasty/best ball/tournaments/DFS, 4= you do you.
  • Name: Player name
  • Confidence: The overall score my system outputs. The higher the score, the more confident I am in using the player. As always, we’re in small sample size territory, so this ranking will get better as the season goes on.
  • Own%: This is the rostership % of the player in Razzball Commenter Leagues, run on Fantrax. This may vary depending on site and format for readers.
  • L30$/G: This is how valuable the player has been over the past month. Players with high confidence who have low or negative $/G are “buy low” candidates. Shohei Ohtani has been blistering with his true skill stats, but his roto stats (like a 4.40 ERA) aren’t valuable. This indicates we should expect Ohtani to be much more valuable soon. Spot starters/Roleless Robs will have a lower $/G because they play in more games. Michael King, for example, has pitched in twice as many games as the other top P.
Tier Name Confidence Own% L30$/G
1 Carlos Rodon 3.895 100 53.2
1 Kyle Wright 3.734 100 50.5
1 Nestor Cortes 3.681 100 24.3
1 Clayton Kershaw 3.674 100 53.1
1 Max Scherzer 3.650 100 47.1
1 Shane McClanahan 3.469 100 4.9
1 Jesus Luzardo 3.454 100 6.7
1 Eric Lauer 3.431 100 25.7
1 Shohei Ohtani 3.373 100 0
1 Corbin Burnes 3.355 100 30.9
1 Dylan Cease 3.300 100 1.2
1 Patrick Sandoval 3.182 100 28.7
1 Kevin Gausman 3.125 100 11.9
1 Steven Matz 3.076 59 -38.1
1 MacKenzie Gore 3.035 100 18.9
1 Freddy Peralta 3.007 100 -36
2 Tarik Skubal 2.725 100 -12.5
2 Pablo Lopez 2.718 100 51.1
2 Josiah Gray 2.700 82 -14.2
2 Paul Blackburn 2.696 89 33.6
2 Max Fried 2.693 100 8.5
2 Joe Musgrove 2.684 100 31
2 Carlos Carrasco 2.647 100 -13.6
2 Tyler Mahle 2.629 100 -45.7
2 Merrill Kelly 2.571 91 14.9
2 Chris Paddack 2.568 7 -26.3
2 Justin Verlander 2.562 100 37.8
2 Tylor Megill 2.558 100 32.5
2 Garrett Whitlock 2.557 100 6.8
2 Frankie Montas 2.552 100 -5.6
2 Brandon Woodruff 2.551 100 -24.7
2 Aaron Nola 2.543 100 -5.4
2 Wil Crowe 2.539 48 3
2 Joe Ryan 2.491 100 47.6
2 Chris Bassitt 2.476 100 29.2
2 Keegan Thompson 2.470 20 16.1
2 Chasen Shreve 2.465 0.3
2 A.J. Minter 2.465 -4.7
2 Logan Gilbert 2.463 100 43.9
2 Kenley Jansen 2.445 100 2.1
2 Shane Bieber 2.441 100 -1
2 Dylan Bundy 2.440 70 15
2 Sean Manaea 2.425 100 -5.1
2 Martin Perez 2.420 -17.7
2 Nick Lodolo 2.407 55 -37
2 Zac Gallen 2.400 100 17.3
2 Yu Darvish 2.394 100 -19.4
2 Ross Stripling 2.390 -27.3
2 Ryan Helsley 2.389 20 2
2 Miles Mikolas 2.372 100 14.1
2 Sam Hentges 2.372 -2
2 Alek Manoah 2.339 100 47.4
2 Justin Wilson 2.336 -4.4
2 Scott Effross 2.329 -4.4
2 Bruce Zimmermann 2.326 4.7
2 Alex Cobb 2.316 100 -14.4
2 Michael King 2.312 11.2
2 Dane Dunning 2.305 2 -23.5
2 Michael Kopech 2.302 100 -1.2
2 Drew Rasmussen 2.301 89 -9.5
2 Victor Arano 2.291 2 -4.6
2 Logan Webb 2.289 100 -12.2
2 Austin Gomber 2.282 2 -21.7
2 Patrick Corbin 2.282 11 -85.5
2 Triston McKenzie 2.280 100 -24.7
2 Andrew Heaney 2.270 91 51.3
2 Enyel De Los Santos 2.254 -6.2
2 Zack Wheeler 2.249 100 -40.7
2 Erik Swanson 2.243 -1.2
2 Gerrit Cole 2.241 100 -3.6
2 Adam Wainwright 2.235 100 -30.2
2 Jhoan Duran 2.235 59 -3.7
2 Josh Hader 2.234 100 7.6
2 Zach Eflin 2.231 20 -23.3
2 Walker Buehler 2.227 100 7.3
2 Trevor Rogers 2.193 100 -37.9
2 Brad Keller 2.186 27 1.5
2 Nathan Eovaldi 2.174 100 5.4
2 Tyler Anderson 2.172 32 6.7
2 Luis Severino 2.172 100 -6
2 Adrian Houser 2.168 11 -3
2 Tanner Houck 2.165 100 -5.6
2 Brooks Raley 2.164 7 -4.9
2 Kyle Gibson 2.151 86 -0.9
2 Corey Kluber 2.146 64 -12.3
2 Noah Syndergaard 2.144 100 21.3
2 Jalen Beeks 2.142 7 7.5
2 Jeffrey Springs 2.137 2 0.5
2 Jordan Montgomery 2.135 100 -13.9
2 J.P. Feyereisen 2.129 2 4.3
2 Jose Alvarado 2.129 -7.6
2 Jimmy Herget 2.123 -11.2
2 Julian Merryweather 2.122 -9.1
2 Corbin Martin 2.113 -12.1
2 Daniel Bard 2.112 100 4.6
2 A.J. Puk 2.108 -1.8
2 Sergio Romo 2.103 -0.6
2 JT Chargois 2.102 0.7
2 David Phelps 2.092 -7.5
2 Bryan Baker 2.088 -6.4
2 Josh Staumont 2.087 86 -7.3
2 Rafael Montero 2.087 25 0
2 Daniel Hudson 2.084 16 1
2 Tyler Rogers 2.081 7 -4.5
2 Trevor Gott 2.078 -2.1
2 Raisel Iglesias 2.071 100 5.6
2 Alex Wood 2.069 100 -19.3
2 Sam Selman 2.067 13
2 Seranthony Dominguez 2.064 2 -4.6
2 JT Brubaker 2.062 2 -55.6
2 Trevor Stephan 2.061 2 4.7
2 Chad Kuhl 2.060 32 28.7
2 Andres Munoz 2.050 98 -0.9
2 Phillips Valdez 2.049 -3.9
2 Kendall Graveman 2.048 57 -5.3
2 Sandy Alcantara 2.047 100 6
2 Zach Jackson 2.046 -6.5
2 Reid Detmers 2.046 30 -27.5
2 Robbie Ray 2.043 100 -22.5
2 Erick Fedde 2.043 -47
2 Collin McHugh 2.040 7 -10.8
2 Eduardo Rodriguez 2.039 100 -41.2
2 Drew Smith 2.037 -3.1
2 Framber Valdez 2.030 100 -23.9
2 Joe Jimenez 2.024 -3.4
2 Steven Wilson 2.022 -0.5
2 Vince Velasquez 2.022 -31.9
2 Spencer Strider 2.019 -18.1
2 Jorge Lopez 2.016 100 3.2
2 Adonis Medina 2.012 -1.4
2 Bailey Ober 2.011 89 -13.4
2 Chris Flexen 2.010 16 -20.9
2 Hector Neris 2.006 59 -1.8
2 Joan Adon 2.006 -67.6
2 Evan Phillips 2.005 2.9
3 Dillon Tate 2.000 -4.9
3 Kyle Freeland 1.996 2 -66.3
3 Jameson Taillon 1.994 82 -28.6
3 Pierce Johnson 1.994 11 -9.8
3 Clay Holmes 1.991 36 -0.2
3 Jordan Romano 1.985 100 4.6
3 David Robertson 1.984 100 7
3 Sean Doolittle 1.979 -1.2
3 Brock Burke 1.973 7 3.7
3 Gabe Speier 1.972 1.1
3 Keegan Akin 1.956 -7.3
3 Craig Kimbrel 1.953 100 2
3 Cody Stashak 1.952 3
3 Justin Steele 1.951 7 -52.8
3 Mychal Givens 1.951 41 -6
3 David Bednar 1.948 100 -1
3 Duane Underwood Jr. 1.941 -22.4
3 Marcus Stroman 1.940 82 -65.9
3 Jakob Junis 1.938 2 37
3 Jose Quintana 1.937 -30.5
3 Tyler Kinley 1.936 -6.9
3 Mauricio Llovera 1.934 -2.9
3 Michael Wacha 1.932 18 13.9
3 Tim Mayza 1.915 -2.4
3 Mitch White 1.914 -9.4
3 Josh Fleming 1.913 7 -24
3 Luis Garcia 1.909 100 -5.5
3 Luis Garcia 1.909 100 -5.5
3 Devin Williams 1.908 59 -6.8
3 Cristian Javier 1.899 100 5.1
3 Rowan Wick 1.896 11 -1.4
3 Tony Gonsolin 1.891 100 -5.8
3 Andrew Chafin 1.882 5 -8.4
3 Mitch Keller 1.879 2 -64.7
3 Lucas Giolito 1.878 100 -12.7
3 Aaron Loup 1.875 -1.4
3 Taylor Hearn 1.873 -71.9
3 Reiver Sanmartin 1.861 -99.5
3 Matt Strahm 1.859 2 -4.5
3 Will Vest 1.855 -2.9
3 Kyle Hendricks 1.851 80 -47.3
3 Anthony Bass 1.849 -3.9
3 Alex Lange 1.841 -6.5
3 Zack Greinke 1.838 39 -29.2
3 Yoan Lopez 1.837 -15.2
3 Paul Sewald 1.833 57 0.7
3 Michael Fulmer 1.824 45 1.8
3 Tanner Scott 1.823 2 -7.4
3 Jason Adam 1.823 -2.2
3 Aaron Ashby 1.822 64 -29.1
3 Collin Snider 1.809 -3.9
3 Justin Grimm 1.808 -14.9
3 Elieser Hernandez 1.801 30 -31.9
3 Ian Anderson 1.796 100 -22.8
3 Daniel Lynch 1.796 30 1
3 Aaron Civale 1.791 43 -93.9
3 Justin Bruihl 1.787 -3.8
3 Andrew Kittredge 1.785 100 4
3 Lucas Luetge 1.781 -8
3 Chris Stratton 1.780 39 -5.3
3 Parker Mushinski 1.776 -38.2
3 Eli Morgan 1.774 -15.2
3 Hunter Greene 1.774 77 -46.3
3 Carlos Hernandez 1.772 5 -77.8
3 Taylor Rogers 1.772 100 6.2
3 Edwin Diaz 1.771 100 1.3
3 Jesse Chavez 1.768 -10.3
3 Bryan Abreu 1.767 -11.4
3 Steven Okert 1.764 2.6
3 Julio Urias 1.763 100 -4.7
3 Jose Urquidy 1.759 -38.3
3 Daulton Jefferies 1.758 5 -17.6
3 German Marquez 1.756 70 -56.4
3 Cal Quantrill 1.755 48 -23.8
3 John Brebbia 1.755 -3
3 Roansy Contreras 1.753 5 -3.6
3 Glenn Otto 1.752 5.4
3 Cole Irvin 1.751 20 -9.5
3 Alex Vesia 1.750 -4.3
3 Zach Plesac 1.747 57 -32.5
3 Kyle Nelson 1.745 -1.4
3 Raymond Kerr 1.738 0.7
3 Robert Suarez 1.733 9 -3.8
3 Dusten Knight 1.733 -15.2
3 Jhon Romero 1.732 -9.2
3 Jeff Hoffman 1.729 -6.8
3 Anderson Severino 1.723 -13
3 Aroldis Chapman 1.714 100 0.5
3 Tyler Thornburg 1.709 -8.2
3 Justin Lawrence 1.708 -3.5
3 Jackson Kowar 1.707 -185
3 Brad Boxberger 1.704 -2.5
3 Michael Lorenzen 1.698 34 7.6
3 Konnor Pilkington 1.691 1.9
3 Taylor Clarke 1.690 -2.2
3 Jose Berrios 1.688 100 -32.9
3 Dakota Hudson 1.681 5 2
3 Joely Rodriguez 1.674 -9.1
3 Dany Jimenez 1.667 2.7
3 Jake Cousins 1.667 -7.1
3 Jose Álvarez 1.661 -1.8
3 Zach Davies 1.660 -45.7
3 Antonio Senzatela 1.660 -43.3
3 Darren O’Day 1.659 -0.7
3 Adam Ottavino 1.658 -7.5
3 Jhoulys Chacin 1.656 -8.2
3 Jose Ruiz 1.656 -6.8
3 Brad Hand 1.654 9 -3.9
3 Blake Treinen 1.650 23 5.2
3 Matt Brash 1.649 52 -62.7
3 Diego Castillo 1.648 48 -4.1
3 Dauri Moreta 1.646 -6.9
3 Amir Garrett 1.637 1.8
3 Nick Pivetta 1.637 9 -85.2
3 Zack Littell 1.634 -2.8
3 Madison Bumgarner 1.634 16 -2.3
3 Tyler Matzek 1.633 -6.4
3 Archie Bradley 1.632 -11.1
3 Charlie Morton 1.632 100 -65.8
3 Corey Knebel 1.631 100 -1
3 Jake Odorizzi 1.630 -52.2
3 Hunter Harvey 1.626 -3.9
3 Zach Thompson 1.625 -100
3 Joey Krehbiel 1.625 -2.9
3 Seth Lugo 1.620 2 -8.9
3 Ranger Suarez 1.619 89 -36.5
3 Noe Ramirez 1.603 -6.6
3 Anthony DeSclafani 1.600 80 -68
3 Jordan Hicks 1.598 32 -15.3
3 Austin Davis 1.595 -8.1
3 Rich Hill 1.592 2 -36
3 Vladimir Gutierrez 1.590 -84.2
3 Scott Barlow 1.589 100 -0.1
3 Jordan Lyles 1.587 -51.7
3 Andrew Vasquez 1.580 -20.2
3 Chris Martin 1.576 -7.1
3 Kyle Finnegan 1.574 5 -6.4
3 Drew Smyly 1.573 2 -13.1
3 Griffin Jax 1.564 1.5
3 Matt Wisler 1.564 -3.2
3 Anthony Kay 1.559 -31.6
3 Bryse Wilson 1.557 -45
3 Jose Quijada 1.555 -8.4
3 Brett Martin 1.551 -10.3
3 Austin Voth 1.548 -12.3
3 Kutter Crawford 1.548 -17.4
3 Cody Poteet 1.546 -2.2
3 Dillon Peters 1.544 11.8
3 Tanner Banks 1.542 1.7
3 Matt Festa 1.541 -9
3 Daniel Norris 1.540 -9.3
3 Wily Peralta 1.536 -19.9
3 Giovanny Gallegos 1.536 100 -7.5
3 Rony Garcia 1.533 -6.7
3 Jake Woodford 1.531 2.3
3 Paolo Espino 1.530 -29.5
3 Anthony Misiewicz 1.527 -8.5
3 Aaron Bummer 1.524 2 -12
3 Yimi Garcia 1.521 -9.6
3 Hoby Milner 1.520 -2.3
3 Jose Suarez 1.506 -67.2
3 Andre Pallante 1.506 -4.4