Do you ever look at the calendar and ask yourself “How the fudge am I going to save my fantasy baseball team with only like 8 weeks left until the playoffs?” Think of it this way: a fantasy football season is 17 games total (the NFL added an extra week of play for those of you out of the loop). And, you know, there’s only one game a week…so, 17 chances to win. Playoffs in a 12-team league probably start around Week 14/Week 15 depending on the format. So, you’ve got roughly 13 opportunities for a Win/Loss that will put you in the playoff race. Fantasy football players do this every year, and it’s a much more popular sport than fantasy baseball.
We’ve got like, 70-80 games left of MLB baseball before the fantasy baseball playoffs. Y’all can do this. Don’t panic. Chug a beer and grab a towel. Let’s see if we can get you onto the space super-highway.
Blake Snell is doing his usual Matrix-like thing of moving super-slow to start the season before moving at seizure-inducing speed to produce a useful fantasy season. Snell through April: 5.50 ERA with an FIP above 6.00. That’s basically putting me out on the mound (spoiler: I am a tubby middle-aged white dude whose greatest athletic prowess is holding two cats at the same time). “But EWB,” you shout, “You told us not to worry about small sample size!” So, Snell through his first 9 starts: 5.50 ERA and matching FIP. Yuck. I told most readers to hold tight because Snell does this “Glow Up” thing every year.
Then comes June, which is under trademark review for “SnellSZN” branding: 5 starts, 0.60 ERA, 2.20 FIP. His last three games? 15.2 K/9 with a single earned run allowed over 19 frames. Yeesh (but in a good way). Congrats to everybody who held. Now the question is whether you’ll be brave enough to hold when he hits his inevitable cold streak come August.
Speaking of cold streaks, Gerrit Cole seems to have turned the corner on his May woes. Cole has three Quality Starts in a row after an abysmal May that was way worse than Blake Snell’s. Don’t Panik, Joe. Cole’s as cool as the other side of the cucumber now (is that what ESPN used to say?). Usually, his flops happen only one time a year, so fingers crossed that he doesn’t turn into a pumpkin in September as he did in 2022.
Ranger Suarez is making a commanding case to stay on the Phillies’ roster with a 1.35 ERA over his last four starts, albeit with a disappointing 7.4 K/9 over that rate. His swinging strike rate is below 10% and his CSW% is about 27% on the year, which indicates significant regression incoming in the “negative” way, as the journalists call it. He’s worth a speculative add in deeper leagues, but his lack of K/9 prowess and limited IP doesn’t do much to boost 12-team rotations.
Speaking of the Phillies, the Matt Strahm bubble finally burst. Last we heard from the Phillies coaches, they wanted Strahm to rest a bit before continuing his 2023 terror campaign against batters. In June, Strahm’s numbers plummeted with a 9.00 ERA and his fastball velocity dropped nearly 2 MPH in his most recent outing. Coaches gave him significant time off between appearances, yet his velocity is still dropping, which indicates they’re probably working on some sort of soreness in the bullpen rather than the IL. Strahm’s time as your Roleless Rob cheat code for RCLs has passed, and may we forever remember his start to 2023: 4 Wins, 1 Save, 1 Hold, nearly 13 K/9, and sub-3.00 ERA off the waiver wire. We salute you!
Got a couple questions about Lance Lynn last week. Suppose that’s when Lynn decides to go for 16 Ks on the day, right? There’s still a lot of “Hmmm” in the overall profile. The 16Ks finish Lynn’s current run of 10+ ERA. Before that 10+ERA run, Lynn’s “OK” outings were against the Royals, Guardians, and Tigers. The benefits of pitching in the AL Central! Lynn’s previous best K-outing in recent memory? 12 strikeouts. And we’re talking one of the most documented pitchers out there. There are still some signs that things will get better in 2023 for Lynn, other than his nice outing on Father’s Day. His swinging strike rate is still higher than Ranger Suarez, even over his current period of struggles. But if you want to trade Lynn after this 16 K outing — when he finally has some perceived fantasy value again — I wouldn’t blame you.
Spencer Strider‘s numbers look like hot garbage over the past month. Hot garbage produces energy, though! I am a scientist of the written word. Strider’s swinging strike % is still near 20% over this rough period, and his SIERA is 3.91 (although that’s not terribly meaningful in small sample sizes). Point is, if there’s a manager in your league who is put off by Strider’s recent struggles, then acquire Strider at cost or even a very slight premium. All pitchers go through rough spots (see the Gerrit Cole blurb above), and Strider seems to be dealing with his rough patch right now. Better now than in the playoffs, right Gerrit?
Sean Manaea continues to climb the charts despite a couple rough outings. What does my system like there? It likes that he hasn’t given up a homer in over 20IP, and that his FIP over that same span is an elite 1.47. His K/9 is 12.5 while his BB/9 is barely a scratch over 2.0. Put another way, he has a 34% K rate over that time frame, which puts him ahead of Taj Bradley, Kevin Gausman, and Spencer Strider. Manaea’s K-BB% is ahead of Aaron Nola, Max Schezer, and Corbin Burnes. There are some really exciting signs for Manaea’s second half, if only he got an opportunity to go back into the rotation.
Speaking of Taj Bradley, my system doesn’t like him because he’s struggling to get those IP. To be fair, since his return to MLB in mid-May, he’s 1-3 with a 4.55 ERA. He has zero quality starts and has been bounced before becoming the pitcher of record in 50% of his games. Honestly, if you put his numbers next to Sean Manaea — who isn’t even a starter right now — Manaea looks like a way better starter. Behold! The Power of Roleless Robs! I like Bradley as a speculative add in all formats, but don’t be disappointed if the Rays do Rays-things and let him be an extended opener all year.