You’re probably reading this article from a boat floating in the middle of a river or lake. There’s a sugary rum drink in your hand, or maybe a hard seltzer in a can coozy. Or maybe just a festive lemonade made from actual lemons. You’re probably munching on beef in some form — steak or ground, it doesn’t matter. You’re probably going to blow up a small section of land in the next 24 hours. Because ‘Mericuh. If you’re one of the lucky few that gets a holiday, enjoy it. Stare into the sky and count the clouds. Debate the nature of dark matter with your kids. You do you. Happy 4th of July. Just don’t get in trouble, or make trouble for somebody else.
That dramatic opening is also my way of saying: it’s a holiday. I’m not answering questions this week. [audible gasping]. I wrote articles and answered questions while I was in Japan, during Easter and Memorial Day, and while my family had Covid. I gave you Top SP Nathan Eovaldi and Top 10 SP Mitch Keller before anybody else. I told you to stop starting and rostering Alek Manoah a month before he was demoted. It’s time for a very slight break. Grey is here for questions everyday, and I love checking in with JKJ and Coolwhip. Let them know I said “Hi.”
Domingo German threw a perfect game. I write that without any aplomb because last week I was literally going to blurb about how terrible he was in 2023. German’s previous eight starts before his perfecto? 5.68 ERA / 5.94 FIP, nearly two dongs per nine innings, and 7.1 K/9 to 3.5 BB/9. Translation: none of that is good. Sure, there were tough matchups there — Rays, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Red Sox, Mariners [snickering]. But it’s not like German has ever really been fantasy relevant — he’s got nearly 500 IP on his career with a 4.40 MLB ERA that goes perfectly with his 4.53 FIP. He had one “stellar” year in 2019 where he went 18-4…with a 4.72 FIP and 1.9 HR/9. I looked up his finish on the historical Player Rater so you don’t have to: SP21. The power of Wins!
If German had merely “plus” Win luck in 2019 — the same as Mike Soroka (13 Wins) — German would have finished in the SP30s alongside stalwarts Kyle Hendricks and Jeff Samardzija [haven’t had to type that name out in a while!].
Perfectos are rare. The last perfecto was in 2012. A kid could have been born, raised, and is now graduating elementary school since the last perfecto. But they’re not always a sign of a great pitcher. See above information. German’s moment in the spotlight came against the Athletics, who are worst in the MLB in Runs and Batting Average and top 5 in K%. So, shout out to German for taking his place in MLB history. His Wikipedia entry has one more flourish before you get to the domestic violence suspension. But don’t rush to acquire German for your fantasy team — he had a great outing against a bad team, and he’s going to burn a lot of fantasy managers who think he’s the savior to their team.
Tarik Skubal and Eduardo Rodriguez return to action this week for the Tigers, and the timing makes sense — they get a start before the All-Star Break to loosen up before getting a bit of time off. We’re looking at 4-5 IP for these guys for the next start — the last thing the Tigers want to do is hurt their rotation beyond the skeleton crew that already occupies the mound. The Tigers are conceptually still in the race for the AL Central. The Twins have been sliding in the standings. The Guardians — along with the Tigers and White Sox and Royals — have offenses in the bottom third of the league. But a hot streak at the right time against the AL Central could boost the Tigers into contention. The Tigers are 5 games back of the Twins right now. So, taking 2 out of 3 in a series against the Twins and the Guardians = AL Central lead, with some help.
Why write this much about the Tigers? Because Eduardo Rodriguez was on his way to being a Top 10 SP before having a freak “pulley tendon” injury that sidelined him for a month. The Tigers are committed to ERod being the anchor for their franchise; they just didn’t think it would happen this year. That kid who was born to see the last perfecto will be in high school by the time ERod’s contract with the Tigers is up. So, we know the Tigers are willing to let him pitch. And ERod can rack up IP when healthy. There’s a scenario out there where ERod — who, I might add, is still available in a bunch of leagues — finds himself anchoring a Tigers team that is inexplicably leading the AL Central. With increased reliance on his IP volume, ERod gets Wins and keeps his K ratios high, and you’ve stumbled into your second half stud. All you had to do was check the waiver wire or trade a cheap pawn for your next king.
This Tigers chat comes with the caveat that the Tigers aren’t supposed to be good this year. Hinch’s plan was never to claim AL Central dominance in 2023 — I mean, he took over the equivalent of the Athletics and has managed to put his Tigers into a vague spot for contention despite fielding a roster that’s mostly Quad-A players (and Miggy, bless his soul). What’s the point here? The point is that Tarik Skubal is available in nearly 100% of leagues and has 300 MLB IP to his resume with a 9.6 K/9 to a meager 2.7 BB/9. We can’t rely on a ton of production from Skubal — he’s coming off of injury and the Tigers definitely don’t want him to cost more in arbitration. But in the hypothetical scenario where the Tigers take the AL Central lead, it’s feasible Skubal outperforms his projections. And his projections look nice: consensus reads from top projection systems have him at a 9+ K/9, sub 3 BB/9, and sub-4.00 ERA. And this guy is available in nearly 100% of leagues right now. The cost is nothing, the risk is high, but the ROI is great. At the very least, Skubal is probably a rotation mainstay for the rest of 2023. At the best, he’s an SP2/SP3 for a needy team.
Looking through rostership stats, I see way too many people hanging on to Grayson Rodriguez. The ship sailed for redraft leagues. He’s back in the minors now and still having some control issues. If you’re in a 12-teamer, release him. He’ll probably be back at the end of the year if his control issues are even loosely managed.
Speaking of Alek Manoah, the rookie league torched him to the tune of 11 runs this week. Manoah was in one of those weird situations that he was sent to the “minors” but it was like super-science complex where he could continue working with pitching scientists to figure out what’s wrong with him. Manoah’s poor performance in the rookie league and subsequent promotion to Double-A indicates he’s probably dealing with confidence issues. The team probably reacted too much by sending him to rookie ball — imagine that you’re an All-Star and third place for Cy Young one year, and 6 months later you’re pitching against 18 year-olds, half of whom are still working at Wendy’s in the off-season. And the 18-year olds crush you. My previous take on Manoah was that dynasty managers should hold, and that’s a fine take, but one I’m rethinking. It looks like we’re dealing with something more psychological with Manoah. Pitchers with the “yips” can take a long time to sort out. Personally, I’d sell Manoah in all dynasty formats, unless you’re so roster rich that you can manage waiting until 2024/2025 for Manoah 2.0.