It’s everything you’ve been waiting for: the moment that EverywhereBlair surpasses Kerry Klug on the Razzball Baseball all-time poster leaderboard. I’ve already left Donkey Teeth and RotoWan in the dust this year. Today, I stand in front of Kerry Klug’s fantasy blogging grave and wave my Minnesota Twins hat in his face. Thanks to everybody who keeps showing up, even when the fantasy season is donezo for 95% of you.
Myself, my home league had 16 teams and long playoffs, so I was the kind of guy that was in playoff mode in August. The majority of y’all are either out of the playoffs and reading this article because of inertia, or you’re in the playoffs and worrying about every decision you’re going to make.
It’ll be fine. In the playoffs, fantasy sports is more art than science. That philosophy is probably good to repeat now that we’re entering into the NFL season as well — single game matchups are ludicrously tough to predict and project. This is why DraftKings and FanDuel want your money to play DFS: they know they can take it. DFS and player picks should be for fun and not a mode of income.
This is the long way of saying: playoff fantasy baseball is subject to an immense amount of variability. You can’t just look at data and call it a day.
Don’t believe me? In 2022, Gerrit Cole went from April to August with a 3.30 ERA / 3.20 FIP and 1.3 HR/9. Then the fantasy playoffs came. From September 13 through the end of the season, Cole posted a 5.22 ERA/5.26 FIP and 2.76 HR/9. He went from your staff ace to a fantasy dud, likely contributing to many top teams losing a championship.
In 2022, Sandy Alcantara treated fantasy managers in the early playoff rounds to a four game stretch of 6+ ERA / 5 FIP. Oh yeah, there was a complete game in that span, too.
Baseball is a game of variance. It’s a 162-game season because players hit slumps, and you can’t do anything about it. As I’ve pointed out before, in Barry Bonds’ 73-home run season, he spent from June through July — nearly 130 plate appearances — with a .202 batting average, a .427 SLG, and 4 homers. You woulda dropped this guy if you paid attention to just baseball card stats.
So what do we do to win a fantasy championship? We show up. Don’t stop showing up. You can’t control player performance. But you can control whether you give up or show up. And you’re not going to win the championship if you give up.
So show up, play the game, and start your studs where possible. If you’re going to take a risk, make it a smart risk.
Let’s jump into some matchups that look nice this week.
Much to the displeasure of a commenter earlier this month, the Whiffonator was still showing Joe Ryan in Tier 1 for rest of season performance. Although Ryan’s still ramping up his IP following an injury, he’s put up a 2.40 ERA / 3.53 FIP since his return with a Win and a Quality Start. He’s got a 17:3 K:BB ratio since his return, and his swinging strike rate is above 14% over that span. Ryan shows up as SP6 on the Streamonator this week, and I’m supporting that aggressive ranking. Ryan’s IP will likely be limited on the rest of season action because the Twins want him ready for the playoffs. As good as Rocco Baldelli has done with a team of castoff players over the past few years, the Twins haven’t won a playoff game since 2004. The Twins have a comfortable lead in the AL Central, and Baldelli will want his ace fresh for the playoffs rather than extending their division lead.
Carlos Rodon makes another strong showing on the Streamonator (overall SP9), but I’d fade him this week. As noted before, Rodon is still building steam and he’s been decimated by a bunch of teams. The Yankees aren’t playing meaningful baseball, and they’re just trying to get Rodon some IP to figure out if they’ll keep him next year.
Lance Lynn has fallen off the rails while pitching for the Dodgers. He’s a post-season leader, but he’s also a guy that gets flustered remarkably easy. Over his past 5 games, his ERA is 6.00 and his FIP is over 7.00. Yikes. He faces off against the Padres, Mariners, and Giants coming up. There’s nothing there to like, other than the fact that he might luck his way into a Win. I fade Lynn this week and the rest of the season.
Gavin Williams has looked pretty good over the last month, and he faces off against the Giants and Rangers this week. The Guardians are still trying to catch up to the Twins in the AL Central, and they’ve got a mathematical chance of catching up. Williams will be a big part of that race, so I’m fine firing him up against those tougher matchups.
Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie look like they might show up again this year (assuming the Guardians are still in the playoff mix). According to the Cleveland fishwraps, each player has been throwing with the hopes of getting into MLB action by the end of the year. Fantasy managers should temper expectations — these will likely be 4ish IP appearances at most, as each player is rehabbing elbow injuries. If you have a deeper bench, it might be worthwhile to add one or either of these guys in the hopes that you get some ratio help during the fantasy championships.
I recommended Alex Faedo last week. Good news: 13.5 K/9 and a 1.93 ERA. Bad news: it was as a Roleless Rob. Well, that could be good news for leagues with IP/GS limits. Faedo is slated to start against the Reds, the Angels, and the Athletics coming up. If the Tigers only gave him those innings — he could be a great playoff arm for so many teams. Start at your own risk.
Touki Toussaint has dominated a slate of awful teams recently, and he lines up against the Royals (start!) and the Twins (sit!) this week. Nothing wrong with a one-and-done streamer — take that Royals start if you’re desperate for IP this week.
Best of luck out there! Stay cool, stay calm, and keep showing up. And remember — if you’re not having fun playing fantasy sports, you’re doing it wrong! See y’all down in the comments.