Now we’ve entered the meaningful stats era and the Twins are still in first place. Who wants to go to the World Series with me? I kid, I kid. Like I could afford the parking for the World Series. Also, the entire AL East has a better record than the Twins. [sigh]

Twins superstar Joe Ryan sits at SP2 on the Razzball Player Rater, propelled largely by his 6 Wins in 8 Games started, which feels a lot like 2022 Tony Gonsolin. Clayton Kershaw and Joe Ryan are neck and neck in terms of fantasy value — same Win contribution, same K contribution, and nearly the same ERA. These are all good things.

And [ahem] Eduardo Rodriguez is SP5 on the year. Nathan Eovaldi is SP10. Justin Steele is SP8. Whoever Tyler Wells is, is SP12. Wells was a reliever in 2021 who became a starter in 2022 and nearly halved his K rate.

This reminds me of when Alec Mills spent significant time in the Top 10 Starters on the Player Rater in 2020. The guy had a curveball that you or I could throw faster than, and I haven’t thrown a pitch in 23 years. The guy even notched a no-no. But by the end of the year, batters caught up to his Eephus pitches and he finished well outside of usable starters. A couple years have passed and the guy’s not even in Major League Baseball anymore.

This is the power of small sample sizes: they make outliers look normal. Justin Steele’s ERA is 2.3 points lower than his xFIP. Tyler Wells is marginally better, with about a 1.8 point difference. Joe Ryan? He’s pretty good. But at his current Win luck, he’ll finish the season with 24 Wins. It just doesn’t work that way anymore.

A couple balls get by a defender here, a couple pitches called balls instead of strikes there, and these guys go from the tops of the charts to unrosterable. Let’s see if we can make any sense of who’s for real, and who’s just noise.

News and Notes

Eury PerezThe Marlins are kind of like the anti-Rays: whereas the Rays tend to their garden and put up raccoon-proof fencing everywhere, the Marlins throw wide the gates and broadcast their seeds. Eury Perez is [checks notes] a highly-rated prospect. Some rate him in the top 10. I’m going to be like Grey and copy / paste from The Itch:

“Best mechanics I’ve seen from a pitcher in the 6’ 8” range. Might have the best mechanics I’ve seen from an 18-year-old (now 19), especially his ability to repeat his calm, controlled delivery. His fastball gets up above the mid-90’s already, and his changeup stops and drops like a splitter. It’s a nightmare pitch the Marlins have had success teaching a lot of their young arms (see Cabrera, Edward). His curveball is plus too, but it’s the fastball/cambio combo that gives him an inside lane on becoming the game’s top pitching prospect after Grayson Rodriguez graduates, and I want to punch Grey so bad.”

Grey concludes his piece by guesstimating that Perez will pitch 60ish MLB innings in 2023. Grey also says that he loves Perez but not for your fantasy team in 2023. FanGraphs thinks he’ll pitch 80ish MLB innings. Rudy currently has Perez slated for 12 games started and 60 IP. Even Jacob deGrom can’t give you value with that kind of value.

I’ll never stand in the way of what you want to do with your team. It’s your fun time, and your money. But the Marlins are again on track for a sub-.500 year. Never forget that Sandy Alcantara racked up 20 Wins combined over his first five seasons on the Marlins. Guy made 86 starts and pitched 500 IP and walked away with 1 year of Tony Gonsolin or Julio Urias Win luck.

Godspeed to Perez. I’ll never say never. But the odds are less in favor of Perez making an impact for your 12-team league fantasy team this year than, say, Jordan Lyles. If you’re in DFS, give Perez a few bonus exposures. If you’re in dynasty, clap your hands and toss a coin to your Witcher in the hopes that the Marlins don’t arbitrarily push him past the rookie limit in 2023 so that you need to roster a AAA player on your MLB roster. For the rest of us, enjoy the games on TV and don’t worry about FAAB’ing a 20-year old. That’s illegal in some states still.

Jacob deGromWill miss yet another 2-3 weeks with elbow inflammation. In case you missed it, I wrote a lengthy overture a couple weeks ago about deGrom’s elbow. I hope the Rangers got insurance on that nearly $200 million contract.

The TL;DR on deGrom is that he played through injury in early 2021. He then missed the remainder of 2021 and the first half of 2022 while recovering from a sprained ligament. Pitchers who rehab ligament sprains can — sometimes — avoid Tommy John surgery. More often than not, they return in an inferior form. Zac Gallen is one of the few recent examples to rehab the ligament (instead of going under the knife) and return to real-life and fantasy relevance. Wait. Fact-checkers are telling me that Diamondbacks players are not relevant to real-life. ENYWHEY. You’re here to learn about deGrom.

The 2023 deGrom shyte-suation (figure that one out, Grammerly!) looks remarkably like 2021. It started with wrist pain and an early departure from a game. No time missed. The next game, deGrom leaves early with elbow issues. Now on to the IL. DeGrom’s last meaningful game was April 23, where he blasted the Athletics into oblivion. Now he’s supposed to be OOO until June. Sure, I’ll take off until Memorial Day, too.

Much like Eury Perez, I’m not going to hate you if you hold onto deGrom in your redraft leagues. But what I’m saying right now, is that we’ve seen this whole shyte-suation before. And the last time, the big-money winning fantasy decision went to those managers who dropped or traded deGrom. You do you.

James PaxtonAt least the Red Sox haven’t formally kicked any starters out of the rotation for this Schmohawk. Paxton last pitched meaningful innings in 2019. He’s 34 years old and has 140 starts to his name but has never pitched a true full season. Paxton struck out nine Cardinals in five innings of work this week. The umpires helped a lot there — the Cardinals had a 10% swinging strike rate, which is pretty pedestrian. But that 22% CSW%? Yeesh. I don’t give a ton of credence to Umpire Scorecards, but this is pretty miserable:

Paxton is a fine streamer but I wouldn’t break the bank to acquire him on your team. He’s an extremely well-known glass cannon. I have no idea why no team hasn’t made him a closer already. Imagine having your agent look at you and say, “You haven’t pitched meaningful innings in four years and you’re making less as a veteran than some rando arbitration players…let’s keep you as a starter!” Paxton has over twice the service time as Jordan Romano but makes the same money, and Romano isn’t a free agent until 2026. Whatever. If you’re looking for a sign of peace, look elsewhere than this Pax.

Alek ManoahCoolwhip asked me earlier this week if Manoah was droppable now. Unless you’re in a deep league, I think it’s OK to cut loose. There’s no point in rostering a guy with a 5ish ERA and true skill stats sitting at the 6.00 line. Even when Jose Berrios struggled last year, he was still pulling in Wins by virtue of IP volume. Manoah has topped 5IP only twice this year and it’s baffling that he has only 3 losses in 8 appearances. Kudos to the Blue Jays for helping a brother out. Sometimes the best decision you can make in fantasy is to avoid players. Manoah doesn’t appear to be turning anything around anytime soon. Go ahead and cut in 12-team leagues and shallower. Dynasty managers should prepare to weather the storm if possible. But if you’re in a position to win this year, I’d jettison Manoah for any prospects you can get.

Tanner BibeeIf you’re a long-time reader, you know I don’t care very much about rookie pitchers for your team. True rookies — like, those guys who have never touched the majors before — almost always struggle. Sure, they pitch well for a few games, but then teams get tape and analysis and then ROIs plummet. This is well-known in the DFS community — pitchers with no track record and low cost are coveted because they can come out and blast a 10 K/9 and notch a win for $5000 on DraftKings. But once their perceived value increases — i.e., they had some good games and now cost $8000 — they are no longer worth the investment.

This is why I’ve been pretty mum on Tanner Bibee. Two acceptable starts followed by a 4IP, 4ER, 4 BB outing against the worst offense in the majors in the Detroit Tigers. As I write, he’s going long today with a bunch of strikeouts and that’s great. His available data at the time of writing was somewhat nerve-wracking: Bibee’s swinging strike rate on the year sits a 9.6%, which is really pedestrian and not a great sign of future K production. His CSW% is 26.8%, which puts him 2% lower than Dane Dunning. Dane Dunning has a 5.5 K/9 on the year. 26% CSW% is the career norm for Jordan Lyles, famed 7 K/9 guy.

I’m not hating on Bibee. I don’t hate on anybody except Sandy Alcantara, and even then it’s because I’m jealous of his stamina. It’s just a statistical likelihood that rookies don’t return sufficient value for fantasy. Most of the time. There will always be outliers. But even if we look at the Razzball Player Rater at the time of writing, Bibee is ranked 94th overall on starters in value per game, slotted below Michael Wacha and above Joey Lucchesi. Bibee will probably be better as the year goes on, but at this moment, there’s just not enough data to say anything conclusively about Bibee.


The usual blurb: I project confidence per IP — should a pitcher pitch, then I rank them thusly. Because we have more certain data, I’ve adjusted the Tiers. Tier 1 are the Top 10ish, Tier 2 is the Top 30ish, and Tier 3 is the Top 60ish. Although I got a request to add numerical ranks last week, I’ll politely decline that. For the past three-ish years, my goal has been to help people unlearn “hierarchy.”

Matt Strahm has quietly turned himself into a “5 tool pitcher” by notching a save in addition to a Win since his move to the bullpen. This is a concept that I talked about with Coolwhip offline recently. True closers tend to be poorly situated for Wins because they appear only in Save situations — the team was already going to win, and whoever was the pitcher of record after 5IP or the lead was gained and held will notch that Win. But those sneaky Roleless Robs — Matt Strahm, Ian Hamilton, Nick Martinez — they can really rack up categories. Nick Martinez is an advanced league’s dream — since his demotion to the bullpen, he’s notched a 12.5 K/9, 3 Holds and a Save, all while putting up a 1.04 ERA. Sometimes less is more.

Now that we’ve gained some stability in rotations and data, I’ve filtered out more relievers. There are a lot of pretty bad starters this year — only 75 starters have delivered positive value on the Player Rater. If we filter the Player Rater to have >40IP, then only 48 starters have delivered positive value this year (and Sandy Alcantara isn’t one of them).

Tier Name Team Confidence Own% L30$/G
1 Spencer Strider ATL 4.097 100 34.2
1 Matt Strahm PHI 3.713 53 -2
1 Sonny Gray MIN 3.665 100 20
1 Shohei Ohtani LAA 3.634 100 12.5
1 Logan Gilbert SEA 3.572 100 4.8
1 Kevin Gausman TOR 3.516 100 -1.7
1 Pablo Lopez MIN 3.499 100 -19
1 Jacob deGrom TEX 3.344 100 36.1
1 Zac Gallen ARI 3.205 100 53.9
2 Joe Ryan MIN 3.044 100 35.1
2 Nathan Eovaldi TEX 3.005 100 31.7
2 Luis Castillo SEA 2.912 100 -3.5
2 Hunter Greene CIN 2.820 100 -15.4
2 Zack Wheeler PHI 2.815 100 13.5
2 Framber Valdez HOU 2.803 100 19.8
2 Gerrit Cole NYY 2.801 100 7.5
2 Mitch Keller PIT 2.753 100 25.1
2 Eduardo Rodriguez DET 2.731 100 53.1
2 Cristian Javier HOU 2.714 100 19
2 Chris Sale BOS 2.596 100 -1
2 George Kirby SEA 2.561 100 34.4
2 Yu Darvish SD 2.519 100 16.3
2 Marcus Stroman CHC 2.512 100 -11.4
2 Logan Webb SF 2.510 100 15.1
2 Shane McClanahan TB 2.504 100 14.3
2 Justin Steele CHC 2.471 100 24.2
2 Lucas Giolito CHW 2.466 100 18.4
2 MacKenzie Gore WSH 2.455 100 -16.6
2 Alex Cobb SF 2.424 100 10
3 Sandy Alcantara MIA 2.367 100 -19.8
3 Merrill Kelly ARI 2.340 100 15.3
3 Julio Urias LAD 2.331 100 -12.1
3 Jose Berrios TOR 2.310 100 6.3
3 Clayton Kershaw LAD 2.310 100 39.3
3 Shane Bieber CLE 2.293 100 1.9
3 Dane Dunning TEX 2.288 28 9.1
3 Jordan Montgomery STL 2.288 100 -31
3 Dylan Cease CHW 2.230 100 -51.1
3 Aaron Nola PHI 2.153 100 12.6
3 Corbin Burnes MIL 2.146 100 13.4
3 Zach Eflin TB 2.130 100 15.6
3 Reid Detmers LAA 2.109 99 -31
3 Freddy Peralta MIL 2.097 100 -6.9
3 Edward Cabrera MIA 2.089 99 -16.8
3 Chris Bassitt TOR 2.052 100 32
3 Anthony DeSclafani SF 2.049 100 -7.3
3 Nick Martinez SD 2.045 11 0.7
3 Drew Smyly CHC 2.028 90 27
3 Charlie Morton ATL 2.022 100 9.4
3 Dustin May LAD 2.017 100 7.2
3 Domingo German NYY 2.013 100 9.6
3 Ian Hamilton NYY 2.010 10 3.5
3 Josiah Gray WSH 2.005 98 11.6
3 Nestor Cortes NYY 2.002 100 -30.3
4 Hunter Brown HOU 1.993 100 -7.3
4 Jose Alvarado PHI 1.971 100 0.5
4 Bryce Elder ATL 1.967 100 -1.2
4 Jesus Luzardo MIA 1.928 100 -25.4
4 Tyler Wells BAL 1.914 94 21.9
4 David Bednar PIT 1.883 100 6.9
4 Nick Lodolo CIN 1.858 100 -59.1
4 Peter Lambert COL 1.837 0 12
4 Graham Ashcraft CIN 1.834 91 -30.1
4 Andrew Heaney TEX 1.822 100 -12
4 Miles Mikolas STL 1.819 88 -11.6
4 Patrick Sandoval LAA 1.819 99 -12.4
4 Vince Velasquez PIT 1.804 21 37.4
4 Jon Gray TEX 1.794 97 -2.7
4 Kyle Gibson BAL 1.791 65 -31.1
4 Kyle Freeland COL 1.776 15 -25.4
4 Tayler Saucedo SEA 1.772 0 3.3
4 Roansy Contreras PIT 1.762 95 -11.8
4 Blake Snell SD 1.761 100 -18.1
4 Taijuan Walker PHI 1.742 71 -14.8
4 Seth Lugo SD 1.741 97 -19.7
4 Aroldis Chapman KC 1.703 73 -6.9
4 Marco Gonzales SEA 1.699 8 -14.7
4 Brady Singer KC 1.691 60 -50.9
4 Patrick Corbin WSH 1.687 1 -16.5
4 Michael King NYY 1.677 99 -0.1
4 Victor Gonzalez LAD 1.677 0 3
4 Heath Hembree DET 1.669 -1.3
4 Tanner Houck BOS 1.663 41 -28.5
4 Jimmy Cordero NYY 1.662 0 4.1
4 Nick Pivetta BOS 1.643 17 -40.9
4 Cal Quantrill CLE 1.642 43 -10
4 Jordan Lyles KC 1.633 1 -35
4 Grayson Rodriguez BAL 1.619 100 -14.3
4 Josh Staumont KC 1.617 0 -5.5
4 Kodai Senga NYM 1.605 100 -25.2
4 Danny Young ATL 1.597 0 -3.4
4 Clarke Schmidt NYY 1.595 66 -20.4
4 Johan Oviedo PIT 1.587 56 -41.8
4 Taj Bradley TB 1.579 96 33.9
4 Michael Wacha SD 1.574 37 -35
4 JP Sears OAK 1.574 25 -22.9
4 Jack Flaherty STL 1.565 73 -48.1
4 Peyton Battenfield CLE 1.562 14 -23.6
4 Josh Sborz TEX 1.555 0 -0.9
4 Yusei Kikuchi TOR 1.540 98 21.5
4 Wade Miley MIL 1.531 67 -7
4 Guillermo Zuniga STL 1.531 0 3.1
4 Eric Lauer MIL 1.526 52 -11.1
4 Zack Greinke KC 1.520 2 -26.9