It’s nearly freaking Memorial Day, folx! I finally relented on No Mow May today and sheered about 8 million dandelions from my backyard. Do you know the meaning of “deadhead”? Other than being one of the greatest Devin Townsend songs. Oh, and that other band with Jerry Garcia. Oh, and the trucker slang. That’s right — the fourth guess did the trick! It’s when you pop the head off a dandelion. I suppose you could do this maliciously while cackling, but I do it with a lawnmower that dates to the 1980s. Have I succeeded in giving you a feeling that my life is ultra-exciting like Grey’s?
And now, much like Grey, let’s see if we can save your fantasy baseball team as it heads into the 1/3 mark of the season.
News and Notes
Brady Singer: I can’t tell whether I influenced Grey on his “all-in on Singer” stance in the pre-season. Influencing is kind of a weird thing: at first you’re just taking videos of yourself on the can talking about toilet paper, next thing you know, you’re the spokesperson for Wypez, the AI-powered toilet paper. ENYWHEY. Rostering Singer has felt like a number two operation all year so far. But guess who has two quality starts in a row? Brady Singer! His fantasy-friendly profile still isn’t there — his K/9 is down, his BB/9 is up, and he can’t figure out how to limit damage when it starts. His swinging strike rate is way down on the year, but he’s still generating a ton of called strikes. His true skill stats are 2.5 points lower than his ERA, which is a good sign, but his true skill stats are still near 5.00. Yeeesh. Singer’s BABIP is .336, and it’s partly driven by career-highs in barrel rate and line drive percentage. In short, batters aren’t whiffing, and they’re making quality contact. See ball, hit ball. Singer’s fastball velocity is down on the year compared to previous years. Back in the pre-season, the Kansas City Star reported that Singer’s lack of use in the World Baseball Classic delayed his MLB preparation. Maybe we’re seeing things turn around now? At least keep Singer on the watchlist. Grey and I would love to take a victory lap on this guy at the end of the year, and hopefully, you’re there with us.
Jared Shuster: Speaking of influencers, Shuster was one of the hottest pickups in the pre-season because he had one really good pitch that March batters couldn’t figure out. Now he’s three starts into his MLB career with more walks than strikeouts and a 7.24 ERA and 6.99 FIP. Either the Braves are doing some kind of galaxy brain move with using up his options, or they plan to keep him as a Roleless Rob to get him the “MLB experience.” Meh. Avoid in all formats.
Adam Oller: Just to prove how meaningless the pre-season is, Adam Oller was one of the top performers when the games didn’t count. Now he’s in AAA and can’t even stay on the Athletics’ roster, sporting a 10+ ERA on the year. Media is fun to read. I like watching GIFs of nasty pitches as much as the other rube. But dominating batters in March is a wholly different thing than batters in May. Put that in your memory banks for 2024.
Grayson Rodriguez: For a while, my system loved GrayRod. Not in the preseason, mind you. GrayRod was as buried on my draft list as Jared Shuster. Now our favorite prospect has a 9.17 ERA / 8.56 FIP over his last four starts and is probably burying your mid-season team. Rookies, eh? You tell them to fill up your truck with diesel and it comes back with E85. But hey, you wanted to flush the system anyway. Rookies are volatile. See every single post I’ve written for Razzball. Wait — don’t look up my Jake Odorizzi hype piece. Don’t remind me of that! There are signs of hope that GrayRod will right the course — xFIP is 5.02 over the past four games, with his control coming back on track. But if you’re in a tight 12-team race, either sit on GrayRod’s next few starts or move him for a more effective piece.
Brandon Pfaadt: I suppose I can’t cheer him on by saying “Let’s go Brandon,” right? Doesn’t work for BDon, either. Lemme try a new catchphrase: “Something, something, rookies don’t return fantasy value.” We’ll get marketing to fix it up a bit. Pfaadt — which I imagine is pronounced like “fate” with no other possible pronunciation — has a 7.65 ERA and FIP and 8.01 xERA to go with seven homers allowed in 4 games. But on a positive note, he allowed zero homers to the Pirates. Me too, Brandon, me too. There can only be as many homers as Pfaadt allows (pronounce that my way, btw). I’d avoid for your fantasy teams until we see some sort of stability.
Ian Hamilton: If a Roleless Rob falls in the woods, does he make a contract? Hamilton’s off the injured list, which opens up more possible closers/holders/Roleless Robs for the Yankees. Last year’s cheat code Michael King might get some more run with Hamilton taking a break. Since May, King has notched 3 saves, has a 2.19 ERA, and is K’ing a batter per IP. Where are the Wins to make a 5-tool pitcher though? RCL’ers, you’ll have to pivot elsewhere for the week.
Domingo German: Per the reporting at Yahoo, German had “the stickiest hand I’ve ever felt.” That’s it. That’s the blurb.
OK, German is also suspended for 10 games, which really isn’t a problem for pitchers. Whatever. Start him in 2 weeks, then.
Dustin May: Out until July with a strained forearm on his throwing side. Dave Roberts says the current injury doesn’t affect his surgically repaired elbow, which is like a running back saying, “My repaired ACL is still good, it’s the MCL right next to it that hurts.” May is only 25 and hits arbitration this year, so it would make sense for the Dodgers to limit his IP for the rest of 2023 — last thing they want to do is rebuild his elbow two times in three years. Media sites say that the Dodgers rotation is thin but have you ever seen the Dodgers at the trade deadline? They’ll be fine. But you May managers will need to find another SP5 through the All-Star Break.
Mitch Keller: Have we found this year’s Spencer Strider? Keller was waaaaaay off everybody’s radar in the pre-season, but in my Week 2 update I gave y’all the following blurb:
My system … is telling me that Mitch Keller is…possibly rosterable. Keller’s always had a few good pitches but has never put together spurts of control long enough to really be meaningful for fantasy. And 2023 is really no different — his BB/9 hovers near 5 for the early season, and there’s basically no example of a good fantasy pitcher maintaining having that level of wildness and succeeding. But…his hard hit rate is below 20%. That’s astonishing. Again, small sample size. Don’t panic. Chug beers or whatever. But if you’re a pitcher with a nearly 12 K/9 rate who limits damage…then you can get away with a BB/9 profile that resembles my little league stat line. Pirates pitchers aren’t exactly the top of your FAAB list, but it might be worth a speculative add in deeper leagues to see if Keller has figured himself out.
And in a shorter blurb in Week 6, I pointed out that Keller was on his way to being the SP1 for your fantasy team. Keller now finds himself third overall on my rankings. His output over the past month has been nothing short of masterful: 1.62 ERA, 12 K/9 to 0.92 BB/9 (!!!!)…and 52 strikeouts to 4 walks. The Pirates are even winning this year, which gives Keller a sweet 5-1 record that actually helps your team. For those who look at my Brady Singer rankings and wonder “what’s going on,” remember that as early as Week 2, my system locked in on Mitch Keller. You’re welcome.
Reid Detmers: Speaking of strong signal, here’s a guy with a Keller-esque profile that you can still acquire. 13.3 K/9 over the past month…with a nearly 4.74 BB/9. See the Week 2 Keller blurb 150 words ago. Detmers’ FIP is 1.93 over that span, and his BABIP is .413. Yowza! His swinging strike rate has topped 20% in individual games multiple times this year, and his overall rate is 14.4% — that’s 4% higher than Mitch Keller. Detmers is still available in some leagues, and when the batted balls fall into gloves instead of the outfield, you’re going to find yourself with another awesome SP to take you through the rest of the season.
|4||Mark Leiter Jr.||CHC||1.979||71||-3.4|
Thanks for this list, do you believe M.Keller will finish in the top 10 in a standard pts league?
I think so and sure hope so!!
I know how you feel about rookies. But out of everyone, I think Bryce Miller is going to be the man this year. Im super close to pulling the trigger on dropping Pablo Lopez for him. Miller has a a double start next week but it isn’t friendly against the Yankees (tho he should win) but then against the rangers with Eovaldi (which he should lose). He won’t get much run support with the Mariners offense but I think he’s an impressive player.
Thoughts on Carlos Hernandez? His numbers look impressive in his last 30 days after a slow-ish start to the season
Joel Payamps also caught my eye
Did you mean Ian Hamilton’s off TO the injured list?
Thanks for all you do!
Hay Blair great stuff,
What are your thoughts about Justin Verlander?
Thinking about trading for him in a dynasty to go for the title this year.
What would you give up for him?
Some names i have and im thinking about are:
Brent rooker, Brandon Marsh, Jeremy Pena, Tyler O Neill, Trevor Larnach.
What’s up EB? I have Witt Jr, Tim Anderson and hopefully soon Jordan Walker for my SS & 3B. My OF are Trout, Josh Lowe, Santander, Jarren Duran and Tyler O’Neill. In a H2H league would you drop O’Neill and add Lewis Royce? Thanks for the time man
2021 me is gasping at the thought of this.
I think you take the risk — don’t expect a ton because the Twins are notorious playing time controllers, but O’Neill is basically a streamer right now anyway. If Lewis can’t make the jump, he can’t be much worse than O’Neill is right now, right? Go for it. Good luck!
A. In my points league, I just swapped Steele and Disco for Rizzo (who immediately becomes my batter with the highest total points YTD, oy vey). Did I do alright or give up too much?
B. Now I need to try to rebuild the backend of my rotation. I managed to snag Detmers off the wire and also added Bello. Who are the top two you’d add of the following:
C. Would you start Bello @LAA tomorrow?
A) We’ve seen the birth of the late-career hitter before (not that Rizzo was bad before, but was he leading your team any time in the past 5 years?). A lot of categories are looking legit in 2023. I think you did fine — I’d rather have a hitter like Rizzo than 2 starters who have barely touched the mound in the past 2 years. And if Rizzo exceeds expectations, you can always flip him later for more.
B) I do like Varland even though he’s still climbing the IP hill towards data relevancy. He’ll have hot and cold streaks but I’d target him. If you can manage the current wave of volatility. The rest of the group is kind of a toss up — a ton of volatility that you might want to just stream. Singer’s a pre-season favorite that could be coming around now, so he might get a slight edge.
C) Bello vs LAA is a bit suboptimal, but Bello has limited damage recently. I give it a 55% approval rating for starting. :)
I know you and your system aren’t a fan of most rookies, but can I ask the resident pitching expert the following anyway?
1. Please rank the kids for this week:
Bibee vSTL ($3.8)
2-start Liberatore @CIN (-16.1) and vKC (-0.1)
2-start Bobby Miller @ATL (-27) and vWAS (-5.1)
Stone @TB (-17.1)
Shuster vPHI (-9.8)
2. Can you rank the same kids for ROS?
Oh dang, Rudy giving me my props with all those negative values!
I actually go in the order you placed them — Stone and Shuster have awful matchups, but Miller could end up getting a double whammy of awfulness.
For ROS, Stone probably takes the lead — we’ve seen very adequate Dodgers pitchers get extended playing time and rack up Wins. From May to Stripling to Gonsolin, there’s always been a spot in the past few years for a rando role player to show up and crank out a useful fantasy season. After that, I’d prefer Bibee, with the rest rolling around in tier 3. Hope that helps!
I’m confused vv Detmers. Wouldn/t the 413 BABIP over-ride the positive metrics and thus negate the Tier 2? I’m still treating him as a risky streamer, agreed?
Had a similar question.. he’s available in my shallow 12 man league. Would you drop a Severino or Musgrove (or Berrios) to go get him?
Nah, keep those guys — regression is a tendency to happen, but Angels are gonna Angels and we’ve seen better players than Detmers fall victim to that system.
BABIP is a tough metric to judge, but .413 is well into the “unlucky” side. Detmers has allowed a 5.7% barrel rate on the year, which is pretty great. Although he’s got a 24% line drive rate (which sucks), those line drives aren’t blasting by the defenders. His HR/FB rate is pretty OK, and his SIERA is 3.69, which indicates a great return on investment.
Always love the perceptive u give!
U buying Braxton Garret since his blow up? any chance he rises to a tier 3?
Yeah! He’s a good stash. My system was way high on him earlier in the year, but a couple blowouts with minimal data will drastically change any pitcher. W upside is limited but the K/9 is all we want — give him a chance!
Thanks to you and Grey!I really appreciate your help. I had the best weekend ever
with high Yahoo Points by;
I even sat Servino, Louie Varland and Shane Bieber.
My RPs: Paul Seward and Craig Krigel
1. Do you have any comments about by SPs? Is there one that I should move?
Here are matchups for this week
Which would you start to would probably sit:
Max Scherezer @COL
Luis Sevino @SD
Louie Varland vs TOR
Reid Determs vs MIA
Pebro Lopez vs TOR
Shane Bieber vs STL
Andrew Heaney vs BAL
Merrill Kelly @BOS
Josiah Gray @kC
Chris Sale @ARI
Sorry for the long question. Your help is very much appreciated!!
Hey Martin! Glad you’re seeing results already :)
Heaney vs BAL gives me pause, and Kelly at BOS looks rough as well. Last thing you want to do is take a Diamondbacks SP on the road vs a top 5 MLB offense. Otherwise you’ve got a good roster and some nice matchups this week! Good luck!
What a great detailed response!
I was trying to get another SP1 or SP3. I thought of trying to get Framber Valdez and put together this list:
would you make a trade to get Valdez and who would you offer?
Are there other pitchers besides Valdez that you would try and get in a trade using my list above?
thanks so much!!!
I enjoy our conversations and your insights!
In summary, you would start Pablo Lopez and Varland who are both at home against TOR?
thanks so much!
Why are relievers discussed here?
Maybe change the title ?
Wrote this up extensively earlier in the year. TL;DR is that many of those relievers are more effective starters than actual starters.
Spencer Strider was a reliever last year around this time too
What is wrong with Sandy Alcantara
I would point you to every article I’ve written since 2021 :)
The problem with low K/9 pitchers is that the hits will fall eventually. Alcantara was extremely lucky in 2022, and now the regression is against him in 2023. Similarly, he’s not as bad as his ERA projects, but for a third round draft pick and SP1 on many teams — we don’t want that guy to be 1-5 with a 5+ ERA, right? The ERA will come down but not terribly much. Hopefully he can get some W luck with that IP volume and return value.
Is martin perez a hold? Or just a streamer
Generally a streamer — he’s about as well known a quantity as there is in the majors, and his profile hasn’t changed in a decade. Playing on the hot Rangers is a bonus to W, but he doesn’t miss nearly enough bats to be an everyday SP.
We had a convo started on Grey’s post that seems more apt for this write-up. What are your metrics telling you about Musgrove. Is he cooked? Spin rates are still elite, but he isn’t fooling anyone. I think all Musgrove owners want to know, should I jump ship now or ride it out with this liability?
Spin rate isn’t terribly well correlated to fantasy efficacy — here’s an article from Steve Gardner (who organizes LABR) from a couple years back: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2021/06/09/mlb-spin-rate-baseball-pitchers-jacob-degrom-trevor-bauer/7606269002/. Even if we look at some of the high spin rate “success” stories, we can see that some of the elite spinners didn’t last long.
Some of the struggle can be chalked up to warming up against hot hitting teams — SFG is the lowest ranked team he’s faced, and they’re still in the top 15. That’s not an excuse, but more a pointer. We could use the same logic to ask why Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan are so good — the AL Central has 4 teams below 100 wRC.
There are blips in Musgrove’s profile, but nothing wildly out of character. I hang on a bit longer and wait for his arm to warm up and the schedule to improve a bit.
That article link is informative, but I was shocked to see how many guys on that list were really struggling this year.
Age factor, this years baseball design, but mostly the foreign substance factor. Maybe sticky substances didn’t just increase spin rates, but they lessened the chance of grooving a pitch over the middle. Now pitchers are having more oops pitches without it.
Just a thought
Thanks for the thorough reply, keep up the great work!
Just not enough sample size for Bibee, EPerz or BMiller to make the ranks, or should I do better?
Yup, not enough sample size. Feel free to take a flier on them — we just can’t say anything statistically meaningful at this point.
No Bailey Ober?
He’s 209th overall on the full sheet. xFIP is nearly 3 points higher than ERA, 10% barrel rate, 26% CSW rate — a lot of worries there.
But you have Cortes at tier 3 who has a 4.99 xFIP. hmmmmmm