August 3-9, 2020

The Major League Baseball 2020 season is a mess, and this is a post about it. As of Saturday night, 104 players and 24 staff/training members had tested positive for coronavirus since the inception of the season, with 42 cases identified in the last week. Boston Red Sox star and former Tier 3 member Eduardo Rodriguez has been shut down for the 2020 season following myocarditis that was associated with his bout of coronavirus. 20% of MLB teams had games postponed this weekend, with the Marlins and Phillies not having played since last week. At the time of writing, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stated that he intended for the remaining teams to continue playing the truncated season, although there are reports that if more positive cases erupt on Sunday, then a work stoppage would follow. There’s a non-zero chance that if you’re reading this on Monday afternoon, baseball is again in a holding pattern.

For those of you in season-long fantasy, I hear your cries. Myself, I’ve been gravitating towards daily fantasy leagues in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic, because there’s not much one can do when 20% of the league has games postponed. If you’re interested in daily fantasy, take a look at the daily free posts on this site, and check the upper right tab “MLB Tools,” where you can purchase a Daily Fantasy Subscription.

News and Notes

Eduardo Rodriguez — As noted above, Rodriguez has been shut down for the 2020 season. At 27 years old at the time of writing, he’s worth a dynasty stash. Although the team reports that Rodriguez should recover fully, he cannot currently throw a bullpen session due to his heart condition. In other words, he won’t be able to spend his convalescence perfecting his pitches. Treat him as a high-level prospect for now.

Stephen Strasburg — Missed his first two starts with a nerve impingement. At the time of writing, he’s thrown a bullpen session and is ready for another one on Wednesday. Follow the news this week to see if he makes his season debut next weekend.

Clayton Kershaw — Activated from the IL today after being scratched last week with back pain. Pitched 5.2 scoreless innings on Sunday, with 6Ks and 0BB. Looks like he’s back.

Jake Odorizzi After being scratched from his first start with back pain, he’s throwing bullpen sessions again and should be on track for his season debut.

Corey Kluber — Tore a muscle in his debut, will be out for at least four weeks. Given Kluber’s struggle in returning from his broken arm last year, I would let somebody else take the risk on Kluber.

Alex Wood — Hit the IL with shoulder inflammation on Tuesday. Still hasn’t resumed baseball activities. Given the depth of the Dodgers’ rotation, and the return of Clayton Kershaw and the ramping up of Walker Buehler, it’s not the worst idea to let Wood hit the waiver wire.

Shohei Ohtani — It’s not working out. Through two appearances, Ohtani has a total of 1.2 IP and a staggering 37.80 ERA to go with his 6.60 WHIP. At the end of his appearance on Sunday, his fastball was below 90MPH, and he was sent for an MRI (results unannounced as of this writing). If you’re in redraft, it’s time to say sayounara to Ohtani-san.

Tyler Chatwood — Bieber, Scherzer, Gray, Chatwood. That’s the top four K/9 rates for 2020 starting pitchers. Now, Chatwood should be in your memory for another reason: a pitcher who has floated around since 2011, Chatwood has been the pitcher you pitted your bats against. In his last full year as a starter in 2018, Chatwood had an 8.25 BB/9 rate and a 6.28 SIERA. Chat-woof. He’s got a career 4.62 FIP. But 2020, as 2020 does, has a bizarro factor that changes things. As Chris Clegg pointed out, Chatwood has abandoned his 4-seamer and is using his cutter, resulting in 9Ks and a 60% whiff rate. I don’t believe Chatwood is going to maintain that success indefinitely, though. He’s sporting a low .250 BABIP, a ridiculous 90% left on base rate, and a nearly 60% fly ball rate–almost 20% higher than his career norm. So, if you own Chatwood, keep him for his next start against the Royals and then consider trading him.

Merrill Kelly — Razzball has two articles about him this week: One by JKJ, and one by Grey. We are indeed in “warm body” territory with our starting pitchers, and Kelly is one of the better streamers out there.

Tommy Milone I don’t want him either, but after I put him in the 70s last week, he came forward and pitched 5IP with 8K, 0BB, and 1ER. Could do a lot worse on your streamers.

Aaron Civale — He’s in the middle of his start right now as I write, but he’s racked up 8K in 4IP against the Twins, and by the end of the game, he’ll probably in the top 5 of K/9 for the first two weeks of MLB. He’s missing bats, and those bats that connect aren’t connecting well. Civale started the season as my #50 SP, and he’s climbing the tiers quickly.

Aaron Civale advanced stats

Spencer Turnbull — In two starts, the #10 SP in FIP is…Spencer Turnbull. He’s throwing one of the best fastballs in MLB right now, and hitters are making weak contact for a .105 AVG. Unfortunately, batters are teeing off on his slider to the tune of a nearly .700wOBA when they make contact; much of this seems to be luck right now. Turnbull had one of the best fastballs in the majors last year, so he’s worth grabbing in all formats to see if some of that luck against his slider regresses.

Yusei Kikuchi — We saw reports all summer training that Kikuchi’s fastball had increased in velocity, which many analysts didn’t know what to make of. At 28 years old in 2019, Kikuchi was pretty bad in his first MLB year, giving up nearly 2 HR/9 and suffering with an FIP nearing 6.00. In his first two starts in 2020, though, he’s #11 in FIP, and #9 in K/9. Although he’s walked a ton of batters in 2020, his BABIP is .400, suggesting that his future numbers could be even better once batters are getting less lucky on their contact. Kikuchi is worth rostering at this point, but given his track record, you shouldn’t get too attached to holding him if he reverts to his old home-run manners.

Rankings

Tier 1

Rank Name PrevRk Notes
1 Shane Bieber 2 27:1 K/BB, 0.00 ERA
2 Gerrit Cole 1
3 Jacob deGrom 3 1.44 FIP
4 Max Scherzer 5 21:7 K/BB
5 Jack Flaherty 9 1.36 FIP
6 Patrick Corbin 7
7 Mike Clevinger 12
8 Luis Castillo 9
9 Yu Darvish 13 12:1 K/BB
10 Sonny Gray 16
11 Trevor Bauer 16

Tier 2

Rank Name PrevRk Notes
12 Chris Paddack 10
13 Lance Lynn 25
14 Tyler Glasnow 14
15 Aaron Nola 20
16  Stephen Strasburg 21 First start next week
17 Zack Greinke 19
18 Charlie Morton 9
19 Clayton Kershaw 15 Return from IL
20 Lucas Giolito 17
21 Kyle Hendricks 27
22 Walker Buehler 29 First start on 8/3
23 Zac Gallen 23
24 Hyun-Jin Ryu 24
25 Jose Berrios 18

Tier 3

Rank Name PrevRk Notes
26 Brandon Woodruff 26
27 Dinelson Lamet 33 1.87 FIP
28 Kenta Maeda 31
29 Mike Soroka 37
30 Jake Odorizzi 30 Scratched from first start w/ back pain.
31 Carlos Carrasco 37
32 Zack Wheeler 32
33 Blake Snell 27
34 Madison Bumgarner 34
35 Julio Urias 38
36 Max Fried 36
37 German Marquez 50
38 Frankie Montas 43
39 Andrew Heaney 42
40 Robbie Ray 35
41 James Paxton 46

Tier 4

Rank Name PrevRk Notes
42 Aaron Civale 50
43 Ryan Yarbrough 51
44 Rich Hill 55
45 Matthew Boyd 49
46 Lance McCullers 49
47 Adrian Houser 52
48 Zach Plesac 58
49 Joe Musgrove 49
50 Griffin Canning 88
51 Dylan Bundy 66
52 Joey Lucchesi 52
53 Jesus Luzardo 49
54 Sean Manaea 48
55 Spencer Turnbull 96
56 Luke Weaver 44
57 Dallas Keuchel 62
58 Chris Bassitt 73
59 Nathan Eovaldi 71
60 Mike Minor 63

Tier 5

Rank Name PrevRk Notes
61 Dustin May 75
62 Steven Matz 66
63 Ross Stripling 71
64 Anthony DeSclafani 68
65 Mike Fiers 71
66 Matt Shoemaker NA
67 Johnny Cueto 67
68 Jon Gray 61
69 Mitch Keller 74
70 Kevin Gausman 70
71 Dylan Cease 97
72 Yusei Kikuchi 99
73 Carlos Martinez 59
74 Garrett Richards 66
75 Nate Pearson 100
76 Tommy Milone NA
77 Marco Gonzales 84
78 Sandy Alcantara 74
79 Josh James 79
80 Jon Lester 90

Tier 6

Dart throws

Rank Name PrevRk Notes
81 Yonny Chirinos NA
82 Kyle Freeland NA
83 Kyle Gibson 88
84 Zach Eflin NA
85 Caleb Smith 56
86 Justus Sheffield 86
87 J.A. Happ 93
88 Adam Wainwright NA
89 Jeff Samardzija 89
90 Taijuan Walker NA
91 Anibal Sanchez 91
92 Brady Singer NA
93 Corbin Burnes NA
94 Spencer Howard NA
95 Josh Lindblom 95
96 Pablo Lopez 72
97 Masahiro Tanaka NA
98 Rick Porcello 98
99 Merrill Kelly NA
100 Randy Dobnak 100
 
  1. Philip says:
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    What does Woodruff have to do to break into tier two? Would you rather have Hendricks, Gallen, Ryu, or Berrios right now? Or Nola? Morton doesn’t look like his usual early-season self, and Strasburg hasn’t even pitched. Woodruff’s main knock, other than health, was lack of a 3rd pitch. His change-up looks nasty at 89mph w/ run. I know it’s early to move stuff around, but Woodruff looks like a stud.

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      That’s a more than fair assessment. Originally, the top tiers were largely divided by IP and W probability, with other factors playing a secondary role. I don’t think Woodruff has moved since the original ranking, which was based on Grey’s ranking. You can see Grey’s opinion here: https://razzball.com/brandon-woodruff-2020-fantasy-baseball-sleeper/

      Basically, the “concern” on Woodruff was the lack of proven IP compared to the pitchers above him. Woodruff seems to be taking the 2020 season in stride. At the end of the day, the pitchers above him simply have a longer track record. That said, 2020 has been–so far–the year of Dustin May, Tyler Chatwood…I mean Randy Dobnak is a top 30 pitcher so far! Let’s hang on for the ride, and given Woodruff’s “sleeper” status, grab him where others aren’t (hehe).

  2. Dusty says:
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    Where would Mize slot in when he gets the callup?

    Thanks!

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      I know Grey’s saying to grab him in every league, but…

      Mize hasn’t pitched above AA yet. The Tigers are outperforming every expectation…which were dismal to begin with.

      Grey’s own projections have him at a 5+ ERA, and Steamer agrees.

      So…dart throw.

      That said, we’re in a world where starters–actual starters, not openers–are rare this year. Fangraphs has 68 pitchers who qualify as “starters” so far. If the Tigers keep winning, and Mize throws about 5IP per game for 4.50ERA or less, that puts him in the 60s-70s by the end of the year. If you’ve got a couple good relievers, that’s doable.

  3. BadFantasyManager says:
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    Two questions:

    1. How would you rank Spencer Howard, Mize, and Gore (Although I don’t think Gore is going to up this year)? It’s a H2H redraft league.

    2. I know you guys have recommended Houser. One of the sidesI wants a deal of Houser for my Stripling. But my league has also for BB, K/BB and WHIP . Should I accept the deal?

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      For this year, I’d say Howard/Mize/Gore in that order. Honestly, I’m surprised teams are bringing up valuable prospects at all–I know they want to keep them “experienced,” but given the rash of injuries and covid exposure, it doesn’t seem worth it to me. If they show up, certainly take a dart throw.

      Stripling’s been very lucky so far–BABIP of .176, FIP nearly 4.50. Houser obviously wasn’t great in his first start, but he’s got more of a track record to trust. Stripling has one plus pitch, so unless his peripherals get in order quick, people are going to be fading him hard.

  4. hondo says:
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    Paxton moves up 5 spots?

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      His FIP is 4.55, and the BABIP against him is .611. Still getting a swinging strike rate of over 12%. Bound to be some positive regression there. Beware his massive drop in velocity tho–nearly 4mph. That doesn’t bode well.

  5. Harley Earl says:
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    Good call on Beiber. Takes guts to not give Cole the top spot. But I think you’re right on the money. He’s the best pitcher in baseball in my opinion.

    See you keep moving Flaherty up. Never had to worry about an innings limit now did we? Be we do have to worry about a Covid limit. I’ve lost two starts from Flaherty because of this crap.

    I know you’ll disagree but I think Lynn is top 10. There’s a couple of guys you have ahead of him that I’d rather have Lynn instead. Dude is the new Verlander. Going to be a great veteran pitcher for the next 4-5 years.

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      I don’t disagree at all on Lynn. A lot of Razzballers were looking to him as a #2 starter, and he’s throwing 3 pitches for positive value right now in a pitching-deprived league. Won’t complain at all if people want to acquire him, and he’ll probably appear in Tier 1 next week depending on how his start goes tonight.

  6. Bubs says:
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    It’s criminal how low Zack Wheeler is on here. Kind of makes it hard to take the rest seriously seeing him at 32… Can you help me understand this detail?

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      Well, how’s that for a nice how do you do? I know it’s the internet and we’re in the middle of the biggest global crisis of the past century while we’re watching teams of baseball players drop and get replaced by AAAA talent, but I would say it’s a bit unfair to come in and say “I disagree with one player you ranked, so the other 99 in this crap shoot of a year, where everybody’s injured and playing in a crisis, must all be faulty.”

      So here’s the deal.

      Grey and Rudy, winners of three Tout Wars and the #4 most accurate raters on FantasyPros last year, have Wheeler at–you guessed it!–#32. Here’s the evidence: https://razzball.com/top-40-starters-for-2020-fantasy-baseball/. Grey even says, “Don’t draft” at the end. So, if you’re to doubt anybody, call up Grey and doubt him.

      Here’s a cool little tool a lot of Razzball readers miss, and it will help demonstrate where players are at right now. Take a look up at the red navigation bar above, and click “Player Rater.” You can search basically every player and see where they rank currently. Of course, we’re in small sample size area, but Wheeler is…you guessed it! Number 36.

      I like Wheeler, I really do. His fastball is at 96, his peripheral pitches are doing well, and he’s on a good team. Being at #32 isn’t a crime. What’s a crime is Alex Mills being the #9 pitcher in fantasy baseball right now. But, small sample size gonna small sample size.

      Wheeler spent most of summer training on paternity leave. Since he arrived, the Phillies have largely been unable to play due to Covid restrictions, and Wheeler made one appearance. In short, it’s too early to boost him. When we see Wheeler continuing his performance once the Phillies are active again, it’ll be time to re-evaluate.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        In fairness to me, bc why not, I liked Wheeler, then with rumors he might sit out the season due to his child, I bumped him down — but one love, be nice to each other

  7. thorbs says:
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    Thorough as always!

    Thoughts on Bundy?

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      As our buddy Son pointed out, Bundy’s got a lot of things going this year. Bundy’s been around for nearly a decade but he’s just 27. He’s throwing his slider a ton this year–it’s his best pitch by far and he’s cranked its usage up from 22 to 32% of his pitches. His fastball is ranking as just “not bad.” He’s also cranking up his curveball usage a bit, and it’s been one of the best curves in the league so far. He’s got a 14% swinging strike rate, so those non-fastball pitches are doing a ton of damage.

      If he can get his fastball to be just “average” or “bad but not that bad”–and last year it was downright miserable–then he’ll finally realize that potential everybody’s been waiting for since 2011. Definite grab in redraft, likely cheap dynasty target.

  8. kip says:
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    Thoughts in Luke Weaver? Is it time to cut bait.

    In a ten team league but deep SP bench. Roughly 100 SP rostered.

    Slim pickings in FA. Replace with Kikuchi or sit tight?

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      In a dynasty, I’m holding Weaver. His peripherals are bad, but he’s got talent. A lot of people thought he’d be a great sleeper this year, but ARI has basically the worst hitting in the league. Weaver was one of those cheap W candidates, but if ARI doesn’t hit, Weaver won’t get wins.

      Kikuchi’s the hot hand. He’s shown legitimate improvement, and if I’m in redraft, I probably make the switch.

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