Fantasy baseball is often best informed by real baseball. Please a few minutes to watch this before moving on with the article.

August 31-September 6, 2020

All right, we almost made it a week without a Covid positive test in MLB, but Sunday morning, the Oakland Athletics announced that a member of their crew tested positive for coronavirus and their play has been postponed. News will be developing more, but as of the time of writing (Sunday morning), you’ll probably want to pay attention to your Oakland starters (i.e. Jesus Luzardo, Frankie Montas, Chris Bassitt) in weekly lineup leagues. For DFS and daily lineups, you can follow the news and do what you have to do.

Again, we’re nearing the 60% mark of the season for most teams in MLB, and the same goes for most of your fantasy baseball teams. If you’re going to make a move — whether the waiver wire or a trade — it’s time to do it now. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the Rest-of-Season-o-Nator-o-Tron. That Sixto Sanchez guy that everybody’s talking about? Hit Control-F and search his projections for the rest of the season. Come on, do it! Oh fine, I’ll just tell you. It’s 23IP, 1W, and a probably too-conservative 17K. What about Gerrit Cole? 36IP, 3W, and 49K. OK math majors, let’s get to work! If you’re trailing in pitching stats in your fantasy league, what’s the likelihood that Sixto Sanchez helps you catch up to the team that’s starting Gerrit Cole every 5 days? Not all that great, right? The Marlins have a lot of catch-up to do, and Sixto Sanchez can’t throw those extra games, and no manager is going to risk The Sanchize by throwing him overtime in a year when 50% of the teams make the playoffs. For actual baseball, this is amazing, because the Marlins seem on track to make the playoffs and you’re going to see The Sanchize playing in the wildest shootout of baseball playoffs ever seen in human history. But for fantasy baseball, you’re getting, at most, maybe 2W and — if you’re lucky — 30Ks from Sixto over the next few weeks.

So, how do you overcome the teams that are starting the entirely-possible rotation of Shane Bieber, Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, and Andrew Heaney (all of whom are in the top 25)?

If you’re in a redraft, you’ll need to stream pitchers. “But Blair, I only stream Netflix!”, you say. That’s OK, Razzball has the Streamonator. Additionally, we’ve got three authors who provide you pickup advice (no, Steve, not that kind of pickup advice!)

So! If you’re in the running for your fantasy championship and are lagging in pitching, use the resources across Razzball and we’ll get you across the finish line. Sound good?

To complicate things even further, it’s the trade deadline! This article was submitted Sunday night, and there were basically no blockbusters announced at the time of submission. Lance Lynn and Mike Clevinger were the biggest names on the block, and multiple teams showed interest in these players. Take a look at Grey’s daily updates for the latest news on what to do with these players if/when they are traded.

News and Notes

Lucas Giolito — A no-no, and I hope you didn’t give up on him after his slow start to 2020. Giolito started near the top 10 in these rankings, and fell down towards number 20 at the start of the season due to rotation and hard hit concerns. Giolito now looks back to his 2019 form, and the White Sox batters are supporting him well. He’s got a ridiculous 16.2 SwSt% on the season, and he cracks the top 15 this week. Giolito’s no hitter got Alex Fast so excited his Twitter account was temporarily ramped up to Japanese salaryman level of excitement. NO NO?? YES YES!!

Taijuan Walker — Walker got traded from the Mariners to the Blue Jays this week, and on most years, that wouldn’t even make a blip on the fantasy radar. However, in 2020 Walker has been showing signs of recovery from numerous injuries and was putting up respectable peripheral numbers with an 8.5K/9 and a 3.50 ERA. Now, in a normal year, moving from the Mariners to the Blue Jays would be a gift for a fantasy pitcher. But, in 2020, the Blue Jays are playing at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, a AAA-stadium that has quickly become known for its hitter-friendliness, at least to MLB hitters. ESPN’s park factors ranks Sahlen Field in the top-5 for runs created, and top-8 for home run proclivity. Comparatively, Walker’s previous home, T-Mobile Park in Seattle, was in the top-10 most pitcher friendly parks. In September, the Blue Jays play the Yankees 7 times in Sahlen Field, as well as the surprisingly-potent Orioles hitters another three times. So, if you’re thinking you’re going to ride Walker to the fantasy championships, I would call that a risky proposition. You can certainly stream Walker in the away games, but I think starting any Blue Jays pitcher other than Hyun-jin Ryu at Sahlen Field is just gambling.

Nate Pearson — He’s been sitting in dart throw territory with elbow discomfort for a while now, and he’s just not progressing. Especially after the Blue Jays acquired Walker, it’s hard to see the Blue Jays pushing their prized prospect hard in the remainder of 2020. He’s off the list for now, and you can dart throw him at your discretion if he returns.

Walker Buehler — Buehler had just started ramping up to full-speed when he hit the IL with a blister. I really hope it’s a finger blister. The news articles just want you to assume that, but I assume nothing! He’s scheduled to return in the middle of the week. Buehler’s been a bit erratic in 2020, but given his last start was 6IP, 11K, 0BB, fantasy managers can roll the dice that the Buehler we expected in June will appear in September and dominate.

Dylan Bundy — Two weeks ago, Bundy was at the top of the player rater and he’s still sitting in the top 10 as of this time of writing. Multiple teams are trying to acquire Bundy at the trade deadline, and it’s good to feel wanted, right? But there’s something that people who are drinking Monday morning Mai Tais while sitting near an infinity pool know, that you’re going to know right now as well: Bundy’s fastball velocity dipped to 86MPH in his Saturday start. Now, there have been some pitchers who have succeeded at that speed this year — see Zack Greinke — but Bundy’s venture into 86MPH territory is a 4MPH departure from his usual velocity. Is Bundy tired? Is Bundy hurt? Is Bundy saving himself for his new team? The Angels were winning 6-1 against the Mariners when Bundy’s velocity dropped. There are some signs of worry on the Bundy-hype train. Bundy has already vastly outperformed his projections, and he might be working under a new coaching staff next week. It’s your fantasy team, and I want you to make your own decisions, but there are a few warning signs that Bundy’s second half of 2020 won’t be as productive has his first half.

Tommy Milone — Milone is owned in 8% of RCL leagues. His changeup is basically as good as Luis Castillo’s. And, literally as I was writing this paragraph, he got traded to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves play the Washington Nationals a ton in September, and the Nationals are basically league average in terms of hitting; if you pitch around Soto and Turner, the Nationals are pretty miserable. If you’re looking for a streamer that’s going to help you catch up in the pitching rankings, hard to do worse than Milone.

Matthew Boyd — Boyd was getting absolutely crushed to begin the season. When the rookies came up, Boyd probably felt a bit of pressure on his job, and he started pitching a few gems. Now, Boyd has always been prone to giving up the long ball and getting hit hard, so he’s going to remain in the dart throw category. That said, in his past three starts, he has a 21:3 K/BB ratio and most batters are hitting him weaker than ever before.

Robbie Ray — Ray has made headlines for his wild box scores recently. He can strike out nearly 10 batters per appearance, but he’s walking nearly 6 batters in that same time frame. Those batters who make contact are producing, on average, balls with an exit velocity over 94MPH. The Diamondbacks hitters are awful, and he’s notched only 1W in 2020. Ray has left the top 100 list.

Top Velocity Gainers Past 2 Weeks (numbers in MPH compared to season average): Aaron Civale (1.6), Brady Singer (1.3), Justus Sheffield (1.2), Freddy Peralta (1), Yu Darvish (0.7), Mike Clevinger (0.7), Walker Buehler (0.5), Corbin Burnes (0.5), Taijuan Walker (0.5), Daniel Norris (0.5)

Top Velocity Losers Past 2 Weeks (numbers in MPH compared to season average: Robbie Ray (-1), Merrill Kelly, (-0.7), Dylan Bundy (-0.6), Kent Maeda (-0.5), Jesus Luzardo (-0.5), Ryan Yarbrough (-0.5) Rick Porcello (-0.4), Sonny Gray (-0.4), Max Fried (-0.4), Blake Snell (-0.4)

Dart Throws for Deep Leagues: Daniel Norris, Tony Gonsolin, Tejay Antone, Ian Anderson, Jonathan Loaisiga

Rankings

As usual, if you like what what I’m doing here, give me a shout out in the comments, or support Razzball with a premium subscription. Data is collected from FanGraphs and Razzball databases, and compiled and organized by yours truly. Consider most of the pitchers ranked by tiers, especially from pitchers 50-100. As noted last week, Frankie Montas is a bet right now because he’s shown improvement in his fastball but he’s getting hit hard. Lastly, the data is current as of Saturday, with the HardHit% calculated by comparing the past two weeks to the season average.

FIP=Fielding Independent Pitching; SwSt%=Swinging Strike %; EV=Batted Ball Exit Velocity; Hard Hit%=percent change in hard hit batted balls over the past two weeks compared to season stats; ROS=Razzball’s Player Rater rest-of-season rank. Green=Top 10% of performance in that category. Red=Bottom 10% of performance in that category.

Rank Name FIP SwSt% EV HardHit % ROS
1 Shane Bieber 1.68 18.6 89.3 -6 4
2 Jacob deGrom 1.68 19 88.1 -8 3
3 Yu Darvish 2.02 16.5 87.8 -15.2 14
4 Max Scherzer 3.06 15.8 88 2.6 2
5 Gerrit Cole 4.38 14.7 90.6 18.2 1
6 Trevor Bauer 3.38 13.5 88.7 19.5 10
7 Aaron Nola 3.39 12.7 88.1 0.7 6
8 Luis Castillo 2.06 15.5 84 -15.9 18
9 Sonny Gray 2.66 11.2 86.6 -14.2 23
10 Jack Flaherty 3.67 14.4 85.3 6.7 5
11 Patrick Corbin 3.73 10.8 90 9.4 7
12 Lance Lynn 3.53 11.3 88.5 14 9
13 Dinelson Lamet 3.24 14.7 89.6 5.5 22
14 Lucas Giolito 2.68 16.2 86 -25 17
15 Brandon Woodruff 2.87 12.9 85.9 -0.6 29
16 Zac Gallen 3.81 12 86.6 -3.6 35
17 Carlos Carrasco 4.31 13.5 90.6 17.2 12
18 Tyler Glasnow 3.53 14.4 89.6 2.4 19
19 Clayton Kershaw 3.51 13.4 89.4 6.2 11
20 Kenta Maeda 2.59 15.7 85.6 -10.4 36
21 Kyle Hendricks 3.64 11.7 85.4 -1.8 40
22 Dylan Bundy 3.14 12.9 86.2 -8.7 27
23 Zack Greinke 2.57 9.9 86.1 -12.4 16
24 Hyun-Jin Ryu 2.92 11.7 86.6 -2.1 21
25 Jose Berrios 4.36 12 88.9 7 28
26 Aaron Civale 3.06 11.4 88.7 2.3 39
27 German Marquez 3.71 13 89.3 6.2 30
28 Max Fried 2.29 12.1 83.3 -9.2 26
29 Pablo Lopez 2.27 13.4 85.2 -10 37
30 Adrian Houser 5.23 8.8 86.3 -5.6 90
31 Walker Buehler 4.7 11.9 90.1 1.9 314
32 Zack Wheeler 3.32 9.6 85.2 -2.7 13
33 Blake Snell 4.07 14.7 89.3 -1.5 15
34 Mike Clevinger 5.61 12.5 88.7 -2.2 8
35 Julio Urias 3.92 12.3 87.3 11.5 91
36 Jesus Luzardo 3.91 13.4 88.9 -0.9 73
37 Kevin Gausman 3.31 14.7 89 6.7 50
38 Mike Minor 4.84 10.2 87.1 0.3 24
39 Andrew Heaney 2.76 13.4 89.2 -3.1 25
40 Dallas Keuchel 3.23 10.2 86.5 -17.3 45
41 Frankie Montas 4.46 11 86.8 6.4 31
42 Chris Paddack 5.48 10.8 89.9 -0.8 34
43 Masahiro Tanaka 3.82 14.4 89 19.2 32
44 Framber Valdez 2.59 9.7 90.4 -16.7 86
45 Yusei Kikuchi 2.7 11.8 90.2 -0.7 75
46 Chris Bassitt 4.43 8.4 89.4 17.3 53
47 Zach Plesac 2.38 13.5 85.6 #N/A 88
48 Spencer Turnbull 3.4 9.6 91 19.6 77
49 Merrill Kelly 3.94 9.7 88.5 7.7 290
50 Ryan Yarbrough 4.54 12.9 82.9 -13.3 70
51 Randy Dobnak 4.06 8.7 87.9 5.9 180
52 Marco Gonzales 3.66 7.9 86.8 7.5 48
53 Nathan Eovaldi 4.57 11.7 90.1 -3.9 43
54 Anthony DeSclafani 5.5 10.2 89.1 4.8 69
55 Zach Davies 3.26 10.2 87.9 4.7 154
56 Jake Odorizzi 6.14 8.8 89.4 -2.4 179
57 Zach Eflin 2.72 9.6 87.4 5.5 61
58 Dustin May 4.17 8.2 87 0.7 96
59 Lance McCullers Jr. 3.92 10.9 89.5 -8.3 33
60 Kyle Freeland 4.31 8.8 86.7 2.1 123
61 Charlie Morton 4.52 11.9 90.8 N/A 101
62 Brad Keller 3.19 9.9 88.4 5 83
63 Jon Gray 4.49 9.8 89.7 7.3 46
64 Corbin Burnes 2.46 14.4 88.6 10.4 127
65 Tommy Milone 3.86 12.5 89.1 9 164
66 Kyle Gibson 5.29 8.1 86.9 8.4 38
67 Tyler Mahle 4.18 13.8 89.6 19.6 85
68 Josh Lindblom 4.5 15.1 88 2 82
69 Triston McKenzie 4.34 12.8 87.9 -0.2 182
70 Alec Mills 5.56 7.7 85 14.9 166
71 Jordan Montgomery 3.71 12.7 82.9 -24.8 76
72 Casey Mize 5.36 12.8 86.2 -6.3 178
73 Jon Lester 5.29 5.6 88.9 17.3 78
74 Garrett Richards 4.96 10.7 89.1 -3.4 105
75 Justus Sheffield 2.94 9.1 90.1 8.6 133
76 Antonio Senzatela 4.27 9.7 88.4 N/A 192
77 Johnny Cueto 4.4 8.4 88.4 3.6 80
78 Dylan Cease 6.19 9.9 88.7 -6.7 59
79 Tyler Chatwood 3.32 12.8 90 NA INJ
80 Sixto Sanchez 3.22 15.8 89.1 N/A 102
81 Freddy Peralta 1.72 16.4 91.7 -9.1 47
82 Sandy Alcantara 3.89 16.1 84.8 N/A 79
83 Danny Duffy 4.11 10.9 88.7 13.2 55
84 Brady Singer 5.56 9.1 90.2 12.7 153
85 Sean Manaea 3.8 8.9 90.3 8.2 44
86 Griffin Canning 5.71 9.7 89.8 4.5 49
87 Cristian Javier 5.14 7.9 86.4 1.3 111
88 Adam Wainwright 3.74 11 88.2 3.1 62
89 Kolby Allard 3.42 11 89.6 0.2 110
90 Ross Stripling 7.24 6.6 92.4 9.8 74
91 Mike Fiers 5.52 6.3 88.3 N/A 93
92 Spencer Howard 7 9.2 89.6 N/A 54
93 Matthew Boyd 5.39 12.9 88.4 -8.9 20
94 Rich Hill 4.32 5.5 87.4 -12.1 57
95 Jakob Junis 5.27 8.6 89.4 NA 58
96 Tanner Roark 6.32 11.9 88.3 N/A 60
97 Luke Weaver 5.66 11.1 90.2 N/A 63
98 Rick Porcello 3.03 6.6 87.2 N/A 52
99 Tarik Skubal 6.57 10.5 92.7 N/A 202
100 Kwang-hyun Kim 3.8 8.4 87 N/A N/A

Aye, you made it this far, didn’t ya. EverywhereBlair is, well, located at home right now. He’s a historian and lover of prog-metal. He enjoys a good sipping rum. When he’s not churning data and making fan fiction about Grey and Donkey Teeth, you can find him dreaming of shirtless pictures of Lance Lynn on Twitter @Everywhereblair.

 
  1. crimedog says:
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    What are your thoughts on Kikuchi. Do you think he’ll be better down the stretch? You have him ranked fairly high for his average performace so far. His FB velo is way up from last year and stuff looks good. Looking to help my pitching down the stretch.

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      What’s up Crimedog? Yup, Kikuchi’s been a favorite for the past few weeks. Everything in his peripherals shows that his improvement is true, and analysts are wowed by his ability to maintain his changes. Besides the fact that he’s pitching for a rather impotent Mariners team, Kikuchi is a fair shot to improve ratios on many teams. Of course, be cautious in any games against OAK, who are one of the best hitting teams in the league right now. Cheers!

      • crimedog says:
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        Thanks Blair, that’s helpful, I will go back and re read your last few posts that may have some Kikuchi info. Based on your rankings, I’d assume you’d speculate Kikuchi over tommy malone for the stretch run?

        • everywhereblair

          everywhereblair says:
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          Depends on what you need. Kikuchi will get more Ks probably, but now that Milone is on the Braves, Milone will get more shots at wins. That said, managers are probably looking at 2 wins at best in the rest of the season from non-elite pitchers. Braves also have the easier opponents IMO.

          • crimedog says:
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            QS over W league, also K/9 over K’s. HR allowed is a 6th pitching category

            • everywhereblair

              everywhereblair says:
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              Yeah with that scoring I go Kikuchi. Almost nobody hitting homers off of him this year.

  2. slevine1991 says:
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    In a dynasty league format…how would you rank Glasnow, Woodruff and Bundy and how close are they?

    • slevine1991 says:
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      including strasburg as well to keep it interesting (a few differnet trade talks coming out)…

      In a dynasty league format…how would you rank Strasburg, Glasnow, Woodruff and Bundy and how close are they?

      • everywhereblair

        everywhereblair says:
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        Strasburg far behind. He’s 32 and has carpal tunnel syndrome, which is not optimal for pitchers

        Glasnow far ahead of woodruff and Bundy.

        Woodruff has a better track record than bundy right now. Again, I’m concerned with the 4mph drop in velocity this weekend. Either he was cruising because of a big lead or something is wrong.

  3. Tony C says:
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    What’s happening Everywhereblair? Any love fir Deivi Garcia for September? And do you think Tony Gonsolin will stick in the rotation now that Stripling has been traded?

    German Marquez is still striking out hitters at a great clip but he’s otherwise been relatively ineffective in his last 4 starts. You still seem to like him a lot based on his ranking above though.

    Thanks for info and the updated rankings!

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      Hey Tony! I’ve been stashing Deivi in dynasty for a while now. I like him a lot. What I don’t like is the Blue Jays in Sahlen Field, where the Yankees will play 7 times in September. So, keep an eye on his matchups, and like most rookies, play them when you see favorable matchups.

      Yeah, the Stripling thing was a late surprise on trade deadline day. The Dodgers had been trying to get rid of him in the off-season, and I speculated earlier that Stripling’s spot in the rotation in 2020 was a kind of showcase for other teams that saved Dodger arms while advertising Stripling. Stripling didn’t do that well, tho. Absolutely Gonsolin *should* hang out in the rotation–and he has some of the best peripherals of any player in the top 100 right now–but it’s the Dodgers and who knows what’s going on in their head.

      Marquez is probably a bit pie-in-the-sky but I was banking on the Rockies hitting better, especially on the road. Then trade deadline day came and the Rockies complicated their roster even more. Makes it difficult to be that optimistic on Marquez. Still, his slider and curveball are thrilling and are worth a dynasty grab if people are looking in that direction.

      Cheers!

      • Tony C says:
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        With Charlie Morton coming off the IL today I am leaving him inactive for his start tonight at NYY. Would you be inclined to drop Marquez, Deivi Garcia or Gonsolin to eventually activate Morton?

        I also have Chad Green, Taylor Rogers and Greg Soto in a Holds league who I desperately need for saves and holds in my Roto league.

        Thanks Everywhere Blair!

        • everywhereblair

          everywhereblair says:
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          Out of that list, Deivi.

          Personally I’ve got Morton in a roto league and I’m going to let him sit. I’m never too thrilled about the first outing back from an arm injury. Mortons got a track record of good performance over the past few years, but arm injuries and 2020 are just too correlated for me right now.

  4. scoboticus says:
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    I can see the results of Maeda’s velocity drop in losing to Detroit last week. Even with an extra day of rest.

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      Worrying, eh? I wanted a no-hitter as much as anybody, but when the Twins left Maeda in for the ninth inning on his no-hitter bid–especially when the Twins hitters were taking a ton of time on their turn–I think it allowed Maeda’s arm to get a bit too cold. His velocity was down in that game, and it continued into his next outings. Still, he’s a finesse pitcher, and he seems to be able to induce weak contact via his skill. Hopefully his arm is feeling a bit more lively in September.

  5. Assy says:
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    I just don’t see it with Adrian Houser, lots of contact, low Ks, and 4 straight not good/bad starts. Am I missing something? The stuff is good but he just has not been effective at all.

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      More than fair observation. Houser’s in that pre-season hype category along with Paddack. Houser’s got some low hard-hit rates comparatively, but he’s definitely not missing enough bats. Rudy’s ROS has him way lower than me, and that’s an oversight on my part. Thanks for the heads up!

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