So here we are in week 24 if you don’t count the All-Star break. Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that this whole marathon got started. Tehol was speaking of the blessings bestowed upon Dominic Brown by the elder gods, Grey was telling you pitching was crazy deep, and Sky was freaking Nick and everyone else out with his creepy masks in the background of his podcast segments. Things were simple then, we all had hope, some of us still do. Oh who am I kidding you read Razzball of course you have at least one team in the playoffs. Everyone knows we only cater to savvy fantasy owners and snappy dressers. Maybe mustache aficionados also, but they only read Grey for the avatar. Mustachioed men are like the rich and Greek Nationalists, they stick with their own.
Regardless, the end is neigh good citizens of fantasy land. It’s now officially the end of the beginning of the season. My beginning just so happens to last 5 months. The real ending for fantasy and real life players alike is that last month chasing a championship. Hence the end of the beginning, beginning of the end title. It’s also a not so subtle nod to my favorite Murs album and possibly song, Done Deal. The point is you have 3 weeks left max, and should be doing all you can to edge your league mates in the H2H playoffs or Roto standings. Either way we’re all hustling like Freeway Ricky Ross, and I mean the Drug Dealer not the rapper. I’d only say we were like Rick Ross the rapper if I was in a room with Matt Adams and Billy Butler. Even then it would be about them and not me. For the record I’m built like a Greek God and bearded like one as well. I’m sort of a fantasy sports version of Dan Bilzerian, but without the trust fund, harem, and over the top douchiness. Well I guess the last one is up for debate. Okay everything I just said about myself is up for debate…Sad Trombone.
You know what isn’t up for debate (Segue! FTW) the quality of the high end double dipping starters this week. We have 4! Count’em! 4 must start options this week in Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer, and Jon Lester. That’s great for any owner with those guys and bad news bears for any owner facing them in the playoffs. It’s okay there’s some hidden gems in the lower tiers with some good matchups. Also feel free to chime in with any double dippers flying under the radar. Whether you feel I’m overlooking them, or that they have under appreciated fantasy appeal. We’re all in this together, unless you’re in one of my leagues, then you’re on your own.
The tier names this week are a nod to my all-time favorite HipHop Group Gang Starr…
Must Start – Royalty
This tier is truly beautiful because the best pitchers have some of the better matchups. Kershaw could go off this week, as he faces the worst lineup in baseball (Padres) and a middling offense (Giants) that’s been scorching hot over the last couple of weeks. I’m sure he rolls against the Padres in his first start and cools the Giants bats later in week. Felix starts his week with a cushy home matchup against Houston. This one is sure to pad those early week K numbers for his H2H owners. While his second start against Jon Lester and the Oakland A’s is a little trickier, but it’s at home, and the A’s have been cold as ice bucket challenges over the last few weeks. Real baseball aside: kind of great to see these two teams battling it out for a playoff spot. I wouldn’t be shocked if this game is a preview of the one game playoff for wild card supremacy!!!! Any the who Lester faces two lineups who notoriously have had trouble with lefties in the White Sox and Mariners. As they rank 20th (Chw – .310) and 28th (Sea – .288) in team wOBA vs. Lhp. Mad Max is the wildcard of the group, he could blow away both the Royals and the Tribe, or he could get blown up against either. The K’s are always there with him (11.45 K/9 in August) and he’s got something to pitch for. I like when my fantasy players have a reason to play down the stretch, it minimizes the risk of the extended shutdown, or skipped start.
Tier 1 – Tonz O Gunz
I like the matchups for Nationals pitchers this week as they get two of the worst offenses in the league in the Braves and Mets. Not only are they both toward the bottom of the standings in team wOBA (Atl – 24th, and Nym – 28th), they’re also both in the top 10 for K% (Atl – 4th, Nym – 9th). This certainly boosts the value of both Fister and Zimmermann this week. Neither one is a K machine which typically sours me on pitchers, but they both have low BB/9 and ERA numbers. Don’t forget ratios are a category too! Sonny Gray has had a couple of hiccups over the last month or so but he’s usually pretty good about coming back strong. The good thing about his two road matchups is neither team hits particularly well at home (Chw – 15th and Sea – 27th in home wOBA), and Gray’s ERA is nearly a run lower away from O.co.
Tier 2 – Above the Clouds
Yovani Gallardo (vs. Mia, vs. vs. Cin), Edinson Volquez (@Phi, vs. Chc), Hiroki Kuroda (vs. Tb, @ Bal), Chris Archer (@Nyy, @Tor), Jacob DeGrom (vs. Col, vs. Was), Marcus Stroman (vs. Chc, vs. Tb), Mike Minor (@Was, @Tex)
This tier is lead by triumvirate of options quietly having good years in Edinson Volquez, Yovani Gallardo, and even Hiroki Kuroda. Gallardo and Volquez have two good matchups each. While Kuroda gets a good one in Tampa Bay and a tougher task at Baltimore. Marcus Stroman has righted the ship the last two starts and gets the all or nothing Cubs or the middling Rays in two home matchups. Stroman is significantly better at home,(2.97 ERA) than on the road ( 5.73 ERA), so this only boosts his value. If somebody dropped him and he’s floating around give him a ride. Mike Minor is tier 2’s wild card, he’s been good over his last 5 starts, but his matchups are tough. Both the Nationals and Rangers are in the top 10 of wOBA against Lhp, and Minor gives up a lot of homers. He has the 7th highest Hr/9 in the majors among pitchers with 100 or more innings. This doesn’t setup well in my opinion.
Tier 3 – DWYCK
Jered Weaver (@Cle, vs. Hou), Hector Santiago (@Tex, vs. Hou), Michael Wacha (@ Cin, vs. Col), Chris Tillman (@ Bos, vs. NYY), Miguel Gonzalez (@ Bos, vs. NYY), Jonathon Niese (vs, Col, vs. Was), Trevor Bauer (vs. Min, @ Det)
I haven’t liked Jered Weaver in a very long time, but he’s on the top of the tier three heap, because he’ll probably get you two wins this week. FREESTYLE! Bauer could devour the Twins and tame Tigers/ Probably as likely to happen as escapin Rikers/ See D-town and the Twin Cities be a-likes/ both have been crushing the pitching for fortnight/ Aight, aight settle down class /Professor Lifshitz is predicting they beat that ass. Sorry folks though Bauer’s August was solid I’m seeing him having trouble this week. He’s in this tier on the off chance he throws a gem. I don’t know where to rank Michael Wacha he’s too good for the tier below but too uncertain for the tier above. The Orioles starters Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez are sort of Meh!
Tier 4 – Ex-Girl to Next Girl
Jason Vargas (@ Det, vs. Bos), Jeff Locke (@ Phi, vs. Chc), Yusmeiro Petit (vs. Ari, @ LAD), Tom Koehler (@ Mil, @ Phi), Mike Leake (vs. Stl, @ Mil), Danny Salazar (vs. LAA, @ Det), Jeremy Guthrie (@ Det, vs. Bos)
I call this tier Ex-Girl to Next Girl because these are all arms you’re going to stream for one start and dump them for the other. There are definitely a handful of good starts among the group. These are your streamers ladies and gentleman.
Tier 5 – The ? Remainz
These are the leftovers that aren’t preferred streamers this week, but aren’t all together avoidable either. Proceed with caution!
Do Not Start – The Soliloquy of Chaos
You should be scheduling your batty calls from this lineup.
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|#||Name||Team||Week Of||$||Start 1 Date||Start 1 Opp||Start 2 Date||Start 2 Opp||Own%|
Give me your questions in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter @Ralphlifshitzbb