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.
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.
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.