All Zach Suer had to do was put away the team that had sat in last place all year in order to collect his first regular season championship and some hard earned cash. Zach should’ve woken up on the final Sunday ready to sip on some celebratory champagne mimosas but instead had to reach for the hard liquor and pepto bismol for a gut wrenching day of baseball. With Jeff Petty and Arch both dominating their opponents and making a last minute push from 6.5 and 7 games back, suddenly a photo finish was a possibility. Stroke My Shaft reacted with the poise we’ve seen from them all season long as they dropped a few bombs to get their wins back in order and came away with a 6-6-0 tie over the Big Hitters, which allowed them to fend off J. Petty and Arch.
Castillo was also suddenly in danger of going from a 7 seed to a premature elimination from our league as Kevin’s team was battling it out and Jerome was coasting to a huge week thanks to playing the dead corpse that was the Peppel squad. Kevin needed a couple of quality pitching performances but when Jon Gray and Wade Miley failed to get anyone out, it meant Kevin would be the first man out of the 8 team single elimination tournament that was soon to take place.
Finally, here’s the final result from the most inevitable roto win we could imagine. Arch didn’t quite surpass his 113 roto point championship total we saw last year but he was pretty damn close and did it with the relaxed effort of a Ken Giffey Jr. swing. It’s quite the feat to repeat any championship in any fantasy sport and it speaks to Arch’s keen front office eye that he coasted to a roto title with only 27 transactions on they year. What a luxury it must be to not have to tinker with the roster much at all and just allow them to kill the rest of the league for five months. As a man who made 112 more transactions than Arcd did this year, I fully appreciate the work he did this year.
#1 Stroke My Shaft vs. #8 Ninja Blacksox
Last year Castillo creeped into the playoffs as an 8 seed and managed to complete the biggest 8 seed upset since the 1994 Denver Nuggets. I think Castillo’s team will remind themselves of what it took to shock the world and make a run to the title round last year but I also think they will be reminded that they are the inferior team by day six of this matchup. Losing Billy Hamilton for any amount of time will be a big blow as he was stealing bases at-will coming into the playoffs and Hamilton was pretty much winning the SB category by himself. Billy Hamilton also has 15 RBI’s so far this season, which is an alright week for Edwin Encarnacion. McCutchen is starting to hit just a little bit to avoid being the black hole he has been all year and if Napoli continues to disintegrate baseballs while Arendao and Cano do their thing, then Castillo has a fighting chance. While Yo might be able to hang with the sticks, he’s completely outmatched on the mound as his team is loaded with fringy starting pitchers that need good matchups to return quality stats. It looks like Syndergaard is running up against a wall and David Price is still racking up the K’s and unfortunately, the WHIP, which means the fellow fringy SP’s need to step it up. Castillo’s going to take his best hack from an unfavorable lie and hope he can improve his standing in our league.
#4 Harry Doyle vs. #5 Mike Hawk
This is going to be very fun to watch from 60 feet, 6 inches because both of these starting staffs can bring it. Tim and Z. Skul have never advanced in the playoffs and the fact that they’re facing our back-to-back champion doesn’t bode well for their chances to end that streak. What Tim and Zach do have on their side is a great pitching staff that along with Arch’s staff is the best in our league. Johnny Cueto, Bumgarner, and Lackey have all been tremendous this year and now with Grienke back in the mix, this staff just got stronger. These two have done a good job of finding ancillary pieces and if they can get Kennedy, Jon Gray, and Manaea to hold their own, they definitely could overtake Harry Doyle and experience the feeling of advancing to their first semifinal round.
Matty should take his opponent seriously but there’s no way he’s scared of the pitching staff on the other side of the scoreboard as Harry Doyle has been bullying his playoff opponents for the past two years like the O’Doyle brothers. We know Matty is going to send out an army of starting pitchers each week, which is why he’s probably going to win the K and QS categories. If he gets the same performances from Kyle Hendricks, Steven Matz, and Jameson Taillon that he’s gotten lately, it’s going to make it hard for Matty to lose the ERA and WHIP categories, too. This team does have an advantage with the bats with more trustworthy hitters like Kipnis, Bryant, Machado, Freeman, Ortiz and Braun. It looks like Matty is going to bombard Mike Hawk with nonstop aggressive fire from the bats and pitchers and with the sudden activity from the Mike Hawk front office, it appears that they are aware of the all hands on deck battle this will be and are ready to lob as many grenades back at their opponent.
#3 Come W/cha Best vs. #6 Fightin’ Buck Showalters
Last season was an outright disaster for Meyer, who finished last in our standings and did the walk of shame over to our fantasy football season with his ego and nutbag thoroughly crushed. This year was a different story as Granger was able to make some nice draft picks, not suffer a fuck ton worth of injuries, and finish 7 games over .500 as our 6 seed. His reward for a turnaround season was to play our roto champ in round 1. Meyer was unlucky to play a 3 seed that is probably the best team in our league but we saw Arch get unexpectedly bounced last year, so it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility this year. Meyer doesn’t do much well offensively but what this team does do well (not strike out and steal bases) also happens to be the two things Arch’s batters don’t excel at. This cracks open the door a little for Jeff to potentially get some unexpected betting wins and hope his pitchers can hang with Arch’s. If Danny Duffy can continue his improbable roll and Strasburg and Wainright can turn it around, then the Fightin’ Buck Showalters will have a fightin’ chance.
It will be an uphill battle for Meyer as we’re two games into the matchup and already Arch is doing Arch things, like watch his players put up phenomenal stats. I still have no idea why he’s stuck with Russell Martin all year but Martin is starting to hit with power and could become a playoff hero. Mookie is spooky for opposing pitchers and the sight of Betts in the box with runners on base is scaring the poop out of Meyer right now. Adrain Beltre is mashing again and Paul Goldschmidt is roping rawhide into the gaps like the Pauly we know and love. Verlander, Hammel, and Kluber are amassing buku strikeouts as of late and if Arch can get guys like Smyly, Phelps, and Koehler to chip in, it should be more than enough to go along with this dominant bullpen.
#2 Double Tapered Steamers vs. #7 Ken McGriffey Jr.
Golf is a sport intended to frustrate us to no end because no matter how you did after 18 holes of golf, you know there were at least 4 things you could’ve done better. Since we have 18 weeks of regular season fantasy baseball, I walked off the 18th green at the conclusion of the season regretting many of the decisions that caused this sub-par season. The talent looked really good from my point of view but it felt like I was buying a waffle cone and only licking the cone all season long. The pitchers on this team were an embarrassment most of the year with the exception of Roark and Sale. Watching Kluber turn back into a Cy Young canidate while Jake Odorizzi turned his head repeatedly to watch home run balls fly out at incredible speeds sent me into a dark fantasy depression. Then, out of nowhere, Odirizzi got blistering hot, the commish obtained a Jon Lester, and the rest of the rotation turned from the worst in our league to an actual strength for the commish. Of course that means that my hitters suddenly stopped hitting with guys that strike out far too much and don’t really drive in runs or hit for a high OPS, which is the opposite thing you want to see. To be honest, I have no idea what this team is going to do against Jeff Petty as they could confidently strut to victory or face plant and be humiliated.
The Double Tapered Steamers were so close to becoming our regular season champ but they came up a bit short there as well as the roto standings which means Jeff will have to finish in the top two in our tournament to take home any cash money. The good news is this team is fully capable of doing that. This lineup is loaded with streaky players like Schoop, Harper, Khris Davis, Ozuna, and McCann and if they get locked in, the home runs and offensive stats will come pouring out like tears from A-Rod’s retirement (kidding). They can also swing a miss repeatedly, which could keep this team on pace with the breakneck quantity that McGriffey Jr. generates. The pitching has really been an asset for this team lately with many K’s, a very respectable ERA and WHIP, and plenty of HDSV’s as well. We could see the lead change hands many times in this matchup based on the volatile players on the field but Jeff should feel a little less anxiety when he looks across at the multiple personality disorders in the commish’s dugout.
Speaking of tiebreakers, it’s time to remind everyone of what they are for the playoffs. It is best of 5 for Home Runs, Batting K’s, OPS, Quality Starts, and Pitching Losses. If those are somehow tied, ERA will be the next tiebreaker.
Speaking of speaking, I’ve spoken quite enough. We’ll see you guys again in two weeks and enjoy these final two weeks of fretting over one fantasy and gambling sport until football kicks off.