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  • OK, so Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta didn't quite dominate the Cardinals lineup on Wednesday — he went 6.1 innings, allowing six hits and one run, recording three Ks — but he did manage to pick up his second win of the year. We're now three starts into Peralta's season, and his ERA sits at 1.96, his WHIP at 1.09. The kid has faced nothin' but playoff-caliber lineups, too: Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis.

    The schedule finally takes a friendly turn for Peralta next week, as he'll double-dip at home against the Pads and Cubs. He's unowned in 91 percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment, available to most of you. Without question, Peralta is worth a one-week test drive. He's a hard-throwing sinker/slider/groundball-type (95-96 mph), a 24-year-old righty with top-prospect credentials. This is a talented pitcher with K-potential on a quality team, perhaps making a leap.

    Make the move as needed, then hit the bullets...

    George Springer's first major league hit was a tapper that traveled maybe 25

    Read More »from Closing Time: Wily Peralta would like your attention
  • How bright does Tanaka's future look now? (Getty)

    In our preseason starting pitcher rankings, we — the Yahoo fantasy baseball experts aggregate — ranked Yankees Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka as the No. 29 starter overall. Of course, that was before he mowed down 28 batters and posted two wins and a 2.05 ERA in the first three starts of his MLB career.

    Since our initial rankings were based mostly on the merits of his impressive seven-year run in the Japanese League, we figured it was prudent to re-assess where we see Tanaka fitting in among the fantasy baseball starting pitcher crowd now that he's actually faced MLB hitters. Here's the experts' take on Tanaka:

    Brandon Funston (Tanaka preseason SP rank No. 25) — There have been several Japanese starting pitchers over the past couple decades that have enjoyed at least a successful season or two in the majors (Hideo Nomo, Hiroki Kuroda, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish and Hasashi Iwakuma chief among them). But none can claim a more impressive three-start split to open a major league

    Read More »from Rank Redux: How do you like Tanaka now?
  • Meet George Jetson

    It didn't take long for the 2014 Houston Astros to sink to the bottom of the pool, as expected. They're 5-9 through two weeks, tied for the worst record in the American League. The offense has been a joke thus far, with a pathetic .185/.258/.347 slash line. They're still light years from contention.

    Obviously it's going to take a lot more than one player to fix this mess. That said, it's time to get excited: one of the team's buzzy prospects, George Springer, is on the way. The Astros made the call late Tuesday night.

    Springer is a 24-year-old outfielder and a name you probably know already, no matter your level of prospect interest and sophistication. The Astros took him with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft and he's rocketed through the minors. Check what Springer posted last year in 135 games, covering Double-A and Triple-A: .303/.411/.600 slash, 37 homers, 45 steals (in just 53 attempts). Absurd. Those are video game numbers.

    Read More »from Closing Time: George Springer arrives in Houston
  • Andrew Cashner is dealing (USAT)

    Despite averaging 94.5 mph with his fastball while posting a 3.09 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, Andrew Cashner recorded just 128 strikeouts over 175.0 innings last season after finally becoming a full-time starter. The K rate improved after the All-Star break, when he produced a 2.14 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with a 61:19 K:BB ratio over 75.2 innings. The hope was that his impressive stuff would lead to more missed bats, and if Cashner’s first three starts are any indication, it’s going to come to fruition in 2014. He’s allowed just three runs over 21.0 innings, fanning 22 batters over that span. Cashner’s last outing was especially dominant, as he tossed a shutout against the Tigers, striking out 11 and yielding one lone hit (a single). Ironically, his SwStr% (7.1) is easily a career low, while his K% (27.5) is a career high. As any pitcher with a 1.29 ERA, Cashner has experienced some good fortune in the early going, as his .196 BABIP is especially crazy considering he also has a 2.50 GB/FB ratio. But all those groundballs should lead to few home runs allowed, and he also hasn’t given up many line drives (16.0%). PETCO Park has increased strikeouts by nine percent over the past three years, which is the most in baseball, so Cashner has that going for him as well. Part of the reason the Cubs traded him was because they didn’t think Cashner could ever be a 200-inning workhorse, but assuming he can stay healthy, he has all the makings of being a top-15 fantasy starter

    Here’s a pretty funny prank played on Jeff Francoeur.

    Jose Abreu literally destroyed a baseball.

    Here’s David Ortiz setting the record for the slowest home run trot of all time.

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Andrew Cashner, Homer Bailey and a look around the league
  • Chavez of Oakland (USAT)

    My fantasy baseball experience dates back to the late 1980s, a much different time. The Internet wasn't around. No Extra Innings package, no smart phones. Heck, we hadn't bailed on MTV yet. Newspapers still mattered, and a lot of your fantasy commodities were anonymous collections of names and numbers. Sometimes you had no idea what these guys looked like, how they played, what they threw.

    Sometimes you didn't even know the first names. Often you'd phone a commissioner (rotary dial) and sheepishly say "pick up Thompson of St. Louis."

    I'm feeling nostalgic because of a story that's brewing in the Bay Area. Let's talk a little bit about Chavez of Oakland.

    Read More »from Closing Time: Who is Jesse Chavez?
  • Jake, in twos (USAT)

    Don Draper and the 60s return tonight? Swanky. The Red Sox and Yankees? Okay, that's a repeat. But let's renew our fake friendship, nonetheless.

    First chat is set for 9 pm ET. Join us, pour a cocktail, grab a donut in the meeting room.

    Read More »from Sunday Night Fantasy Chat, 9 pm ET
  • Handshakes on hold (USAT)

    As terrific as Koji Uehara has been during his time in America, he's generally been a high-maintenance player. He's only passed the 70-inning mark once (last year), and sometimes he's not best suited for work on consecutive days. I'm not picking on the guy – he's one of my favorite watches in the game, and Uehara was baseball's most dominant reliever last year (all through the championship run). But when a pitcher turns 39, there's only so much we can realistically expect.

    So when the Red Sox say Uehara has a "minor" shoulder stiffness, I'm not going to take it in stride. It's time for a Boston bullpen audit.

    Boston had a push-button save chance ready to go in Friday's 4-2 victory at New York, but Uehara wasn't the man selected. He felt stiffness during his long-toss session before the game and the club decided to keep him out for precautionary reasons. According to respected beat writer Sean McAdam, Uehara won't be available Saturday.

    Read More »from Closing Time: With Koji Uehara dinged up, start the Boston scramble
  • Moose on the loose (USAT)

    Michael Morse has crammed a lot of movement into his decade of major league baseball. He's been an infielder (even a middle infielder), an outfielder, a DH. He's been a National and an Oriole and a Mariner, twice. He's been a PED-suspended player. He's been in and out of fantasy relevance, too.

    Looks like 2014 could be an on year for this vagabond slugger.

    Morse opened the season as San Francisco's starting left fielder, and he's marked his territory nicely during the opening games. A pair of doubles Thursday raised Morse's slash line to .400/.455/.733 (here's some brickball video for you), and he's already collected a couple of homers and 10 RBIs. Given how difficult it is to find power in today's game, this is a welcome reemergence.

    Read More »from Closing Time: Mike Morse, back in our lives; Michael Pineda, filthy again
  • It's been a tough-to-swallow start for Harper. (USAT)

    Poster boy of hype Bryce Harper, who is 7-for-32 to start the season, combined rest of season homers/steals 34.5

    Dalton – OVER. Sure, he’s looked bad so far, but unless there’s some injury I’m unaware of, there’s no reason to change how I felt about him entering the year, and I had Harper pegged to go well above a 34.5 homers/steals combo.

    Scott – OVER. I'm shocked there's been so much talk and angst here. I do worry about Harper crashing into a wall or what not with his crazy style of play, but I have no worries about his ability.

    Andy – WAY OVER. C'mon. We're a week into the season. We're not sure if he can go 18-18? Pffft.

    K machine Prince Fielder, who has stumbled out of the gates in his new Texas digs, rest of season RBIs 99.5

    Scott – OVER. Fielder is fine, and Shin-Soo Choo is going to be on base all summer. Durability won't be a problem. Arlington's weather is your friend. Maybe you can buy low.

    Andy – At least this one is a respectable number. I'm still going OVER. We know

    Read More »from MLB Over/Under: Will slumping Bryce Harper meet high expectations?
  • A recurring scene with Oakland this year (USAT)

    For a couple of years in Baltimore, Jim Johnson was one of those Houdini closers, doing it with smoke and mirrors. He'd routinely pitch to contact and outperform his component stats, collecting a silly 101 saves along the way. Sure, we'd see an occasional rough patch now and then, but the Orioles stuck with him and the handshakes flowed.

    Ah, the salad days. Johnson's moved on to Oakland, but there isn't much handshaking going on. Get out the clipboard and the red pen, we have another closer on the brink.

    Although Johnson technically didn't earn a blown save in Wednesday's ninth-inning giveaway at Minnesota, his messy work was all over the page. He allowed two walks and two hits over five batters (only a botched bunt provided an out), and the Twins tied the score one batter after Johnson exited. The 2014 Johnson ledger shows nine hits and seven runs over 3.1 awful innings, along with five unintentional walks. He's been unable to command his fastball and it's getting him into all sorts of trouble. And when he is in the strike zone, opponents are lacing the ball all over the park.

    Read More »from Closing Time: Jim Johnson loses his way, yet again


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