On Saturday, Jon Lester threw a gem: 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 15 Ks. Such a gem that if that were a blood diamond, diplomats from Monrovia would be lined up in the streets of Liberia for a taste of that. If that were an emerald, friends of Dorothy would stand outside of Ricky Martin’s hotel for weeks just for the chance he forgoes the hotel buffet and wants to eat out. If that were a ruby, it would stand outside a Dallas police station to cover any possible conspiracies and add fuel to other conspiracies. Lester has pitched spectacularly so far, and it’s not a product of luck. His 10.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 are elite. Those are fantasy ace numbers. His fastball doesn’t have renewed life, if anything he’s lost something on it. What appears to be the biggest difference is he’s almost completely abandoned his changeup and throwing his cutter a bit more. Since he’s always been good for 200 innings and has had huge success before, I’m willing to say he will hold the improvements to his rates and be an extremely reliable starter. Likely in the top 15 for the year. Yeah, he looks damn good. I want some, purdy puhlease. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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If I am correct on my predictions, the NL pennant race will be a fun one.  I see three teams with playoff potential, and a fourth that is just shy of it.  Sorry San Diego fans, this isn’t your year. [Ed. Note -- JERK!]  Good news though, the Chinese calendar says it is going to be the year of the Tony Gwynn soon. [Ed. Note -- I take it back. Sorta.] (You can check out the AL West Spring Training Preview here, the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and the NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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Once again, the top 20 shortstops for 2014 fantasy baseball look a whole lot better than the top 20 2nd basemen for 2014 fantasy baseball. For the first time that I can remember, I want a shortstop from the top tiers. Usually I punt shortstops along with catchers due to how bad they are, but this year it’s pretty clear 2nd basemen are worse than shortstops and I like quite a few shortstops. Hey, you gotta be malleable in this fantasy baseball game. Malleable is also a great name for a baby girl. Feel free to take it for your daughter if you so desire. As with the other top 20 rankings, I point out where I think tiers start and stop and my projections. All the 2014 fantasy baseball rankings can be found under that thing that says 2014 fantasy baseball rankings. Unsuccinct! Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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All strikeouts aren’t created equal, apparently. Holy Samardballs, are you kidding me? It was a short schedule day. There’s no middle relief disinfectant for this feces you sprayed all over my team. Why do you hurt me, Jeff Samardzija? Did I not show you enough preseason love? Did my March cuddles not warm your cockles? Did the hype get to your head? Are you better suited for football? Are you a great Scrabble word in search of a pitching repertoire? What the effin’ eff are you doing to my ratios? I GOT QUESTIONS, Y’ALL! Yesterday, his line was 3 1/3 IP, 9 ER and today he’s dropped to waivers. You can’t hold a guy who’s as explosive as bad Mexican food. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The trade deadline passed in standard leagues. It’s just over. I feel like I’ve had an awesome couple of months talking to and hanging out with a girl, only to hang out with her, have an amazing night, and then find one unbelievably annoying thing about her and call everything off. It had to happen, but it still hurts. “Just try this. No, it’s not gross… it’s good. Of course the chef cooked it fine. No, it’s not going to kill you. Well how the hell do you know you don’t like if you’ve never tried it? People eat it all the time and they’re fine. Just go away. No, you’re stupid. Yes, you are stupid. No I’m not stupid, you are stupid.” Then you curse at her, she indignantly bails, and you’re left sitting there with what seems to be your pinky up your anus, a full check to pay, and some food that does actually look pretty bad. Hopefully you made your moves when you had your chance — that is, hopefully you listened to sha boi and are reaping the dividends. If not, there’s still hope, although I hate you a little. Not all keepers are acquired at the trade deadline or during a draft, but that’s obvious. At this point, we need to look at some small/disappointing/untrusted names that could pop from now until game-162, and who could see their stock skyrocket before the end of the season — we need to look at the guys we should pick up now so we can have them next year at value. Get it? Yes, you do. Know that old adage, “you’re only as good as your last game?” Well, it’s really stupid, but applies here. The ends of seasons have huge impacts on perceived value.

Quick note: so I appeal to more people, and so you’re not looking at me (my writing) and saying “HAY, I KAYNT HAFF HEEM. HE’S AWLRADDY TAYKEN,” I’ll limit it to guys who are owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues.

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The afternoon started with Matt Harvey. He pitched a stellar 7 innings with 13 Ks, but Terry Collins sent him out there in the 8th after throwing 110 pitches, which lead to two singles and a walk, three runners that the bullpen let in. After the game, Collins said, “I felt bad for Duda (who blew a chance for a Harvey no-hitter by not covering first base on Heyward’s infield single). I couldn’t let Duda make the only Metsake of the game. I was going to keep pitching Harvey until he screwed up. He’d have started the nightcap, if necessary.” Fortch, it wasn’t necessary, as the nightcap brought on Zack Wheeler‘s debut with a line of 6 IP, 0 ER, 9 baserunners (5 BBs), 7 Ks. To summarize, it was shaky as all get-out at first. He looked like he couldn’t hit the broadside of Precious. Then he either calmed, or realized something — if he could locate, no one could hit him. He can easily be as good as Harvey, but I’m guessing it won’t be until next year. Last night was the best you could’ve hoped for. To summarize that summary, he was shaky, then solid. To summarize the summary’s summary, Zack good. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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First clue I’m human, when I overheard an old woman tell someone she showers while sitting on a stool, I shivered. Second clue, I used to wear Z. Cavariccis. First clue Justin Verlander is human was last night. He had the worst outing of his career with 2 2/3 IP and 8 ER. Verlander looked like Kate Upton, if Kate had Rosie O’Donnell’s head. Sorry, that’s a visual you won’t get out of your head for a long time. It’s like two girls, one shower stool. Can’t you just take a bath? Please tell me this isn’t old age…. Speaking of which (watch how I tie this loosely into fantasy baseball), Verlander is thirty years old and… Still lights out. This was one bad start, don’t panic. C’mere, let me massage your shoulders and… I just pick-pocketed you! You gotta be careful with that. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Welcome folks, to another round of Bear or Bull. The series is so awesome, I am able talk about animals AND baseball(s). And this week, I guess Walmart. Word. And while the best play on words I could think of involves Starling Marte and one of the cornerstones to an eventual Corporatocracy, well, you know something special is brewing around this parts. And it ain’t just the fermenting kim chee. Am I lost? Maybe you’re lost. More rum for everyone! Yes it’s supposed to rhyme, or else, what’s the point? So yeah, see that perfect line of association I just drew? Point A, animals, straight to Point B, rum. Whoooo! Can we talk about baseball now? Never!

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Guru confession #434: My brain is good at sports, but my body isn’t. Watch as I try to steal second running like Laura Ingalls through a field of daisies. Damn, its hard to slide in these bloomers. Thus, instead of preparing my Hall of Fame speech, I am here writing to you, my gooey friends. My brain seems to do its best sports thinking in two places: driving fast to work listening to Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” and at work… listening to Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone”. The big boss, let’s call him Larry Tate, sent this memo out last week: There is no room for fantasy sports in the workplace. I replied: When is bring your fantasy team to work day? *high fives, chest bumps, Harlem Shake* I didn’t get a response back. Doesn’t he understand there are early games, rainouts, snowouts, trades to accept, trades to reject and Razzball podcasts to listen to? If he can have an inflatable girlfriend, I say I can have 16 fake baseball teams. Hhiigghhwwaayy to the Danger Zone.
*in the event this is being read by Mr. Tate: The Guru is actually Brian in accounting.*

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Yesterday, Krispie Young had a double side of slam and an order of legs. Sorry, I’m hungry. And Krispie’s making me hungrier! Krispie creams the balls and my eyes glaze. Hungry for what, Grey? Shut up, Random Italicized Voice. Outside of China, Krispie flies could only mean one thing — someone’s hot or stealing Salty’s signs. Why do I feel like my cholesterol is going up just writing this? You know, I’ve never had my cholesterol checked. I’d go if the cholesterol checking doctor gave out a stick of butter like dentists give Dum-Dum lollipops. You think anyone knows what the Mystery Dum-Dum flavor is? I mean, anyone at all or is it just some leftover guck from the lollipop machines that happens to fall on a stick? The thing is, and there is a thing, young prematurely balding man, when Krispie gets hot he could hit ten homers and steal ten bases in the matter of two weeks. If you don’t like that sorta thing, you got high standards. Me? I’m wearing sweatpants for the last 230 days straight and picking up Young. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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