Cody Anderson took a perfect game into the 7th inning yesterday and ended up with a line of 8 IP, 1 ER, 2 baserunners, 2 Ks, and his ERA is at 0.57 thru two starts. The Indians staff just keeps getting sexier. Now their rotation is Cody, Corey, Danny, Trevor and Carlos. Sounds like a boy band, K-Nudo. Only Cody doesn’t strike out as many — he’s the sensitive one. Anderson has an interesting backstory. He’s from Idaho, and he signed with the Tribe out of a junior college for $250,000. Imagine that. One day, Anderson’s asking ma if they have to eat potatoes yet again for dinner and saying a lot of “Aw, geez,” then he signs for a quarter of a million dollars, which is more than the state economy of Idaho. Suddenly, he was able to purchase the state of Idaho and all its trout. (I have no idea if they have trout there, but Guy Fieri seems to stop at a Diner and/or Drive-In and/or Dive at least once a week in Idaho for trout.) “Aw, geez, ma, I have to pay to pave highways now? Money is evil!” As for fantasy, Anderson’s not quite as big city-ish. He has very few Ks thru two games, but he does throw hard-ish (93 MPH fastball) with a decent slider, and he also has decent control. His minor league numbers portend a mid-rotation guy at best and he’s not at his best yet, so there’s still room to grow, but I’d let him grow on someone else’s team in mixed leagues. If you wanna check the Stream-o-Nator on him, go for it, but outside of AL-Only leagues, I wouldn’t own him yet. Just as I wouldn’t eat trout from Idaho. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Geez, what is it about Steven Matz?!

The puns have been outpouring faster than illogical movies by Christopher Nolan.  Maybe it’s because he pitches for the Metz?  I don’t know!

I’ve been… well, naive to not rank Matz to this point.  Even with my standing concerns coming into his debut, he likely should’ve been ranked the last few weeks.  I thought it would be at least July until he was up, and I questioned how many innings he’d really get through in the Majors.  His peak is 140.2 IP last year across high-A and double-A, and he entered the Majors at 90.1 innings before yesterday’s debut.  Innings concerns are a big question mark after his career started with major elbow issues (TJ and complications).

And after that debut with 4 RBI at the plate, the mythical legend might be one of the biggest gaps from perception to reality.  Then again, I’m saying all this before breaking down his first start without seeing much of him beyond the numbers.  What Pitcher Profiles are all about!  You can’t know for sure on a guy until you really get a chance to see him pitch.  So without any more noodling, here’s how Matz looked in his debut:

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Maikellebrew strikes again! And again! Two homers last night for Maikel Franco (4-for-5, 3 runs, 5 RBIs, hitting .312), his 8th and 9th homers of the season in only his 36th game played. That prorates to, like, 189 homers in a season. (Don’t do the math.) Perhaps I’m drenched in jade, the mother jewel of sarcasm. Perhaps my cup runneth over with Blasé like a bored rapper. Perhaps I’m all cosmopolitan and citified and other words Charlie Manuel would call me, but why do I get the feeling Maikel is going to have a great rookie year than disappoint for the next three years? Has Bruce, Heyward, Machado and so many others taken away my innocence? Is that a Black Flag bumper sticker on a Cadillac? Don’t look back, I can never look back. I sure hope I’m wrong, but with each homer by Maikel, his hype grows and he moves further away from my clutches. But, if we are to entertain the insane for a moment, he’s only 22 years old. What does his future hold? Does only the papier-mâché head of Michael Jack Schmidt that sits on Prospect Mike desk hold the answers? Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Some call them cookie dusters, others dirt squirrels, lip luggage, snot mops, and upper lipholstery. I believe our Boss/fearless leader/fantasy master lothario calls his “old bullet proof”, but I’m not sure. I’m of course talking about those lip rugs knows as mustaches. Our sport of baseball more so than any other contest of athletic prowess has embraced the flavor savor. Over the years there have been some top choice lip rugs in the American past time. So this week’s theme is Baseball Mustaches. Seriously narrowing hardball’s best mustaches down to just six was damn near impossible. I tried anyway and I’m sure all of you will call me thick as brick for not including the handlebars you’d most like to ride. But that’s why we have comments, so you can belittle and abuse me for my lapses in judgement, poorly formed opinions, and general lack of research when it comes to the pitchers being skipped two days after this article posts. I mean in some circles I am known as the Oracle and my propensity for knowing the future is rather well documented. Still I’m at least 37% human, so cut me some slack.  Week 12’s roster of two start pitchers is top heavy and flat bottomed, it’s like the Kate Upton of two start pitching weeks. You know because she’s big…..wait I’m not going to bother explaining this.

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You, “So, Grey, I appreciate a well-coiffed mustache as much as the next straight man, but are you trying to tell me Luis Valbuena isn’t a virtual lock at 3rd base?” Crazy shizz, right? The Cubs made the right move and went with Mike Olt to at least platoon at 3rd base. Here’s what I kinda said in the past, “Don’t you love when New Yorkers say the expression, “I got your _____ right here!” Coming out of the right taxi driver’s mouth, it’s like a cello being played by Yo-Yo Ma. Sometimes it can get confusing when you are actually trying to tell someone you’ve located something. Like, “I got your cellphone right here!” Probably sounds like you’re being an a-hole. Well, in that vein, take a a scruffy taxi driver’s voice, throw it through two packs a cigarettes a day for 20 years and give me a little, ‘I got your loyalty to Luis Valbuena right here!'” And that’s me kinda quoting me! I wrote that nonsense in 2012 when he was on the Rangers and behind Michael Young. That’s how long this whole Mike Olt saga has been going on. I received straight C’s in math, but I’m gonna try to count Olt’s post-hype hypeness. Okay, ready? Good. He’s a post-post-post-post-post-post-POST-post-hype prospect. Whew. I hope I didn’t put the italics ‘post’ where the capped ‘post’ was supposed to go. Olt was supposed to break out two years ago. Supposed to be a Chris Davis clone. Last year, Olt was in a backwards spiral of epic proportions. He hit .168 in 152 plate appearances at the Cubs Triple-A affiliate, but he had something wrong with his eyes. His eyes are fixed and he has other strengths. Strength being one of them. He can hit the ball a country mile (which is further than a city mile due to a lack of public transportation). He also has a decent enough glove. It’s a Rawlings. It’s a tanned leather. He will platoon in the early going, but, at this point, there is absolutely no reason to hold him back if he can hit. He won’t put up a great average, but there is a chance here for 30 homers if he can get the at-bats. 30-homer 3rd basemen don’t fall off the wagon every day, unless it’s an overcrowded wagon specifically labeled, “30-Homer 3rd Basemen.” Oh, and I’ve moved him up in my top 400. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in Spring Training for fantasy baseball:

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First off, I would like to say Eric Sogard should be the Face of the MLB; that vote was rigged in David Wright’s favor.  Baseball needs more nerdy-looking, glasses-touting, Bernie-leanin’, jive-walking players.  But without further ado, here is the AL West Spring Training Showdown. (You can check out the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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Taijuan Walker was shut down for a week due to a bursa in his right shoulder. Isn’t a bursa a type of Ethiopian bread? Sounds more like Somalians are holding my beautiful, upside starting pitcher captive. Only Captain Phillips can get me out of this mess…by being taken captive for two hours of a two hour and twenty minute movie and then being saved by characters we don’t even empathize with. Snooze. True story, schmue story, give Phillips a hidden machine gun in his rectum and let him shoot his way out by farting! This is starting to sound bad for Walker. I haven’t moved him in my top 80 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball yet, and, since I only have him down for 170 IP in my projections, I’m not changing anything, but I’d definitely be careful about pairing Walker with lots of other risk. As of right now, Walker will not be ready to start the year in the rotation. Anyway, here’s what else I’ve seen in Spring Training for fantasy baseball:

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Two weeks ago we looked at the speedsters from 2013 and there were more than a few names on the list that were available on the waiver wire at some point. For deeper leagues and daily fantasy players that need to maximize each and every matchup, even the smallest advantages can mean the difference between a win and a loss. That’s why we focused a lot on matchups this past year, and we’ll do it again in 2014. Even the best base stealers get caught once in a while, so it’s good to know as much as we can about who might be doing the catching before deploying our fantasy lineups. There’s a lot that goes into a stolen base, of course, and the battery of pitcher and catcher is a large piece of the puzzle. Pitchers who are good at holding baserunners can be avoided while pitchers who have a tendency to cough up a lot of steals can be exploited. Here’s how some starters fared in 2013 and over the last three years against the stolen base.

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At the time of this writing, there’s a tentative trade in place, one that would send Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers in exchange for a few prospects, including the heavy hitting 1B/3B, Mike Olt. Olt has long been a trade candidate — he’s an MLB-ready third baseman, but he’s thoroughly blocked by Adrian Beltre — and I’m surprised he wasn’t moved last season when his value was higher. Still, he’s a good fit for the Cubs and he’s been hitting quite well over the past month at Triple-A. The deal seems to make sense for both clubs, but this sort of tentative trade is never a sure-thing, as Cubs fans can attest. There’s a decent chance that this one will be off the table by the time this post runs. And if that’s the case, then Garza is scheduled for two starts next week. He’s listed below along with all the others going twice.

As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click that link.

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Looking back on the unofficial first half of the fantasy baseball season can be a lot of fun, unless of course you are in dead last, in which case it’s about as much fun as watching your auntie’s cat play with its new Cat’s Meow toy while you eat stale Circus Peanuts. In any event, the gods of SAGNOF have not been as kind to us thus far in 2013, and it shows in the numbers. The total number of steals in the league, 1524, is the lowest it’s been since 2006. In addition, there are only 21 players with 15 or more steals at this point in the season. That’s also the lowest it’s been since 2006. It feels even lower given that just last year there were 28 players with 15+ steals at the break and 30 the year before that. This all means that players who steal 30 bags or more are a little harder to come by, and it’s no sure thing that each fantasy team will have one or two guys that can carry them in steals like in years past. It also means that having a guy like Ben Revere break his foot and lose his season is a much bigger blow to our fantasy squads (mine included) than it used to be. So what do we do if we lost a guy like Revere or missed out on a Jacoby Ellsbury or Everth Cabrera type? If you read my column regularly, you know I’m a big fan of playing the match-ups when it comes to steals, and seizing the opportunity to eke them out whenever possible against teams that are weak against the run. After all, just because steals are down in general, it doesn’t change the fact that they still make up 20% of our offensive points in most leagues.

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