And just like Lazarus, I’ve come back from the dead. Well not really from death. I was just on vacation but after being gone this long I’m sure you’re all saying ‘you’re dead to me’ upon reading this. I know, it was one of the worst times of the year to leave you. You’re pushing for the playoffs in head to head leagues or trying to wiggle up your standings at the final turn of the season. I left you cold, naked and afraid like that one time the boyfriend came in and you were bumping uglies with his girl and you had to hide in the stand up freezer. I understand no apology will erase this frost-bitten memory for you but hopefully my player of choice this week can put me back into your good graces. To be fair, JB and I and the rest of the Razzball Football crew have been pretty busy trying to get Commissioners for the 2013 Fantasy Football season in our Razzball Commenter Leagues so it’s not like we haven’t still been working hard for you, we just changed the shape of the ball. But with that, I come to you for this fine week 21 with a power crazed man with a sweet home ballpark. So let me give unto you Darin Ruf for week 21 of the 2013 Fantasy Baseball season…

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How many times have you completely written off Francisco Liriano? Seriously. Probably four or five times, right? I know I’ve uttered the phrase “f**k that guy, I’m never using him again” at least once a year for the last five years. That’s the way it is with him — the K-potential has always made him an interesting option for fantasy streaming, but until this year, I don’t think he’s ever helped my team. Not once. Which is what makes Liriano’s 2013 production so absurd, and it’s definitely no fluke at this point. Through roughly 90 IP he’s posted a 2.23 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP while whiffing more than a batter per inning. And given his sub-3 FIP, the peripheral numbers bode well, too. I’m sure I’ll have to write him off again at some point, but it’s amazing to consider the path the 29-year-old Liriano has taken to transition from never-using-him-again streamer status, to one of the best arms in the league. He goes twice this week, making his debut in the must start tier. The rest of the week 18 two-starters are below.

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

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Like Billy Joel, Alfonso Soriano is washed up and in a New York state of mind. Don’t tell A-Rod, Christie Brinkley is his type of gal. Soriano getting traded to the Yankees is the best news for him in some time. That’s the magical elixir calling to fantasy baseballers (<–my mom’s term!). Soriano will now revert back to his younger self — when he was still in his forties — and start mashing the ball, stealing bases and doing an extra springy hop when he catches fly balls. Playing for the Yankees is a youth tonic made of juniper berries and grounded-up mints Steinbrenner hoarded from restaurants. There’s just an air about playing with other guys in their fifties that brings everything to life. It’s a real life Cocoon in the Bronx. Don Ameche will be played by Vernon Wells, Wilford Brimley will be played by Travis Hafner and Alfonso Soriano is Steve Guttenberg! Girardi might be the third youngest guy on the bench. Birth certificates are inconclusive. Or! Soriano is who he is at this point. This second scenario seems more likely. It’s not like Wrigley is a bad hitters’ park. Nothing’s gonna change for him in Yankee Stadium. He could hit a few homers, give you a .260 average and throw out his hip at a moment’s notice. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Jarred Cosart was fantastical last night in his season debut pitching 8.0 shutout innings, and surrendering just 2 hits and walking three. The rookie carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning before Ben Zobrist spoiled his fun with a 1-out single. The 23-year-old had the longest no-hit bid in a debut since 1972, and he was the first Astro to go eight scoreless in his major league debut. The Astros big get from Philly in their Hunter Pence trade, Cosart has a mid-90′s fastball and a sick curve he used to baffle the TB hitters last night as he shut down the scorching hot Rays who had won eight in a row. The fact that Cosart was facing off with Tampa’s ace David Price, makes his feat even more impressive. Brandon Barnes also impressed, making a circus catch in the outfield to preserve Jarred’s no-no in the sixth, but who cares, that won’t help your fantasy team. Jarred actually had a chance at the complete game shutout in this one and came out for the ninth, but was pulled for Jose Veras after walking the first batter. Naturally, after the game the Astro’s sent him down to AAA, but I imagine after this outing he should be back before the end of the month. If he were to get recalled after the All-Star break, he would likely face the Oakland A’s next week. Grey told you to BUY him yesterday, so obviously he foretold this start (he’s a wiiitch!), but Cosart is certainly worth stashing in deep mixed and all AL-Only leagues. With talented arms like Cosart, Appel, Lyles and Peacock, the Astro’s have assembled an impressive “future stars” pitching staff, and if games like this are any indication, we won’t be making fun of the Houston Lastros for much longer.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball last night:

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Yasiel Puig‘s been lighting up the mainframe on the giant computer out of a bad 1950′s sci-fi movie, but he’s not the only Cuban. Leonys Martin also hails from our neighbor to the south that took up residence in Miami. Last night, he hit two homers, is hitting .417 in the last week and has a hit in each of his last ten games with 4 steals during that time. It’s the year of the Cubans, y’all! In all of their pressed hammy, mustardy, cheesy, pickley goodness. Side note: Do pickles seem like something Cubans would put in their food? Maybe Hyman Roth, but he’s not really Cuban or real, for that matter. Somewhere, ex-Cuban pitcher, El Duque, has a little extra hop in his exaggerated leg-kick that he still does, only now he does it before he cleans up tables at Chipotle. “You’re not going to finish your guac?” *leg kick* Leonys Martin should be owned in all leagues while he’s going well, and is the type of player that could have value all year if you’re patient since he could hit 12-15 homers and get 25-ish steals. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The NBA season is over, thank god. The Heat won it all, so it played out exactly how we all thought it would when the season started last October. Sure, the Finals was an entertaining series, and I tuned in, but I’m truly glad I don’t have any more hoops distracting my attention from baseball. Most of you can now devote yourselves completely to your fantasy teams. Those of us in Chicago or Boston, however, still have two, possibly three, hockey games standing between us and full-time baseball season. I won’t complain about that though, because I’m a full-on bandwagon Blackhawks fan at the moment, and I look forward to drunkenly screaming “Kaaaaner!” at my television for a few more games. Anyway, two-starters…

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Those of you who read my prospect content know that I’m a big fan of Michael Wacha, that I’ve been touting him as a fantasy-relevant prospect since before he was drafted last June. Now that may sound like I’m tooting my own horn a bit, but I’m really not — I tout a lot of prospects, and plenty of them performed poorly upon first arrival in the bigs, making me look quite dumb. I’m looking at you, Kevin Gausman. See, stuff, pedigree, velocity… each of those variables is superseded by command at the big league level. Not many people would grade Wacha’s pure stuff on par with Gausman’s, but Gausman has struggled spotting the fastball and it’s gotten him in trouble early in his MLB career. Wacha, instead, is the one attracting all the hype, disappearing from waivers with haste. Not to discount his repertoire — he has two plus pitches and a good third one with plus potential — but his early success is mostly to do with the fact he hit his spots. Well… and also that he faced the Royals. All rookie pitchers should be so lucky to debut versus KC. Wacha goes twice this week.

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

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If you’re anything like me (and your office’s firewall is feeble or nonexistent), then I’m sure you’ve wasted countless hours clicking through the player cards on Baseball-Reference.com. It’s fun to get lost in the vortex of baseball history, absorbing interesting nuggets, like how Hawk Harrelson posted a 155 OPS+ in 1968. Of course, scientific analysis is overrated according to Hawk, so don’t bother telling him that the metrics suggest he was quite awesome that year. Baseball-Reference is also the place where I learn about player nicknames and Twitter handles and all that sort of nonsense that we simply cannot live without. But the most fascinating feature of the site is one that I was only recently made aware of — I’m sure it’s been there for awhile, so forgive me if you know about it already. Next time you’re visiting the website, click on the player search box and type “f**kface”, only leave out the censoring characters. Then search it, and enjoy. I have no idea why that particular player card shows up, but it’s hilarious nonetheless. Any insight on this topic would be appreciated in the comments section. Also feel free to focus your comments on the coming week’s two-starters, which are listed below.

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

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I begin with this:

Foul Ball Chug

The scene above is from Wednesday’s Mariners v. Astros game, and I realize that the clip has made the rounds by now. Still, I’m compelled to bring it up because it is truly wonderful. From the leaning grab, to the triumphant hoist and subsequent chug, this man wins the week. It always seems like the most brilliant moments happen at crappy games in empty stadiums, and this is no exception. What a hero.

Oh yeah, two-starters… Week three’s look-ahead is below. As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click that link.

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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Rockies Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Bryan Kilpatrick from Purple Row.

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