Slowly, paper extrudes from a fax machine. A hand brings it to a face and we read, “Need Joe R…an down at the Pentagon. Damn, we need toner! Joe R…an? Who the hell is that?! Oh, I know…” A chair swivels around to the CIA Director, he screams, “Send Joe Ryan (5 IP, 2 ER, 4 baserunners, 11 Ks, ERA at 2.45) to the Pentagon! I can only assume they need a guy with a 10.2 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 — yowzas! — A 2.48 FIP, which is incredible. I can see why they want him. Sure, it’s only through 22 IP, but he had pinpoint command in the minors too — 1.6 BB/9 in Triple-A with the Rays before the trade to the Twins. Maybe he’s got the Rays’ secret sauce recipe for pitchers? Hey, Joe, you have the Rays’ secret sauce recipe for pitchers?” The CIA Director laughs before Joe can say anything, and continues, “Joe Ryan for 2022 fantasy, I expect you to have less ups and downs than most guys without a long track record. These command guys, I like a lot, me, uh, the CIA Director, and I don’t see the AL Central Intelligence Agency — that’s what it’s short for — getting much better, but I guess we don’t know yet. I mean, I know, because I’m the CIA Director and pulling strings like where free agents go is my job. Anyway, Joe Ryan get down to the Pentagon, they need you to figure out…” Reading the rest of the fax, “…how to launch a podcast!” And that’s how the CIA Director sent Joe Ryan to the Pentagon when the fax was asking for Joe Rogan. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Max Kepler– 3-for-4, 3 runs, 3 RBIs and his 18th and 19th homer. Any time I meet someone named Max I ask them if they’re a dog. Any hoo! Kepler had a nice previous game, so maybe he’s starting to heat up for that ever-elusive schmotato.

Juan Soto – 3-for-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs and his 27th homer. Sexy Dr. Pepper is having a pretty good 2nd half:

Luis Garcia – 2-for-5 and his 6th homer. This guy makes my brain glitch like I’m in Wandavision, because I see his name and think of about fifteen other players. Luis Garcia is like the Latin version of John Doe. My one wish for next year is one of the Luis Garcias changes their name this offseason to, like, Aurelio O’Reallyo.

Yadiel Hernandez – 2-for-5, 2 RBIs and his 9th homer. Hernandez homered off Hernandez and Elias Sports Bureau said, “That was the first time that’s happened,” then after a long pause, “On September 22nd, 2021, and it’s happened a lot of times previously.”

Elieser Hernandez – 4 IP, 4 ER, ERA at 4.24. This start shoulda been so much better. Does your H2H have a Shoulda category?

Nick Fortes – 1-for-1, 2 RBIs and his 3rd homer. Don’t usually mention catcher homers and even less do I mention pinch-hit homers, and Fortes had both, but this is his third homer this week. Will Fortes hit more or wait until Saturday night? No idea, but he only had three homers in Double-A this year, so bit over his head, and he’s not in this week’s Buy column, which is already available on the Patreon.

Josiah Gray – 6 IP, 2 ER, 7 baserunners, 8 Ks, ERA at 5.92. Streamonator loved this start, but hates his next one, so that’s bye-bye, Jo-Jo.

David Bednar – Will throw batting practice as he works his way back from a fake injury the Pirates are slow-walking so they don’t have to pay him money. Saw another site say that Stratton has filled in as closer. No, he hasn’t filled in. He’s the closer, because the Pirates know they don’t have to pay him. Don’t let the Pirates off the hook ever. They are a top five problem with MLB.

Brendan Rodgers – 2-for-5, 2 runs and his 15th homer, hitting .288, and his 3rd homer in the last week. It’s been weirdly quiet about a 25-year-old in Coors who’s hitting .290-ish with some power.

Walker Buehler – 3 2/3 IP, 5 ER, ERA at 2.58. Losing the Cy Young in a random start in Coors is very funny to me.

Mike Moustakas – Hit the IL with plantar fasciitis, after having the most Mostsuckassiest season ever: .208/.282/.372 with six homers and 22 RBIs. Holy Castle Wolfenstein is that bad. That reminds me to avoid Pete Alonso when he turns 33. These corner men who rely on power and nothing else fall off a cliff so fast. On a somewhat related story for deep leagues, Max Schrock has been getting playing time. Call him Max Schrockakas and watch him do. Dot dot dot. What does he do? I guess hit for average and not much else for NL-Only leagues.

Wade Miley – Will be skipped in the rotation because he has a stiff neck. Presumably from watching line drives off opponents’ bats.

Fernando Tatis Jr. – 2-for-5 and his 40th homer. The Fun never ends. Though, it may in 11 games for the Padres.

Tyler Rogers – 1 IP, 2 ER, ERA at 2.16, and nearly lost the game. Everyone is limping into the playoffs. It’s gonna be like 7-6 games every night in the ‘offs.

Domingo German – Was activated from the IL. He will work in long relief, which makes me think of something: What the heck will the Yankees — Heckees? — rotation look like in 2022? Kluber, I guess, is gone, but Cole, Taillon, Severino, German, JoMo, Nestor, Gil, Schmidt, and Deivi.

Taylor Hearn – 5 1/3 IP, 3 ER, 8 baserunners, 3 Ks, ERA at 4.55. Started him vs. the Yankees because I was hoping he’d go Taylor HAM and not get pork rolled. Streamonator actually likes his next start, and I’ll be there, because I’m streaming everyone right now.

Austin Meadows – 1-for-4, 3 RBIs and his 26th homer, hitting .232. Since the Rays are going to have the best AL record, I’ve decided to cast my AL MVP vote for Austin Meadows. I will not be taking questions at this time. *puts pants over head and walks into a wall*

Shane Bieber – Will return to the Guardians’ rotation on Friday. I wouldn’t touch him with your team, but we all have different levels of risks we need to take.

Avisail Garcia – 1-for-3 and his 29th homer. Also, in this game, Tyler O’Neill (2-for-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs) hit his 29th homer. If O’Neill gets 30 homers, his ADP will go up by about 30 spots, and if he gets 35 homers, it will go up roughly another 15-20. If Avisail gets 30 homers, he won’t move. If he gets 35 homers, he won’t move.

Paul Goldschmidt – 3-for-4, 4 runs, 2 RBIs and his 27th homer. Au Shizz!

Jack Flaherty – Will return on Friday with a very limited pitch count. So, unless that means he got his pitch count numbered and authenticated by a Sotheby’s, this doesn’t sound great.

Luis Garcia – 6 IP, 0 ER, 6 baserunners, 1 K, ERA at 3.23. Not a bad start at all, and his first as Aurelio O’Reallyo.

Yordan Alvarez – 3-for-4, 2 runs, 3 RBIs and his 32nd homer. Captain Woo Cubano with the Yordong!

Kyle Seager – 3-for-5 and his 35th homer. Seager’s Mom, “Why can’t you be more like Corey and underwhelm?”

Ty France – 2-for-4, 2 runs and his 17th homer. This was his 1st homer on September. Not exactly a tour de France.

Chris Flexen – 7 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 8 Ks, ERA at 3.56. This start comes as the A’s do an opposite of the movie, Moneyball, and lose all crucial games. Streamonator likes his next one, and I could see it.

Taijuan Walker – 2 IP, 6 ER, ERA at…Guess. C’mon, here’s a hint, his ERA was 2.66 in the 1st half. Done guessing? It’s 4.57. As I always say, as Taijuan goes, so goes the Mets. Yup, nothing to do with deGrom being out for four months. All at your feet, Walker.

Pete Alonso – 1-for-5 and his 35th homer. Albombso!

Kyle Schwarber – 3-for-4, 4 runs, 4 RBIs and his 30th and 31st homer. You know Schwarber, so let me spend a second talking about the AL Wild Card teams. Ha. I’m sorry, again with some feeling — HA! I hope for good playoff games, because the playoffs is when I can watch without worrying about how it’s affecting my fantasy teams, but the Red Sox are leading the Wild Card and their 3rd starter is Nick Pivetta. Again, with more feeling HAHAHA. The AL team that is fighting for a Wild Card spot is the Mariners. Their team average is .225! C’mon, man.

Ozzie Albies – 1-for-4, 3 RBIs and his 30th homer, hitting .256. 2nd base seemed so weak coming into the year. Now on the Player Rater? Yeah, 2nd base is kinda stacked.

Freddie Freeman – 3-for-5, 3 runs, 2 RBIs and his 31st homer, hitting .304. Much like Joey Votto before him and Triston Casas after him, I’m not expecting Freeman to fall off until he actually falls off. The solid hit tool doesn’t just disappear, unlike Mostsuckass.

Austin Riley – 2-for-4, 2 runs and his 31st homer, and 2nd homer in as many games. A Braves’ beat writer did an article yesterday about Riley’s MVP chances, and I laughed very loudly. I like Riley, but he’s not even the best MVP candidate on his team. It reveals something more important than Riley’s MVP qualifications. Beat writers need to butter biscuits around the clubhouse so they can approach players when things aren’t as good. I should teach a course about what beat writers actually mean when they say things. “Day-to-day with a sore side” is 45 days with an oblique strain. “MVP candidate” is “I need to talk to this guy the next time he’s hitting .215 for a month, his girl left with Avisail Garcia, and his cat got run over by Chris Sale on a John Deere holding four scissors.”