Immortality smells of Chucky Cheese because that’s what Carlos Rodon was throwing last night. *wavy lines* Chyron: A Few Days Ago. “Skip, I don’t think I can go. I mean, I can go…But not like that.” It was Tuesday, and Carlos Rodon had an upset stomach, unable to pitch, but what he was really doing, what no one knew at the time, he was getting out all the runs he had in him. *wavy lines* Chyron: Present Time, uh, Yesterday. Early in the game, Rodon was working a slider, but not darting it hard and high and past people. The Clevelanders were making contact. Struggling, weak contact, but it was there. Then, as the game progressed, Rodon began to get as loose as the buttons on his jersey, and the high Chucky Cheese began to whip past hitters. He was feeling it. By the end of the 8th, a perfect game within his grasp. Strikeouts began to pile up, and 98 MPH Chucky Cheese hitting the upper quadrant of the zone. One out in the ninth on a close play at first, then Roberto Perez dug his left foot in, but he dug it in too much! An offspeed pitch in the dirt hit him. How is it not in the unwritten rules rulebook for Perfect Games that a guy can be hit in the 9th to break one up? So, Rodon’s final line:  9 IP, 0 ER, 0 baserunners, 7 Ks, ERA at zero, and give him the AL Cy and let’s stop playing games. He’s always struggled with command in previous years, and I don’t think we can say those problems are completely in the rearview, but you never know when a guy turns the corner. The stuff, as they say, is there, so, yes, I’d pick him up in all leagues just to see if this isn’t a complete fluke. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With beloved Razzball writer Ralph Lifschitz finally revealing his true identity on Twitter, I realized it came down to me — the pitcher ranker and weekend editor — to unmask the final mystery man of Razzball: Grey Albright himself. So I invited the Fantasy Master Lothario to a fancy brunch that I never showed up to. Instead, I snuck into Razzball HQ…which wasn’t hard to do because Donkey Teeth is there literally every minute of every day searching for shirtless pics of Yusei Kikuchi. Grey never locks his office because he feels that he gives away all of his data for free on the internet; there’s no reason for anybody to break in. Except, for the holy grail: the real identity of the Master Lothario.

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Joe Musgrove pitched the first no-hitter in Padres history Friday night, but this isn’t about him. It’s not about how he dominated the dreadful (so, so bad) Texas Rangers line up allowing just a single hit batsman to reach base in the fourth inning. Or how he he struck out 10 of these so, so bad Rangers. Moss Grove is already owned in all fantasy leagues. If he’s available well then by all means go pick him up now. This is about a player you can pick up. The Cleveland Baseball Team’s new, maybe, possibly, could be, I really don’t know but can you imagine if it was, closer Emmanuel Clase. Manny got his first save of the season Friday night pitching a perfect inning with two strikeouts. That’s right. Clase Closed. It’s almost too perfect. He did it with just 14 pitches. He reached 100 mph on 11 of those pitches and topped out at 101.2 mph with his cutter. Sweet sassy molasse! Let’s give him the chop! James Karinchak was the de facto closer in many minds going into the season but he’s blown a save and he’s also anti-VAX which is not a good look right now. We just might have ourselves a bit of a committee. So let’s speculate. Considering only Nick Wittgren and Clase have gotten saves so far, and Nick Wittgren doesn’t have a 101.2 mph cutter, hmm, imma grab Clase if I’ve targeting saves, or just some stinky, smelly cheese. He’s got the stuff to run away with the ninth inning gig in C-Land and the Cleveland Baseball Team’s closer has usually paid rich fantasy dividends in the past. I wouldn’t drop your James Karinchaks for him just yet, but I’d grab him wherever I needed saves. Clase closed! Ha! I love it!

Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:

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Welcome to my new column in Razzball: The Magazine! Every week I’ll be responding to letters from fans who are in a fantasy crisis. Let’s jump right in and see our first question:

Dear EverywhereBlair, 

I drafted Sixto Sanchez in the first round. I know! I’m a sucker for alliteration. I even named my team, “Sexy Sixto Stacks Stampede.” You told me ADP was a trap and I could draft whomever I want whenever I want! 

Signed, 

Suxto See Sixto Sick

Well, we’ve got ourselves a humdinger for the first mailbag question! Did you hear that Sixto has a sore arm? You really don’t need to be taking pitchers in the first round. But it’s your team, you do you. You can fix your team by drafting Jacob Stallings, and renaming it the Sticky Stallings Smashers. Onwards, to the main event!

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I’m a big fan of the everyman. I consider myself the everyman. I’m every man’s everyman. A pioneer of normcore. Track pants and a blinking light on my car’s dashboard that either means my seatbelt isn’t on or I need oil. That is me. What better way to elevate the Everyman Culture, than to take part in a tourney where no one is smarter than anyone else. Enter the RazzSlam, a Best Ball tourney.  Every everyman likely knows what a Best Ball league is, but, if you don’t, it’s when you draft a team and the computer manages it for you by choosing who are your best players, and you get those stats. It’s basically one fantasy league removed from the robots taking over and killing us all. Well, the last laugh is on you robots, there’s a virus beating you to the punch! Kinda love that Razzball is putting on a tourney (hosted by NFBC — thank you!) that no one really has any clue how to strategize against. A true everyman experience. Oh, I’m sure there’s a few people who think they know the best strategy for, uh, Best Ball, and a few of them might be right, but there’s an under 1% chance they know why they’re right, and it isn’t just luck. In some ways, Best Ball leagues are a lot like Best Ball strategies. Throw a ton of them out there and a few good ones will rise to the top through sheer force of players’ performances and nothing you’re actually doing. That’s the fun. Anyway, here’s my RazzSlam, a 42-round, Best Ball 12 team draft recap:

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I walked down a dark hallway of Razzball Headquarters, some corner I had never been before. The walls were the color of aquarium gravel. I squinted in the dim light to verify that I had the correct office. I knocked on the door and peeked my head inside, seeing the Fantasy Master Lothario himself, Grey Albright, sitting in an office chair behind of a well-built desk. The image of Don Draper in a sweater-vest.

“Everywhere!” he said, wringing his hands excitedly. He put his hand out for a shake. I reached for it, but he pulled his arm back as if almost touching a hot stove. “Nah-ah!” he smiled and wagged his finger. “Not in the time of Covid!”

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In Japan, you bond with your coworkers by going to an enkai. You say it like “N-kai,” and the Kai is as in Cobra Kai, not “Kay” as in, “I’m so American I can’t envision speaking any language than N-glysh. The enkai is usually where the office (not the TV show) gets together for some BBQ and beers. Everybody goes to the enkai, even if they don’t like beer and BBQ. Sometimes, Japanese managers conduct official office business at the enkai, which makes it somewhat awkward when they pass out documents to read while you’re navigating grilled meat. Then comes the nijikai, or “second meeting,” when the “cool people” leave the “squares” behind, and they go to a place where there’s more beer, some snacks, and some karaoke. But for the bold — and those who are truly initiated into the office — there’s the sanjikai, or the “third meeting.” This is the event where only the hardened drinkers, the Buddhist teetotalers, and those people trying to forget the horrors of 9-5 hyper-capitalism are found. For the sanjikai, you’re out there not because you have to, but because you want to. Because you’re driven, by some supra-rational urge that verges on the paranormal, to see what’s hidden behind the curtain. You want to suck the marrow out of life and maybe get a bone splinter in your gums. You know the world has made its mark on you, and you want to mark the world before you transit off this plane of existence into the cosmos, awaiting to be reborn on your ascent to Nirvana. You might not get home tonight if you go out to the sanjikai, but that’s OK because you’re willing to sit in the park and watch the stars until first train.

That’s what this third pre-season edition of the Top 100 Starting Pitchers is all about: You want to know what the others don’t know. You’ve probably drafted already, but you’re here to get prepped for who to pick up off the waiver wire and what to do for next year. You, my dear reader, are initiated into my office, and I invite you to the sanjikai of my weekly pitchers series.

This article is probably my greatest contribution to fantasy sports so far, and I hope you enjoy it.

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“I did it. It’s done,” Grey said, running his hand through his mustache in splendid celebration. A fire roared in the hearth and cup of sparkling Fresca waited by his side. He pulled on his faux fur thrift store coat, looking every bit the 5’7″ “Legend of Los Angeles” that Fantasy Baseballer Magazine had dubbed him. He moved to his easy chair, reached for the remote, and turned off the National Geographic documentary about the hunting patterns of the Siberian Tiger, which always put him in the mood “to eat the competition” in the draft room. With clear eyes and full heart, he recited his daily mantra, I am the fantasy master lothario. 40 rounds, player upon player upon player upon sleeper. Like a talk show host, he fended off attacks from the left and the right and emerged above the fray, insouciant to what carnage he left in his path.

His mental respite was shattered when Cougs came rushing through the door, home from the grocery store. She whipped off her mask, panting, the twinkle of a tear down her cheek. “Grey, I’m so sorry. Cookie crumbled!” she said.

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What is up everybody? It’s March, which means March Grey has been burrowing out from his hibernation hole (which is what he calls his pantry) and starting to educate you all about your fantasy baseball teams. DRAFT THIS, NOT THAT! The beautiful spring chirp of the March Grey bird resounds through the forest of fantasy baseballers staring at their Fantrax apps. Just as you’re about to draft Dinelson Lamet in the first round, March Grey swoops in and caws, DRAFT CHRIS PADDACK IN THE TENTH! He then lands in the nearest tree and swigs from an abandoned boba container that may or may not have been sitting there all winter serving as a transient’s chaw spittoon. Now, while Grey’s spending the rest of the week sanitizing his mouth with detergent, I’m coming in hot to give you my takes on starting pitchers for your 2021 fantasy baseball season!

Let’s find that free use graphic I made of Zack Greinke in his Royal Blues!

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The top 40 starters for 2021 fantasy baseball fall roughly in the 75 to 125 overall for those of you who are wondering where we are overall, and, of course, when the rankings are done I will be along with a top 500 overall to show you exactly where we are. Think of this set of starters as your number twos and number threes, but, again, I will have a pitchers’ pairing tool to help with that too. I give and you receive. Ho, ho, ho, that’s me giving and you receiving. Here’s Steamer’s 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. As always, where I see tiers starting and stopping are included with my projections. Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2021 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?