It's all smiles and high-fives for the game's hottest hitter (Getty Images)
Actually, um ... please disregard the question posed in the headline. I don't need to know what happened to the real Ryan Raburn. Let's just hope he's somewhere safe, not gagged and stuffed in the trunk of Ty Van Burkleo's Honda. Because that would not be cool.
For now, let's just enjoy the insane production we're getting from imposter Raburn. Over the past three days, he's gone 11-for-13 with four homers and nine RBIs. He went 4-for-5 on Wednesday, 3-for-4 on Tuesday and 4-for-4 on Monday. He's raised his season batting average 150 points in just three games, and he's raised his career average from .255 to .260.
Ridiculous. This is player who had zero three-hit games in 2012. He is now Earth's hottest hitter, the most popular add in fantasy.
The annoying thing with hot streaks, of course, is that by the time we can react to them, they typically end. Ryan Raburn is almost certainly not going to continue the crazy multi-hit binge. We know this guy. He's 32, well-established. Most of us swore him off last season, when he flopped for Detroit (35-for-205, 53 Ks, .480 OPS). He'll soon get back to being the guy who strikes out once ever four at-bats while hitting the occasional home run. You don't make long-term plans for dudes like Raburn.
Still, there's a decent chance he'll help mixed leaguers over the next 3-4 days. That's as far as I'm willing to look ahead with Raburn. (Or with imposter Raburn, or whoever this is.) Cleveland has a three-game weekend series on deck against the Twins, and the pitching match-ups aren't too scary: Hernandez, Correia, Pelfrey. And then on Monday, the Tribe will face a scuffling Jarrod Parker.
So we have a blisteringly hot hitter set to face a parade of un-intimidating hurlers. I'm in, at least through the weekend. With any luck, Raburn will turn himself into a fantasy trade chip by Monday.
Matt Joyce in mid-trot (Getty)
• OK, here's one more low-average outfielder to consider: Michael Saunders went 3-for-5 against the O's, batting lead-off for the Mariners. Saunders also swiped a bag, his fourth of the season. This is a guy who gave us a 19/21 campaign in 2012, so we know he's useful. At the moment, Saunders is only 18 percent owned.
• Juan Pierre's next steal will be the 600th of his career, which is pretty badass. Pierre went 2-for-4 against the Mets on Wednesday, driving in one run and scoring another. He entered the day leading the N.L. in steals (8-for-9), yet he's still just 22 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. He's a category specialist for sure, a severe liability in homers and RBIs, but no one should be surprised if he finishes with 40-plus steals this year.
• Stephen Strasburg owners, you can dial down the panic. Strasburg threw his usual side session this week, emerging undamaged and without pain. He'll be good to go in his next scheduled start on Saturday against Pittsburgh. I'm thinking maybe you roll the dice and start the kid. But it's your team, your call.
We received an injury scare from Bryce Harper on Wednesday night, as he was removed from the Nats' 2-0 win at Atlanta, clearly hurting. The initial fear was an oblique injury, but it turns out he's dealing with a bruised left side. He's merely day-to-day, not week-to-week or month-to-month. Phew. Crisis averted. Go back to your everyday lives, citizens.
• Ernesto Frieri gave us the rare three-walk save on Wednesday, recording the final five outs in LAA's 5-4 win at Oakland. Scott Downs was forced from the game with an injury in the eighth. The save was Frieri's fourth of the season in five chances; the walks were his ninth, tenth and 11th. So that's a worry.
• David Hernandez allowed yet another homer on Wednesday, his fourth in his last seven appearances, and Heath Bell was doing Heath Bell things (0.2 IP, H, 2 R, 2 BB). Matt Reynolds sure seems like the least dangerous Putz handcuff in Arizona's 'pen. The lefty earned another hold on Wednesday, striking out three batters in a clean frame. He's been lights-out this season, posting a 0.50 WHIP over 14.0 innings, recording 11 punch-outs.
• Scott Feldman delivered the pitching line that Andrew Cashner was supposed to give us on Wednesday night, as he struck out 12 batters in a complete game effort. (Cashner was an absolute mess, needing nearly 100 pitches to get through four innings against the Cubs, struggling to locate.) Fantasy owners shouldn't run to the wire for Feldman, not with starts upcoming against Texas and Washington. But if you streamed the guy against the Pads, smooth move. Please take a victory lap in comments. You've earned it. Well done.
• If you're the sort of fantasy owner who tends to care too much about radar readings, just give Bruce Rondon one inning. He'll make you give up the velocity chase for good. Rondon was chucking 99-101 mph heat on Wednesday afternoon...
...yet he was terrible. Rondon faced five Twins hitters, retiring just one. He gave up a triple and a single to the first two batters he faced (both on 101 mph fastballs), and he walked the final two. He threw 17 pitches, just five of which were strikes. Five. And then he was optioned to Toledo, probably before the game had ended, because c'mon.
• Not so long ago, we all thought John Axford had pitched his way back into the closer discussion for Milwaukee — his manager even said as much. But on Wednesday, Axford pitched his way right back out of the ninth-inning conversation. He allowed a game-tying homer in the eighth to Starling Marte, then coughed up two additional earned runs before the inning finished. We're only 11.1 innings into his season, and he's already allowed six bombs. Axford has been hit thoroughly in his last three appearances. Unless you're in an N.L. Central-only, just move on.
Carlos Gomez continued binging for the Brewers, we should note, delivering two hits on Wednesday, a homer included. He now has six multi-hit games in his last eight. Let's hope you didn't panic at the two-week mark this season, when Gomez was hitting .162. (Many did.) He's now batting .367 with five homers and four steals.
• Matt Garza successfully navigated a 42-pitch rehab appearance at Double-A, which is obviously good news for the Cubs. He'll need a few more turns in the minors before joining the major league rotation, however. Chicago just needs to find a way to keep him healthy-ish until the trade deadline. That's the only goal.
• Buzz is building about a Kevin Gausman call-up, gamers. And why should you care? Because the 22-year-old Gausman is piling up Ks for Double-A Bowie (29 in 28.2 innings), and he's issued just one walk all year. The right-hander is one of baseball's more interesting pitching prospects; his eventual promotion will be an actionable event in deep-ish fantasy formats.
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