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Mostly MLB Notes: Falling For Francisco Liriano (yet again)

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Liriano has loved the Senior Circuit (USAT)

I really should know better than to write about (and recommend) Francisco Liriano, but I just can’t help myself. Since returning from injury (to his non-pitching arm), he has 47 strikeouts over 36.0 innings, having yet to allow a home run. His 3.50 BB/9 rate is shaky, but it’s also possible his career could be resurrected simply by moving to the National League. In fact, if you remove his one start against an AL team this year, Liriano would have a 0.87 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. That’s a small five-start sample, and he’s a candidate to break down with an injury or implode in performance at any time, but there’s also a lot to like here. Liriano’s average velocity on his slider (86.4 mph) is his highest since 2006, a year in which he posted a 144:32 K:BB ratio with a 2.16 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 121.0 innings as a rookie. If he qualified, Liriano’s 30.9 K% would be the fourth-highest in all of baseball, and the fact he’s combined that with a 2.00 GB/FB ratio is borderline astonishing. His SwStr% is 15.7. The next highest among starters is Yu Darvish at 14.5%. Liriano’s 2.49 xFIP is the second best among all starting pitchers (he actually led the American League in this category in 2010. Of course, he followed that up by posting a 5.23 ERA over the next two injury-riddled seasons). Liriano is going to start giving up homers, and he’s admittedly enticed many times before until ultimately disappointing, often in colossal fashion, but the switch to the NL combined with legitimately impressive underlying stats make him more than just someone back on the fantasy radar.

So basically, it’s every man, woman, child and invalid for themselves when it comes to retrieving this home run souvenir.

Here’s Mike Aviles getting thrown out of a game that was already over.

Here are two bad calls against both teams on one single play.

In 2011, Cameron Maybin recorded 28 steals (while being caught just six times) and scored 44 runs over just 250 at-bats after the All-Star break, as it looked like the former top prospect was going to finally live up to the hype. Instead, he disappointed last year, finishing with a modest .243-67-8-45-26 line. Petco Park limits his upside, but Maybin actually hit much worse on the road (.216/.264/.308) last season. A lingering wrist injury has limited him to only 51 at-bats so far in 2013, but he’s back in the lineup, and hopefully 100 percent this time. Maybin is still just 26 years old and has stolen four bases over four games since returning, so he remains intriguing for fantasy purposes, especially with steals so down across the league this year…Meanwhile, teammate Kyle Blanks is another young Padres hitter worth adding in fantasy leagues. If he qualified, his 157 wRC+ would rank seventh best in MLB, tied with Carlos Gonzalez. With Yonder Alonso out the next month with a fractured hand, Blanks should be looking at regular playing time, likely hitting from the cleanup spot. Fully healthy after shoulder surgery ruined his 2012 season, he has legitimate power potential (fun fact: Blanks has more “No Doubt” home runs this season than NL HR-leading Domonic Brown). Also, you might want to get out of the man’s way, or you’ll end up on the DL.

Here are some extremely close calls caught on Russian dash cams.

Are You Ready For The Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe?

Here’s someone texting while sitting on the hood of a car driving down a freeway. Yeah, that’s normal.

Since April ended, Rick Porcello has a 3.09 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. More importantly, he has a 46:8 K:BB ratio over 43.2 innings during that timeframe, a span that included pitching against Cleveland twice, at Baltimore and at Texas. I’m the guy who bought into Porcello’s strong spring training (21:0 K:BB ratio over 24.0 innings), paid a decent amount of FAAB for him in Mixed LABR (more on this team below), and then cut him after he allowed nine runs over 0.2 innings during his third start of the year. What a mistake (“did you say steak?”). Porcello is still an extreme groundball pitcher who has to deal with a Detroit defense that has poor range, but his decision to junk his slider in favor of the curveball has resulted in a career-best 8.5 SwStr%. Porcello is still just 24 years old, and while his fastball velocity is down from then, he was once one of the biggest pitching prospects in the game. On a side note, the Tigers’ staff has a collective 26.1 K% this season, which would go down as easily the highest in the history of baseball.

News anchor antics: Here’s a “sexy” news anchor with not exactly the best rapport with the weather reporter...Here’s a news reporter attacked by pit bulls during a live interviewHere’s a news anchor suffering a nosebleed live on air...Here’s a classic exchange. Zing!

Song of the week: Here’s a new single from Nine Inch Nails: “Came Back Haunted.”

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Atlanta's rotation dilemma (USAT)

Speaking of young pitchers who had a terrific spring training only to get off to a slow start to the regular season, Julio Teheran also fits the bill. Teheran struck out 35 batters over 26.0 innings in spring, finishing with a 1.04 ERA. After three starts in the regular season, he had allowed 13 runs over 16.0 innings (good for a 7.31 ERA). Teheran then posted a 2.34 ERA over his next eight starts before suffering a setback against the Padres in Petco Park on Monday. Still, he’s recorded a 23:3 K:BB ratio over his last three starts, spanning 20.2 innings. Teheran has a 9.6 SwStr% combined with a 44.9 GB% on the year, so the Braves are going to soon face a real dilemma when Brandon Beachy is ready to return. Often these things take care of themselves through injuries, but assuming everyone stays healthy, Atlanta will have the enviable problem of having six legitimate options for the rotation. Mike Minor, who entered his outing Sunday with as equal of splits you’ll ever see, isn’t going anywhere, and while Tim Hudson has the worst ERA, he’s the veteran of the group with the longest track record (and strong peripherals too). Kris Medlen has been a disappointment in fantasy terms and has a history of working in relief, but the guy currently sports a 2.87 ERA. Paul Maholm hasn’t exactly done anything to warrant a demotion, and maybe it makes the most sense to work Beachy back in relief since he’s coming off Tommy John surgery. Either way, it’s a good problem for the Braves to have (and something fantasy owners need to be cognizant of, as a couple of bad starts from any of these guys, including Teheran, could lead to a role in relief).

Animal antics: Wild footage of an absolutely crazy chimp fight at the L.A. Zoo...Cat caught smuggling cell phones into Russian prison...Dramatic Doggie DeathHere’s a bear opening a truck door like a human.

Scouting for ‘camel toads’ at pool.

Yoenis Cespedes, Chris Young and Josh Reddick are hitting a combined .207 this season, and while Cespedes has hit for power, the latter two have slugging percentages of .342 and .299, respectively. Derek Norris has also posted a .194/.313/.302 line while Oakland’s starting second baseman has yet to homer and has a .326 SLG, although he does deserve props for rocking these glasses. I bring this up because despite all that – and playing in a pitcher’s park – the A’s have scored the seventh most runs in the majors this year. In fact, since the All-Star break last season, they’ve scored the most runs in all of baseball. Speaking of which, Harold Reynolds actually said this during the MLB Draft on Thursday: “Drafting college players is very Moneyball.” I’m beginning to think he doesn’t quite grasp the concept.

Headlines of the Week: Man Discovers He’s a Woman After Doctors Find Swollen Ovary...“Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis Desperate to Block Release of Sex Tape...Oregon Woman Loses $500 Worth of Sex Toys in Car Break-in...Saudi Prince Reportedly Spends $20 Million at Disneyland...Saudi Prince Launches Libel Action Against Forbes Magazine Over Rich ListPilot Asks if Crying Baby on Plane is Sidney Crosby...Google Unveils Superfast Computer That Could Cure Diseases, Stop Global Warming and Even Learn to Drive a CarMan Sick of Xbox Asks For Jail Instead of Finishing House ArrestDeadbeat Dad Fathers 22 Children By 14 WomenPsychic’s Performance Cancelled Due to “Unforeseen Circumstances.”

I saw “Mud” last weekend and liked it. Recommended.

Quick Hits: First, Yasiel Puig ends his major league debut with this. Then, he follows that up by becoming just the second player ever to homer four times over his first five games. It’s pretty disappointing no one but himself has knocked him across the plate despite posting a .515 OBP, but SSS caveats and all, fantasy owners have to feel like they’ve struck gold at this point. What an exciting young talent…Speaking of intriguing rookies, Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, Anthony Rendon and Tony Cingrani should all be owned in fantasy leagues right now…This was Juan Perez’s first play as a major leaguer. Not bad…Pedro Alvarez’s 13 homers are the third-most among third basemen (and a pace to finish with 34 this season), but he’s hitting just .203 and has just three doubles – his only extra-base hits other than home runs over 187 at-bats. Alvarez’s 18.1 SwStr% is the highest in all of baseball…Matt Carpenter is on pace to score 129 runs this season. I’d rather own him than Jose Altuve from here on out…Rex Brothers (I’m going to go ahead and just assume his parents gave him “Mario” as his middle name) is having a rather odd season, as he currently sports a 0.31 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. You don’t need to look into advanced metrics to call that a fluke, but it’s pretty remarkable to have that low of an ERA with an accompanying 5.20 BB/9 rate. Still, it doesn’t sound like Rafael Betancourt is coming back any time soon, so Brothers has fantasy value right now.

Longread(s) of the Week: Whether or not you think this CIA torture whistleblower should be in prison is for another discussion, but regardless, his letter about his experience being imprisoned is pretty fascinating. (H/T Chris Liss)

Speaking of whistle blowing, I assume most have read this by now. And here’s David Simon’s passionate thoughts on the matter.

As a former co-host of the RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today show on XM/Sirius, I’ve interviewed Steve Phillips many times, and I have to say I like the guy. That said, this is a pretty interesting read: The Mostly Sexless Sex Scandal That Shook ESPN.

Quick Hits Part Deux: Elvis Andrus was never expected to hit for a lot of power, but after belting 11 homers over his first 1,624 at-bats, when he was ages 20-22, he’s since hit just three long balls over 989 ABs (including the postseason). While at least he’s back running this year (15-for-17 on SB attempts), he currently has a .253/.307/.304 line. Andrus is a plus defender at a premium position, but he hasn’t exactly shown the expected growth for someone his age…No one wants to hear about my fantasy team, but if I’m going to talk about one, I assume it’s more entertaining to hear about a train wreck than one in which I’m doing well (presuming that exists, of course). In the longest-running industry league LABR (I was in the mixed version this year, which featured 15 teams), my first three picks were Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Josh Hamilton. This dynamic trio have combined to hit .235 with 11 homers over 447 at-bats, solidifying the adage that you can’t win your league with early draft picks, but you can lose it. What a nightmare…The Marlins have a .727 win percentage (8-3) against the Mets this year and a .244 against the rest of the league (10-41)…Jhonny Peralta currently sports his highest K% since 2007 and the second lowest BB% (7.1) of his career, yet somehow has a .339/.388/.493 line. However, he’s on pace to finish with a modest 16 homers and 69 RBI despite batting in a Detroit lineup that has scored the second most runs in MLB. Peralta’s 27.8 LD% is a career high, and he hasn’t hit many popups (5.6 IFFB%), but his .417 BABIP is the highest in all of baseball and more than 100 points higher than his career mark. In other words, try to sell him if that’s plausible in your fantasy league.

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