It is more simple then just correlating the “every stolen base is essential” represents a swipe to the right.  It goes farther the that, for some guys. it is like fish in a barrel… for others. it is a game they just don’t play.  Anyone that has partaken in the chicanery that is Tinder, gets the other far deeper references here because there are endless similarities.   Over the past seven games of play, there have been 13 teams with one steal or less, on the contrary to that, there was only four teams that swiped more than five.  That does not add up to a ton of stats to go around, especially when players like Cody Asche, owned in 0.6% of ESPN leagues, and Marwin Gonzalez (3.0%) are toeing the line of stolen base leaders for the week.  Only being one behind the leader for the week, of a mass total of three.  The sexy factor of steals is like a 2 AM special at the bar: dark, desperate, and a crap shoot.  So I am not here to tell you to not shoot for the moon with guessing with stolen bases, I am just saying that it is a game of haves and have-nots.  So be heady my good friends, as you search the waiver wires for good situations, pay attention to the pitchers who allow the most steals.  Pay Attention to the last 14 days of OBP, and of course with lesser owned fellas, watch general playing time.  Here are some fish in the barrel types for this week…

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Dellin Betances is basically the fat of the fantasy set-up world. The goods are there, it just takes time and some settling before we all realize it is, what was and what always shall be…  I think I just laced this post with some subtle Led Zeppelin reference, but I may be crooked to walk on one leg to let myself know that I did, let alone let you subtly know.  So I will just go ahead and say there was a Zep reference-reference.  Good, moving on.  Success of a bullpen, let alone someone you should be relying on, is correlative of how well the team is performing. It’s science, if you score more you put yourself in a better position to win more, regardless of who is on the bump.  Dellin was and is the goods, currently and in post-script.  He came into the year as the man to target in any format that coveted fantasy goodness, condensed into a smaller innings unit of measure than that of a starter.  Now add in the dash of Holds sassiness, and he is a bullpen god.  He is now the king of the Hold in all leagues by quantity and not by just scripture.  His 16 holds on the year are tops on the this year’s gig and given the Yankees propensity to not score over 4 runs in a game, his reign may be a run away.  He has the good everywhere else; K/9, swagger, ability to tie multiple knots while buoyant at sea.  There are no bullpen stats that he isn’t the man at.  He basically walks into a bar/club and automatically has the best synchronized music to his step….think Matthew McConaughey in Dazed in Confused…and let here comes the story of the Hurricane ramble through your third eye for a bit.  So let’s jump into this fortnights dealing in the bullpen game… alright, alright, alright.

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When the season started, the hype was on top prospect Byron Buxton… he had the center field job won out of spring training and had the tools to be a fantasy asset.  Then he started the season going 7-for-49 with not enough counting stats to warrant him being on your fantasy team any longer, so the Bill Heywood-led Twins demoted him to Triple-A.  Down there, he worked on his composition, his derogatory comebacks, and sharped the tools in his shed.  That resulted in him slashing .336/.403/.603 with 6 homers and 4 steals in 29 games.  Now, fast forward to a week ago when he was promoted, everyone could see he was on (or most likely on) waivers, feeling burned by the failures of his previous performance.  He has gone 7-for-20 in his second chance at life in Minnesota, reaching base in every game and looking like a completely different player confidence-wise.  Because confidence doesn’t come in a bottle, which will kill all the snake oil salesman’s pension funds… but oh well.  Byron has made a slight timing adjustment to his swing and it is working wonders, and he’s, from this point on, someone to watch as he brings speed defense and youth vigor to an already “looking forward to next year” Twins team.  If he can maintain an OBP of between .320-.330, I think he can have a healthy steal total by the all-star break and be pushing 25-30 for the season.  If and buts were soup and nuts, my grandma always said, and it remains to be seen if he can be the asset we all thought, but the prospect status is almost gone from him now and he needs to show it or be buried in fantasy waiver wire purgatory.  Let’s see what else was going down on the basepaths this week in the SAGNOF report…

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Situations arise all the time with closers. Injuries occur, poor performance, and then the return of the incumbent.  In the preseason, Will Smith was the guy the Brewers had tabbed as the closer.  Then, like I just said, an injury happened.  So now that he is back, what goes on in the back-end of the Brewers bullpen?  Jeremy Jeffress has done a stellar job with a less than average set-up crew in front of him.  He has pitched to a 2.45 ERA and a slightly more bloated xFIP of 3.41.  For all his previous tangles with pitching, he is striking out far less then he is normally accustomed to at just a 6 K/9 rate.  Low for a closer, even from the Lauvern and Shirley state.  He has managed 14 saves in 15 opportunitioes, and for a team like the Brewers, 14 is a healthy total.  So does his reign come to an end now that the best reliever is back in the fray?  Granted, it is never a great thing when usual mop-up relievers start stealing your stats, namely Blaine Boyer and Carlos Torres, who have 3 saves between them in the past nine games.  And granted, saves are wonky and games dictate them sometimes, come from behind wins, and situational loogy-ness are also a factor.  So I think with the way Jeffress has been going, he stays there until Will comes and steals his mojo and never looks back… Until the trade deadline, which could alter things up completely and basically revert it back to the way it was.  So if Will Smith is on your waivers, do yourself a service and add him speculatively for a week or two.  If he doesn’t give you the returns that you expect, then, well, the opposite happened of what I think should happen.  Enjoy Week 9 of the fantasy baseball season’s closer report!

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The reflexive of what I have been covering in the last few posts has been looking at trends with pitchers and the stealers themselves.  In a steal equation, the catcher plays a part in this.  If he wasn’t involved, it would look like the scene from Naked Gun where Leslie Nielson is throwing the balls back.  We wouldn’t like that from a whole Enrico Pollazo type way, not one bit.  So for now, let’s stop googling that video and focus on the backstops, the teams running most against and their success (or lack there of).  Yes, there are other factors into being caught stealing, a bad jump, shoes being untied, or maybe even a cramp.  So before all the stat gurus get all huffy and puffy and get their mom’s basements in a tizzy, let’s just say that catchers and their caught stealing prowess are on the even keel that they are what their numbers say they are.  As I discussed last week, stolen bases are down across the board this year and a downward trend has been materializing for years… this has direct affect on the numbers for caught stealing, and attempts.  Without one you can’t have the other.  So here is some interesting stat dirt that I have dug up with teams to run against and the possible streaming value added by playing guys against those teams.

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The change in Texas has reverbed into the Holds ranks as well.  Tolley was the guy, now Frank Perdue’s arch-nemesis Sam Dyson is all comfy in the save bird seat.  The best part of this whole deal is that Jake Diekman is reaping all the benefits from a fantasy hold perspective.  This is a coup for the people who listened to me early and figured him to be the lefty-version of the lock-down pen arm in Arlington.  All Jake has done on the year is garner 13 holds with 11 plus K/9 and a HR/9 just a smidge over one.  We in the fantasy community rely on such precise words as smidge, scoonch, pinch… and I’m throwing prolly in there because some people like it and it doesn’t get more accurate than that.   So the main question is, can Diekman be the man and continue to be the man?  Absolutely.  He is thriving in a role that he started when he was with Philly.  The Rangers, also if anyone is paying attention, aren’t a half bad team and are fairly solid with or without Tolleson closing at the end.  So let’s take a look at what else has happened in the fortnight of games since the last bullpen lowdown, or ho-down.  Depending on how strong your hold pimp hand is.

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Listen, I’m a realist when it comes to numbers.  I understand that trends are written in there somewhere and the analytic guys use their Little Orphan Annie decoder rings to decipher everything.  I, my friends, am not that guy.  I look at something and then relay the message to you.  I am a sharer, an over excessive high-fiver, and extremely (and most importantly) excessively inappropriate in public.  I have looked at the numbers and I am telling you that the stolen base is the new punt stat.  Everyone always talks about punting stats from time-to-time in their ramblings of delusion, but I am being serious.  The downward trend in baseball is written in the stats.  I will even slap a handy chart in this post to clarify my thinking, (the chart is through the end of May for all other years but this), but the trend is going down the way of the SAGNOF drain.  I wish it weren’t true, because I loved watching the go-go 80’s and guys like Vince Coleman make a living being this generations, chuckle… Billy Hamilton.  Those days are gone.  Do we even remember the last guy who stole 100? 90? or even 80 bases in a year?  The answers are: 1987, 1988, and 1988 again.  The last significant stolen base total was when Jose Reyes was single and not suspended in 2007 with 78 swipes.  Like I said, I hate it to be true, but the days of amassing a significant total from one player, and having that player be a fantasy asset are dead and gone.  Running just doesn’t happen as frequently…  This is based on delivery times to plate, video technology, and basically the game evolving.  So I am sorry that this week’s report is a sad trombone of fantasy reality, which is an oxymoron, but I just wanted people to realize the decline in stat that they chase on a weekly basis.

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Besides that Eric Prydz catchy a** song, the bullpen situation/decision in Tampa is drawing nearer and dearer to our closer hearts.  The return of the “Box” is coming, and it drums in the deep.  Now we automatically assume, myself included, that three weeks ago, Brad Boxberger would just go all cutzies like in the high school cafeteria and get his job back at the time he arrives.  Fast forward three weeks, or to now, and that situation doesn’t look like it is a foregone conclusion because look what Alex Colome is doing in the role.  He checks all the “I am keeping my job” boxes. He of the 10 saves in 10 chances, 12 K/9, 2 BB/9, BAA under two bills variety.  Those are all good things to have, and better than 15 other closers in baseball for stats across the board.  Now, I just said that I don’t see Box claiming what’s his right away, but it could happen, because loyalty rules everything around baseball.  So if you own Colome and can get Boxberger before he gets noticeable stats on the cheap, I advise to do so.  If you own Boxberger and don’t own Colome, well, the price will be higher because the people that own him can read stats just as easily as I can type them out for you.  So be proactive as we reach the quarter post in the fantasy year, and for giggles, stay around as I find some goofy things to learn you…

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You see that old rocking chair in the corner? That’s me, mister reliable.  Made of wood and literally been around these parts since the dawn of time. I may not be the smartest fella, or the fartest smeller either, but I dig baseball.  I get the stats and the hub-bub surrounding the intricacies of deeper stats.  Relaying them in a manner that makes sense on paper and conveying them to you in a way that makes us all put away our Casio calculator watches is my style.  This report covers similarities from what I touch on the regular in my bullpen post, so for the normalcy of life, I will add some of my usual middle relief spice into the streaming world of stolen bases.  Sound good, grand glad we could agree.  Rostering established stolen base guys is all well and good, but is a better feeling when you stream an option and he gets one that wasn’t normally accounted for.  Kinda feels like stealing, in the actually stealing sense and not just in the statistical sense.  The world of streaming swipes is becoming harder and harder as stolen bases are a stat best left for the dudes hitting dingers. The more a pitcher lets players get on base with SB opportunities, the increase for SB’s grows… sometimes. This is my first attempt at this post, so I am starting it my own way. So let’s look at this weeks options to stream stolen bases and the trends for which to follow for streaming ideas.  Cheers!

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Well we weren’t talking about deep fried empanadas.  We were talking about the retro-chich lads from that Navy town of San Diego…  Yes, those Padres of the last place origin.  The ones with 16 whole wins in their favor on the year.  Sneaky Hold situations make my world go round.  Which, in turn, makes me spurn to you on the recycled tip of the serving platter from a fantasy analyst.  Over the last 14 games, the Padres have endured some good fortune in the reliever ranks, namely Brandon Maurer.  Maurer has netted himself 7 Holds over that time, or in fantasy bullpen coverage terms here at the Razz-nation, a hold the fort(night). Maurer is the 8th inning guy and if you are in a holds league, then he is probably taken.  Him of the 14-plus K-rate over the last 10 games and because they strung a few victories in a row, boom! Stats.  But we all know how many holds he has in the last umpteen days… because we can all read stat lines and understand that one plus the previous amount equals today’s total.  Math catch-up lesson over.  The Father’s depth in the pen doesn’t just end with Brandon.  Take a look deeper and we will come across not the candelstick maker, nor the baker, but the Butcher.  As in Ryan Butcher.  While Maurer seems to get all the decent looks in the 8th for the beloved hold, Butcher seems to latch onto him like a paramecium in heat looking for a Padres win.  Averaging over a K per inning, and duly entrenched as the bridge to the bridge to Fernando Rodney (which probably really isn’t much of a bridge of at all, but just a rope with board entwined with hope aspiration and tears), so with this brief biopic on the San Diegans bullpen fellas, lets look at what else is bouncing around in the world of set-up, set-up to get beat down.  I get nothing but a hold.

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