When your team is battling for a playoff spot, what’s the most important thing?  Winning.  Winning out of the bullpen is a thing that is not predictable, I get it, but when your team goes 7-0 from the bullpen in the last 14 games, that is just a damn near beautiful thing if you love bullpens as much as I… I mean, you may not, but that’s cool (maybe).  You have your love interests… invested in beanie babies or all your Gregg Jefferies’ rookie cards that your whole childhood fortune is invested in… Just saying, you should probably move out of your mom’s basement or branch out from the family business for a bit.  As a whole, the Pirates are a top-3 club for bullpen ERA, and are led by the king of Holds currently: Tony Watson.  Him and his merry men of “set-uphood” have completely just wrecked shop out of the pen lately, their ERA is 1.21 and they have allowed just a measly 34 hits in 52 innings.  Take it from me, that is getting the job done.  The addition of Joakim Soria has lengthened their bullpen to the point where Jared HughesJoe Blanton, and Arquimedes Caminero are in prime win plucking spots.  Yeah, I just used Joe Blanton in a fantasy write-up, and no it’s not 2000-never.  So stick around as I wax symbolic about other bullpen situations arising as we stream towards the fantasy baseball playoffs.

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Are the Red Sox grasping at proverbial straws here?  I mean, let’s go to the waiver wire in real life… Grab a reliever, Jean Machi, that has three career saves, and let’s say we’ll think about him being the closer for our team.  It sounds weird and crazy, but then you look at the Sawx record (it’s the worst in the AL by the way), and realize maybe it’s not such a far fetched idea.  Hanley Ramirez has nine freaking doubles all year. NINE!  I just hit four at Fenway the other day, until I realized they were hamburgers.  Okay, back to closers.  So the Red Sox, with the loss of Koji Uehara to the DL, will turn to just about anyone to see if they can close the 8-10 chances they will get the rest of the year.  The front runners are Junichi Tazawa (has 4 blown saves in the last 30 days) and Jean Machi, and the sleeper candidate is the former All-Star closer Ryan Cook.  Who in himself was traded for that spectacular fantasy asset: PTBNL.  The situations for closers is getting bleaker with the bad teams losing actual options and not having a genuine fall-back option that you could tie your waiver wire dollars too.  Best advice is don’t chance saves from all these guys, it will nuke your numbers elsewhere.  Concede that you will only get seven points from saves instead of nine. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk while texting or making waiver claims.

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All this talk about the Blue Jays offense is completely detracting from the fact that their bullpen to date has been mediocre-to-awful for most of the year.  The additions they have made, namely Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins, are a future holds market band-aid.  The one true positive addition for the back-end of the pen is Aaron Sanchez.  He comes in with filthy stuff, isn’t afraid to pitch inside, and gives them a hard throwing right-hander, which they’ve been lacking.  The Blue Jays, to date, have the fewest saves (19) namely because they do one of two things that both involving blowing.  (It’s either a blow-out or a blown save.)  It’s a miracle that they are where they are record-wise with the amount of blown saves they have (it’s 17 and counting).  But the team is setup to win, and they are going to score a ton of runs, so from a fantasy holds perspective, anyone outside of Sanchez is a fool’s chance at holds gold.  With 13 games remaining against front-running New York, the schedule isn’t on their side as the slugging they do takes away from the bullpen allure.

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All the fantasy world was hoping that Jonathan Papelbon would be traded to a team without a reliable closer.  Instead, he goes to a team and kicks in the door swinging with the “I make more money than you” swagger that only comes with wearing Jordache jeans. And then he takes Drew Storen‘s job.  From a relief pitcher standpoint, Papelbon jumps from the worst save-driven team to top 10 overall.  The Phillies generated only 26 save opportunities to the date of his trade.  The Nationals were a far better team, and their record says so with 43 save opportunities.  The Nationals have also had a lead 32 more times than the Phillies, so Storen isn’t a completely wasted roster spot. If you got skunked by this, you need to keep him rostered.  He will still get the off-day save chances, and should pitch in a ton of high-leverage situations based on the bullpen shape of the Nationals, which isn’t a blue ribbon. Papelbon immediately jumps to elite status for me because of his history, and the whole contending team thing. He will easily double his saves total (in less games) to date, which stands at 17.  On the flip side of this trade, it opens up the gates to wunderkid Ken Giles to close in the land of steaks covered in cheese.  Giles immediate value is that of a closer, but with the Phil’s, he’s going to basically have a worse representation of what Papelbon had, but he still has moderate save appeal.  I can see him getting 10 saves the rest of the way.  This is posting a day before the deadline, so things could be in flux. And make sure to check out Ralph and myself over on Razzball Soccer, as the FPL is in full go.

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Here I thought the Brew Crew were a dying entity this year with all this talk of punting and trading all their mid-level talent.  For soothe, they have had an impressive last 30 days in the Holds department.  It isn’t just one guy garnering them either…  It is a multi-syllabic hold dragon with three heads.  Each head is completely different and has a really cool story.  The first is the Fresh Prince of Holds, Will Smith. He has basically been what we all thought Jonathan Broxton would be this year, but probably with more success. Over the last 30 days he has 5 holds, 2 Wins, and a K/9 rate over pushing 14.  That is sassy with a Jor and extra emphasis on the dache.  The next is Michael Blazek, who in some weird way is basically Jeremy Jeffress‘s boy by name only.  I will call them Smoke, and yes please.   Common sense is there for anyone who knows dudes history.  He is my honorary hero and on the Smokey hall of fame wall with Lincecum, Chris Perez, and Dock Ellis.  So to their stats before I teeter out from pure excitement…  Blazek and Jeremy have both garnered 4 holds over the last 30 and form a power/finesse RH combo in front or beside Smith, and in front of K-Rod.  With all the trade talk surrounding basically everyone in baseball, it seems if K-Rod gets bounced out I have them Smith and Jeffress in a tie, then Blazek for saves, with Broxton on ready for that veteran preference.   So let’s see what other  bags of factoidal goodness I can come up with and of course the Holds chart for some good toilet reading…

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So with the festivities of All-Stardom concluding, thus comes the second half.  It’s an inevitable thing, you eat half a cookie the other half remains.  So this week I am going to run down a list of the closers for the remainder of season.  So sorry for not doing salads with donkeys this week, I felt this was more noteworthy since we are about two weeks from the trade deadline in real and fake baseball life (in some leagues).  The closer rankings that I came up with will be based off of a few things: saves (no durrr), team success, likely hood to remain a closer, and peripheral stats.  So we lump all those together and we get the ROS STSLRCPS.  Which basically looks like a pretty good scrabble deck.  Bare with me, it’s a busy time of year, and for those in the know, Fantasy Soccer is live and in full effect.  Go check it out, it’s fantasy baseball with an accent.  So now onto the closer ranks for the rest of the 2015 campaign…

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Everyone likes maximizing stuff, hell, it’s the reason we shop at Costco for wholesale BJ’s. [Jay’s Note: They have that at Costco? I thought it was just hot dogs and slices… I’ve been doing it wrong.]  Wait that’s not right, not completely wrong, but off-topic slightly.  So maximizing, we are all looking to divest our teams with the best stat stuffers as possible, and the K department is tough to make up when you are chasing it.  So how can you make it up slightly?  Well relax, I am here to point you in the right direction like a well-trained German Shorthair.  So everyone knows the top guys and then the handcuffs, but what about the guys who are owned tiny amounts in almost every format, but have been lighting it up the last few weeks? (And they are just as good as the known guys.)  Sounds good to me, though, I did just write it so I kinda have to believe it.  The trick is getting you to buy into it.  If you’re losing, and not everyone is in first place in every league, you may wanna peer at what I have to say.  So bullpens are where we need to focus and sometimes it gets tricky because of the limitations on roster size sometimes.  So analyze your roster and keep that in mind with space and such.  The relievers that have SP eligibility and give you the best stats are like a chick who has a sense of humor.  So stick around, it’s a bit of a change up on the week’s review of holds fellas.

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I am equating this one solely on one thing for the Cubbies… and that term is?  Pseudo-intellectual.  Joe Maddon does everything different and it’s gotta be the glasses.  He makes everyone want, need or have to be involved in his bullpen.  Basically, he is the united colors of Benetton of managers.  His hydra approach at the bullpen is not only bothersome or troubling for the roster-bater in all of us, it’s damn near impossible to roster and guess which guy it will be today.  The trio of Jason Motte, Hector Rondon, and Pedro Strop all seem to play the part of a closer, but get shuffled around like Joe is playing little game in his head.  I get that some situations warrant certain match-ups, but sometimes it doesn’t make any sense to me.  So for those of you that still care about the Cubs and their six save chances combined between all relievers in the last 14 days, I would roster Motte and Rondon equally, and if I had the space, I would roster Rafael Soriano and hold on tight.  Soriano is going to come in like the new city slicker, with a shiny pair of aldo shoes and end up being the cat’s pajamas for about a minute in Maddon’s mind.  Personally, rostering three guys to garner one stat is a crazy, crazy thing to get wrapped up into and is a waste.  If you are rostering one non-closer reliever to help with ratios, where are you making this roster space up from?  Nowhere is the answer, my friends.  So stick to the straight and narrow for saves for now, don’t chase unless a clear situation opens it’s doors and gives out the good candy on Halloween.  Stick around for some tidbits about the world of relief-dom…

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Well, I guess that makes all the sense in the world, because those darn Flock of Seagulls got all in your head in the 80’s.  Then they had the nerve to be in GTA and get you all singing about running.  I don’t even run when chased anymore.  It’s a big game of “ooohhh ya got me”.  So north of the border, they do it all in groups now apparently.  That group started out as a singular to start the year, then a separate individual took over only to fail himself, then they went back to the original guy who had it out of spring.  Now they are on to a group format because I am guessing “strength in numbers” is the thing.  I think “paint by numbers” should be their next move.  So if you are scoring at home, to summarize, that is Cecil, Castro, Cecil, et. all.   Yeah, I mean if I had the offensive potential that the Blue Jays have, and they are being all fiddle and benz with the end game, I would make a move to a more permanent solution.  Don’t be cheap, I think the exchange rate is in your favor or close.  So the committee we are looking at now is a group that consists of Roberto Osuna, Steve Delabar, possibly another occasional save chance for Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Optimus Prime and any prime number.  From a rostering standpoint, I would own Osuna, Delabar, then Cecil.  If you missed out on all three, just be thankful, because it’s a mess.  But saves bring all the craziness out of people, so that’s why it’s bullpen week and we are getting down to the goods of the HOLD.  Enjoy the rankings, tidbits and the casual barbs at my peers.  Cheers!

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You ever look at a pitcher and just realize that he’s running out of gas much sooner than you expected him too?  Well, that’s what I am noticing from the Mets closer of the moment, Jeurys Familia.  He is pitching like his best friend died or his pet rock was used in a terrarium for a science fair project.  I am not liking the trend of the K’s disappearing, hell he went four appearances without getting one.  For a guy with a 10-plus K/9, that is worrisome.  The BAA is up for the month, walks are triple from what the previous two months were, and he is trying to pull of a mocha shoe with a green suit.  I mean, come on.  So just the other day, Bobby Parnell came in got a nice tidy 5-out save and it made me think, the way the Mets are and what their needs as a team are, is this the solution that they need?  They needed bullpen help, a nice veteran returning who knows the ropes, walks with a pimp skip (no cane on the field though), and has the ability in previous years to get the job done if need be.  I personally just think Jeurys needs a lessened work load to make him bounce back.  Still, it is worth noticing or monitoring that Bobby P is back, and he is rounding up his bottom and top slags from Queens Point and is in waiting.  Lets see what other bits of delusion I have to scour up for ya.  Enjoy the week… cheers!

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