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The first bullpen report of the year is always league-dependent, so read this with a grain of salt.  Some of the top-chaps will be and should be rostered in most normal scoring leagues, while some are strictly reserved for Holds only leagues.  For those of you with the ever trending upward Saves+Holds leagues (NSVH), (a trend I have tried for a few years that seems to work) the process isn’t really a groundbreaking formula where you need a calculator watch and/or an abacus to figure out.

My formula for those NSVH leagues goes something like this:

  1. Grab a top-10 closer… which, if you pay attention, was posted here last week.
  2. Then, grab his top-two set-up guys.  So, for example, if you draft Koji Uehara, your next draft target for later in the draft should be Edward Mujica and Junichi Tazawa.
  3. After that feat of justice, add a top-20 saves guy and then stream the 4th RP.  Streaming the 4th RP gives you tons of flexibility.  You can try to obtain guys with RP/SP eligibility or add a 2-start pitcher or just keep a RP that’s got some juice.

On average, the goal number for NSVH is 8 on a weekly basis.  This is not really a theory of relativity, but it seems to work.

So let’s get into the sexiness known as ratio savers.  These guys are the glue of your pitching staff.  Whether you realize it or not, they really do help more than you (or your friends who steal your lunch money) realize.  I come bearing examples, so get ready. Using last years numbers, Jeff Samardzija was universally owned in most leagues.  His numbers were 8-13, 4.34 ERA in 213 innings pitched.  Not great, but bearable if you add a little dash of RP help.  In this case, say you rostered Neal Cotts in the same league all of last year. His numbers were, 8-3 1.11 ERA in 57 innings.  So, for theory’s sake, say you had a Jeff Cotts or a Neal Samardzija on your team, the conjoined player would look like: this 16-16 with an ERA of 3.66 and only 213 of those innings would count in starts leagues.  It’s like free money, and the roster spot isn’t dead space.  Cotts won the same amount of games and added a K/9 over 10.  And for giggles, Cotts was owned in less than 5% of all leagues last year.  So there is always value in the little guy, so find one and pair him with a ratio-wrecker SP that has value with K’s.  It’s like the guy who figured out it was a great idea to put peanut butter and jelly in one container.  This theory is just an example of bundling your pitching options, it’s not for everyone… but you should prolly stop meeting your girlfriends on Chaturbate is all I am saying.

So there’s that.  And for even more giggles, I added a list below for you to peruse some RP for the upcoming year that will help in Holds… granted, if you’re not busy.   Some have mixed league appeal for their handcuff ability and some are strictly for Holds only leagues.  That’s why they are in list form, so take a look and maybe it can help you.

 

Handcuffs To Own: (Should be owned everywhere)

1. Mark Melancon

2. Joaquin Benoit

3. Rex Brothers

4. Joakim Soria

5. Edward Mujica

6. J.J. Putz

7. Tyler Clippard

8. Heath Bell

9. Cody Allen

 

Holds: (Holds league value, with mixed league appeal)

10. Joel Peralta

11. Joe Smith

12. Tanner Scheppers

13. Brandon Kintzler

14. Luis Avilan

15. Ryan Cook

16. Brad Ziegler

17. Sergio Santos

18. Sean Doolittle

19. Darren O’Day

20. J.J. Hoover

21. Junichi Tazawa

22. Santiago Casilla

23. Neal Cotts

24. Jared Burton

25. David Carpenter

26. Pedro Strop

 

Deeper Holds: (Strictly Holds league)

27. Shawn Kelley

28. Chris Perez

29. Kevin Siegrist

30. Jake McGee

31. Matt Belisle

32. Seth Maness

33. Tim Collins

34. Sergio Santos

35. Vinnie Pestano

36. Ronald Belisario

37. James Russell

38. Luke Gregerson

39. Drew Storen

40. Tony Watson

41. Antonio Bastardo

42. Brian Wilson

43. Jordan Walden

44. A.J. Ramos

45. Dane de la Rosa

 

Super Deep Holds: (Some sneaky guys)

Daniel WebbRob WootenNick VincentMichael TonkinMike DunnVic BlackAdam OttavinoJean MachiBrad Lincoln.

 

 

 

 

  1. ichirosan says:
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    In a 20-man H2H league with holds and saves, which would you think has more value? A lower end closer (like José Veras) or a top tier handcuff (like Mark Melancon)?

    • UncleLarryWalker says:
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      @ichirosan: Our league has been Svs+HLDs since it’s inception. I always value high K set up men more than closers simply based on draft value. High K Set-up guys are the first to get a chance at closing if their current closer gets hurt or is just plain bad. Nothing like having a guy like Mujica, last year started as a setup guy, logs 5 holds, then gets a cup of coffee with 37 saves behind it.

      So that being said- Melancon.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @ichirosan: Melancon is a monster for nsvh.

  2. Andrew A says:
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    what’s the best indicator to use early on to know whether to jump ship on a middle reliever or wait it out? increase in walks, velocity drop?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Andrew A: late inning appearances with team in lead and inherited runs scored are important. Batting avg against LH/RH spits is also good judge to know who is pitching well and to whom and what situations they get appearances.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Count de Monetball: Thanks. Taking a dented can discount on a SP and specifically pairing him with a stud MR is a strategy I usually implore. Costs late round pick and the guilt of dropping isn’t as substantial.

  3. centerfield ballhawk says:
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    How about Carlos Martinez? Are you assuming that he’s going to win a rotation spot in St. Louis?

    • UncleLarryWalker says:
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      @centerfield ballhawk: I bet Martinez ends up being the 7th inning guy. He would be a solid starter, but St L has so much depth at the position…

    • Andrew A says:
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      @centerfield ballhawk:

      middle relief/setup to start the year to help the bullpen get settled (they’ve had high turnover since last year) and then he’ll start some in AAA to prepare him for whatever the team needs down the stretch.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @centerfield ballhawk: his starting is all contingent on the health of Jaime Garcia. I think he starts the year as a starter, then gets demoted to AAA until an injury leads him back. His value is going to be as a starter IMO. I watched him in Jupiter, Fla when he first signed 3 years ago. Kid has some electric movement on his pitches. Think young Pedro Martinez.

  4. Titan says:
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    Great article.

    How do I get my hands on projected ERA, WHIP and K/9 ratios for all non-closers for 2014?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Titan: projecting that stuff is fairly a throwing darts at the board. I’ll have some projected stats and numbers in 2 weeks still plenty of time before season.

      • Titan says:
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        @Smokey:

        Thanks. Sorry to make it sound like I wanted you to do it….thought someone might have a link to other sites that did it. Not sure if fangraphs/zips etc. did those sort of stats.

        Last year (12 tm HTH weekly, 6×6 (W/S/H/ERA/WHIP/K-9), I loved having the high K/9 MR’s that were gentle on the WHIP/ERA for my weekly HTH leagues. If I was able to get 3-4 holds out of 2 of them for the week that was a bonus. I rotated this pile of guys for most of the 2nd half with good results and finished 3rd. Gregerson/Cook/Hoover/Crow/Cotts/Scheppers/Herrera/Strop etc. I essentially punted saves after drafting Street and the bartender and having them both crap all over my ERA and WHIP for 2 months.

  5. The Cow says:
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    I am in a 16-team H2H league that starts 3 SP and 2 RP. Saves and holds are individual categories to obtain points. Strategically, finding a holds guy with SP-eligibility provides a great advantage. Do you see any relievers with SP-eligibility that are able to provide a decent number of holds?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @The Cow: the list isn’t glorious at all. Dallas keuchel, joe Kelly, Brandon Maurer, Tom Gorzellany are some that jump out to me right now.

      • The Cow says:
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        Thanks for the info! Love the reports, and keep them coming!

  6. Ryan B says:
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    Sorry if I’ve missed the explanation elsewhere, but where do you guys come up with the HLDs projections on this site? Is it formulaic, arbitrarily assigned, based on projected bullpen role, or what?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Ryan B: nothing formulative. Previous use, current BP standing and gut feeling.

  7. BigDeal says:
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    Hey. Did you forget about Luke Hochevar in this post? He had great ratios last season and should be the KC setup man, right? What gives?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @BigDeal: Hevwould be in the next 10 or so. For as good as he pitched the counting stats 5 wins and only 9 holds show his usage was with game tied or pitching from behind. Collins Crow and Herrera are all in that 6-8 inng mix with Luke as I see it right now.

      • BigDeal says:
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        @Smokey:

        Cool, thanks.

  8. Eric says:
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    Really good read, I like the concept of combining a SP and RP to even out problem areas. I feel that the guys with the most upside come with possible WHIP or ERA issues and having a RP to counteract that makes the risk a lot less riskier.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Eric: thanks Eric. Give it a try you might like it.

  9. The Thumb says:
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    Why so low on Brian Wilson? I’m looking forward toward drafting him in a saves+holds league. Isn’t he entrenched in the set up role?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @The Thumb: Entrenched ehh maybe. That bullpen features more former closers then any team in the history of baseball. Perez, League, Jp Howell and Paco are still all viable options there. Until we see what it is I wanna be a little bullish on Wilson.

  10. Goose says:
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    Great stuff, Smokey.

    Think we need to have Rondon, Al-Al, or (barf) Joba on the deep watch list. Some big hard-throwin’ no-controlla’s gonna get a buncha holds in DET this year, right?

    Also, Farquhar vaults into the top 5 handcuffs, no, with Rodney now in SEA?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Goose: yes in the neighborhood of Soria sounds about right for now.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Goose: I’m befuddled by Detroits pen situation. Nathan is the goods and then it’s a bunch of unprovens and rebound guys. I could see them signing a Madson or Hanrahan to sure things up.

      Thanks.

      • gareth says:
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        @Smokey: “shore” things up.

  11. Phatboy71 says:
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    Do you see Robertson running with the closer roll and be a sleeper to land in the top 5?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Phatboy71: His ratios say he belongs there. His pitches per batter will be his undoing if anything. He fits more into the second tier with the Balfours and Perkins type relievers. Still good but not Kenley Aroldis Kimbrel Holland Uehara type stuff just yet.

  12. I think Vic Black is gonna be a sneaky add for late in the draft. The kid is real good, and I think he is the closer by the end of the year with Bobby P being traded. The Mets do not have any other bullpen arms that can close besides Vic and Bobby.

    Last year I grabbed rosenthal for a buck at the end, and now I have a fantastic Keeper. Black will be the same hting this year. Mark my words!

    This is a great help! THanks for the suggestion :)

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Vic While: that’s what I’m here for.

  13. Iguy says:
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    12 team Auction Roto keeper question. 4 keepers, 2.year contracts. I’m def keeping B Hamilton, G Springer and G Cole, all for $1. I like Salazar at $1, but pitching is so deep. I could keep Profar at $2 or G Holland at $8 and lock in a top closer with high Ks. The strategy is to spend minimally on keepers, because a lot of top hitters are rejoining the pool this year. Am I crazy to keep a closer when there’s so much turnover, injury risk, etc? Advice?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Iguy: keep Salazar.

  14. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    i thought NSVH stood for net saves and holds, not just total saves and holds?
    anyway, why no lindstrom ranked. i’m seeing him ahead of belisario in depth charts.

    • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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      @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: in very deep league with saves/holds my offseason bidding is coming in less than 2 hours. does these rankings/tiers sound about right, i’ll bid slightly higher on higher tiered guys. If i don’t get them I can try to waiver wooten/tonkin/g.gonzalez come season time at league minimum 400 K salary. they don’t have enough innings for us to bid on them yet.
      1. carpenter/qualls (listed as closer till crain’s back, then set up)/kelley (listed as set up)
      2. vincent (possibly best guy here, but lowest order spot)/lindstrom (don’t trust belisario over him, and depth chart currently bears me out)
      3. wil smith/loup/otero/lincoln (weak skills set)
      tonkin’s skill set (based on AA last year) seems quite good.

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: i just bumped farnsworth up to 1st tier, he’s listed as set up at NYM. g.germen was bumped way down, like his skills say he should be.

  15. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    after bidding on 13 guys (some starters, but mostly RP), having 3 open spots how would these be ranked (saves/holds/general pitcher stats)
    otero/parker/h.rondon/machi/frasor? i’ll send in these bids at near minimum price and only get them if my other bids don’t yield 3 guys.

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Smokey: thanks, yeah, these depth charts are flipping all over the place. Just over a week ago Rondon was low, now set up.

  16. MB says:
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    This is good stuff.

    Cody Allen I own in 9 P league even with 3 closers. What are his chances at getting the gig?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @MB: I mean he has Axford in front of him so chances are fairly good that he gets low double digit saves

  17. kangaroo hops says:
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    Hey Smokey, good to see your reports back. One of my favorite RB reads.
    Just a thought–since you are going so deep on these guys, would you mind including a dynasty league consideration? I know that a lot of bullpen action is situational, and not really easily rated for dynasty, but it might be useful to some.

    Along those lines, here is a quandary for you. In a 16 team dynasty league with both SV and Holds (that’s an average of only 2-3 closers per team), I ended up with this bullpen: Chapman, Holland, Jim Johnson, Uehara, Hawkins, Crain, Melancon. Obviously, if I could shift a closer in a trade, that would probably be good. Any thoughts about what I should be watching for during spring training battles in terms of opening up a strategy here? I’m thinking of trading Johnson, keeping Chapman, Holland, Uehara, and Melancon, and seeing what happens with Hawkins and Crain. THANKS!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @kangaroo hops: I trickle some dynasty stuff during the year, and will do a definitive dynasty look before the season.

      Anything after Chapman, Holland, Uehara and Melancon is all trade bait, but I would wait for teams to get desperate with injuries in your league and drive up the value to a premium.

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Smokey: it appears the other owners in your league aren’t aware that you play in a saves or holds league, if you have all those guys in a 16 teamer (unless you traded away a lot for closers, or really drafted the hell out of RP to the detriment of SP and hitters)

        • kangaroo hops says:
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          @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: Actually, I just picked up a few of them prospecting for holds, but they turned into closers. Or just prospecting for trade bait and lucked out on a few. I already traded away Chisek and Balfour in that manner. Odd.

          • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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            @kangaroo hops: in my 16 teamer even though due to Razzball and another site i’m probably the best at prognosticating about saves i still never had that many guys. Did over the course of the year have Rivera (first time ever drafted an “early” closer at like 105th, cost me not getting sal perez, which HURT with the trash catchers i threw out there all year)/robertson (no saves but genius stats)/brothers (waivered and traded)/perkins (solid and somewhat cheap)/hawkins (str up waiver)/ziegler (same but traded)/bell (same but traded). almost only one up and at them (atom!) closer i didn’t get was mujica, since this was a st.louis league. He was grabbed actually just before Grey even said to.

  18. matthos says:
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    Where is Aaron Crow on your list? thx

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @matthos: he was literally the next guy on the list. Still love him from a vulture standpoint and will get you around 15 Nsvh

  19. Pepper says:
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    Smokey, Luv ya baby. I always look for your closer reports for your opinion. BUT – in my first ever post to RAZZBALL – I have to ask why Boone Logan is ommited from your lists. He is my sleeper this year. He is now the Colorado Pitcher with the most guaranteed money. He came from the American League East with impressive numbers with no opportunity to close for New York. The demotion of Rex for a 40 year old+ journeyman with very limited closing SUCCESS speaks volumes for the confidence that Colorado has for him to close. Belisle is in his final year of his contract. Boone is my 1 unit steal – as long as you don’t print a sleeper post on him. He will have more K’s than Rex and I hope more saves. Smokey – I hope you are honored that I broke my non-posting cherry with you after 5+ years of reading Razzball EVERY DAY.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Pepper: thanks for poppin ur cherry. Always appreciated. I think the sleeper in that pen is Ottavino. Still like Belisle ahead of Logan. Logan has become a loogy with varying success, I have watched him every year as a Yankee fan and it’s no gimme.

  20. Pepper says:
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    Smokey, Luv ya baby. I always look for your closer reports for your opinion. BUT – in my first ever post to RAZZBALL – I have to ask why Boone Logan is ommited from your lists. He is my sleeper this year. He is now the Colorado Pitcher with the most guaranteed money. He came from the American League East with impressive numbers with no opportunity to close for New York. The demotion of Rex for a 40 year old+ journeyman with very limited closing SUCCESS speaks volumes for the confidence that Colorado has for him to close. Belisle is in his final year of his contract. Boone is my 1 unit steal – as long as you don’t print a sleeper post on him. He will have more K’s than Rex and I hope more saves. Smokey – I hope you are honored that I broke my non-posting cherry with you after 5+ years of reading Razzball EVERY DAY.

  21. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: you still think lindstrom’s at set up at WSOX. Being in Chicago does not apparently help me know this, or if it does it hasn’t yet, but i’ll only be here another 25 or so hours.

Comments are closed.