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Much like the more ballyhooed Closer Report, the alternate week Bullpen Report covers everything that those dudes who get quality starts don’t.  It’s starting again, in case you haven’t noticed, and no, I am not talking about those unfortunate flare-ups that you cover with medicated ointment, bullpens are in flux.  So you get a little of the saves, some of the holds, and some of me just ranting.  Ugh, the situation for closers is an ugly ever-changing conundrum.  This week’s cluster F belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals. Mitchell Boggs goes all Chernobyl on your weekly ERA and just falls apart.  Have no fear as Trevor Rosenthal didn’t look much better.  Boggs is still the guy you want here, Motte isn’t coming through that door anytime soon and no one else has the label as go to guy in the bullpen yet.  So sit tight and just enjoy this closer-coaster with no seat belt.  Here’s what I got this week, some sleeper Holds guys with improving, yet slightly arousing situations, and some other run downs on teams’ closer situations.

10 Holds Guys With Improving Situations:

1.  Brian Duensing – Has some sexy added eligibility with the SP; is the only other Lefty, besides their closer, in the pen for the Twins.

2. Paco Rodriguez – Another Lefty that is seeing decent time for the Dodgers in between Belisario and Jansen .

3. Edward Mujica – Role has been boosted due to Boggs in the closer role, I like him to soak up a lot of the holds in pressure situations.

4. Darin Downs – With Coke doing most of the closing, or lack there of,  Downs has been a sneaky play in Detroit as the only other lefty.

5.  A.J. Ramos – Not many wins in Miami, but has 4 appearances in first 8 games. Has future closer type stuff if he can limit the walks.

6. Steve Delabar – It’s not the all Sergio Santos show at the back of the Jays’ pen, guy is just funky and I like funky.

7. Carter Capps – Under-known name in an under-known Seattle bullpen.

8. Hector Rondon – Former top spec getting some good burn in the Cubbies’ pen.  Worth a squint to watch, trust me, electric arm, but wild. Added eligibility in some formats.

9. Luis Avilan – Took over for Venters in Atlanta and hasn’t disappointed yet.

10. Scott Atchison – Had a brilliant year with the Sawx last year, now setting up for those up-start Metropolitans.

CLOSER NEWS:

Kansas City – I said early in spring training that I was intriguingly turned on by the KC bullpen, and I can’t blame it on the pleats in my pants either.  The arms that they have at the end game are all just straight up filthy but all in different ways.  Kelvin Herrera took a huge ownership bump this week with all the trouble Greg Holland got into.  What’s not to like about Herrera, he throws nearly a hundo, and mixes in a great curve/change combo and a sassy 7/1 K/BB rate in the early goings on.  He is basically “lave sus culo” type nasty. If adding players for the near future on speculation, he is first on a short list.  I am also intrigued by the usage so far of Aaron Crow and I will continue to tout him as a win vulture this year so monitor closely.

Milwaukee – Man, John Axford sucks.  I have been a supporter and now I am taking it in the nuts.  I have recently read and seen charts illustrating that his release point has changed in the past 2 years.  Do I think he is done as a closer? No, but he needs to get back to basics and change some stuff up, throw more sliders, kick the ball to the plate, admit he is injured… something.  Stepping up and in for Axford is Jim Henderson. I have seen him called “Muppet Master”, although I would like to throw out my own nickname of “Electric Mayhem”.  He filled in last year and did swimmingly well, so he has the knack, but I am going to question if he has the Sharona.  With no other options it’s his show until Axford figures out who is what and when.

Chicago Cubs -  Well we knew it was coming and well it did.  Carlos Marmol is out for now as closer.  The Cubs say they want him to return to the role,  I want Brooke Shields to redo Blue Lagoon, but that stuff ain’t happenin’.  Of course the Cubs want that, he is worth about as much as a bag of left-handed hammers.  Kyuji Fujikawa is the first candidate up, I don’t think he is ready for the prime time yet, but has garnered 2 save chances so far.  The guy I am looking at here is James Russell, stellar yet under-rated set-up guy could be in the second fiddle seat when the Asian kid who is all-world at fiddle gets a case of the yips.

  1. elaw77 says:
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    Boggs really effed me in the aye…but…it is a long season so hopefully my ratios bounce back. I might have hastily dropped him out of rage. Gonna try to snatch him up again after waivers. Fingers crossed that the other guys are scared off by the 11+ ERA.

    What do you think about the Red Sox situation? Is Bailey worth a speculative add right now? or should I wait a few weeks?

    My relievers: Street, Holland, Herrera, Henderson

    Also…Im feeling the Ashy Larry pic lol.

    • Fooch says:
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      @elaw77: I added Bailey before Machado’s HR landed.

      I’ll admit I’m jumping the gun, but if you wait too long someone dropping a non-closer from DET, KC, or STL will scoop him before you have the chance.

      • elaw77 says:
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        @Fooch:

        Just picked him up!

      • BTD says:
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        @Fooch: Meaning 5 minutes ago. ;)

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @elaw77: Hanrahan is ok for now but a few more like last night and things may start to unwind. I’d hold on Bailey for now. Gotta love the world series of dice.

      • elaw77 says:
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        @Smokey:

        Im rich biaaatch!

  2. Shake N Bacon says:
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    I’ve been eyeing AJ Ramos in my league for a few days now. I never thought Cishek was much of a closer. His stuff just doesn’t seem to scream “closer stuff”. Do you think Cishek loses his job at some point during the season? I know coming across saves in Miami is as rare as Pablo Sandoval NOT going for thirds at a buffet, but do you think AJ Ramos could end up with a handful of saves by the end of the season? Over/under 6.5?

    Any idea if Papa Grande will get a chance to take over as closer or do you think Benoit ends up with the most saves in the DET bullpen by year’s end?

    Nice call on Russell. I think he could be a sneaky source for some saves this season.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Shake N Bacon: over in the saves but will come later to see what they have for next year. Papa should Leyland like vets, look at his vote of confidence in Benoit, which is no more than a month after he said he wouldn’t use him in back to backs. So I think managing is lying just for lying sake.

    • me says:
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      @Shake N Bacon: But how long are you willing to waste a roster spot on a guy who *might* get saves later?

  3. Ben says:
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    FYI to anyone interested in getting some saves. Just heard that Benoit will be the closer in Detroit for now at least. So get him If you can.

  4. papasmurf says:
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    What’s your take on Matusz? I like him as a lefty specialist but Patton seems to be the top lefty there.

    He has SP eligibility like Duensing and I think he would be better than Duensing, but may not have the same opportunity to put up HLDs.

    • Goose says:
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      @papasmurf: There’s also this TJ McFarland guy as another lefty in the O’s pen. He’s got SP eligibility as well. What do we know about him?

      • Smokey

        Smokey says:
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        @Goose: rule 5 guy. I read through a best writer that Buck loves him which is why they traded ayala.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @papasmurf: too inconsistent for Bucks trust just yet. Has potential but I think he is in need of a grange of scenery.

      • papasmurf@yahoo.com says:
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        Last year he held lefties to a .645 OPS while getting destroyed by righties. (I can’t find splits for his time in the pen)

        I think if Buck utilizes him as a LOOGY, he’s gonna be quite good. If Buck goes the Larussa route of playing matchups hitter by hitter, that BAL pen could be great for HLDs.

        I thought about dropping M for Duensing but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. (Too late now anyhow)

  5. james says:
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    Heyward for Cespedes?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @james: flipped a coin and I’ll take Cespedes

  6. JoeC says:
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    “lave sus culo”… that’s hilarious! :)

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @JoeC: grassy ass

  7. OaktownSteve says:
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    I don’t think Fuji is going to get the yips. He’s already been closing for years. Some guys can close. Ask David Mamet.

    After seeing the Marinerds a few times this year, I am guessing the closer handcuff and 8th inning designate is Stephen Pryor. He and Capps have real similar stuff, but they seem to like Pryor a tick better. The Bartender has been alright but not lock down so it’s work monitoring.

    I’ve heard it pointed out and think it’s kind of interesting that Henderson profiles a lot like Axford did before he grabbed the job and ran with it. Similar resume, similar stuff.

    Crow as win vulture is a great call. Keep an eye on Resop for the A’s in a similar capacity. He’s looked really good for them early and he’s getting multiple middle inning stints in prime win vulture territory.

    Good piece.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @OaktownSteve: def agree Pryor is the go to guy if Tom-Wil slips. Capps looks good for that 7-8 th inning role great against both LH/rh. I’m just not sold on Fujikawa, he lacks that typical Asian deception that you saw with Nomo and Park for awhile. Maybe that’s just me.

      • OaktownSteve says:
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        @Smokey:

        I hear you on Fuji. Even the reports from Japan were mixed. He seems to have had stretches of dominance and periods of being nicked up and is maybe on the downside of his skill set. But what I go back to is kind of my first rule with closers which is not, what’s the stuff. It’s, can he close? Some guys can close and some can’t. We’ll see. Appreciate your point of view on it.

  8. Hawk says:
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    I grabbed Herrera in a standard 5×5 league after watching Holland walk the tight rope on Tuesday and seeing the ease Herrera had on Weds. Even if he doesn’t have the job in a week, he’s probably good for 6-7 Ks and good ratios going forward. He has eye-popping stuff.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Hawk: agree. Electric easy stuff. And the ball jumps out of his hand.

  9. Frank Lynch says:
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    Hey whats happening!! Do you think I should drop Roy Halladay for Barry Zito or Phil Hughes?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Frank Lynch: id wait til after the start vs the Marlins before doing anything

  10. Eric says:
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    Haha I got a couple of trades in line and I was wondering what you thought of them.

    #1:
    I give: Miguel Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Peavy, Fiers

    I get: Pablo Sandoval, Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, Zito

    #2:

    I give: Bumgarner + Lester

    I get: Cain + Dickey

    What do you think?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Eric: pass on both

      • Eric says:
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        @Smokey:

        Haha thanks, mad quick reply.

        I guess you’re not a Dickey believer?

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @Eric: I am i just think the value of Lester is being underrated, he was being drafted prior to last years debacle a a top 15 starter.

          • Eric says:
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            @Smokey: Haha I hear you, thanks

  11. Jeff says:
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    I’m in weird 12 team mixed league with 7 Pitching categories – Wins Saves Holds ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9

    2 SPs, 2 RPs and 4 Ps can start:

    With the ratio categories I decided to try to get decent ratio relievers and only carry 4 SPs to get my 30 innings limit.

    Drafted David Hernandez and Fujikawa as my holds guys and Street, Holland, Frieri, and Parnell for saves.

    Now Fujikawa is a closer. Any favorite good ratio holds guys I should be targeting? Is my strat stupid?

    Really enjoy the site.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Jeff: Nah good strategy, Tough with out some choices of who is available. Shoot me some names and i’ll give ya a breakdown. Thanks for reading.

      • Jeff says:
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        @Smokey:

        Guys I’m considering for Holds w/ good ratios in a small sample size from the waiver wire:

        J. Crain
        L. Gregerson
        K. Jepsen
        D. Downs
        K. Uehara
        J. Russell
        A.J. Ramos
        A. Crow

        Thanks for the feedback!

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @Jeff: gregerson uehara would be my top 2

  12. Goose says:
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    Also see Tanner Scheppers doing well so far in Tex. Think he could move into a more prominent role there, maybe even as main 8th inning guy? Their ‘pen doesn’t seem to have any lockdown setter uppers (Frasor’s okay-ish, but def not in the upper class of MRs, imo…)

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Goose: If my list went to 11 he would have been there. Love his future there with no foreseeable better options other than Soria when he gets fully healthy. Frasor def is not in the top 30 or so MR no.

  13. JV says:
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    Who is the better stash for future saves? Al-Al or Sergio Santos?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @JV: Neither is a great right now, Santos.

  14. Jay says:
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    Does Matt Thornton or Rosenthal have holds value above any of your 10 recommendations above?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Jay: yes

  15. Bob says:
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    ERA WHIP KBB SV K QS .. H2Hleague with 7 max starts)

    i currently am holding herrerra, rosenthal, pestano.

    considering their chances at becoming closer and peripherals, should i drop one for bailey or sit tight?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Bob: sit tight

  16. Steve says:
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    Hey Smokey – Brett Cecil has started the season really nicely and picked up a Hold yesterday.

    Would you have him ahead of either Smyly or Duensing as an SP-eligible Holds guy?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Steve: on par with those guys. I am encouraged by his play so far as I have always been a believer in him.

      • Steve says:
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        @Smokey: Thanks, man. So now asking the question I should have asked int he first place, which two do you pick from Cecil, Duensing and Smyly?

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @Steve: duensing Cecil smyly

          • Steve says:
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            @Smokey: Thanks again, Smokey. Sorry for the niggly questions, but I’m going relievers only in this one league so it’s important to get the right guys in my SP slots :-)

            • Smokey

              Smokey says:
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              @Steve: No worries I like questions. Hope your plan works out.

  17. Sparky8 says:
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    O’day or Strop in a Holds League?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Sparky8: Strop. But both have same value. I think he gets more k’s

  18. Bonzo the Clown says:
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    Very sad. Duensing was already taken in my league. I have 5SP/5RP and 4 closers. Desperately need someone getting holds with SP eligibility. I grabbed Smyly just in case Leyland shifts him to a setup/7th inning role, or gives him a start.

    Please do mention any other holds candidates with SP eligibility. I’m trying to trade one of my closers but no one wants them :(.

    • Bonzo the Clown says:
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      @Bonzo the Clown: No way to edit a comment…
      I jumped the gun and didnt realize Rondon had SP elig. So who to drop…Smyly, Strop, Sergio Santos, Gee …

      • Smokey

        Smokey says:
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        @Bonzo the Clown: gee is a plug and play match up type.

        • Bonzo the Clown says:
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          @Smokey: yo smokey. I dropped Gee, so I’m glad you agreed.

          My rotation sucks so I have been trying to hold onto any potential breakout candidate I can.

          I got Kennedy, W. Rodriguez, Beckett, Nolasco, Hellickson, Dubrount, Tillman, Hamel, Nolasco, Smyly (hoping he develops into a holds guy or gets a start).

          Going off topic but would you trade Votto and Mauer for Verlander, Cespedes, and Hosmer? 7×7 OBP SLG / HLD QS league.

          • Bonzo the Clown says:
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            @Bonzo the Clown: Or actually, just Verlander/Hosmer for my Votto. Too much to upgrade pitching?

            • Smokey

              Smokey says:
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              @Bonzo the Clown: not a fan of trading elite bats for elite sp.

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