The ESPYS are coming soon, so I decided it might be time to nominate some relief pitchers for mid-season hardware and steal a little bit of ESPN’s ESPYS thunder (that’s just wrong on more than one level) in the process.  Anyway, I’ll soon be handing an award to one of the relief pitchers with a chance to regress in a bad way and I’m calling these awards the Jurrjy’s because Jair Jurrjens was a pitcher that was as up and down as I can recall a pitcher being.  He was (is, I could say, after all he still exists, somewhere) a BABIP dependent* pitcher because of a low strikeout rate.  For instance, here are his 2011 1st half/2nd half  ERA splits: 1.87 in 110.2 1st half innings vs 5.88 in a small sample of 41.1 second half innings.  While it might have been better to pick a reliever to name this after, I can’t think of anyone that fits the description better than Jair Jurrjens.  The only problem is, I’m not sure if the “winner” is the one whose ERA regresses the most or the one who maintains the mirage.  I guess that’s up to the Academy to decide.  So without further ado, your 2015 Jurrjy nominees in the “rising ERA” category are:  Steve Delabar, middle reliever, Toronto Blue Jays (1.42 ERA /4.05 FIP).  Bryan Shaw, middle reliever, Cleveland Indians (2.10 ERA /4.62 FIP).  Joakim Soria, closer, Detroit Tigers (2.73 ERA /5.09 FIP).  Brad Ziegler, closer, Arizona Diamondbacks (1.45 ERA /3.78 FIP), Darren O’Day, middle reliever, Baltimore Orioles (1.21 ERA /3.17 FIP), and JJ Hoover, middle reliever, Cincinnati Reds (1.31 ERA / 3.10 FIP).  (*This article basically claims that pitcher BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is 75% luck, 13% defense, and 12% pitcher’s skill).

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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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This is the Saves Ain’t Got No Face “eff the team managers” edition which will give me a chance to both vent and try to deflect blame for bad calls I’ve made.  Joe Maddon of the Cubs decided to go a different route on his closer situation by removing Hector Rondon from the role.  For like three days.  And I make the call that Pedro Strop had a good chance to take over as closer.  Eff Joe Maddon.  Then in Tampa (Joe Maddon’s old team.. coincidence??) the following sequence happened:  1. Brad Boxberger gets dinged, Kevin Jepsen becomes the interim closer, (arguably) leapfrogging Jake McGee in the process.  2. Boxberger came back, blew a save.  3. Jake McGee (seemingly) takes over as closer.  4. Kevin Jepsen notches a (random) save.  5. Brad Boxberger (seemingly) regains closer role.  As of Sunday, the last 15/30 days for Rays Saves is 2/4 for Jepsen, 3/3 for McGee, 3/6 for Boxberger.  Last week I claimed Jake McGee was the new closer.  He gets zero save attempts this week.  Keep reading folks because this is really just the beginning of the latest twist and turns which will leave you wanting to pull out your hair.  (Plus recommendations to follow…)

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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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With Byron Buxton and Francisco Lindor now called up that basically leaves Jose Peraza as the most intriguing speedster prospect as of now.  His path to playing time is muddled even though they have recently moved him to center field because Cameron Maybin has played extremely well there.  It is my (unfortunate) opinion that due to his situation Peraza doesn’t matter for 10 or 12 team leagues yet.  Onto the recently called up speedster prospects let’s consider their current fantasy value.  Mike has done numerous writeups of these players in various places and he most recently wrote that he considers Buxton to be “Leonys Martin with upside”.  Steamer/Razzball projects Buxton for 31-6-30-15 .241 in 78 games.  Realistically his AVG will likely fall anywhere from .235 to .270 depending mostly on K rate and BABIP.  In the minors he was hitting a very mediocre .283 with a 19.0 K% and .332 BABIP.  Sure I think he has plenty of upside but don’t expect too much out of Buxton.  I would rather hold on to a red hot and perhaps genuinely improved Cameron Maybin than pick up Buxton.  Anyway, depending on your league format Buxton has likely been picked up already.  I’d say he’s worth a 15% FAAB bid depending on what else you have for SBs and outfielders.

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I hate it when the vagueness of an arm injury slams your roster and places the top closer on the DL.  Andrew Miller hit it yesterday with a forearm strain.  How could it be strained if there are fore of them?  I mean aren’t the other three there, to be like, back-up dancers?  The only good thing for you and the Yankees is that there is another top-5 relief pitcher in the mix.  Dellin Betances will take over as the lead sled dog in the saves in the Bronx.  After that, on the off chance you need a third option, there is Adam Warren, which is a deep shot in the dark.  Crazy as that sounds, and I dig that he is still starting, but if this drags out for Miller, he could return to what was excellent form from out of the pen last year.   If by all intents and purposes you are reaching this far down for saves or speculating that the Yankees are in trouble… then stick around for some extra tidbits,  there are a quite few this week.  Cheers!

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Last week I implored you to consider your options in selling Steven Souza, a player who seemed to be at his peak at that time.  Yes, I told you to consider moving a player that has been stellar so far.  The thing is, what a player’s done doesn’t really move me.  All I care about is what a player is going to do.  That means past stats are only important insofar as they predict future stats.  So when I see that a player has hit 15 home runs so far, or stolen 12 bases so far, all I really care about is to what degree is that level of production sustainable.  I came to the “sell” conclusion for Steven Souza by using peripheral statstics, primarily his HR/FB% (unsustainable) and K% (too high and likely to not go down much).  Going back to a May 4th post, I mentioned  offhand that Jake Marisnick was a sell high.  His AVG/SLG at the time it was published: .382/.632.  His AVG/SLG since that time: .172/.242.  That’s not to say I’m a soothsayer.  Or to say that’s precisely how regression to the mean works.  So why did that happen?  Because baseball.  But I do think it’s an example of why we, excepting those times when peripheral stats suggest otherwise, should trust the projections and use the peripheral stats they are based on.

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For a few days it’s been all quiet on the closer front.  Usually in the lede, I talk about a change in regime and the pluses/minuses and my opinion on it.  There hasn’t been one for two whole weeks…  It’s crazy.  MLB is putting me outta business in the jibing about fantasy closers market.  Where does the unemployment line start?  I am only half kidding, and I’m also half crazy too. So that makes me half-something.  So believe it or not, the season is officially 3/8 of the way over.  That is just crazy in itself to even fathom.  I think I have rambled on about nothing long enough… let’s talk about someone, anyone, shall we?  I like the rebound to form that Mark Melancon has shown, due to a K/9 of 4.68.  I haven’t seen a true one-outcome reliever before, but if you own him, I would sell for a better product.  You can probably get by on two things in your favor.  One, his name uses letters that can be read in a left-to-right format, which, from what I am understanding, is standard for reading purposes.  Two, he has 6 saves in the last two weeks and when people look to see how he has been doing, they will see that he is tied for the lead during that time frame in saves.  Listen, if you need saves and you own Melancon, I am not saying go out and sell him cause I said so.  I am saying swap him and a extra player and see if you can get an improvement on the K category.  The other owner will be so smitten that he got a closer and another player for just a closer, he won’t realize that he was jobbed.  Side note, make sure he doesn’t read this blurb first or the jig is up.  Stick around more snippets of informative justice are on the way…

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This is the SAGNOF Special “broken record edition” where I repeat things I’ve touched on in the past.  Danny Santana bad.  Rajai Davis good.  But let’s start with: sell Steven Souza.  Why?  So many reasons, but the most important are his 37% K rate and 35.7% HR/FB.  The K rate is bound to come down some, but how much?  32-35% might still be too high for Souza to have great value going forward, once the HR/FB rate regresses. To put that HR/FB rate in perspective, last year’s leader among qualified batters was Jose Abreu, with 26.9%.  Nelson Cruz‘s HR/FB rate was “only” 20.4% last year.  So on the one hand you can be very successful with a much lower HR/FB rate, on the other hand if Souza’s HR/FB rate were halved and we assume that half of his home runs were instead FB outs, his AVG drops from  .238 to .206.  While he can in fact have value with such a low AVG, the problem is, will the Rays send him down?   To look at it another way, think of how low his average might be during a 3-4 week home run drought.  So who to trade for?  If you want a similar type player maybe Charlie Blackmon or Gregory Polanco.  If you need some pitching maybe Jake Arrieta.  In any case, I’m trying to tell you to trade him as a player batting .238 with 10 home runs and 7 stolen bases, because that’s what he’s done.  So if you trade him make sure you get plenty in return because you are assuming the risk that he can lower his K% down to 32%-ish while maintaining a HR/FB of above 20%, because if he can do those things he can be pretty good.  But I don’t think his value will ever be higher than it is right now.

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Any god fearing Jersey-ian grew up with the song of this week’s title track.  It was bred into our systems much like the IOU sweatshirt craze during the same time frame. It’s catchy, is easy to sing, sounds like some sorta bubbles being blown somewhere, and there’s some booty shaking.  Bubbles and booty, what could be better?  Another “B” obviously.  Bullpens!  I am turning this week’s eye to not only Glen Perkins, but the entire Twins’ bullpen.  POerkins has rebounded fantastically from last years injury blip which lead to him being ineffective.  He is the “watching paint dry”, 9 k/9 closer that is doing it well.  His effectiveness, he is 17/17 in save opps.   That is basically like going all Curt Henning on the save department. This time next week he will be climbing the corporate ladder of the save chart, book it. The thing that I love is the set-up chaps that are running-a-muck, in a good way, to completely be crushing the hold department, namely Blaine Boyer and Aaron Thompson.  They have both successfully made their way into the top-15 in holds on the year.  A good bullpen will always, always go a long way to propel a successful team.  It’s just fact, the two don’t usually meet at more then a passing glance from normal fantasy players, because they have their starters, and they have their closers.  The middle is always sketchy, it’s like where certain food comes from… who cares really? Just as long as it is prepared the way you like it before you eat it.

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