With every first list or preseason edition of anything, there comes question marks. Lots of ifs and buts, with no real sound determination until we actual see the product. I am pretty sure Jane Austen’s first attempt at Pride and Prejudice was an abomination because who knew if Elizabeth Bennett was up to the task of being wifey material? It turns out that I can win a bet and correlate anything into the bullpen situations of the current MLB teams. Until injuries, demotion or a better option arises, we have to go by two main instincts: former ability and common sense. So the list is based off of the news to date that we have gotten on all the potential closers to date and for gigg’s I have ranked them accordingly. I have been doing bullpens for a long time and have been wrong on a few occasions, but I am not the manager or GM for the team pulling the strings, I am merely a fantasy writer. So here is the Spring training edition of the Closer rankings, their set-up men, and the cuffs we covet for fantasy in 2016.

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Sneaky free K’s are all the rage for a streaming option when a starter just won’t do.  The numbers they put up are more of a collection-basis rather than a hunt, play and punt.  Relievers, not just closers, are the container that transports the glue.  Can you imagine glue not coming in a container and just being had at the local sundry store by the handful?  Messy proposition my friends.  Non-closers are what every complete fantasy team need.  They are like the egg in a good recipe – you can often substitute one reliever for another.  That’s what makes them so handy… they don’t usually carry a huge draft day burden.  They are basically free waiver-wire adds.  For those in holds leagues, that doesn’t always ring true, and when I start getting into the preseason hold rankings, some of the names will be similar.  That’s because the names you want just don’t give you holds, they give you multiple stats.  They are the five-tool performers in the industry of relief pitchers.  So here is a little preseason primer for guys who don’t really adorn too much draft day attention, but should be snagged in situations that require their services when you are short on K potential and maximizing the K/9 of your fantasy roster…

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Each new season brings change.  And this one is no different.  The leaves have changed color, and they will turn back again.  The reliever corps are no different, in-season or off of it.  The reliever flux train has already started, and it’s just January.  For some teams, it is a needed boost to a back-end unit that was piss pour last season.  For most though, it is a change for the piece they were missing.  While others, (cough, cough, the Yankees) just want to be greedy and make a super-unit of the three-headed variety.  So today, as it being my first post in the new season, I will look at the guys who changed clubs and will most likely open the season as that teams new closer.  It isn’t very dissimilar to real life, you know that ‘ole tale… for it’s as old as the sea.  Some young up-and-comer arrives and thinks they can do your job better, faster and for longer, but veterans that have been an established piece for years get the respect they deserve.  That’s what makes a 12 dollar salad a 12 dollar salad.  So without all the soliloquy and gesturing, let’s just get to the closers who have changed clubs for the better…

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Jay’s Note: Seeing as how Smokey’s title has put this song in my head for what will probably be the entire week, I’m happy to include this video to pay it forward.

That’s it.  Shows over.  Please help the rest of the Razz staff by stacking your chairs at the back of the room.  So with there only the same number of days left as fingers on Jason Pierre Paul’s hand (sick football reference!), it is only fitting to do a fun wrap of lots of gimmicky things and fun factoids.  I rented a cool clown horn for that moment, so if you don’t live in a one block radius of me, it was for not.  For the the rest of you, put that horn in your head and add it to the the tumor hum and the slight tinnitus.  So to recap the year, there were a total of 14 closer changes, and that includes teams changing multiple times.  We have 21 closers with 30 plus saves, which my research tells me… this is the new record.  While the overall number and percentage of saves successfully converted is in line with the norm, it just shows that teams are sticking with their guys and the committee approach is fading. Tons more are inside, it’s my last post of the year, so things might get either weirdly informative, or informatively weird.  Suspense!

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I don’t have a long history with Razzball.  I either found the site for the first time or became truly interested in them for the first time (I don’t remember which, the latter I think) when I found this old Rudy post on rating different baseball projection systems via Google search heading into the 2013 baseball season.  I quickly decided to make Steamer projections my goto, which led me to targeting Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt in my 2013 home league (a H2H OBP league) auction.  (Goldy had a great year, Rizzo not so much, I only ended up with one of them.. guess which one).

Here’s how I came to write for Razzball…

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Late season injuries and minor league call-ups are one thing.   Just not doing your job is an utter disgrace.  Bruce Rondon was sent home, literally, because of lack of effort.  Holy stereotypes.  Because getting out of bed, traveling first class and then having to pitch one whole inning a game in the oft-chance that your team may be winning.  Yeah, that sounds impossible to me to keep up with.  For now the Tigers will roll with a combination of Neftali Feliz and Alex Wilson.  So anyone looking for 3-4 saves til the end of the year can be rewarded with the plight of Rondon and his poor work effort.  I wouldn’t expect a treasure trove of riches, the Tigers rank in the bottom five in saves, save opps., bullpen ERA, blown saves, and believe it or not, balks by the bullpen.   I know that last stat is bupkiss, but when is the last time you ever read a balk stat in a reliever post?  It just happened for the first time in history and I am officially placing a copyright on it. So this is the final rankings for the year for closers I will do an end of the year wrap up next week with lots of zany stuff.

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I’ve made most of my recommendations this year with the long term in mind.  I’m not easily swayed by a “hot” hitter, instead I tend to lean on the projections to set an expectation level.  This late in the season, however, I’m uncertain of how effective that approach is.  We can’t exactly count on any “regression to the mean” happening over such a small sample size of games.  Some players will be good over the last few weeks, others will be poor and I don’t have a high degree of confidence that it is possible for me, or anyone for that matter, to predict the best base stealers to own these last three weeks (see this to know why).  But I have some names for you even though I have not a clue as to whether they’ll be difference makers over these last few weeks. Here’s my recommendations, I’ve attempted to rank them by number of steals they’ll get from now until the season ends…

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From Koji to Ross…  Sounds like a bullpen whirlwind in the shade of a Justin-to-Kelly type scenario.  Have things goten so bad north of me… NJ… that they are just trouncing anyone out there.  Any retreads?  Well, it’s full on guess mode at the late stages of the season for the B0-Sawx.  If you are really scraping for saves this late in the game, than you my friend are a desperate man in search of desperation and regret.  The Red Sox as a team are near the bottom in blown saves, bullpen ERA and basically look drab and beaten down.  The only good news there is I think the Bruins start soon and Papi is chasing 500.  Listen, I get that you play to the end of the season, but is Robbie Ross really the direction you want to go to when the end is near? Do yourself a favor, add a quality non-closer work on your rates, your free-style composure and possibly go shop at the merry-go-round for some really cool back to school clothes.  Your pitching stats and your swagger will thank you with some compliments and some vulture wins.

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It’s telling over a period of time, taken into account the teams success rate naturally, how well their bullpen is performing. Take a look at the Texas Rangers over the last 30 days.  They are a 19-10 and steaming toward playoff relevance… maybe.  During that time they had 17 save/hold situations.  Those of you that can’t count well, that is a lot. Leading the charge for them has been bullpen recall and future closer dubbed by me Keone Kela, who over that same 30 day period is contributing a hold basically every third game with 8.  As a team, they have 28 team holds which is more than the White Sox, Orioles, Phillies, Athletics and Mets… combined.  So basically they are the Costco of holds for those who like to buy in bulk.  Kela isn’t alone in his fantasy hold-em,  Sam Dyson has kicked in 7, Jake Diekman 6 and Sam Freeman with 4.  The best part of this whole thing is that the latter three guys were not on the roster to start the year.  I love that kind of stuff, that’s like wearing matching t-shirts with your friends whether it be on purpose or not.  Awesomely awkward.  Stick it here for some more bullpen tidbits and a fancy chart with gadgets and numbers that show an order.  Cheers!

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Tomorrow is September 1st which means:  Hooray for September roster expansions and the many interesting players likely to be called up.  My recent focus for Steals Ain’t Got No Face advice has been a weekly reminder to use our SAGNOF stolen base success rates versus starting pitchers tool.  This goes hand in hand with the September call ups because most of these players won’t play anywhere near everyday, but some of them might make great ‘streaming for steals’ options.And guess which type of players are among those getting called up?  Some of the trendy SAGNOF sleeper types from earlier in the year, including one of my favorites, Dalton Pompey (bats Both, plays OF) of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Eric Young Jr. (B, OF, New York Mets) is on the way up as well and I think we all know what he can do.  James Jones (L, OF, Seattle), he of the 27 stolen bases in only 108 big league games last year, could be called upon as well.

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