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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The Mariner bullpen has basically been that round-up ride at your local carnival.  It doesn’t look that bad until it totally messes with your vertigo and you end up spewing up kettle corn and other assorted goods for two hours there after.  Last year, the Mariners bullpen had a 2.60 ERA, good for tops in the MLB.  They also saved 51 games to only 11 blown saves.  They were all comfy and coozy like footed pajamas last year, and basically everyone could rely on the decent value of return from drafting Fernando Rodney.  Then the year changes to five and the ship went askew.  Their bullpen ERA is over 4.30 and are on pace to accumulate 45 saves, and, to date, have already blown 18 saves (behind only three other teams for worst).  So let’s just run down the year so far: Rodney was the closer, then he wasn’t the closer, Carson Smith took over, and now it seems as though they are reverting back to 2012 in hopes that Tom Wilhelmsen can right the ship of battered and injured bullpen dreams.  Stick around for some tid-bits and bullpen ranks…

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SAGNOF just keeps finding ways to stay absurd.  Tom Wilhelmsen, Jean Machi, John Axford = good.  Carson Smith, Junichi Tazawa…. even Greg Holland = bad.  If all you care about are saves there’s been a wealth of options available.  Realistically, I think chasing saves with bad closers can be a losing proposition.  What do the first three (the so called “good”) have in common aside from taking over as the closer?  How about WHIPs greater than 1.40.  These players need to come with a warning label.  “Implosion likely to occur.”  I mean, it only took Edward Mujica about a week to implode and he was arguably better than any of these three.  Axford and Wilhelmsen look like brothers from different mothers with their K:BB ratios at 1.75 and 1.91 respectively.  Anything below 2.50 is really bad for a closer.  Unless you’re Brad Ziegler.  Then it’s okay.  (I need a “no sarcasm” alert for that one).  Here’s the lowdown on the closer situations that will make you want to scream.

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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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The term “tool” has multiple meanings around here.  A major league baseball player can have up to five tools.  A fantasy sports writer can be a tool — like when he recommends the wrong next in line to closer for the Rockies (that’s me).  Rudy Gamble makes tools — like the SAGNOF tool I talked up last week that gives you some insight on the best base stealing match-ups and like our DFS (daily fantasy) tools available here.  A commenter pointed out last week that “Using the (SAGNOF) tool, Venable (FA) faces Nelson who ranks #25…pretty stealable. Problem is, Nelson has been in top form lately so tough to get on base. I’m gonna give Venable a shot nevertheless.”  At this point I felt compelled to remind him and the rest of you that by using the tool “You can put the odds in your favor, but a one game result is ultimately a total crapshoot.”  Well, everything with such a small sample size is a crapshoot, so what I meant was that putting the odds in your favor is a good thing and something that you need to try to do consistently when it comes to managing your last few roster spots.  What happened that game?  Venable stole a base against Nelson.

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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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