Dellin Betances is basically the fat of the fantasy set-up world. The goods are there, it just takes time and some settling before we all realize it is, what was and what always shall be…  I think I just laced this post with some subtle Led Zeppelin reference, but I may be crooked to walk on one leg to let myself know that I did, let alone let you subtly know.  So I will just go ahead and say there was a Zep reference-reference.  Good, moving on.  Success of a bullpen, let alone someone you should be relying on, is correlative of how well the team is performing. It’s science, if you score more you put yourself in a better position to win more, regardless of who is on the bump.  Dellin was and is the goods, currently and in post-script.  He came into the year as the man to target in any format that coveted fantasy goodness, condensed into a smaller innings unit of measure than that of a starter.  Now add in the dash of Holds sassiness, and he is a bullpen god.  He is now the king of the Hold in all leagues by quantity and not by just scripture.  His 16 holds on the year are tops on the this year’s gig and given the Yankees propensity to not score over 4 runs in a game, his reign may be a run away.  He has the good everywhere else; K/9, swagger, ability to tie multiple knots while buoyant at sea.  There are no bullpen stats that he isn’t the man at.  He basically walks into a bar/club and automatically has the best synchronized music to his step….think Matthew McConaughey in Dazed in Confused…and let here comes the story of the Hurricane ramble through your third eye for a bit.  So let’s jump into this fortnights dealing in the bullpen game… alright, alright, alright.

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Situations arise all the time with closers. Injuries occur, poor performance, and then the return of the incumbent.  In the preseason, Will Smith was the guy the Brewers had tabbed as the closer.  Then, like I just said, an injury happened.  So now that he is back, what goes on in the back-end of the Brewers bullpen?  Jeremy Jeffress has done a stellar job with a less than average set-up crew in front of him.  He has pitched to a 2.45 ERA and a slightly more bloated xFIP of 3.41.  For all his previous tangles with pitching, he is striking out far less then he is normally accustomed to at just a 6 K/9 rate.  Low for a closer, even from the Lauvern and Shirley state.  He has managed 14 saves in 15 opportunitioes, and for a team like the Brewers, 14 is a healthy total.  So does his reign come to an end now that the best reliever is back in the fray?  Granted, it is never a great thing when usual mop-up relievers start stealing your stats, namely Blaine Boyer and Carlos Torres, who have 3 saves between them in the past nine games.  And granted, saves are wonky and games dictate them sometimes, come from behind wins, and situational loogy-ness are also a factor.  So I think with the way Jeffress has been going, he stays there until Will comes and steals his mojo and never looks back… Until the trade deadline, which could alter things up completely and basically revert it back to the way it was.  So if Will Smith is on your waivers, do yourself a service and add him speculatively for a week or two.  If he doesn’t give you the returns that you expect, then, well, the opposite happened of what I think should happen.  Enjoy Week 9 of the fantasy baseball season’s closer report!

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Besides that Eric Prydz catchy a** song, the bullpen situation/decision in Tampa is drawing nearer and dearer to our closer hearts.  The return of the “Box” is coming, and it drums in the deep.  Now we automatically assume, myself included, that three weeks ago, Brad Boxberger would just go all cutzies like in the high school cafeteria and get his job back at the time he arrives.  Fast forward three weeks, or to now, and that situation doesn’t look like it is a foregone conclusion because look what Alex Colome is doing in the role.  He checks all the “I am keeping my job” boxes. He of the 10 saves in 10 chances, 12 K/9, 2 BB/9, BAA under two bills variety.  Those are all good things to have, and better than 15 other closers in baseball for stats across the board.  Now, I just said that I don’t see Box claiming what’s his right away, but it could happen, because loyalty rules everything around baseball.  So if you own Colome and can get Boxberger before he gets noticeable stats on the cheap, I advise to do so.  If you own Boxberger and don’t own Colome, well, the price will be higher because the people that own him can read stats just as easily as I can type them out for you.  So be proactive as we reach the quarter post in the fantasy year, and for giggles, stay around as I find some goofy things to learn you…

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Well we weren’t talking about deep fried empanadas.  We were talking about the retro-chich lads from that Navy town of San Diego…  Yes, those Padres of the last place origin.  The ones with 16 whole wins in their favor on the year.  Sneaky Hold situations make my world go round.  Which, in turn, makes me spurn to you on the recycled tip of the serving platter from a fantasy analyst.  Over the last 14 games, the Padres have endured some good fortune in the reliever ranks, namely Brandon Maurer.  Maurer has netted himself 7 Holds over that time, or in fantasy bullpen coverage terms here at the Razz-nation, a hold the fort(night). Maurer is the 8th inning guy and if you are in a holds league, then he is probably taken.  Him of the 14-plus K-rate over the last 10 games and because they strung a few victories in a row, boom! Stats.  But we all know how many holds he has in the last umpteen days… because we can all read stat lines and understand that one plus the previous amount equals today’s total.  Math catch-up lesson over.  The Father’s depth in the pen doesn’t just end with Brandon.  Take a look deeper and we will come across not the candelstick maker, nor the baker, but the Butcher.  As in Ryan Butcher.  While Maurer seems to get all the decent looks in the 8th for the beloved hold, Butcher seems to latch onto him like a paramecium in heat looking for a Padres win.  Averaging over a K per inning, and duly entrenched as the bridge to the bridge to Fernando Rodney (which probably really isn’t much of a bridge of at all, but just a rope with board entwined with hope aspiration and tears), so with this brief biopic on the San Diegans bullpen fellas, lets look at what else is bouncing around in the world of set-up, set-up to get beat down.  I get nothing but a hold.

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Ugh, the smell of my onsies de Mayo is so much worse than a normal day.  I reek of sizzlin’ fajitas and am all cotton-mouthed from… well let’s just say alcohol.  So attacking the usual Saturday bullpen rundown is a dizzying affair to say the least.  Speaking of a dizzying places, let’s look at the Rockies bullpen situation; it’s definitely not all kush, but it’s not charcoal brick pack.  The trust in Jake McGee is still there, because to be honest, the talent level behind him isn’t really there, is not ready, or has no experience in the end-of-game thing.  Behind Jake are Chad Qualls, who has pitched the majority of the right-handed match-ups in the 8th inning with a smattering of Boone Logan mixed in.  Now, I was nervous about McGee’s K-rate until I saw what Qualls’ was.  The stout bunch of McGee and Qualls have a combined K/9 over the last 14 games of 5.16.  That is combined!  I can’t make up this stuff.  The role of closer is most likely safe because the next guy up is Qualls, and well, if that last stat statement wasn’t enough to make you bored, I don’t know what else to say.  The look of the rest of the pen is very unproven with Scott Oberg, Justin Miller, and Gonzalez Germen.  What this bullpen needs is a youth movement to come front and center.  They have the guys there, but aren’t utilizing them in a role that is conducive for anything outside of dynasty leagues that count holds.  Eddie Butler and Carlos Estevez (no not that one) are a good start to what could be a decent mix.  And yes, I see Butler as a bullpen arm.  Getting chances are sparser than other teams for the Rockies, but with time, and once they start invigorating the youth into the chain of holds and saves command, progress will be made even above sea level.  Let’s see what other gobs of knowledge we have for the closers over the last few weeks…

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When looking at the standings, it is usually a great indicator of how well a team is doing by looking at the Hold leaders.  It doesn’t tell you all or is the end all be all of indicators, but when you have three guys in the top-4, it speaks volumes.  It shows the team is ahead, but not by so much that they are blowing people out, have a great set of flow through the bullpen with set jobs, and they are successfully in-sync.  Not that “in-sync”, but yeah, sorta because something that included J.T. can’t really be all that bad.  So what is making the Chicago White Sox so good at what they are doing right now?  First, it starts from the last inning back.  David Robertson has the goods of what you want from a closer, he has the K-rate and decent control to limit base runners.  What I am noticing is he is keeping the ball away from the upper part of the zone, which was his buga-boo from the past; that he gives up too many homers.  In front of him, he has a trio of relievers with different mindsets.  Nate Jones is basically a closer in front of the real closer, but with a better approach of pitching to contract then K’ing everyone.  Zach Duke is by far the sexiest LOOGY in the business right now and Matt Albers is an all effort pitcher with tons of movement on his pitches.  Add in the fact that they have Putnam and Petricka as sub pieces that can fit into anyone’s role, and they have what looks like in the early stages of the season the best bullpen in baseball. That is not to say that it will last but the investment level from a fantasy level, especially from a holds league, but it is very stout.  So check out the other tidbits and bits tids that I have for you after the bump.  (Plus a chart that monitors usage and runs given up by relievers that usually lead to them losing or gaining spots in the pen.)

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At some point, you look at your roster, then look at yourself in the mirror and the repeat that 31 more times and ask yourself this question…  When is chasing saves from the worst possibilities a bad idea?  My best advice, as your advocate of bullpen swagger, is never.  Realize the talent that is in the bullpen and say: is 1-2 saves really worth a waiver claim, a roster drop of someone else and a complete destruction of your rates and quite possibly your dignity?  If you haven’t guessed it, I am discussing the shatuation in the ‘Nati.  Just to get everyone up to speed on the demise, their (and keep in mind that it has only been two-plus weeks of games roughly) Hoover sucked. Jumbo is demoted to minors, Hoover back in and bad again, Cingrani more like Cingran-no.  Now all the hype is on Caleb Cotham.  Who has the time and rosterbatory rituals to have the right frame of mind to roster these guys from change to change?  I get that if you are in a NL-only league, it makes sense to be on the ball, but in mixed league… well, these guys are poop.  I was searching for a better word, but I can’t, and poop it is.  The combined ERA this year of Reds relievers in a save situation is over five.  That, my friends, is not worth the stretch for the sexy total of one save as a team.  Seriously, one whole save… you could have been rostering Ivan Nova and gotten the same total number so far. So anyone who likes the punishment, keep an eye on the health of Michael Lorenzen, as he could be next up. So what I am saying is: yes it’s cool and swanky to be the first guy on your fantasy block to unlock the new closer somewhere, but use common sense.  If a team is a pile of dung and will kill more stats then the assist, then, well, you already know my response because this is the end of the lede and I just went over it.  Stick around for some rankings, general chicanery with words on a page, and hell, maybe a whole pack of lies wrapped around stats.  Cheers!

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As much as I love publishing and giving you the “haps” on the closer ranks, I love the depth that a bullpen can give you and how it can affect your roster.  It is way to early to look into my Grafix crystal ball and say this guy and that one will be the crowned prince of the hold this year… to some degree.  Early usage and situations prove a lot.  Yes, injuries happen, and ineffective spells happen, and sometimes trades happen, but if you were good enough to make the team out of Spring, then usually you are good enough to make yourself an established piece of the bullpen.  The top names are still the top names.  The cream either rises to the top or it rules everything around me, both perspectives are interesting because how can you not believe the Wu or old school rhetoric. So with the first bullpen piece of the year, we will cover all the same things you are accustomed to from last year as I get more in-depth than anyone else when it comes to holds.  Some don’t care or are on the fence, as if it’s a completely comical or made up stat.  It is no more made up then saves, because that is exactly what it is, just before the save… so it is basically a pre-save.  Either way, I care and will give you some early trends to look at and some names to go with it.  Trends rule everything around bullpens or TREAB, dolla dolla bill y’all.

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A week into the season and everyone has basically contracted closer asthma.  Breathe…  I know it’s tough from time to time to fathom that the fantasy kingdom that you drafted two weeks ago is coming crumbling down because Shawn Tolleson just wet the bed and is shaking the Walker Texas Rangers bullpen.  He has guys behind him that have been gone over, which in most leagues that count pitchers who throw the bal,l should have been rostered. Namely Kela and Dyson.  So what is all this bad karma at the beginning of the season good for, besides chasing saves?  It is good for people who panic and drop the top set-up guys too early.  Dellin Betances was dropped four times more then he was added this week.  That is a coup for you, don’t run to that, hop on a tricycle and find a hill to roll down as fast as possible.  Early season turnover and panic buttons are what make your team weak in one department now, and especially strong in the next several weeks by “calculated” guessing.  So with that, here is the first installment of the 2016 Closer Report with the changes and job winners from Spring Training newly nestled into their respective spots. I will tackle Holds and the set-up crews next week when we start seeing usage and match-up based stuff.

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With the baseball season starting in the blink of seven-days-eyes, I figured it would be fitting since we all crunch drafts ’til the last possible moment.  Waiting until the end isn’t always a bad idea, you get the last news possible on injuries and job security.  Bad thing is that you lose some of the sleeper appeal.  By now, if you haven’t heard of a guy who could be closing, there is a great possibility that he doesn’t have a Sam Hill’s chance of closing.   Just facts.  These guys aren’t born yesterday and matriculate with a mastery of three pitches overnight.  The bullpen folk have one job and that is to make a save situation stay a save situation.  This holds true for holds guys, pun semi-intended.  So the list is basically where it should be until we start seeing some production from the lads.  The committee situations that exist in Milwaukee and possibly Philly will be that until someone gets the bulk of the load on his back.  Which sounds gross, but from a fantasy perspective, you want a full orgy of saves on your closer.  After all, quantity is the name of the game, that and continued success at it.  It is like everyone else’s job; you do good you stay.  You do poorly, you get pink slipped and sent to middle relief-dom.  So fingers crossed, or if you play the cuff odds, just simply uncross them and pray for the worst. Here is the last rankings of Closers and their hand-cuffs for the start of fantasy baseball version, 2.016…

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