We now get to the ugly step-sister of rankings and the waiver darling position that we all chase.   The relief pitcher is by far the most debated position on who to draft, where, and when.  For the most part, I agree with you (with whatever you think), but the guys you want…if you get them where they are being drafted, usually beat or exceed value.  Injuries suck and do happen, you just can’t prevent them. You just have to be in a position of favor and hope that you land his replacement.  Sucktitude, i.e see Joe Nathan last year, is just a roster burden and usually drags you down all season because he isn’t someone you can just drop, but he makes it awfully hard to roster.  It’s a catch-22, to stat or not to stat.  Last year saw an unforgivable 10 closer changes in the first six weeks. That is not something you can pad your roster with enough save-cuffs for.  So let’s get to the first set of rankings of the year.  I will get into draft strategies for them, and as always, cover holds in the countdown to the season.

Note: Don’t forget to come visit me on the new Razzball Fantasy Soccer home everyday of the week. If you’re not familiar with the format, NBD, relax, you got us. Ralph and I are giving you the best Fantasy Premier League coverage out there. If you haven’t tried fantasy EPL, you’re missing out…

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The end of the year is always fun for me when it comes to the race for holds, and the guys getting them.  The names that appear on the leaderboard for the last 14 days of games looks like a Dateline special of guys who were abandoned by their actual parents, and just appeared in the majors.  For instance, of the top-20 Hold garnerers [Jay’s Note: garnerees? garnerererers? gonorrhea? Eh, let’s just go with garnerers…] over those same last two weeks, only three are in the top-20 for the year (Clippard, Cecil and Watson).  On a side note, these are guys for you in dynasty leagues and deeper keeper leagues to pay attention to…. wink-wink.  That right there echoes the fact of something, oh I don’t know, two weeks ago, where you should just stream the hell out of RP down the stretch to maximize everything. And by everything, I mean appearance, grooming techniques, hell, it’ll probably allow you to take better pictures to update your Tinder account.  Maximize is the name, and maximizing was the game. You see that boat in the distance?… That’s me sailing off into the sunset telling you au revoir, and that I told ya so.  I don’t make this stuff up, there are years and years of stats and performance charts that are readily available on the Google machine to prove my point.  So with that tangent concluded, here is the last bullpen/hold chart of the year, basically showing you who wins. Sort of. If winning holds is an actual award, that is.

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Man do I hate the end of the year. People chasing saves are all into it, while the ones that are dead in the water couldn’t care less. And let’s be honest, they were prolly dead in the water all year when it came to saves. The end of the year chase is starting to show casualties, like the fall from grace of Glen Perkins. Glen is the kinda guy that I like, home-grown guy, pitching in his home state, took a nice friendly contract from the team. He can totally date-my-sister type. Unfortunately, he is staggering to the finish with an unimpressive last few weeks. I personally feel bad, because I own Perkins in a lot of places. I have so many teams, that I actually counted and the only closer I don’t own is David Robertson. Yes, every other single closer on this list is owned in some way shape or form by yours truly. So back to Perkins… his ERA and his K/9 rate have seemed to morph into some sort of Jeff Goldblum fly concoction of fantasy uselessness. Overwork and or an injury are the only things I can think that are the problem. He is/was a semi-elite guy until the wheels fell off. So if you’re still chasing, Jared Burton and Casey Fien look to be the guys lost likely to take the helm until Perkins rights the ship…which will prolly be next year. Only two weeks to go and we will get one Bullpen Report and one more Closer Report to end the year. The last will be a souped up version with lot’s of 2015 treats and stuff. So stay tuned or don’t. Your choice.

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Ah, the stretch run and the second to last Holds post of the year.  If your not streaming RP at this point to your advantage, I don’t know what else to tell you but to give me your password, and just get ready for Sunday fundays.  It’s not Sunday is it?  Because I can’t talk about it with it around, because it slowly consumes me, then beats me, steals all my money, and makes me feel like that time at the water park.  Sorry, sidetracked on terrible memories.  So Drew Storen has popped up and taken the reigns until Soriano figures out why seven ate nine.  I have heard that people are questioning why Tyler Clippard isn’t in there trying to win one for the skipper.  It’s easy, but has multiple levels to it.  First, you don’t take your best reliever out of the key spot, and that’s setting up and clinching the game for you. Rhis is documented by Clippard dominating in appearances with the lead over the last 30 days.  The second is– Storen, who will be awfully expensive next year, while pitching effective, is basically being showcased and used to keep Rafael Soriano from getting his guaranteed 15 million doll hairs next year.  You heard me: 15 million.  Which becomes guaranteed at 120 games finished, he currentlly sits at 104.  The moon landing, JFK, and keeping Rafi Soriano from getting duckets. Conspiracy theories or truth, all I can do is type it… hold on, Oliver Stone is on the phone.  Stick around for some snippets of relief pitching lore and a flashy chart made from unicorn tears…

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This late in the year, Big Head Bochy minus his monsters goes and has to be all “I am changing it back to the way it used to be when all was being drafted and confidence in February Grey was at an all-time high.”  So the news that Santiago Casilla will now be in a co-starring role this late in the season just sucks for all parties involved.  Sergio Romo gets back into the fray as the closer situation is all muddled now in the city by the bay. Whoa, whoa, whoa-o.  Even Steve Perry hates this idea. Don’t believe me? Go ask him, as he seems like he’s over Sheila and prolly all good in the wits department.  Now I can see if Casilla was pitching awfully, which he wasn’t… well not completely, but come on Bruce.  You can’t do this and actually sleep at night knowing you torture fantasy line-ups the way you do, and I for one am writing a letter. No, an email, screw that a petition!  You hear that Bruce? A petition… so get yourself ready, I may even sue you. Smokey smash. So if you saw the writing on the wall from this, you already had Romo stashed. Let’s see what the jumbled up rankings look like with the injuries, demotions, and the rigmarole that is involved in the Saves of Thrones.

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The problem you’re having with your innings limit is everyone’s problem with just five weeks to go. The combative strategy against this is to use a familiar SP option for streaming, but this time, use it for RP.  The concept is sound, and is an effective method for leagues without limits, kinda like doctors without borders, but with mitts and jerseys.  So here’s how it goes: find the guys you’re streaming on your roster for SP, but instead, find an effective middle reliever or two or three. Get greedy, as they help in groups, kinda like the non-anime version of Voltron.  These RP stream guys don’t have to be elite names, as most of them are going to be owned already, but if they aren’t, lets start there.  You wanna focus on guys that have a K-rate above 10, which cuts the available guys you want in half. Next, pay attention to their opponent and their teams record… both important. Guys on contenders get used more frequently in better situations. Lastly, and this is important, as soon as they pitch, dump them and pick up a guy who hasn’t pitched that day or the day before to maximize your usable stats. I don’t care how well they did in the game you streamed them in.  He pitched? Now he’s is gone. Forget about em. Pretty simple. No? I’ll draw it in crayon, but put on this helmet so we don’t have any liability issues. (If you pick the right guys that is.)  Stick around for some pretty charts and tidbits of fantasy goodness…

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For some strange reason, I have the great Willie Nelson song in my head… On The Road again.  Why, you ask? Because I am out perusing the great country of ours and doing fantasy football’s 32x32x32 with Nick.  I may be thinking football, but my heart is in San Francisco… rather bullpens.  So it was all quiet on the savedom front til recently, when some usual save stalwarts stubbed some toes.  While some repeat offenders… yeah you Joe Nathan just continue to lull us into a state of perpetual eye-rolling… all of these issues are no bueno for the push to make playoffs in some formats, or those pining for the stat push in point leagues.  I am personally not too worried about the married guys, they are there for good reasons; they do it all year and you have them for saves or to save not.  I am more throwing my ire towards those middle guys, the Steve Cishek‘s and Rafael Soriano types who have  given us decency all year and then have recently given us both ERA’s over 7 a piece the last 2 weeks.  So buyer beware at this point for stat purposes with these guys they aren’t going to be replaced but the production is on the level of a doozer on light duty. Stick around for some tid-bits of knowledge or  stay to just say high. [Jay’s Note: Oh… I get it.]

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If there was a NBA Jam version for relievers, it would go to the Royals bullpen.  They are the hottest team since sliced pimento loaf, and as of this typing, are finding themselves tops in the AL Central.  I have said it before and I will say it again– play the hot hand until it slaps you where it shouldn’t.  They are led recently and not recently, as in all year, by Wade Davis. Davis, on the year, has been just stellar: 6-2 K rate over 13 and has allowed only 5 ER all year. That my friends is about as robust as the McRib sandwich being not not real rib meat. Over the last two weeks Davis has lead the world in Holds with 7.  His subtle sidekick has been a nice mix of Jason Frasor and Kelvin Herrera, both garnering fantasy value in their own way. Frasor notching 2 wins in relief and Herrera grabbing 4 holds for himself… both guys also have the same ERA as Davis during the last 2 weeks. It’s zero, so stop with the guesses. Ride the lightning here as the Royale’s w/o cheese are scorching the universe like a bikini waxing store. Stay tuned for more middle relief haps and slaps.

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It’s way too quiet in here… I need a sniper to take out a closer or something. Maybe a team of trained Labrador assassins [Jay’s Note: Everyone knows that Labradoodle assassins are better.], no one would expect that.  The “Seeing Eyes of Terror” would be their name. Speaking of which, I want to concentrate this week on the under-ratedness of Huston Street. The trade that helps him, the new ballpark that allows his team to actually score runs, and the ability to be that close to Mike Trout. So we are going to venture back through time and space, steal some plutonium from some Libyans, and go back to stats for 2012 to the present day. Confused? Good, me too. So, since 2012, Huston St. is top-10 in saves (86), tops in save % with only 4 BS in 3 years, at a 95.3% clip. And he also has had a resurgence in K Rate to push it over 9 K/9, but for a better perspective, he K’s batters at a 26.5% rate. Hold on, I’m not done yet. He is also one of only four RP with a K rate of over 9 and a walk rate under 2.1.  Add all that up, and I love Street for this year, and next year well he will probably be over-drafted based on this post alone. Catch you all on the flip-flip, meaning comments.

Psyche! Before you go further, you should take me on in our Fantasy Football RCL’s for chances at some really neato prizes! (Or commish one for a chance at a Best Buy gift card!)

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As I type this, I’m in a small, but expected depression as a disgruntled Mets fan living in Minnesota after today’s non-waiver trade deadline. In the middle of thermal packaging related activities, I saw deal and deal and deal swing by. All I get from both the teams that I follow most? A Kurt Suzuki extension. Oye. All that did was disgruntle me more, as I like Josmil Pinto quite a bit. I figured at least Bartolo Colon would get traded for some PTBL or a BoB (bucket o’ balls). Ah well.

On the other hand, if you’re a Tigers fan (I’m not a bandwagon A’s fan until the Mets are good, I decided today), you must be pretty excited. Drew Smyly wasn’t as dominating as a starter and Austin Jackson continued to short-come expectations. Instead you have an second ace, and can now appropriately consider Justin Verlander your number 3 or 4 or 5. [Jay’s Note: Or playoff closer?] Verlander has not been good, but he’s also been almost as unlucky as he’s been bad, or he’s hurt and isn’t saying anything/doesn’t know it.

July 1st, I noted the luckiest pitchers to date, but the one thing I didn’t do at that time was look at the pitcher’s luck/bad luck relative to their career rates. So for this post, for luck, I z-scored each pitcher’s luck stats relative to their career stats (homerun to flyball ratio, left on base% and BABIP). I weighed each z-score by the stats correlation to ERA. Therefore the luckies pitchers (using luck alone and excluding skill) as of 7/27 is: Josh Beckett, Jake Arrieta, Collin McHugh, Scott Kazmir, Garrett Richards, Zach Britton, Jordan Lyles, Drew Pomeranz, Dellin Betances, Alfredo Simon and Danny Duffy. Chris Young, Jason Hammel and Jesse Chavez (update: both Hammel and Chavez were rocked in their last start). However, this all excludes skill (contact rate, strikeout% minus walk% and ground ball to flyball ratio). Incorporating this, here are the actual luckiest pitchers as of 7/27:

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