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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Here’s what I don’t like about SAGNOF.  Writing about crappy relief pitchers is a large part of what the SAGNOF Special is about, because Saves Ain’t Got No Face sometimes means there are a lot of terrible relievers in a position to get saves.  The past week or so has been rough as we’ve seen Tommy Kahnle and Edward Mujica get pounded.  For that matter, the performance of the entire Rockies bullpen is making us long for the good ol’ days of LaTroy Hawkins.  The situation in Boston (Junichi Tazawa vs Jean Machi) has little clarity and there was not a single save for Boston, Oakland or Colorado in the past week.  It’s been brutal out there for those scrambling for saves and it’s made me yearn for that time when I could recommend A.J. Ramos and Shawn Tolleson and legitimately feel good about it.  Because of the nature of SAGNOF in 12 team or deeper leagues, this late in the season, I’ve no choice but to recommend these at best mediocre relievers because there is literally no where else to turn for saves right now. (Fortunately in 10 team leagues it’s more obvious that these types don’t need to be rostered).  There just isn’t enough time in the season right now for the Joe Smith’s of the reliever world to have any real chance to see saves this year due to injury or failure of the current closer.

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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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Papelbon, your new Nationals closer

Maybe the worst thing to happen on the trade deadline was something that didn’t happen.  Carter Capps to the Yankees would have been stupendous.  I wanted to see the media and baseball people lose their mind over Capps’ delivery and I think that’s exactly what would have happened had he ended up there.  But the thing that really has fantasy baseball managers in a tizzy is Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals.  As their closer.  (Yeah this old news, Grey and Smokey already beat me to Paplebon/Nationals puns.  Whatever.)  Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Joakim Soria and Jim Johnson are out of their closing job but jobs were created in the form of Ken Giles, Edward Mujica, Alex Wilson, and Arodys Vizcaino.  Now some of us might still be scrambling for players that can get some saves.  Well the Rockies have a closer spot up for grabs.  It sure took long enough, but this is something I’ve been saying would happen since Axford took that role.  Justin Miller, Rafael Betancourt, and Tommy Kahnle are the candidates to close there and that’s the order I would own them in.

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Some of the trade rumors I’ve seen are just plain funny.  Craig Kimbrel to the Yankees?  Wait, what!?  Really?  I’m not denying it as a possibility but I am thinking it might be a little overboard to acquire a premier closer when you probably only need a solid bullpen guy because you already have TWO premier closers.  The list of closers and strong middle relievers available is so long this year.  One thing’s for sure, there are going to be some strong bullpens vying for postseason play.  Here’s the lowdown on closers and some other relievers who could be dealt in the upcoming weeks, starting with some of the players most likely to be traded and ending in with those much less likely to be.

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The week of the trade deadline is one of the most active for SAGNOF (Saves Ain’t Got No Face). Occasionally a team in contention will upgrade their closer.  More often teams in the running for the playoffs will look to upgrade their bullpens by acquiring a closer from an out of contention team and moving him to an 8th inning role.  Time to discuss which closers and next in line players will be affected as the trade deadline closers in.  (Ahem) I mean closes in.  (Or do I? I like how either way it’s a pun.)  Because the trade deadline is July 31st this is one of two SAGNOF Specials to come which will do just that.

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For my “Rest Of Season” edition of SAGNOF Special, I’d like to start with a confession, or really more of an admittance:  I’m in two Razzball Commenter Leagues this year and last year I was in one.  Those are only the fourth, fifth, and sixth rotisserie leagues I’ve ever played in.  This despite having played fantasy baseball since 2002.  The reason is because I’ve primarily played in head to head leagues.  One of the biggest differences between the two formats is the nuance involved in the tradeoff of various hitter stats (what one hitter can give you versus what another can) in rotisserie and it becomes much more important to not just realize where you are in the standings of individual stats but to try to predict/project where you will be by season’s end.  That’s why I’ve chosen to give you some Rest of Season Steamer projections for the best base stealers.  Use it to project your own players, to project your place in the final standings, or to scheme up a trade.

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So, you may have missed out on Cesar Hernandez and I am partially to blame.  (But don’t worry because according to Rotowire “Unfortunately, he lacks both power and speed, assets he would need to be fantasy relevant in all but the deepest fantasy leagues.”  On the other hand there is also: “Cesar, basically the awesomest guy in the world.“).  Uhhh, anyway, he stole 6 bases in a three game span and I haven’t even written about him yet.  If you are wondering how that happens, it’s in large part a timing thing, although I definitely should have looked into him as soon as he started playing more often because I would have seen he did show decent speed in the minors.  So what can we expect going forward?  Well, prior to an injury to Chase Utley, Hernandez was starting less than half the time.  Despite being outfield eligible he has yet to play there this year.  Upon Utley’s return he could steal (pun intended) games from Freddy Galvis in addition to occasional starts at second base so maybe he sees 5 starts each week.  He has a pretty good track record of stealing bases in the minors but prior to this year he only stole one base in 100 games and 256 plate appearances in MLB.  I think that if you picked up Hernandez you can feel ok about it, but temper your expectations somewhat. And if you missed out you should perhaps start by looking at players that may have been dropped in your league.

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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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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…)

Please, blog, may I have some more?