Sorry I missed you guys… and girls last week. I was having computer issues, and when you couple that with all my other issues, well then, you got a lot of issues. This week I’m going to keep focusing on steals after last week’s… I mean two weeks ago post where I went over the top pitchers and teams to steal against. You can read that here. It’s really exciting stuff. Speaking of exciting stuff, did any of you get a chance to stream Blake Snell? I didn’t see him getting called up this early, but as always, we get crushed when he gets sent down and now we have to wait for his next arrival. Stupid friggin’ Rays. I’m just glad he wasn’t Ian Snell out there.

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My pain is self-chosen
At least, so the prophet says
I could either burn
Or cut off my pride and buy some time
A head full of lies is the weight, tied to my waist

That is quite the downer, isn’t it? Makes you want to jump out of the nearest window. Welcome to the saves game! It is the river of deceit. I can’t believe I went with a “grunge” title today, but I missed Sky this offseason. [Jay’s Note: The Emo King, to rule them all!] Mad Season is the inspiration today, as the saves game is the most emotionally painful part of the fantasy season. Well maybe “can be” the most painful would be more apt for this discussion. So in the spirit of classic me and using the song titles of Mad Season’s other bands, I will say this in hyper link glory. The closer game in the shadow of the season is a state of love and trust that hopefully signals it’s over now… in a good way. I went almost full unplugged there. So friggin’ 90’s. Enough of that decade, let’s move into today.

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Welcome to my first regular season post of the year 2016. I’m moving in a different direction this season, as I wanted a new challenge and got burnt out doing the same thing every year. You gots to diversify! This will be my first season where I get to talk about pitching, but not just any pitching, bullpens! I love the pen, always have. As a kid, the Goose was one of my favorite players and seeing a game get closed out was the best feeling as a fan. Even as a kid I wanted the ball at the end of games. From age nine ’til 16, I was a solid back end option [Jay’s Note: I like your mom’s solid back end option] to take the mound and finish a game. On the unfortunate flip-side, I couldn’t start a game to save my life. I don’t even want to try and remember what the ERA difference was, but it was somewhere in the fourish range. You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with SAGNOF? Only to show you how much passion I have for the bullpen. This year I’ll be doing my best week in and week out to bring you the top speed and saves plays. For those that remember my Sunday content for the past two seasons, Creeper of the Week, this will be similar to that, with the focus going solely to SAGNOF. Unless of course I can’t resist a batty call plug that hasn’t been mentioned on the site. Hey, I’m working through creeper withdraw. I wonder if they make an alternative to help me get my fix… Mendozadone!

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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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I’m going down the path of J-FOH and others here and trying to give general, “win your league” type advice these last couple weeks.  I’ve decided this week that advice will come in the form of how many games each team has left, along with noting which teams have Monday and Thursday off days. It’s not only useful for stolen bases but whatever category you need.  And I’ll also be noting as I did last week, some speedsters that have gained playing time recently, these are players to consider for streaming stolen bases these last two weeks.  So definitely couple this advice with the stolen bases versus starting pitchers SAGNOF tool and stream, stream, stream for steals, if you are up to the task.  Here’s this weeks “Names to consider” from speediest to least speedy:  Sam Fuld (Athletics), Abraham Almonte (Indian), Mikie Mahtook (Rays, decent power too), Andrew Romine (Tigers), Cory Spangenberg (Padres).  Some of those aren’t exactly household names, which is basically the point.

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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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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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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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