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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No, you haven’t stumbled onto a WebMd bait page.  Well… this is an advisory blog, none the same, but we won’t scare you into believing that you have clinical depression with every symptom.  I mean, I’ve seen some other fantasy sites that attempt to advise on bullpen strategy.  It’s easy to throw stuff up about closers and bullpens and say this guy will fail because of this and that.  Heck, I like watching Jeopardy and guessing at the stuff I don’t know about either.  Add in the fact that I remember my first beer…  So this is one of the last pieces of the fantasy bullpen puzzle before we get down to brass tacks.  The NSVH question…  I always get it from the fantasy inspectors of the net of how and what to do about it.  Do I stick with what I know, or do I go complete rover and draft whatever, whenever?  That’s why I am here, hopefully to quell all ills in the race for bullpen dominance.  The NSVH leagues are tricky and can be described as: people don’t know until they have to know.  I know that really isn’t a draft strategy that I am going to “learn” you with this post, since I am better than that and take pride in leading my disciples into reliever bliss.  So go get a comfy seat upon the porcelain throne of fantasy knowledge and let me guide you, for I am the fantasy bullpen shepherd.

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What if I told you that the top-four teams last year in Holds didn’t make the playoffs?  I know the obvious answer would be: it’s a made-up stat that does nothing but clog a fantasy roster with fodder and otherwise un-rosterable relievers.  Well, if you said that out loud, then I am mad at you and you can not come to the Razzball Winter Dance Carnival.  No, but seriously, I get offended when people make such determinations.  Listen, you are either in a league that uses Holds or you aren’t.  Not all of these guys is basically like having a second doorstop (when one doorstop will do).  Many of these guys are usable in most formats as ratio gaps in K/9, looking for cheap wins or for a slow day of waiver wire madness.  My theory on any league is to roster any two relievers that are non-closers at all times.  At worst, they decimate your rates for one day.  At best they give you an inning or two and give you great rates and a few K’s.  Now, for Holds leagues, I am a hoarder.  I live by this simple motto. Two pairs and a wild, just like five-card poker. It stands for two closers, two stud holds guys, and a streamer.  In moves leagues, it’s a little more difficult to do, but in non-move limited league, it’s a fun way to just basically win your Holds category by August, save yourself the innings/starts and then stream the holy hell out of the last seven weeks.  So since you have searched around the web and found zero other info on the topic (yeah, I looked, so take that), here are the holds tiers and sleepers for the 2016 year.

“A Hold is credited any time a relief pitcher enters a game in a Save Situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game never having relinquished the lead. Note: a pitcher cannot finish the game and receive credit for a Hold, nor can he earn a hold and a save.” ~ The edited out part of the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln.

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I am a realist.  Not everyone is down with the rationale of being hip to pitching and ditching.  That statement is both literal and figurative.  We now have three weeks remaining of games.  I mean, you either want to win and go for it with whatever you have at your discretion, or you will just listen to the piper playing and roll off the side of the mountain with the other lemmings that will go by the best names possible on my roster wins.   Sorry if I stand here in my skidz pajamas and call you stupid, but you stupid.  Go to the bathroom, smash your head into the sink, and then splash some water your face.  It ain’t over until it’s over, it wasn’t over when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and it ain’t over now.  Go to our waiver wire, listen to what I have to say about streaming… It’s really simple: Pitch twice and ditch, regardless of outcome or what J-FOH says about pitching, because little league was 25 years ago and pitching donuts is different than actually knowing baseball.  So here is some late season K/9, usage and trends that I have noticed that’s going on with the bullpens in the past few days.  Cheers!

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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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Maybe it’s because Whip/Nae Nae is permanently stuck in my head — One word of advice.   If you take no other advice from me, please, I implore you, accept this advice.  If you don’t know what Whip/Nae Nae is, don’t, under any circumstances, Google it.  It make Gangnam Style seem like a walk in the park when it comes to catchy songs. If you don’t know what Gangnam Style is, I love how you’ve decorated under that rock of yours.  — but I can’t help looking at Jake Arrieta‘s no hitter less about the 12 Ks and only allowing one walk — Sure, those are sweet — but more about how his season WHIP is 0.94.  There’s Greinke (.85 WHIP), Kershaw (.90), Scherzer (.93) and deGrom (.94).  An under one WHIP and a 9+ K/9 is a little piece of heaven like sitting in an exit row of an airplane.  On the podcast that’s coming later today, I debate Greinke and Arrieta, Scherzer and Arrieta and deGrom and Arrieta as we try to figure out where they’ll be ranked in 2016.  I say something like Arrieta will be ranked around the 4th to about the 7th SP off the board.  I agree with Early Sunday Afternoon Grey, but I will say that Arrieta has made it difficult for me to think of four SPs that should be drafted before him.  Let alone six.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Jorge Soler is likely done for the year with a strained oblique.  This is one of those injuries that comes with a sigh of relief.  Yay, I don’t have to keep running Soler out there and being disappointed.  Disappointment, you are the mistress of expectation, aren’t you?  Soler fascinates me in a car crash that you rubber neck while you pass sorta way.  Here’s a preseason tweet from Peter Gammons, “John Mallee (Cubs hitting coach) says Jorge Soler hasn’t swung at a pitch out of the strike zone all spring.  Scary good.  May be best of Cubs lot right now.”  Cubs committed to playing him, and, by the end of the year, you had to wonder if they should’ve just been committed.  If his year is over, he ends with 7 HRs, 3 SBs and a .265 average in 278 plate appearances.  Worse (yeah, it can get worse), his strikeout rate zoomed, and not in the fun way like Aretha Franklin’s zooming.  On our Player Rater, he was about as valuable as Will Venable, Brandon Moss and Jeff Francoeur.  Or make that, as craptastic as those guys.  In 2016, Soler will be one of those guys that goes in the 150 range that could be as valuable as Pollock this year, or as valuable as the Pollock that parked so close to your car you couldn’t get in your door and needed to climb through the trunk, knock down the backseat and crawl through to the steering wheel.  Time, not the magazine, will tell.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Maikellebrew strikes again! And again! Two homers last night for Maikel Franco (4-for-5, 3 runs, 5 RBIs, hitting .312), his 8th and 9th homers of the season in only his 36th game played. That prorates to, like, 189 homers in a season. (Don’t do the math.) Perhaps I’m drenched in jade, the mother jewel of sarcasm. Perhaps my cup runneth over with Blasé like a bored rapper. Perhaps I’m all cosmopolitan and citified and other words Charlie Manuel would call me, but why do I get the feeling Maikel is going to have a great rookie year than disappoint for the next three years? Has Bruce, Heyward, Machado and so many others taken away my innocence? Is that a Black Flag bumper sticker on a Cadillac? Don’t look back, I can never look back. I sure hope I’m wrong, but with each homer by Maikel, his hype grows and he moves further away from my clutches. But, if we are to entertain the insane for a moment, he’s only 22 years old. What does his future hold? Does only the papier-mâché head of Michael Jack Schmidt that sits on Prospect Mike desk hold the answers? Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I loved when Junior Lake homered the other day and, as he rounded first base, he held his finger to his lips, shushing the Marlins dugout, as if he was some kind of maniacal librarian. The only disappointing thing from this whole encounter is no one wrote an article titled, “Junior Mince Words.” It’s that kinda of braggadocio, WWE-type attitude that makes Grey’s man muscles tingly. Baseball needs to shed its 1920s demeanor and get rowdy-bawdy. If rowdy-bawdy means acting a fool, what the eff, go for it! The game is losing fans and fans want crazy/stupid/cool. Even in the conservative Japan, baseball players flip their bats like they’re cutting up an imaginary origami crane. I say everyone needs to come up with their own home run trot and pitchers need to blow on their gun finger after a K. As for Junior Lake, I’m a big fan outside of the theatrics. He’s a 12-homer, 15-steal guy that should play most days until Soler returns. I’ve added him everywhere I could. After I added him, I shushed my hand on my mouse. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Effin Strasburg hit the DL on Saturday, which came a day after he pitched five outs of one-run baseball. Compared to his previous starts, Effin looked remarkably better. If he threw 27 outs, that would’ve roughly been a five-run game and way below his ERA. I had the cork to pop and cigars to hand out, but he left that game with what he deemed neck tightness. Funny, because I have tightness in my chest when he pitches. I think it’s related. “Hello, Aetna service representative, a fine day to you, ma’am. I was just calling to see if I can take out extra health insurance on the ol’ ticker when Effin Strasburg is pitching. I can? That’s great news. Chirinos!” That’s me talking to my insurance provider. So, Stephen Strasburg has neck tightness as he hit the DL. His velocity has looked good, his BABIP is ridiculously unlucky, but his control is a mess. That would indicate to me that he’s a buy low, because his neck might be the reason behind his control problems. That was why I traded Jose Bautista for him in one league. *opens patio door, climbs to top of railing, jumps, lands in pool on top of inflatable shark* Dah! Right now, I wouldn’t do the same trade. Strasburg, or any pitcher, is too risky to trade for if injured. I’m hoping us Strasburg owners get him back in two weeks and he’s fixed. A prayer triangle anyone? Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?