Well, the demise of the active leader in career saves has happened. I can remember the days when he burst on the scene all wide-eyed and rally monkey backed.   That, unfortunately, was a dogs age in closer years.  Hell, most closers now a days are judged by weeks instead of years.  I personally don’t wanna think that he is completely done closing, but I think that he is done closing with the tigers (barring an injury or three).  So now it is the Justin Wilson show.  He is no stranger to high-leverage spots as he has been a critical holds guy for the past three years.  For comparison’s sake, think Tony Watson type of reliever… they even came up together with the Pirates to boot.  So the main question is will Wilson continue as such as the Tigers closer?  I say why not.  Joe Jimenez isn’t ready for prime time yet, or they don’t wanna throw the reigns on him yet.  The team has looked mediocre, and sorta old.  So alleviating Wilson to the closer role does two things: Makes their best reliever in the bullpen the closer, and it gives him even more trade value should the Tigers fall out of the race and eventually sell of some pieces.  Saves are ownable everywhere, and this doesn’t appear to be a committee type thing, so if you own him good on ya.  Let’s see what else is going down on Save Street lately…

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When struggles happen, the fantasy geeks come out of the wood work with words like “decreased velocity”, “contact rate” and “swing strike percentage”.  Now I am no geek, but Roberto Osuna is failing the eye test for me.  Control is all over the place and he has zero confidence in his pitches.  Yes, if you look at all his secondary pitching attributes, they are all down or up for the worse.  First, his velocity is down almost two MPH from last year.  Granted, he did miss some time this spring though, so there is a reason to have a letter from his mom to explain that.  His z-contact rate (pitches in the strike zone) is off the charts bonkers.  It currently sits at 91%.  If he had pitched more than five innings to date and qualified, he would have the highest such contact rate in baseball among relievers.  That is not a good trait to have as a closer, let alone a mammal.  Finally, his swing strike percentage has bottomed out at a cool 10%, which would put him outside the top-100 relievers.  And surrounded by names like Tommy Hunter and Michael Ynoa, all staples to a flourishing fantasy team.  So what do we do?  You cuff him.  Jason Grilli is the best name there and Ryan Tepera just got the save in extra innings the other day.  All we can hope for from Bobby Osuna is that with some more innings and builds back up to the 9-plus K/9 reliever we drafted as our 1A closer.  It isn’t time to panic, but do yourself a favor and cover your bases.  Here’s what else is going down in the end game… Cheers!

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It was right in front of our faces and we ignored it.  No one said the obvious.  The elephant in the room.  We all should have known that we were getting fooled by the A’s because we trusted a Melvin.  A Melvin!  After years of hoodwinking by Upton, we now get the reflexive of this, and are getting bobbed.  Predictably, the A’s manager has made a real hash of the bullpen situation already, and we only sit four games into the season.  I get his mentality in some states, because you want your best pitcher pitching to the best players in the opposing lineups and yadda, yadda, yadda.  But this is fantasy baseball sir.  We don’t have the time or social skills warranted to be able to deal with this type stuff.  So for those of you living on a house boat with no wifi, the A’s bullpen usage is a flummoxed up mess with no one to trust.  It’s like November 23rd, 1963 in Dallas, Texas type of questioning everything.  Madson was the presumed closer and he has been treated as the go to guy for getting the tough outs.  Twice against the middle of the order which included a Trout named outfielder.  Then the first day went to Santiago Casilla, then the next day to Ryan Dull.  But the things that boggles the mind is set orders here.  I get that it is early and mixing and matching is cool like millennials do with socks now, but we need some kind of pecking order for rostering-type priorities.  I can’t deal with this madness, I am going to alphabetize my canned goods.  In the mean time, check out the closer menu, now with a deal on salads.

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I think the biggest question I always get when I’m out for dinner trying to inconspicuously eat is: Who should I cuff and when should I start drafting handcuffs for the inevitable closerpocalypse?  My advice is always: As soon as I am done eating, I will tell you.  I then proceed to give them the Irish goodbye and smile as I gleefully think that I got the best of them.  But in all seriousness, the biggest question is: Do I cuff myself or do I cuff someone else’s closer?  Me personally, I am a “cuff someone else’s” kinda guy.  This way, it gives you better odds to have another closer.  Where as if you cuff yourself, you are only replacing what you already drafted to expect.  So in theory, look for the best cuff options that you currently don’t own and steal them from someone else.  Leaving them short and for you, the possible plus one.  So with this theory in mind, I have made a list of the guys that I would want to draft first, second and so on.  I have done closer lists with their back-ups, holds guys, and the pecking order and now you get the best handcuff options to draft and sit on.  Enjoy!

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Before we jump right into this draft recap, let’s go over a little bit of background about the league and its details. This isn’t like the typical RCL 5×5 rotisserie league we often talk about in this space. LOEG is a 10×10 head-to-head keeper league, with 10 teams and four keepers per team from year to year. The league has been around for something like ten years and has been graced by the presence of yours truly for the past five.

Since the categories, scoring, and rules are a little different in this league I’ll break down all the details below. I think it’s important to break this down a bit first because not only do I want to bore you to death, but I want you to have all the information while you are going over the results and making fun of my team in the comments section. Anyway, here we go:

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Razzball Nation!  After typically complaining about how many moves Grey will make in the Perty Perts RCL league, I decided to branch out into the other expert league-space this year and hop in a couple of leagues with our fantasy compadres.  Thanks to the CBS guys for letting one of us Razzball schmohawks crash their league.  Then dominate with sheer fiscal responsibility!  I’m like Alexander Hamilton out there, makin’ banks!  Overall I liked how I did, but I shall let you – esteemed Razzball Commenters – let me know how you think I did in this auction-extravaganza (league is 12-team roto, daily FAAB, weekly line-ups):

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Surprise.  Huston Street is already injured and being replaced by someone who isn’t the full measure or picture of health in Cam Bedrosian.  Cam is the goods, it is just a matter of him grabbing that role, remaining healthy, and then riding off into the sunset like the end of the movie Shane.  Minus the slumped-over presumably a dead thing.  The thing that I love about Cam is that he is growing as a pitcher.  He always had the K/9 rate (9.3 in 2014, 9.2 in 2015, and 11.4 in 2016), but the thing that says that he is legit is that his walk rate was basically halved last year.  To extrapolate on that further, in his last 26 appearances of last year he faced 92 batters, walked 8, and allowed 12 hits.  Good for a slash line of .146/.239/.159 for a .398 OPS.  That is approaching reliever stalwarts like Bush and Barraclough. And we know how much they are coveted right now, and they don’t have a sniff of savedom. Oh… and add in only one earned run during that time.  Stats sound great because they are basically forgotten about, because his season ended the first week of August.  He was basically licking the closer bait, and then poof.  Til now.  If you are looking to invest in him for the season, he is basically going to give you Kelvin Herrera type production, and by his ever rising ADP (last week 200, this week 140) the secret is out for the save chase in La La Grey.  Let’s see what else is going down in the realm of closers as we get ever closer to draft days…

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I think this will conclude this year’s rankings for all players, but with the way closer roles can change between now and Spring Training, finishing will be bountiful. There seems to be a big difference among experts in the top-10, and I am no different.  Also, the bottom tiers for the rankings are a “wait and see” proposition, as there are easily 7-8 teams with a closer by committee situation, or at best, a closer who is a retread of a retread.   Everyone knows who you are Fernando, you don’t have to stand up and raise your hand or shoot an arrow fictitiously at me.  So as we approach draft season and beyond, use this list for now, because the situations will be fluid from here on out.  As I promised two weeks ago, you will get a new list every two weeks, with a holds post (no it won’t be in different color for people who just skip the preface of an article) in betwix.  Get excited folks! Spring is sorta here, and with that comes all of Grey’s rankings, my closer and bullpen stuff, and basically every tool under the sun to help you be the best you can be.  Now get out there and win one for Flipper!

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That is probably the worst word when it comes to drafting or even trusting in a reliever in a bullpen for fantasy.  The guy could be a tax evader, steal lollipops from kids, or never wash his hands after using the lavatory.  It still wouldn’t matter, the stigma of being placed into a committee is just awful come draft day.  This happens every year when bullpens usually light on talent get paired down to barely usable pieces, or when players return from injury and are an unsure thing.  Then again, you get a weird situation like that in Cleveland…  It’s very familiar to last year’s draft day conundrum with that of the Yankees.  Both Cody Allen and Andrew Miller are draftable and draft worthy within the first 150 picks or so.  That number increases for players in “Net Saves” and Holds leagues, because they will steal from each other but on the positive end, one will get a hold and the other the save, and vice versa.  The only problem is that Cleveland, after being in the World Series, is a hot button team and both players have some helium to their names, Miller especially.  So drafting both is a good idea, stats-wise, but bad for team building it’s structure in other areas.  So my best advice is to look elsewhere, yes the stealing thing I mentioned helps you in leagues that contain Holds, but in leagues that don’t, it could be a sticky situation of frustration over saves.  Last year down the stretch, Miller wasn’t the closer very frequently.  Allen steered that ship.  This year, I think the secondary stats: K’s, ERA, WHIP, will all be there, but the counting stats will be split.  And since I talk about saves and holds, I am most definitely referencing the saves here.  So with their respective rankings spread between 100-130 for both guys, I think the best offense, or with a committee situation, is to grab someone ranked in same neighborhood guys like Ken Giles and Kelvin Herrera.  You may thank me later, but I do occasionally deserve the bird.  So instead of just going into the rankings this far into preseason, here is a cool little chart for you to reference. I will update this chart all preseason and will add some sleeper posts for both closers and holds.  So enjoy my friends!

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Earlier this week, I posted the first six rounds of the Couch Managers 2017 Industry Mock Draft. You’re never going to believe this, but I’m now going to post rounds 7-12. At the end of it all, there will be four posts and 23 total rounds. It’s a lot of work, but you guys are worth it.

Here is a quick recap of the league rules for this mock:

This mock was for a 15-team, 5×5 roto, with 23 roster spots made up of 9 pitchers (9), 1 spot for each position (8), a second catcher (1), 2 more outfielders (2), one corner infielder (1), one middle infielder (1), and one utility position (1).

As I did the last time, I’ll post the rounds below with some of my thoughts beneath the picks. I’ll keep the thoughts brief since we have a bunch of rounds to get through. That pissed off at least one commenter last time who apparently wanted more Mike Maher analysis and less Mike Maher patting himself on the back. Let’s see if I can do better this time around…

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