It’s been a long, tough winter (especially for those of you who live in the Northeast), but the wait is almost over. Spring training is in full swing and the regular season is just around the corner. That means, of course, that fantasy baseball draft season is here.

Recently, we’ve attempted to identify the next Corey Kluber and looked at some hitters who displayed above average power and plate discipline over the past couple of seasons. Today, we’re going to focus on relief pitchers. If you’re looking for the latest closer rankings as well as the top handcuff and hold options, check out the Bullpen Report, which provides excellent RP analysis each and every week.

This post will attempt to identify relievers with a very specific profile: power arms with high K-rates. Players who throw hard and miss bats. It’s that simple. Well, mostly. Let’s take a look at the search filters that I used for this exercise:

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So with the arrival of February comes the arrival, or “un-hibernation” of Smokey.  I was just getting comfy, curled up in my crochet loogy-blanket that my grandma made me, dreaming about what else? Bullpens, of course.  So this first post of the year is to bring you up to speed on my drafting advice for the upcoming year as it relates to the closers/holds and guys who will help you do everything but start the games.  I will be here every week, to update you on the chicanery that is the MLB bullpen picture.  So sit back, relax, and just think, it’s only four more weeks of me talking about bullpens and closers…Can you feel the excitement?  If you hate me now, you will probably wanna hold my hand by week 20 and maybe go see Jared by September 1st.  Here’s my thoughts on draft strategies for saves in the upcoming year of 2015…

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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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With the 2015 fantasy baseball rankings for every position done, we turn our lazy eye towards the top 100 for 2015 fantasy baseball. These 2015 fantasy baseball rankings are one part fresh and two parts to def. They own a cat, a dog and a lizard in a two bedroom apartment where pets aren’t allowed. Know why? Cause they don’t care! None of this top 100 for 2015 fantasy baseball is meant to surprise. *jumping out of a closet* Boo! Now, that was meant to surprise. This top 100 is just taking my positional rankings and putting guys in The Big Picture. You really should read each ranking post because the blurbs in this top 100 are on the skimpy side because there’s so many of them, and I went over each one of these guys already. Obviously at a hundred players, some guys just didn’t make it. About 300, to be inexact. It’s okay; there will be a top 400 tomorrow. Shortly, Sloth, you’ll have your Baby Ruth. Not to get all biblical on you, but this is the gospel. Print it out and take it to Mt. Sinai and it will say, “Win your 2015 fantasy baseball league, young prematurely balding man.” Projections were done by me and a crack team of 100 monkeys fighting amongst themselves because there were only 99 typewriters. Somebody please buy Ling-Ling his own typewriter! Anyway, here’s the top 100 for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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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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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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Jorge Soler arrived in the majors earlier this week like a gift from the fantasy baseball gods. Last night he went 3-for-3 with two more home runs and three more runs batted in. The 22-year-old from Cuba has come to the plate 12 times and already has seven hits, three homers, six RBIs, and a walk. Those are video game numbers and could carry a fantasy team through September. It hasn’t come out of nowhere either. Soler was always regarded as a good prospect even in the loaded Cubs system. Injuries and some makeup questions put a damper on his value earlier this year, but he quieted all that noise by raking for Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs are absolutely stacked with hitting and even if one or two of their prospects don’t reach their ceiling, they will still have more than enough firepower in that lineup. The scary part is that their players are all still so young. It’s a great time to be a Cubs fan, and a great day to be a Soler owner in fantasy. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go too bonkers in September so we can all still draft him on our teams for 2015. Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy baseball…

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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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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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Well, I guess enough was enough in Detroit.  It’s always nice to waltz around with a security blanket like Linus, and have the ability to add a closer to back-up a closer that is making 10 mil a year.  Joakim Soria walks into the room dressed like Lloyd Christmas and is all tops and tails.  Great starting pitching and an actual winning team that he can back up.  For the Rangers this year, he had 17 saves for a 40 win club.  Turn that around, and he went from being on a 21-games-under-.500-team to a 14-games-over one.  His only problem is that he is flirting at the Sadie Hawkins dance with the date that Brad Ausmus brought, and Nathan has a some pull there.  My take is it’s not going to be long before the settle in on “The Mexicutioner”.  So I have them ranked mid-table until the dust settles and we see what’s what. I mean, all Soria has to do is show some kind of consistency, and boom, you have a top-8 closer for the rest of the year.  You can think what you want, but Detroit is a 90 win team all day and a bag of chips tomorrow, however that expression goes…  In Texas, Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz as of now look like the two heads of the class for minimal save value in Arlington.   So the closer-thon to cure save depravity has begun, adjust your rosters, operaters are standing buy to take your recent waiver wire donations.

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