Shaba Antone in the know knows that I am all about Jamaica.  Love to visit the place.  I also have several friends that reside on the isle and like to partake in the national festivity of… well, you know, don’t make me say.  The Dodger pen has been a flux of capacitors all year, and I think at some point I’ll bet a sixer on the leading hold leader from them being someone who may have contracted a melanoma.  Enter Joe Blanton.  The resurrection project of all resurrection projects.  Not only has he flourished in the role of set-up to the stars, but he doesn’t seem to have any competition to say the opposite.  In his last 30 days, minus a week off for the All-Star break, he has a one-off the pace total of 7 holds, a K/9 rate of above average, and an ERA of two bills.  All this for a team that has lacked stability setting up the dude who sounds like someone you would rent a kickboard from in Jamaica.  Now, he isn’t the only reason for the Dodgers having a top-5 bullpen ERA in the last 30 days, but he isn’t not-not the problem.   He is someone you may need to own though, add in the fact that in some leagues, I have SP eligibility, and he looks even sexier.  So now that we have got the lede out the way, let’s get to the milk and cookies of the bullpen report.

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I am always a day late and a buck short on the posts because I am relegated to be the Saturday morning cartoon of the Razzball variety.  No worries, I mean, who doesn’t love 80’s cartoons and can’t list 10 shows that would drastically alter children’s universes today?  One word… Snorks.  So with everyone else doing the second-half rankings, I felt it was my duty to give the closer rankings based solely on the second games remaining.  The elite will still be the elite, the mediocre are still mediocre, and the middling teams will still be middling. I don’t care what algorithm Jimmy Bill came up with to have expected win totals and blah blah.  Expected win totals are an indicator of save expectations. because the percent of saves converted in wins by teams has been pretty stagnant at 52%, give or take a few sheckles each way.  So looking at the games remaining, some teams have less games to play then others, and some have more so the expected totals for some teams will be different then what you would expect them to be.  So as a wise person once said to me in throws of fantasy passion, lets have at it.  Cheers!

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I figured out the best concoction for delivering fantasy baseball…  First, go to liquor store and grab your consumption of choice.  Next, convey your thoughts about fantasy bullpens to the masses in a cognitive and fluid way that makes sense to… the masses.  Mission One: check, Mission Two: to be determined.  This week, I wanna touch base on the neophyte in Seattle’s Edwin Diaz, the once highly-touted starting pitcher prospect that is now occupying the first chair in Seattle.   He is sorta the new kid in class, and the trust level to let him borrow a Nintendo game just isn’t there yet.   The stats will speak differently though.  Check the rhythm of the rhyme I wrote and while I got a chance here, let me clear my throat.  For the last month, he has been chipping away at the Benoit salad in Seattle’s pecking order.  Well, now he is the goods by setting up a Cishek.  Cishek in this case is Swahili for “not for long”.  Over the last fortnight, he leads all of baseball in holds with 5, and his 20.57 K/9, which is basically unparalleled by anyone.  Listen, Cishek has the job and he isn’t getting shipped anywhere while the Mariners are in a wildcard hunt.  But isn’t it fun to own the guy who is sexy now before you start seeing kids in the mall all wearing him like he is the new Cavaricci?  Diaz is his name and RP satisfaction is his game, green is his color… blue is the other.  So hop on the good foot and add the sure thing.  While you’re at it, check some other delectable sundries that I have in the shape of bullpens and their place in society…

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Whatever your cultivation of choice may be, go with it.  Oscar Gamble was, and is still a pimp in social culture, as is California sensemilia.  So whatever your subset of life is, that’s cool with me.  My obsession is a little of column A, a lot of column B, and I incorporate column C.  Column C being my love and passion for the deliverance of the most finite bullpen jargon on the web.  Go look, there isn’t anything better than me.  I checked, if I added a pretty colorful chart with catchy funny names, then I would literally have to kick my own ass.  So here we sit, and look at what the Rangers are doing.  They have been doing, in the last 30 days what the Cubs did over the first 30.  They are, in no large part, being buoyed by a stout bullpen.  Their starters are all hitting the DL and fast.  The trio of Matt Bush, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson are about as tight as a bullpen can get, and the best group I have seen since the Isley Brothers concert Prospector Ralph and I went to see.  I have talked about Dyson and Diekman on separate occasions this year.  So no, it’s the one without voting privileges turn.  Bush has basically been a la machina since promotion on May 12th.  He has appeared in 13 games for the Rangers to date, and his usage has only recently spiked having pitched in 13 of the last 22 overall for the Rangers.  His 10-plus K-rate over that time is coupled with an ERA under a buck and his xFIP is basically what David Phelps is giving you.  Who, in most hold leagues right now, is pretty much a must own and isn’t a guy you yawn at in mixed company leagues either.  Bush is a feel good story that I think can continue as long as the Rangers can duct tape their starting rotation together long enough to maintain their AL West dominance.  He should be rostered in most leagues going forward for his usage potential as the remaining Rangers starters, minus Cole Hamels, average less than 6 innings per start.  So head for the mountains and roster some Bush.  Stick with me for some other diatribes of greatness…

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Ten weeks of the baseball season are in the books.  Ten weeks!  The craziness at the top of our Player Rater is remarkable being over 2 months into the season.  Xander Bogaerts is 4th, Ian Kinsler is 5th (!), Ian DesmondRobinson Cano and David Ortiz round out the top 10, and Mark TrumboDaniel Murphy and Jonathan Villar are all in the top 20.  Before the season, I would have guessed Bogaerts is the only guy on this list who could get to the top 20 this year but I wouldn’t have bet on it happening.  Does that mean I’d sell high on the rest of them?  Not necessarily.  I’d hold onto Desmond and Villar at this point for what they’re giving at the top of their lineups.  The problem is when you’re in a league with smart players like RCLs, you can’t sell high on these guys so just hold them and hope for the best; they’re still be getting predraft value with inevitable regression.  But in other leagues with inexperienced people?  Try to sell high on these guys before the bottom falls out.  Here’s a recap of everything that’s been posted on Razzball over the last week:

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Dellin Betances is basically the fat of the fantasy set-up world. The goods are there, it just takes time and some settling before we all realize it is, what was and what always shall be…  I think I just laced this post with some subtle Led Zeppelin reference, but I may be crooked to walk on one leg to let myself know that I did, let alone let you subtly know.  So I will just go ahead and say there was a Zep reference-reference.  Good, moving on.  Success of a bullpen, let alone someone you should be relying on, is correlative of how well the team is performing. It’s science, if you score more you put yourself in a better position to win more, regardless of who is on the bump.  Dellin was and is the goods, currently and in post-script.  He came into the year as the man to target in any format that coveted fantasy goodness, condensed into a smaller innings unit of measure than that of a starter.  Now add in the dash of Holds sassiness, and he is a bullpen god.  He is now the king of the Hold in all leagues by quantity and not by just scripture.  His 16 holds on the year are tops on the this year’s gig and given the Yankees propensity to not score over 4 runs in a game, his reign may be a run away.  He has the good everywhere else; K/9, swagger, ability to tie multiple knots while buoyant at sea.  There are no bullpen stats that he isn’t the man at.  He basically walks into a bar/club and automatically has the best synchronized music to his step….think Matthew McConaughey in Dazed in Confused…and let here comes the story of the Hurricane ramble through your third eye for a bit.  So let’s jump into this fortnights dealing in the bullpen game… alright, alright, alright.

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The change in Texas has reverbed into the Holds ranks as well.  Tolley was the guy, now Frank Perdue’s arch-nemesis Sam Dyson is all comfy in the save bird seat.  The best part of this whole deal is that Jake Diekman is reaping all the benefits from a fantasy hold perspective.  This is a coup for the people who listened to me early and figured him to be the lefty-version of the lock-down pen arm in Arlington.  All Jake has done on the year is garner 13 holds with 11 plus K/9 and a HR/9 just a smidge over one.  We in the fantasy community rely on such precise words as smidge, scoonch, pinch… and I’m throwing prolly in there because some people like it and it doesn’t get more accurate than that.   So the main question is, can Diekman be the man and continue to be the man?  Absolutely.  He is thriving in a role that he started when he was with Philly.  The Rangers, also if anyone is paying attention, aren’t a half bad team and are fairly solid with or without Tolleson closing at the end.  So let’s take a look at what else has happened in the fortnight of games since the last bullpen lowdown, or ho-down.  Depending on how strong your hold pimp hand is.

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Well we weren’t talking about deep fried empanadas.  We were talking about the retro-chich lads from that Navy town of San Diego…  Yes, those Padres of the last place origin.  The ones with 16 whole wins in their favor on the year.  Sneaky Hold situations make my world go round.  Which, in turn, makes me spurn to you on the recycled tip of the serving platter from a fantasy analyst.  Over the last 14 games, the Padres have endured some good fortune in the reliever ranks, namely Brandon Maurer.  Maurer has netted himself 7 Holds over that time, or in fantasy bullpen coverage terms here at the Razz-nation, a hold the fort(night). Maurer is the 8th inning guy and if you are in a holds league, then he is probably taken.  Him of the 14-plus K-rate over the last 10 games and because they strung a few victories in a row, boom! Stats.  But we all know how many holds he has in the last umpteen days… because we can all read stat lines and understand that one plus the previous amount equals today’s total.  Math catch-up lesson over.  The Father’s depth in the pen doesn’t just end with Brandon.  Take a look deeper and we will come across not the candelstick maker, nor the baker, but the Butcher.  As in Ryan Butcher.  While Maurer seems to get all the decent looks in the 8th for the beloved hold, Butcher seems to latch onto him like a paramecium in heat looking for a Padres win.  Averaging over a K per inning, and duly entrenched as the bridge to the bridge to Fernando Rodney (which probably really isn’t much of a bridge of at all, but just a rope with board entwined with hope aspiration and tears), so with this brief biopic on the San Diegans bullpen fellas, lets look at what else is bouncing around in the world of set-up, set-up to get beat down.  I get nothing but a hold.

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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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Philly fans are often singled out for their rude, obnoxious behavior, but yesterday, as the Mets hit six home runs, the Philly fans were attempting to be on their best behavior.  Here’s a few of the more polite things heard, “Excuse me, sir, are you using the batteries in your portable radio?  I’d like to throw them at someone’s shoulder.  No, not their head.  That would be rude.”  Also heard, “I hate to waste a cheesesteak, but I’d like to vomit on an unsuspecting Mets fan.”  “Jimmy, no, vomit on a suspecting Mets fan.”  “Yeah, you’re right, Marge.”  Finally, “These Mets are fun to watch, I get to try out new curse words — screw you, nut sock!”  Then, with a pleased smile, “See, it’s like sack, but sock.  Catchy, no?”  Philly fans had all kinds of reasons to be annoyed yesterday as the Mets did damage.  Yoenis Cespedes hit his 4th homer (1-for-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs).  Driving to the park in a limited edition car made of guano and Play-Doh must be his good luck charm!  Michael Conforto hit his 2nd homer (2-for-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) as he hit third until he was pinch hit for against a lefty later in the game.  I get that Conforto’s a lefty and it’s a matchup thing, but there’s gotta be some kind of unspoken rule.  The guy you bat third in your lineup is not a platoon player.  That’s Connie Mack to Earl Weaver to Coach Taylor rock solid coach stuff.  You don’t pinch hit your three hole hitter!  Then Neil Walker hit his 5th and 6th homers (2-for-5), with two homers in the past two days, and, honestly, truthfully, interruptingly, when you have six homers in 13 games, there weren’t a whole lot of games where you didn’t homer.   Finally, Lucas Duda hit his 2nd homer (1-for-5, 2 RBIs), and 2nd in as many days.  The Phillies starters really aren’t that bad.  Dot dot dot.  Compared to their relievers.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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