Much like the famous Doors song that shares it’s name, bullpens are drawing near.  (Minus the Oedipus complex that the song explores.)  I mean, it may… but that is gross and I don’t wanna associate my bullpen goodies to that.  Moving on, shall we?  This year has been the SAGNOF-fest that we always come to expect.  Closers up, closers down.  Trades and attrition.  It happens every single year and it is the reason why the waiver wire is what it is: So we can get the new third closer for the Twins.  The chase for saves never ends, well, I mean it ends for season-long leagues, but for dynasty and keeper leagues, the times never change.  Saves are a category.  A deeply hated and often cursed at category that will always be debated about.  Whether or not to invest earlier picks then normal to get a stud, or just fill in with hope-so’s and also rans.  There unfortunately is no right or wrong answer because both strategies work as long as you are a waiver goblin.  So with the final post of the year, much like the other years that I have done this, we look to next year…  This year’s counting stats and information don’t matter, we want to know what lies on the horizon. So let’s find out!

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There are two times of the year taxing comes about.  Once at the beginning of the fantasy baseball season for legal tax reasons, and then about now in September.  The Yankees seem to be flip-flopping useful relievers from one to another as they all seem to be getting worn.  So Aroldis Chapman with some wear and tear eased off his arm is going to be worked back into the clutch-save position for the Yanks.  Betances over the past 14 days has maintained his K/9 rate of over 15, but at the expense of his ERA (7.91), and his BB/9 rate has spiked all the way up to near 8 per 9.  That is the stuff that gets people fired or demoted.  (Which is exactly what is happening in his case.)  I can see him dropping to a lesser role for the next week or so and being used in less pivotal situations.  Allowing Robertson and Chad Green to show what they got in front of the flame-throwing Cuban.  Aroldis’ last 14 games have been a far improvement over his last 14.  Era was only 2.70, K/9 way below his standard at 10.80.  The bad department is that he hasn’t really been used too much.  So as he gets back on the bike in closer role and the season comes to an end soon, let’s see what else is going down in the world of saves…

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Ariel Miranda pitched a no-hitter yesterday through six innings and 112 pitches that had to be the worst six-inning no-hitter in baseball history.  Shame the M’s removed him before he gave up a hit, because this could’ve been an epic debacle — depicacle?  Remember those Hall of Shame books from the 1980’s that always featured at least one anecdote about Steve Lyons?  Usually that anecdote was of him undressing at first base.  Somehow that largely visual gag was depicted in literary prose in these books.  If they still had those books, Ariel Miranda’s six-inning no-hitter would’ve had a chapter.  He went 6 IP, 1 ER, zero hits, six walks, 5 Ks, ERA at 4.72.  Only thing that was missing was him taking his pants off on the mound or clowning around with Max Patkin.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It is that time of the year when usual bullpen scenarios start to rear their ugly heads.  The terms “falling back to earth” and “gassed” take hold of even the veteran of bullpens.  That seems to be the case in the rock pile in Colorado with Greg Holland.  Cruising along and then bam, that reliever wall hits.  Especially for someone of his ilk that is coming off a few lost seasons with arm woes.  I usually say 50 innings is about when we start seeing it, but that number varies by innings in previous years, pressure situations, and the leverage that those situations come with.  The unfortunate thing is that with Greg the last two are very prominent.  He is fourth in the league amongst relievers in pressure situations, fifth in pitching with the lead, and the last four games are an indicator that he may be spinning his wheels a bit.  Three blown saves in his last five appearances and only 2 saves since August started.  Not encouraging news for a team that is honing in or trying to hone in on a playoff spot.  The good thing for Holland owners is that he looks to be given some leash here, but with proven relievers with semi-reliable numbers behind him, like Jake McGee and Pat Neshek, the need for a cuff here is paramount as the fantasy playoffs and season winds down.  Every save counts when you start losing them from a reliable source.  That is the worst predicament when projecting out the rest of the year to see if you have enough horses to get you to the finish line.  McGee and then Neshek are the adds for a just in case situation as Holland could be given a breather for a day or three.  Let’s see what else is going down in the land after starters…

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The inter-webs may something different, but I am here to learn you that it is going to be a committee instead of what the searched answer may be.  It’s not looking fantastic for Trevor Rosenthal as he was pulled from the game on Wednesday with an injury and then sent home for further testing.  So that leaves a “collage” of relievers chirping to get a shot and maybe a re-emergence of Seung-Hwan Oh.  My guess is that it becomes a complete match-up based issue for their skipper Mike Matheny.  (Name that I wanna hone in on here is Tyler Lyons though.)  This, after all, is the bullpen report and he does, like the aforementioned names, pitch from the bullpen.  Lyons, over his last 14 appearances, which coincidentally is after the last earned run he allowed, has pitched to the tune of a 0.00 ERA, 18 K’s (good for a 14 K/9), and only has allowed 2 hits and 3 BB’s, good for 5 baserunners against 44 batters faced.  If you don’t have a calculator watch handy, that is a .032 batting average against.  So in laymen’s terms, he has been awesome.  It is the holds post for the week, so he had 5 of those to boot.  Hot teams, breed hot bullpens.  It is a fact.  Chasing holds, find a team that is over .600 in win percentage over the last 15 games and roster any guy that is in the pen that sees leverage situations.  Returns will come.  Advice and morale of the story given, now onto some other factoids of deliciousness for the week in bullpen/holds news.  Cheers!

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The trade deadline usually makes a real hash out of bullpens, and this year was no different.  Closers become just ordinary relievers.  Ordinary relievers become closers on teams punting.  Even further down, the holds through the obtuse guys now become a usable commodity.  Fantasy baseball with hold leagues, catch the spirit!  So like I was just saying, we have seen 5-6 teams rip apart their pecking order for hold-dom, and in some cases muddle up the closer order by trade, attrition, or subtraction.  This is a good thing, makes decisions easier.  Aim for guys on teams that are still getting you save opportunities. If you can’t find the stat, always fall back on the standings to guide your waiver wire hand.  Or even more finite, look at that teams W/L record over the last 10 games.  It is no coincidence that the top three teams in save opportunities since the All-Star break have winning records (Dodgers, Mariners, and Blue Jays).  Also, if you haven’t been streaming Holds yet this year, there is no better time than the present.  The list of holds leaders over the last 15 games is littered with names that weren’t even in print by me for the whole year.  So don’t be afraid to roster the unknown rather than a commodity because with the season basically over in six weeks (three if you have playoffs), every one counts and every H2H win counts.  Cheers!

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We break from the usual 12 dollar salads, donkeys, and hypothermia to breakdown, in basic fashion, the relief rankings for the final 70-plus games.  Why is this helpful you may ask?  Because for trade target reasons or chasing saves for points, you may want guy A over guy B.  With the relief ranks it is as fluid as a clogged sewer drain, because on any given week, the middling type closer can hit bumps in the road and be removed from contention. So if you are using this as a trade commodity in your quest to add saves, my advice is this add the elite only.  Nothing lower than the top-12.  These guys are all nailed on and in an impressive state, barring an injury obviously. Now with that, we also have to realize that trades will happen… and take one reliever from a good situation to a better one, then on the reflexive of that, it can turn one with a job into a set-up situation.  Regardless, here is my stab at the top relief pitchers for the second half of the Fantasy Baseball season.  Cheers!

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As in our inaugural post last week (in which we managed to break both Jason Vargas and Jim Johnson! Who will it be this week?), Dr. Easy and I will be taking another look at a few more players who may be doing better or worse than you thought they were. To do this, once again we went trawling through the Razzball Season-to-Date Player Rater (all hail Rudy, Rudy for king — hell, let’s just elect him Fantasy Baseball Overlord), looking for surprising performances to help you with trade targets, waiver wire pickups and DFS plays.

Precipiently* (*not a word), in Monday’s daily goodness, Grey referred to the crap-ton** (**not a Système International unit, for the scientists playing along at home) of home runs that are being launched at the moment. “I have two mixed leagues where I feel like if I’m not getting at least five homers per day, I’m falling behind,” he hath quoth. Dr. Easy and I had just started to think about a similar thing: in this brand-new reality, in each category considered by the Player Rater, what constitutes “falling behind”? Take a guess: what would constitute a good HR or SB season? How many home runs are enough home runs? How many steals does a player have to have — or be on pace for — to be giving you value in a particular category? So this week, we’re taking a look at that too…

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At some point, the bullpen levee is going to break for the Nationals.  Never in my fantasy existence have I seen such blahness, injury, and utter roster futility like I have seen with the first place Nats. I don’t know if they are lucky or good…  they have had six guys garner saves this year.  Already had three closers changes by injury or attrition, and are still collectively better than the sum of their parts.   They have the second worst bullpen ERA sitting in the low 5’s, allow the second highest BAA at .273, and have the worst OPS against.  Oh, and just for giggles, they have 11 blown saves.  So how are they doing it you may ask?  I haven’t the foggiest idea. But in a weird case of scenarios, the Twins are equally as bad in almost all the same categories.  Re-inventing the winning relief ways, I guess. What I do know is Enny Romero over the past 15 games has been the bull’s balls, or lack there of if you are into those kind of delicacies. After the rise and fall of Koda, the fluctuation of weight by Albers and the over-hyped value of Kelley being the wily veteran, Romero has stood out.  His K-rate is pushing 11 on the season and it’s even better over the past 15 games as it pushes 14.  This is the bullpen post, so relievers are what make my pants miraculously disappear and I love me the hold stat.  Enny Romero looks like the match-up proof guy that even Dusty can rely on until the relief relievers are acquired via trade.  So if you wanna capitalize on a winning team, which is a positive in hold searching, and need to zero in on a guy to maybe get a ton of high leverage situations, please go take a gander at Enny Romero.  So while you go search the waiver wire to see if he is available, stay here as we get some intimate details about late inning goodies…

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The worst news in terms of closers, especially in a situation like Philadelphia, is the word: committee.  I mean, it is kind of like getting free tickets to see the Village People, hell yes they are the Village People.  But do you wanna be known for knowing more than two of their songs?  Nope, not me.  So look at this way, Pat Neshek got the save the other day after Gomez and Mortecia Neris had their turns at the gig.  Now this isn’t a Pat on the back (pun intended for Neshek), because it is still a full blooded committee for a team that ranks in the bottom six in all of MLB in saves, save opportunities, and relief appearances with them having the lead.  Add all that up and it goes back to what I was spitting a few months ago, are saves really worth the rigmarole of dumpster diving for futility?  The problem with that whole “rostering multiple guys for a chance at a save” is all well and good if you are able to roster both or even three guys… and that is the dumbest thing I have ever typed out.  Who in here has a Philly reliever let alone three?  Show of hands?  Yeah, you shouldn’t.  So Neshek is worth a grab while they showcase him for trade value, and Neris is a hold because who knows when a last place team tries to keep it real? Let’s hop on the good foot and see what’s going down with the late-gamers…

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