Yesterday, Sonny Gray hit the Disgraceful List with a combination of ineffectiveness and Grey calling him a preseason schmohawk.  My schmohawks:  Schwarber, Pollock, Gray, Tulo and Sano.  If I were Sano, I’d move into the giant bubble that Tulo is apparently living in to still be healthy.  Seriously, if you were placing odds in the preseason on which one of those would hit the DL, Tulo would be 10 to 1 odds as the first one; Pollock likely 2nd since he was nursing an elbow issue in the preseason; third would be Schwarber because he was playing a position he had no business playing and bound to run into a wall; finally, Gray because I put the kavorka on my namelganger, which is a magic spell so hideous that no amount of Creoles with an unlimited supply of chickens to sacrifice could reverse that hex.  By the by, everything I know of Creole black magic I learned from Angel Heart.  Gray has a 6+ ERA, so you can DL him if you have room, but I could see just dropping him if you don’t.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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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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Well, that sucked.  It was extra sucky too because I had high hopes for Carlos Rodon‘s start vs. the lifeless Angels.  Like eating Chinese food by yourself and accidentally getting two fortune cookies, then you open them and they both say the same thing, “The highlight of your night will be getting two fortune cookies with the same fortune.”  Like going to the car wash and they give you a deal due to an impending rainstorm.  Only it never rains, false alarm.  But you did forget to put up your window.  Like your parents reconcile their differences, just to yell at you.  Rodon, it’s one thing to disappoint, but to raise expectations first?  Oh man, you are one evil doode with a heart as cold as Clint Hurdle who has a serious attraction to Freese.  Yesterday, Rodon went 1/3 IP, 5 ER with one strikeout.  On the bright side, he upped his K-rate.  “Don’t mock bright sides or I will burn you.”  That’s the vengeful sun.  Rodon had ten straight quality starts, and, unless he’s hurt, we should just treat this as an aberration.  A sick, twisted aberration.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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As much as I love publishing and giving you the “haps” on the closer ranks, I love the depth that a bullpen can give you and how it can affect your roster.  It is way to early to look into my Grafix crystal ball and say this guy and that one will be the crowned prince of the hold this year… to some degree.  Early usage and situations prove a lot.  Yes, injuries happen, and ineffective spells happen, and sometimes trades happen, but if you were good enough to make the team out of Spring, then usually you are good enough to make yourself an established piece of the bullpen.  The top names are still the top names.  The cream either rises to the top or it rules everything around me, both perspectives are interesting because how can you not believe the Wu or old school rhetoric. So with the first bullpen piece of the year, we will cover all the same things you are accustomed to from last year as I get more in-depth than anyone else when it comes to holds.  Some don’t care or are on the fence, as if it’s a completely comical or made up stat.  It is no more made up then saves, because that is exactly what it is, just before the save… so it is basically a pre-save.  Either way, I care and will give you some early trends to look at and some names to go with it.  Trends rule everything around bullpens or TREAB, dolla dolla bill y’all.

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I’ve drafted my Razzball Commenter League team (last call for fantasy baseball — I’m saying that so it rhymes with alcohol), and now I’m ready for the season.  All those other drafts — like Tout, Friends & Family, Scout, yadda-whodoodie — are in the past.  They were prep for this draft.  This draft is the one that matters, because I’m going against, like, a thousand of youse.  And youse are the ones that matter.  Well, a few of youse matter more than a few of the other youse.  Just assume you are part of the favorable youse.  In this league was Tim McLeod from RotoRob, Mike Gianella from Baseball Prospectus, Dalton Del Don from Yahoo, and from Razzball:  Rudy, JayWrong, Big Magoo, Smokey, J-FoH, Tehol, Prospector Ralph, JB and yours truly.  All of these people make me very thankful (that it wasn’t an in-person draft).  I was drafting out of the twelve-hole (which is porn-speak for the right nostril), and I knew after all those preliminary drafts that I was finally going to take guys that I really, really wanted from my 2016 fantasy baseball rankings (clickbait, snitches!).  Well, until around the 5th round, then shizz went to hell.  Okay, enough hubbub on the tomfoolery, let’s get to it!  Anyway, here’s my RCL draft (5×5, roto, mixed league, 12 team, 5 OFs, etc.):

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With the baseball season starting in the blink of seven-days-eyes, I figured it would be fitting since we all crunch drafts ’til the last possible moment.  Waiting until the end isn’t always a bad idea, you get the last news possible on injuries and job security.  Bad thing is that you lose some of the sleeper appeal.  By now, if you haven’t heard of a guy who could be closing, there is a great possibility that he doesn’t have a Sam Hill’s chance of closing.   Just facts.  These guys aren’t born yesterday and matriculate with a mastery of three pitches overnight.  The bullpen folk have one job and that is to make a save situation stay a save situation.  This holds true for holds guys, pun semi-intended.  So the list is basically where it should be until we start seeing some production from the lads.  The committee situations that exist in Milwaukee and possibly Philly will be that until someone gets the bulk of the load on his back.  Which sounds gross, but from a fantasy perspective, you want a full orgy of saves on your closer.  After all, quantity is the name of the game, that and continued success at it.  It is like everyone else’s job; you do good you stay.  You do poorly, you get pink slipped and sent to middle relief-dom.  So fingers crossed, or if you play the cuff odds, just simply uncross them and pray for the worst. Here is the last rankings of Closers and their hand-cuffs for the start of fantasy baseball version, 2.016…

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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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With every first list or preseason edition of anything, there comes question marks. Lots of ifs and buts, with no real sound determination until we actual see the product. I am pretty sure Jane Austen’s first attempt at Pride and Prejudice was an abomination because who knew if Elizabeth Bennett was up to the task of being wifey material? It turns out that I can win a bet and correlate anything into the bullpen situations of the current MLB teams. Until injuries, demotion or a better option arises, we have to go by two main instincts: former ability and common sense. So the list is based off of the news to date that we have gotten on all the potential closers to date and for gigg’s I have ranked them accordingly. I have been doing bullpens for a long time and have been wrong on a few occasions, but I am not the manager or GM for the team pulling the strings, I am merely a fantasy writer. So here is the Spring training edition of the Closer rankings, their set-up men, and the cuffs we covet for fantasy in 2016.

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A scant three weeks remaining in the regular season, an injury or stint on the disabled list now tends to stick the proverbial fork in someone’s season. In addition to the normal injury reports, a slew of pitchers and hitters returned to active rosters today. Just call me Professor Farnsworth because “Good news, everyone!” we have a lot of players to discuss.

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All the fantasy world was hoping that Jonathan Papelbon would be traded to a team without a reliable closer.  Instead, he goes to a team and kicks in the door swinging with the “I make more money than you” swagger that only comes with wearing Jordache jeans. And then he takes Drew Storen‘s job.  From a relief pitcher standpoint, Papelbon jumps from the worst save-driven team to top 10 overall.  The Phillies generated only 26 save opportunities to the date of his trade.  The Nationals were a far better team, and their record says so with 43 save opportunities.  The Nationals have also had a lead 32 more times than the Phillies, so Storen isn’t a completely wasted roster spot. If you got skunked by this, you need to keep him rostered.  He will still get the off-day save chances, and should pitch in a ton of high-leverage situations based on the bullpen shape of the Nationals, which isn’t a blue ribbon. Papelbon immediately jumps to elite status for me because of his history, and the whole contending team thing. He will easily double his saves total (in less games) to date, which stands at 17.  On the flip side of this trade, it opens up the gates to wunderkid Ken Giles to close in the land of steaks covered in cheese.  Giles immediate value is that of a closer, but with the Phil’s, he’s going to basically have a worse representation of what Papelbon had, but he still has moderate save appeal.  I can see him getting 10 saves the rest of the way.  This is posting a day before the deadline, so things could be in flux. And make sure to check out Ralph and myself over on Razzball Soccer, as the FPL is in full go.

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