I considered entitling this post “Taking The Buy Out Of Byron”, but that might have inaccurately implied that this was a buy/sell piece. Instead, this is me saying “drop this bum”. But before you do, please read the following disclaimer. The advice herein does not apply to dynasty leagues. However, if you are in a redraft league or league in which you can only keep four or five players, I think the right move is to actually drop this potential future all star like a bad habit. Yep, I said it. In deep leagues you might want to hold on to him for sh*ts and giggles, if you’re a sh*ts and giggles kinda fantasy player.

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I don’t know where it’s coming from with Jeremy Hazelbaker, so I called Keith Morrison of Dateline to investigate.  He went to St. Louis to investigate and left me this message, “Here, in bucolic St. Louis, all seemed right in the world.  Jeremy had just married his high school sweetheart, and they were on a honeymoon of a lifetime when the unthinkable happened.”  I picked up the phone, because I use an old school answering machine, “Keith, St. Louis isn’t bucolic, and I’m not looking for a suspicious murder scenario.  I want to know who Jeremy Hazelbaker is for fantasy baseball.”  Keith continued, “The neighbors had nothing but nice things to say about the couple.  But they didn’t see the dark side.”  “Keith, yesterday, Hazelbaker went 4-for-4, 1 run, 1 RBI, and is hitting .526 through a week’s worth of games and hitting 2nd on most days.  Can he continue it?”  “Only that wasn’t pine tar on his bat, it was iron-rich blood.  Coming up after the break–”  So, I don’t know how the Cardinals do this with outfielders every year.  These outfielders that just come out of nowhere to be fantasy relevant; I will call them, The Sons of Ludwick.  Will it continue for Hazelbaker?  It seems highly unlikely.  He profiles as a 5-7 HR, 15-17 SB guy who might hit .245.  But, ya know what, I don’t need to know where it’s coming from or if it will continue to own Hazelbaker, as I now do in a few leagues.   Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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A week into the season and everyone has basically contracted closer asthma.  Breathe…  I know it’s tough from time to time to fathom that the fantasy kingdom that you drafted two weeks ago is coming crumbling down because Shawn Tolleson just wet the bed and is shaking the Walker Texas Rangers bullpen.  He has guys behind him that have been gone over, which in most leagues that count pitchers who throw the bal,l should have been rostered. Namely Kela and Dyson.  So what is all this bad karma at the beginning of the season good for, besides chasing saves?  It is good for people who panic and drop the top set-up guys too early.  Dellin Betances was dropped four times more then he was added this week.  That is a coup for you, don’t run to that, hop on a tricycle and find a hill to roll down as fast as possible.  Early season turnover and panic buttons are what make your team weak in one department now, and especially strong in the next several weeks by “calculated” guessing.  So with that, here is the first installment of the 2016 Closer Report with the changes and job winners from Spring Training newly nestled into their respective spots. I will tackle Holds and the set-up crews next week when we start seeing usage and match-up based stuff.

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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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A bullpen battle is like watching a boxing match with a blind man in one corner, and a one-legged man in the other.  The ole’ mantra of never paying for saves is the cattle call of many Razzballians, but in leagues that we all pay, in terms of saves there has to be some semblance of order, and ADP plays a huge part in that.  No one ever admits to paying up for saves, but when push comes to shove in your draft, more times than not, you are most likely jumping at the chance to own an elite closer.  I love being the fifth guy to draft a closer.  It allows me the extra round to grab another essential roster piece, and since I am awesome at my craft, I tend to get my pick of the litter of who I really want.  Listen, not everyone pays for saves, but it isn’t an awful thing to do.  They do only really count for one category, with parts of another, but in reality, so does a hitter drafted in the eighth round.  That eighth round product isn’t going to give you, at best, a five share in a points league (minus Billy Hamilton).  He is the same product that we are saying don’t pay for and falls firmly into the SAGNOF sandbox.  So I am here to tell you that paying for saves is okay, but within reason of course.  Don’t be a lemming and get sucked into a bidding war or a run scenario where it leaves you completely short after the draft without any saves to speak of.  So here are some strategies and basic ideas I like to use for approaching saves based on formats and for giggles, we’ll be looking at some ADP stuff after my advice.  Cheers!

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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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Rich Hill pitched a complete game two-hit shutout last night against the Mighty Orioles walking just one batter and striking out 10 for his second win. Where the heck was this guy in April when Justin Masterson and Steven Wright were starting? Am I really asking that question about a 35-year-old southpaw journeyman who hasn’t started a big league game since 2009, and was out of baseball in July? Yeah I guess I am asking that because Hill has been an absolute monster since debuting with the Sawx two weeks ago in Tampa Bay. In just three starts, he’s pitched 23.0 IP, allowing just 10 hits and 3 ER, with a 30/2 K/BB rate. Yes, my friends, the Hill Has Ks. That was almost your headline. Also, not for nothing, the three earned runs were surrendered to the Blue Jays, and I mean, come on, it’s the Blue Jays. And just in case you thought this story couldn’t get any sweeter, Rich was pitching for the Independent League’s Long Island Ducks just months ago. He holds a 1.70 ERA and 0.52 WHIP through three starts and although I love what he’s doing, he’s scheduled to take on the Yankees in New York next week and I wouldn’t call it a slam dunk. If you’re feeling lucky, by all means ride the snake, but I’m not sure I’d risk my fantasy season on Rich Hill, despite how awesome he’s been. But cool story, bro!

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, began yesterday, and Brad Ausmus, the Tigers manager who doesn’t believe in a manger, started atoning for his mistakes, by sending the Tigers closer, Bruce Rondon, home due to a lack of effort.  This sends an interesting message.  I’d guess, with a motorized scooter and knee-bypass surgery, Victor Martinez still wouldn’t be at 100% effort.  Kyle Lobstein and Randy Wolf wouldn’t be at 100% effort with a pitching machine standing next to them as they mimed throwing.  Shoot, I don’t know if Miggy was at 100% effort even in his Triple Crown season.  Also, what does this say about Ausmus?  That he’s managing a team in last place, but he’s coaching at 100% effort?  Wouldn’t he be better off pretending he was at, say, 60% effort?  How about this, “I sent Rondon home because he was at 40% effort.  I lead by example around here, and I demand everyone give 50 to 55% effort, as I do.  What?  You thought I was at 100% effort and we’re in last place?  Please!”  Alex Wilson is the likely replacement closer, maybe Neftali Feliz also sees some saves, but he blew one last night.  Then, in Kansas City, Greg Holland let the entire organization off easy by saying he had a tight elbow and is done for the year.  This saves everyone from calling for Wade Davis to close while berating and belittling Holland worse than a tourist who doesn’t smoke pot and hates windmills.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, I was watching the Twins game and I fell asleep and had a dream that Razzball’s Twitter account got one of those blue check marks.  I’m not sure what this says about my fantasies, but it says something about Tyler Duffey and the Twins.  They lack a certain je ne sais Michelle Kwan.  The Twins seem to do this on purpose.  Very workmanlike.  Like a Minnesota woman who would handily beat me in an arm wrestling match.  Pun noted.  I’ve never been to Minnesota, but I picture the women looking like Jesse Ventura when he used to wear feathers in his hair and leotards.  As with just about every Twins pitcher since Radke, minus Liriano and Johan, Duffey is yet another Twins hurler that has solid control and okay, not great strikeouts.  Yesterday, he went 6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 9 baserunners, 7 Ks vs. the Tigers, and had a 2.53 ERA in Triple-A with a 7 K/9.  I don’t see any huge upside here and is better in real life, which apparently the Twins play in.  The Stream-o-Nator hates his next start, but I would start him if I needed to gamble.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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