I think the biggest question I always get when I’m out for dinner trying to inconspicuously eat is: Who should I cuff and when should I start drafting handcuffs for the inevitable closerpocalypse?  My advice is always: As soon as I am done eating, I will tell you.  I then proceed to give them the Irish goodbye and smile as I gleefully think that I got the best of them.  But in all seriousness, the biggest question is: Do I cuff myself or do I cuff someone else’s closer?  Me personally, I am a “cuff someone else’s” kinda guy.  This way, it gives you better odds to have another closer.  Where as if you cuff yourself, you are only replacing what you already drafted to expect.  So in theory, look for the best cuff options that you currently don’t own and steal them from someone else.  Leaving them short and for you, the possible plus one.  So with this theory in mind, I have made a list of the guys that I would want to draft first, second and so on.  I have done closer lists with their back-ups, holds guys, and the pecking order and now you get the best handcuff options to draft and sit on.  Enjoy!

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In what very well may be the first hostile takeover of the closer year, we turn our eyes to the land of Primanti’s and Yinzers.  Yes my friends, I am talking about Pittsburgh.  The incumbent closer there, Tony Watson, has had a rough spring training.  One that usually I would brush aside and say “ehh ST stats mean bupkis” and he has the vet preference behind him to back him up.  I usually believe that type of big brother back-up mentality, but not when they signed a free agent who was viewed by several other clubs as a closer, that player being Daniel Hudson.  So before we get to Danny, let’s stay on Tony Watson for a bit.  He is the 19th closer off the board in most scenarios, which by all intents and purposes puts him in the lower-middle.  Last season he only took over the closer’s role after the trade of Melancon and notched himself 15 saves on the year.  But they weren’t all comfy ones.  Tony Watson is a phenomenal relief pitcher, notice, I said “relief pitcher”.  In my mind, he is just not a closer.  A closer by default last year though?   Very much so.  Now, you add the tumultuous spring that he is having; faced 24 batters, allowed eight hits, walked three and eight ER in four-and-a-third innings. good for a 16 plus ERA.  Looking for a silver lining, okay, there are two!  Zero home runs allowed and a K-rate above 12.  Yah… for peripheral stats, Hudson has been basically himself this spring, high-K middle-3 ERA, and holding opponents to a .200 BAA, while everyone is hitting Teddy Ballgame against Watson.  I am not completely panicking yet, because in reality I would have two higher ranked RP before Tony Watson comes off the board, but those looking to get a cheeky head-start on the SAGNOF craze, grab you some Daniel Hudson.  So for the first invasion of the season, I am flying the Jolly Roger upside down for distress.  Let’s see what else is going down for the end game of ballgames…

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Soda Glover, Yoda Glover, Coda Glover, but no Koda Glover.  That’s my constant struggle with my autocorrect.  Let’s break down those typos, shall we?  Soda Glover has been better than 7-Up and seven down.  Me strike out batters you like, man with toothpick, says Yoda Glover.  The concluding event at the section of the baseball game called the ninth inning will be the Coda Glover.  Dusty Baker hasn’t yet named a closer, but, unless they trade for someone (and this isn’t out of the question), all indications are that Koda Glover will be the Nats’ closer.  Jon Heyman wrote, “….but with Shawn Kelley not considered a closer candidate due to two past Tommy John surgeries…”  Such a throwaway line.  Like it’s common knowledge.  Either Heyman heard something from the Nats, which led him to believe everyone knew this, or Heyman’s totally in the dark.  Could be either, but I’m thinking Nat-Nat-Nat-Nats’ all folks for Shawn Kelley, who has barely thrown this spring.  In my fantasy baseball rankings and my top 500, I’ve moved Koda Glover above Blake Treinen and Kelley.  Also, adjusted my Fantasy Baseball War Room.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for fantasy baseball:

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Earlier this week I partook (a much fancier word than participated) in my first mock draft of the season. As most of you know I am much more of a points league player, but I have no issue going both ways. This draft, however, represented a less common fantasy baseball format known as the 5×5 head-to-head league. This was actually the first time I had even drafted for this format, and with barely an hour to prepare, I’m not sure how I feel about the results. In hindsight, had I had more time to calculate more precise player values for this league format I believe I would have applied a different strategy when selecting my players. While I obviously cannot go back and actually change my picks, I can imagine the results with a different outcome. After all, imagination is the essence of discovery.

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That is probably the worst word when it comes to drafting or even trusting in a reliever in a bullpen for fantasy.  The guy could be a tax evader, steal lollipops from kids, or never wash his hands after using the lavatory.  It still wouldn’t matter, the stigma of being placed into a committee is just awful come draft day.  This happens every year when bullpens usually light on talent get paired down to barely usable pieces, or when players return from injury and are an unsure thing.  Then again, you get a weird situation like that in Cleveland…  It’s very familiar to last year’s draft day conundrum with that of the Yankees.  Both Cody Allen and Andrew Miller are draftable and draft worthy within the first 150 picks or so.  That number increases for players in “Net Saves” and Holds leagues, because they will steal from each other but on the positive end, one will get a hold and the other the save, and vice versa.  The only problem is that Cleveland, after being in the World Series, is a hot button team and both players have some helium to their names, Miller especially.  So drafting both is a good idea, stats-wise, but bad for team building it’s structure in other areas.  So my best advice is to look elsewhere, yes the stealing thing I mentioned helps you in leagues that contain Holds, but in leagues that don’t, it could be a sticky situation of frustration over saves.  Last year down the stretch, Miller wasn’t the closer very frequently.  Allen steered that ship.  This year, I think the secondary stats: K’s, ERA, WHIP, will all be there, but the counting stats will be split.  And since I talk about saves and holds, I am most definitely referencing the saves here.  So with their respective rankings spread between 100-130 for both guys, I think the best offense, or with a committee situation, is to grab someone ranked in same neighborhood guys like Ken Giles and Kelvin Herrera.  You may thank me later, but I do occasionally deserve the bird.  So instead of just going into the rankings this far into preseason, here is a cool little chart for you to reference. I will update this chart all preseason and will add some sleeper posts for both closers and holds.  So enjoy my friends!

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Yesterday, Lucas Duda went 3-for-5, 3 RBIs with two homers (26, 27).  He now has five homers in the last three days.  Duda goes from doodie to Duda in the blink of an eye.  He’s like a sports car that goes 0 to 60 in five seconds flat that you only drive three times a year, because, while your penis may be small, you’re also reasonable enough to realize if someone crashes into you, you’re going to cry and that’s embarrassing in front of your future trophy wife.  It seems like no matter how many games Duda misses and no matter how deep his slumps get, he gets scorching hot at some point and will get to thirty homers.  His hot streaks are shorter, but he reminds me of a poor man’s Chris Davis.  I will call him Piss Davis.  Maybe I won’t call him that to his face.  Somehow, Duda is available in over 40% of ESPN leagues. (Though 85% of leagues are abandoned already so he’s owned in 125% of leagues.  Hmm…) So, if he’s out there, grab him before he takes the car back into the shop and pays $54,000 for a new taillight.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Perhaps it’s my inner Gob Bluth, but with just a week’s worth of games to be played, this truly is the final days of the season. Already the Royals, Blue Jays, Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals have wrapped up a piece of the postseason, yet four of those five teams are still jostling for position with only the Royals able to rest some of their players without fear of slipping to the Wild Card games. Today’s Ambulance Report will first focus on the teams in the postseason.

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We have one reader in Nigeria who emails me privately about how I’ve won large amounts of muney (sic), so I don’t need to be working, which means this is more of a PSA, and should be taken even more seriously:  Starling Marte is a God.  There’s Jesus, there’s his Dad, there’s Jehovah, there’s Mormons’ magic underpants, there’s whoever the Jews pray to — Mel Brooks? — there’s Chief Jay Strongbow, there’s the Pope, there’s Allah, there’s Halla, the Arab God for dyslexics, and there’s others, I’m sure.  My God is Starling Marte.  You know how the religious say, “Peace be with you?”  For baseball players, they should say, “May you always hit in Coors.”  Yesterday in Coors, Marte went 4-for-5, 1 run, 1 RBI, which is the rainbow jimmies on the ice cream that has been his season.  He has 18 HRs, 29 SBs and is hitting .288.  Right now, he’s around top 25 on our Player Rater.  For 2016, it’s gonna be hard for me to wait past the top 20 overall.  Yes, he’s that good, and I may just rank him above McCutchen.  Oh, snap!  Don’t need the police to try to save them, your voice will seize, so please, stay off my back or I will attack and you don’t want that.  Hit the bass, hit the anyway and let’s do this!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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To say Greg Holland has struggled lately would be a stretch. Mostly because the “qualifier” lately implies only for the past few weeks or so, when in reality Holland has posted below average numbers all season. While he has just five blown saves on the year compared to 32 saves, a lot of his numbers have trended in the wrong direction. Bullpen arms tend to be pretty fungible, SAGNOF after all, but the question isn’t if Holland has struggled, but why? Even more concerning than the worst ERA/FIP/xFIP and SIERA (other than his 2010 campaign) of his career is his walk and strikeout rates. Sure, Holland’s .319 BABIP this season is worse than his .301 career average, and as mentioned his 5.23 BB/9 is the worst of his career, but those seem to be symptoms of a bigger issue. Like most pitchers, the first thing I look at when someone is struggled is the average fastball velocity.

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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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