Brandon Finnegan pitched five innings allowing just three hits an earned run, two walks, while striking out four to notch his first win with the Cincinnati Reds last night. James Joyce would be so proud. Although his praise would be written in the form of a street ballad that would take years to completely analyze and understand. Finnegan was the big get in the Johnny Cueto deal with Kansas City and we are starting to see why. The 22-year old lefty showed good control with a low 90s fastball and nasty change up. Used primarily as a situational lefty with the Royals, the Reds are committed to stretching Finnegan out as a starter, and it looks like that decision could pay off in the long run. Brandon was sharp last night shutting down a strong Milwaukee offense and now holds a 2.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with a 29/16 K/BB rate. Finnegan is more of a name to keep in the back of your mind for your 2016 drafts but I could also see streaming him next week versus the Cardinals if you feel like gambling on some rookie nookie.

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

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The original title Rudy suggested was, Love Is To Own Lindor, but Rudy tells me that title only makes sense to people forced to watch Frozen 5+ times.  Let it go…Let it go…Let it go…  I just sang that in perfect key and it still caused a cat to screech and paint to peel.  Luckily, I don’t have a kid, a cat or paint.  Let’s count the ways I love Francisco Lindor.  *five minutes later, makes farting sound with hand in armpit*  And that’s it!  Oh, yeah, I should count the ways I love him aloud so you can hear.  Fair enough, you nitpicker, you.  Yesterday, he hit his 9th homer (3-for-4, 4 RBIs), topping off a week when he was hitting over .400, a month when he’s hitting over .340, a 2nd half when he’s hitting over .350 with 7 homers and 7 steals.  He’s only 21 years old.  At 21 years old, you fell asleep on a couch outside of your local bar waiting to talk a girl that you think might have been interested, only waking after a passing bus splashed a puddle of your own vomit onto you.  Guys and five girl readers, he has 9 homers in 82 games (essentially a half a season) and he has 30-steal speed.  I just got goose pimplies.  To emphasize them, I’m drawing little goose faces on my pimples like those psychopaths draw on grains of rice.  Yes, you should own Lindor on your teams for this year, and I can’t wait to draft him in sixteen after twenty.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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From Koji to Ross…  Sounds like a bullpen whirlwind in the shade of a Justin-to-Kelly type scenario.  Have things goten so bad north of me… NJ… that they are just trouncing anyone out there.  Any retreads?  Well, it’s full on guess mode at the late stages of the season for the B0-Sawx.  If you are really scraping for saves this late in the game, than you my friend are a desperate man in search of desperation and regret.  The Red Sox as a team are near the bottom in blown saves, bullpen ERA and basically look drab and beaten down.  The only good news there is I think the Bruins start soon and Papi is chasing 500.  Listen, I get that you play to the end of the season, but is Robbie Ross really the direction you want to go to when the end is near? Do yourself a favor, add a quality non-closer work on your rates, your free-style composure and possibly go shop at the merry-go-round for some really cool back to school clothes.  Your pitching stats and your swagger will thank you with some compliments and some vulture wins.

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Jorge Soler is likely done for the year with a strained oblique.  This is one of those injuries that comes with a sigh of relief.  Yay, I don’t have to keep running Soler out there and being disappointed.  Disappointment, you are the mistress of expectation, aren’t you?  Soler fascinates me in a car crash that you rubber neck while you pass sorta way.  Here’s a preseason tweet from Peter Gammons, “John Mallee (Cubs hitting coach) says Jorge Soler hasn’t swung at a pitch out of the strike zone all spring.  Scary good.  May be best of Cubs lot right now.”  Cubs committed to playing him, and, by the end of the year, you had to wonder if they should’ve just been committed.  If his year is over, he ends with 7 HRs, 3 SBs and a .265 average in 278 plate appearances.  Worse (yeah, it can get worse), his strikeout rate zoomed, and not in the fun way like Aretha Franklin’s zooming.  On our Player Rater, he was about as valuable as Will Venable, Brandon Moss and Jeff Francoeur.  Or make that, as craptastic as those guys.  In 2016, Soler will be one of those guys that goes in the 150 range that could be as valuable as Pollock this year, or as valuable as the Pollock that parked so close to your car you couldn’t get in your door and needed to climb through the trunk, knock down the backseat and crawl through to the steering wheel.  Time, not the magazine, will tell.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

SAGNOF just keeps finding ways to stay absurd.  Tom Wilhelmsen, Jean Machi, John Axford = good.  Carson Smith, Junichi Tazawa…. even Greg Holland = bad.  If all you care about are saves there’s been a wealth of options available.  Realistically, I think chasing saves with bad closers can be a losing proposition.  What do the first three (the so called “good”) have in common aside from taking over as the closer?  How about WHIPs greater than 1.40.  These players need to come with a warning label.  “Implosion likely to occur.”  I mean, it only took Edward Mujica about a week to implode and he was arguably better than any of these three.  Axford and Wilhelmsen look like brothers from different mothers with their K:BB ratios at 1.75 and 1.91 respectively.  Anything below 2.50 is really bad for a closer.  Unless you’re Brad Ziegler.  Then it’s okay.  (I need a “no sarcasm” alert for that one).  Here’s the lowdown on the closer situations that will make you want to scream.

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Greg Bird was called up by the Yankees. I wonder if when Greg Bird dies his ghost will be harassed by a 1980’s black gang calling him Larry Bird. But, more importantly, let’s pray Bird doesn’t wear ball-hugger shorts. Whoever thought those 1980s shorts were a good idea? They were so tight, you can tell which players manscaped. When Marv Albert said someone was dribbling a ball down the court, I had to wonder which ball he meant. Yes! Bird, Greg that is, has done nothing but hit at every stop in the minors — 20 HRs in Single-A in 2013; 20 HRs in 2014 across three levels; 12 HRs across two levels this year with six homers in only 34 games in Triple-A. He’s also not the type to strike out a lot and knows how to take a walk, and not like it’s a bad thing as, “Hey, take a walk!” Bird started yesterday (0-for-5), but for now he’s a bench bat, but I get the sense the Yankees are going to start looking towards the future as of next year and Bird should be someone on dynasty and keeper radars. And you know I have me some radar love. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Are the Red Sox grasping at proverbial straws here?  I mean, let’s go to the waiver wire in real life… Grab a reliever, Jean Machi, that has three career saves, and let’s say we’ll think about him being the closer for our team.  It sounds weird and crazy, but then you look at the Sawx record (it’s the worst in the AL by the way), and realize maybe it’s not such a far fetched idea.  Hanley Ramirez has nine freaking doubles all year. NINE!  I just hit four at Fenway the other day, until I realized they were hamburgers.  Okay, back to closers.  So the Red Sox, with the loss of Koji Uehara to the DL, will turn to just about anyone to see if they can close the 8-10 chances they will get the rest of the year.  The front runners are Junichi Tazawa (has 4 blown saves in the last 30 days) and Jean Machi, and the sleeper candidate is the former All-Star closer Ryan Cook.  Who in himself was traded for that spectacular fantasy asset: PTBNL.  The situations for closers is getting bleaker with the bad teams losing actual options and not having a genuine fall-back option that you could tie your waiver wire dollars too.  Best advice is don’t chance saves from all these guys, it will nuke your numbers elsewhere.  Concede that you will only get seven points from saves instead of nine. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk while texting or making waiver claims.

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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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So with the festivities of All-Stardom concluding, thus comes the second half.  It’s an inevitable thing, you eat half a cookie the other half remains.  So this week I am going to run down a list of the closers for the remainder of season.  So sorry for not doing salads with donkeys this week, I felt this was more noteworthy since we are about two weeks from the trade deadline in real and fake baseball life (in some leagues).  The closer rankings that I came up with will be based off of a few things: saves (no durrr), team success, likely hood to remain a closer, and peripheral stats.  So we lump all those together and we get the ROS STSLRCPS.  Which basically looks like a pretty good scrabble deck.  Bare with me, it’s a busy time of year, and for those in the know, Fantasy Soccer is live and in full effect.  Go check it out, it’s fantasy baseball with an accent.  So now onto the closer ranks for the rest of the 2015 campaign…

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I am equating this one solely on one thing for the Cubbies… and that term is?  Pseudo-intellectual.  Joe Maddon does everything different and it’s gotta be the glasses.  He makes everyone want, need or have to be involved in his bullpen.  Basically, he is the united colors of Benetton of managers.  His hydra approach at the bullpen is not only bothersome or troubling for the roster-bater in all of us, it’s damn near impossible to roster and guess which guy it will be today.  The trio of Jason Motte, Hector Rondon, and Pedro Strop all seem to play the part of a closer, but get shuffled around like Joe is playing little game in his head.  I get that some situations warrant certain match-ups, but sometimes it doesn’t make any sense to me.  So for those of you that still care about the Cubs and their six save chances combined between all relievers in the last 14 days, I would roster Motte and Rondon equally, and if I had the space, I would roster Rafael Soriano and hold on tight.  Soriano is going to come in like the new city slicker, with a shiny pair of aldo shoes and end up being the cat’s pajamas for about a minute in Maddon’s mind.  Personally, rostering three guys to garner one stat is a crazy, crazy thing to get wrapped up into and is a waste.  If you are rostering one non-closer reliever to help with ratios, where are you making this roster space up from?  Nowhere is the answer, my friends.  So stick to the straight and narrow for saves for now, don’t chase unless a clear situation opens it’s doors and gives out the good candy on Halloween.  Stick around for some tidbits about the world of relief-dom…

Please, blog, may I have some more?