For a few days it’s been all quiet on the closer front.  Usually in the lede, I talk about a change in regime and the pluses/minuses and my opinion on it.  There hasn’t been one for two whole weeks…  It’s crazy.  MLB is putting me outta business in the jibing about fantasy closers market.  Where does the unemployment line start?  I am only half kidding, and I’m also half crazy too. So that makes me half-something.  So believe it or not, the season is officially 3/8 of the way over.  That is just crazy in itself to even fathom.  I think I have rambled on about nothing long enough… let’s talk about someone, anyone, shall we?  I like the rebound to form that Mark Melancon has shown, due to a K/9 of 4.68.  I haven’t seen a true one-outcome reliever before, but if you own him, I would sell for a better product.  You can probably get by on two things in your favor.  One, his name uses letters that can be read in a left-to-right format, which, from what I am understanding, is standard for reading purposes.  Two, he has 6 saves in the last two weeks and when people look to see how he has been doing, they will see that he is tied for the lead during that time frame in saves.  Listen, if you need saves and you own Melancon, I am not saying go out and sell him cause I said so.  I am saying swap him and a extra player and see if you can get an improvement on the K category.  The other owner will be so smitten that he got a closer and another player for just a closer, he won’t realize that he was jobbed.  Side note, make sure he doesn’t read this blurb first or the jig is up.  Stick around more snippets of informative justice are on the way…

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Big changes since last week kibitzed away and lot’s of rankings went up and down.  The regions in the south seem to be upping the border patrol in regards to the save situation, as both Texas and Arizona are forming committees.  For this week, I would rather focus on the desert instead of the burbs of Arlington.  So with the demotion of Addison Reed and a full on committee type approach, I am throwing my sombrero on Enrique Burgos to stay, maintain, and hold the job.  I have touted him on two previous occasions as the “next gunslinger to be” down there, and well, guess what?  He’s here… sorta.  Until Chip Hale realizes that he has a 60’s sitcom name and gets his head out of the Archie comics, we may be stuck withe the veteran preference type thing.  We shouldn’t be, but most likely will be.  We have seen what Zig-Zag has done and Reed?  Well, he’s cooked in my eyes.  Enrique is the goods.  He is the typical high 90’s fastball having nonsense closer that you want.  His minor league numbers suggest a high K rate, an occasional propensity to give up a walk, but he is young and sealing his oats.  Be semi-patient, he has 18 total innings above A-ball.   So far in the majors, he has 20 k’s in 11 plus innings.  That is pretty nasty.

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This week I’ve got two really ugly recommendations for those of you in need of stolen bases.  The first player has been slumping badly, the second is Public Enemy No. 1 as far as some Rusney Castillo fans are concerned… Adam Eaton or considering how he’s (not) hitting lately, Adam “I haven’t Eaton in days”.  Ok, he’s not exactly old yet and his 59/5/37/14/.264 ROS (Rest Of Season) Steamer projection (R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG) is actually quite good and is in fact better than the projections of some of the younger players I’ve recommended previously.  Secondly, we have Shane Victorino aka Rusney Castillo’s wet blanket (well to be fair, Castillo’s inability to stay healthy has been his own wet blanket, but let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story) who is back from injury.  He might not be worth owning if he’s only going to start 4 times a week but if he’s starting 5-6 times a week, well, he’s better than a lot of other players out there.   Before dismissing Eaton and Victorino keep in mind veterans Nori Aoki and Angel Pagan have fared pretty well this year.  And let’s face it, I’m basically making recommendations here for your last roster spot.  These are all players that are fairly expendable, that’s why they are out there in so many leagues.

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OBPwulf opened to lukewarm reviews in the Grandal Opry in 2012. One critic said the country number performed by the girl in Daisy Dukes can only be described as “poon twang” to those sitting in the front rows. Another critic argued that a show dedicated to a catcher, who never topped 15 home runs and had a career .247 average, but was good at OBP, while being delivered in country music songs written in archaic Old English prose, would struggle to find an audience. And struggle it did. Until it moved to Los Angeles and got a cast change to Carrie Underwood and Craig Wayne Boyd. Now the story of OBPwulf is singing! Yesterday, Yasmani Grandal went 4-for-4, 3 runs, 8 RBIs with his 3rd and 4th homers, hitting .301. He’s owned in 39% of ESPN leagues and the Dodgers go to Coors this weekend. I didn’t put Grandal in this afternoon’s Buy column, because he’s here now. You don’t need things repeated. You don’t need things repeated. You don’t need things repeated. Sorry, I’m typing this in a cave. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I think we need to sit down and have a talk about Cody Allen.  He does his chores by striking people out on the regular, but other than that, what exactly is he doing to make us feel all cuddly as a RP-2?  I will tell you, because that’s sorta my job here at Le Razzball.  That, and I think I am the designated golf cart driver at the bi-millennial golf outing.  So I have basically looked at every facet of Allen’s year to date and even compared them to last year’s goodness that he dropped on us.  The velocity is still there, and has risen slightly over the last week, but has just one counting stat in the last 18 days.  That, my friends, is not very good at all for someone you drafted expecting a good 30 plus saves from.

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Imagine a world without Greg Holland.  Okay, got it… because it’s here… sorta.  There would be no tulip or windmill jokes and Wade Davis would basically be the freaking mac.  I was interested to see what his numbers really were, since he basically became a full time reliever towards the end of the 2013 season, and up to this date thus far in the season. So over the 89 innings of relief work, he has allowed 42 hits, 9 ER, and K/BB rate of 124/28.  I don’t curse very often, but holy sh*t.  The best thing about him is that he doesn’t have to be all-pressured to be the closer if he doesn’t want to.  Kinda like the cool kids in school, they sometime bring books to class or they just punch a juke box and say words that word normally sound like a euphemism for IBS.  I am by no means wishing Greg an injury-riddled year because, irregardless, Wade is going to do what he do.  He is far and away the most important reliever in baseball, argue that if you want… you will lose, but it’s fun to argue.  Enjoy the week’s closer updates and rankings…

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The pieces are all set, and it’s like the beginning of checkers…  Before you secretly cheat while your cousin isn’t looking, you should know that 28-of-the-30 teams have labeled a guy to be their respective closer.  Now, for some, that’s like being labeled the “Hand of the King” and with bad pitching performances, their heads will soon be on a pike out side of Comerica.  Yeah, that was a shot at you Joe Nathan, we are all whistling happy trails under our breath as you slowly ride of into the sunset Shane style.

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Does anything feel as comforting, yet restricting as a pair of fuzzy handcuffs? They just lack the masculinity that a normal grown man would like to admit…But you sprinkle in the testosterone laced excitement of fantasy baseball, and BOOM.  The fellas that we will be examining this week should be drafted in all leagues that speculate in the save department. Note to you, that is every league.  You are basically looking for these few outliers to light your path to save endearment.  First, pick a closer situation that has one clear cut guy as the fall back option. Second, find a team that looks to be on the right side of standings, which in theory is the left side, because that’s where wins go.  Third, you want a team that utilizes a keen sense of relief inevitability, vis-à-vis a manager that likes guys in certain situations; for us, that’s the guys that will be the best shut down reliever not named “closer” in the bullpen.  It’s pretty simple math there, no helmet needed or safety strapping cabinets, so you don’t pinch your digits.  So let’s have at some of Smokey’s smorgasbord of top guys you should wanna be sniping from other purveyors of the save.  Oh and by the way, I am ignoring guys like Wade Davis, Andrew Miller , and Ken Giles because if your league doesn’t draft them, then you should skip baseball and focus on Fantasy Soccer.

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So with the arrival of February comes the arrival, or “un-hibernation” of Smokey.  I was just getting comfy, curled up in my crochet loogy-blanket that my grandma made me, dreaming about what else? Bullpens, of course.  So this first post of the year is to bring you up to speed on my drafting advice for the upcoming year as it relates to the closers/holds and guys who will help you do everything but start the games.  I will be here every week, to update you on the chicanery that is the MLB bullpen picture.  So sit back, relax, and just think, it’s only four more weeks of me talking about bullpens and closers…Can you feel the excitement?  If you hate me now, you will probably wanna hold my hand by week 20 and maybe go see Jared by September 1st.  Here’s my thoughts on draft strategies for saves in the upcoming year of 2015…

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We now get to the ugly step-sister of rankings and the waiver darling position that we all chase.   The relief pitcher is by far the most debated position on who to draft, where, and when.  For the most part, I agree with you (with whatever you think), but the guys you want…if you get them where they are being drafted, usually beat or exceed value.  Injuries suck and do happen, you just can’t prevent them. You just have to be in a position of favor and hope that you land his replacement.  Sucktitude, i.e see Joe Nathan last year, is just a roster burden and usually drags you down all season because he isn’t someone you can just drop, but he makes it awfully hard to roster.  It’s a catch-22, to stat or not to stat.  Last year saw an unforgivable 10 closer changes in the first six weeks. That is not something you can pad your roster with enough save-cuffs for.  So let’s get to the first set of rankings of the year.  I will get into draft strategies for them, and as always, cover holds in the countdown to the season.

Note: Don’t forget to come visit me on the new Razzball Fantasy Soccer home everyday of the week. If you’re not familiar with the format, NBD, relax, you got us. Ralph and I are giving you the best Fantasy Premier League coverage out there. If you haven’t tried fantasy EPL, you’re missing out…

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