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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What if I told you that the top-four teams last year in Holds didn’t make the playoffs?  I know the obvious answer would be: it’s a made-up stat that does nothing but clog a fantasy roster with fodder and otherwise un-rosterable relievers.  Well, if you said that out loud, then I am mad at you and you can not come to the Razzball Winter Dance Carnival.  No, but seriously, I get offended when people make such determinations.  Listen, you are either in a league that uses Holds or you aren’t.  Not all of these guys is basically like having a second doorstop (when one doorstop will do).  Many of these guys are usable in most formats as ratio gaps in K/9, looking for cheap wins or for a slow day of waiver wire madness.  My theory on any league is to roster any two relievers that are non-closers at all times.  At worst, they decimate your rates for one day.  At best they give you an inning or two and give you great rates and a few K’s.  Now, for Holds leagues, I am a hoarder.  I live by this simple motto. Two pairs and a wild, just like five-card poker. It stands for two closers, two stud holds guys, and a streamer.  In moves leagues, it’s a little more difficult to do, but in non-move limited league, it’s a fun way to just basically win your Holds category by August, save yourself the innings/starts and then stream the holy hell out of the last seven weeks.  So since you have searched around the web and found zero other info on the topic (yeah, I looked, so take that), here are the holds tiers and sleepers for the 2016 year.

“A Hold is credited any time a relief pitcher enters a game in a Save Situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game never having relinquished the lead. Note: a pitcher cannot finish the game and receive credit for a Hold, nor can he earn a hold and a save.” ~ The edited out part of the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln.

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When your team is battling for a playoff spot, what’s the most important thing?  Winning.  Winning out of the bullpen is a thing that is not predictable, I get it, but when your team goes 7-0 from the bullpen in the last 14 games, that is just a damn near beautiful thing if you love bullpens as much as I… I mean, you may not, but that’s cool (maybe).  You have your love interests… invested in beanie babies or all your Gregg Jefferies’ rookie cards that your whole childhood fortune is invested in… Just saying, you should probably move out of your mom’s basement or branch out from the family business for a bit.  As a whole, the Pirates are a top-3 club for bullpen ERA, and are led by the king of Holds currently: Tony Watson.  Him and his merry men of “set-uphood” have completely just wrecked shop out of the pen lately, their ERA is 1.21 and they have allowed just a measly 34 hits in 52 innings.  Take it from me, that is getting the job done.  The addition of Joakim Soria has lengthened their bullpen to the point where Jared HughesJoe Blanton, and Arquimedes Caminero are in prime win plucking spots.  Yeah, I just used Joe Blanton in a fantasy write-up, and no it’s not 2000-never.  So stick around as I wax symbolic about other bullpen situations arising as we stream towards the fantasy baseball playoffs.

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All this talk about the Blue Jays offense is completely detracting from the fact that their bullpen to date has been mediocre-to-awful for most of the year.  The additions they have made, namely Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins, are a future holds market band-aid.  The one true positive addition for the back-end of the pen is Aaron Sanchez.  He comes in with filthy stuff, isn’t afraid to pitch inside, and gives them a hard throwing right-hander, which they’ve been lacking.  The Blue Jays, to date, have the fewest saves (19) namely because they do one of two things that both involving blowing.  (It’s either a blow-out or a blown save.)  It’s a miracle that they are where they are record-wise with the amount of blown saves they have (it’s 17 and counting).  But the team is setup to win, and they are going to score a ton of runs, so from a fantasy holds perspective, anyone outside of Sanchez is a fool’s chance at holds gold.  With 13 games remaining against front-running New York, the schedule isn’t on their side as the slugging they do takes away from the bullpen allure.

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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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The Cubs have recalled super catching prospect Kyle Schwarber to split catching duties while Miguel Montero is out for the next six weeks. Kyle was 3-for-4 with a run scored Friday night. We know the Cubs have a crazy amount of young talent on their roster, but Schwarber could be the final piece. I’ve seen enough baseball movies to know the hot-shot catching phenom usually comes in half way through the season to unite a bunch of ragtag misfits and lead them to victory, even though the owner wants to move them to Albuquerque. Schwarber is likely no exception. In a brief call up in June to serve as DH, Kyle slashed .364/.391/.591 with a homer and 6 RBI in 22 at bats (6 games). Extrapolate that! Let’s see…6 over 22 is equal to, carry the 1, cross-multiply, take the cosine and divide by zero…87 home runs! Whoa! Even I underestimated Schwarber’s ceiling, I guess! Or perhaps my math is off? Regardless, Schwarber is an immediate add in all leagues. In the minors, between AA and AAA he combined to hit .323/.430/.591 with 16 homers and 49 RBI. Prospector Mike ranked Kyle 7th on his Midseason Top 50 Prospects list, and Grey told you to BUY. Seventh is in the top 10 you guys. That’s right, more math. I’m just saying there is some serious upside here and Kyle Schwarber could be the biggest and smartest pick up you make all season. Now bring on the catcher questions!

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

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Since there were no games this week and players haven’t been able to get hot or cold or humid, this Buy/Sell is going to be slightly different. This Buy/Sell includes some players that are owned in more than 50% of leagues. Okay, that’s not different for the Sells, but it does change the Buys. The other day on our podcast I was asked by JB, “What is the USA Today?” Because JB was born in the 2000s. But I was also asked by him who is my biggest buy of the 2nd half. For that I said, “Um, well, I have to say, actually, actually, actually, my biggest buy is, uh, um, hmm.” Spit it out, Grey! You know how your own voice sounds weird? I wonder if that holds up for the Movie Trailer Guy. Any the hoo! My biggest buy was Adrian Beltre. For s’s and g’s, I looked at Beltre’s 2nd half from last year, it wasn’t great — six homers, zero steals, .308. Last year, he had 19 homers for the full season and he has 7 homers right now. So, I don’t think the power is going to come roaring back like he’s Mickey Maris in 1927 with Barry Bonds’s personal trainer. In my top 100 for the 2nd half of 2015 fantasy baseball (say that fast 117 times!), I gave Beltre 11 homers. That feels optimistic, but doable. His fly balls are more or less fine from last year, but he’s getting unlucky with his HRs per fly balls even though his home run distance isn’t terrible. He’s also been crazy unlucky with his BABIP. It’s sitting at .263, which would be his lowest since 2003. Basically, he’s hitting a line drive to the gap and a squirrel is grabbing it, flipping it to an outfielder and Beltre’s being called out because the ball never touched the ground. If I were struggling at corner and need to take a gamble, I’d trade for Beltre and watch the good times Esther Rolle! Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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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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For my “Rest Of Season” edition of SAGNOF Special, I’d like to start with a confession, or really more of an admittance:  I’m in two Razzball Commenter Leagues this year and last year I was in one.  Those are only the fourth, fifth, and sixth rotisserie leagues I’ve ever played in.  This despite having played fantasy baseball since 2002.  The reason is because I’ve primarily played in head to head leagues.  One of the biggest differences between the two formats is the nuance involved in the tradeoff of various hitter stats (what one hitter can give you versus what another can) in rotisserie and it becomes much more important to not just realize where you are in the standings of individual stats but to try to predict/project where you will be by season’s end.  That’s why I’ve chosen to give you some Rest of Season Steamer projections for the best base stealers.  Use it to project your own players, to project your place in the final standings, or to scheme up a trade.

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So, you may have missed out on Cesar Hernandez and I am partially to blame.  (But don’t worry because according to Rotowire “Unfortunately, he lacks both power and speed, assets he would need to be fantasy relevant in all but the deepest fantasy leagues.”  On the other hand there is also: “Cesar, basically the awesomest guy in the world.“).  Uhhh, anyway, he stole 6 bases in a three game span and I haven’t even written about him yet.  If you are wondering how that happens, it’s in large part a timing thing, although I definitely should have looked into him as soon as he started playing more often because I would have seen he did show decent speed in the minors.  So what can we expect going forward?  Well, prior to an injury to Chase Utley, Hernandez was starting less than half the time.  Despite being outfield eligible he has yet to play there this year.  Upon Utley’s return he could steal (pun intended) games from Freddy Galvis in addition to occasional starts at second base so maybe he sees 5 starts each week.  He has a pretty good track record of stealing bases in the minors but prior to this year he only stole one base in 100 games and 256 plate appearances in MLB.  I think that if you picked up Hernandez you can feel ok about it, but temper your expectations somewhat. And if you missed out you should perhaps start by looking at players that may have been dropped in your league.

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