My years of sitting in French cafes, smoking really long cigarettes and wearing a beret, while sneering at children and puppies, has taken its toll.  I’m no longer the innocent fantasy baseballer who picks up just any potential rookie call-up.  I have more discerning tastes now.  When I was a mere jejune tot, I’d sip a combination of ale and grenadine my bartendress called a Monaco and talk about Super 2’s and so-and-so was going to be the next Ryan Braun-like call-up.  I’m no longer a tot; now, I’m a full potato, and I drink gin with extra juniper berries.  Crunching on juniper berries, coughing from a tumor, watching cyclists in spandex shorts, carrying baguettes.  The days bleed together.  I take out my daily planner and pencil, lick the pencil, turn the calendar day to make a note to, “Buy more Virginia Slim 120s,” when I read a note to myself, “It’s almost June, start picking up rookie call-ups, you dipshit!”  Ah, yes, Daily Planner Grey has a point.  Today, I decided to highlight Trea Turner.  At this point, he feels like the number one call-up.  A.J. Reed, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Orlando Arcia might make bigger impacts, but the Nats consider themselves a playoff team and they’re in a heated division battle right now.  I doubt they let Dusty simply ignore Turner because Espinosa is older.  Older really isn’t a reason to play someone.  An exec has to relay that to Dusty at some point.  Turner looks like he could be a Francisco Lindor-type from last year — 7-10 HRs, 15-18 steals, solid average.  Basically, a top ten shortstop from the time he’s called up.  I would stash him now–*coughs*  Sorry, I accidentally bought Virginia Slim 140s.  The extra 20 is killing me.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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“Hey, I’ll take two home runs from Khris Davis and be more than happy.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I’ll take one homer.  Gently farting in your direction, Prince Fielder.  Three homers?  Well that is too much for my little old heart.”  So began the monologue I told myself in my mirror last night.  I was wearing a fedora with a feather in it and no pants.  That’s added color for you to understand the scene.  Then, it was the ninth, the A’s in the lead and Davis’s night looked over with two homers until.  Dot dot dot.  Ian Desmond homered off Ryan Madson and sent the game into the bottom of the ninth inning.  Khris Davis came up to the plate, bases loaded, already with two homers on his scoresheet, could he hit one more?  Could my monologue presented to my reflection come to fruition?  Could my neighbors stop screaming for me to put on pants?  Yes on all three!  Finished the night with 3-for-5, 6 RBIs and three homers (9, 10, 11).  I had Davis ranked around eight rounds higher than anyone else because I thought he could easily hit 30 homers in an age when 30 homers doesn’t come that easily.  Has anything changed since the preseason?  Yeah, the date.  Dur.  I love Khris Davis and right now looks even better than his namelganger, Chris Davis.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, Buster Olney tweeted, “Kevin Gausman is pitching tonight probably exactly the way the Orioles hoped on the day they drafted him.  Dominant stuff.”  Putting aside the unnecessary “probably” — you’ll never win a Twitter Pulitzer with needless hooha! —  is this what the Orioles hoped for?  Because it’s felt at times like the Orioles were waiting for Gausman to say some sort of secret oath to let him into the rotation and, without Podrick to prompt him, he didn’t know said oath.  By the by, I can’t look at Brienne of Tarth and not see Conan O’Brien.  Perhaps, it’s me (it’s not).  If the Orioles wanted Gausman to pitch probably exactly like this, wouldn’t they have put him in the rotation and left him alone for the last *covers mouth* years?  Not to answer, but to knowingly nod while you undress your computer with your eyes.  Since I have shares in that facacta noodle-hanger Archer, I watched the better part of Gausman’s start, and he looked better than what the boxscore says, and the boxscore says, “Yum, choco-latte.”  It also says 5 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 7 Ks in his first start back.  Gausman has the stuff to be a number one, but at worse a number two.  Not saying he will be this year; that’s just his stuff.  He probably exactly should be already, but probably exactly hasn’t been.  Still, I would grab him in any leagues where I needed upside.  A 8+ K/9, 2.7+ BB/9, 3.75 ERA starter is probably exactly what you’ll get.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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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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It feels like the Tigers have been searching for a closer since Todd Jones retired — Percival, Valverde, Nathan, Soria.  They prey on dead meat so much, they’re more like the Vultures than Tigers. Papelbon recently was heard saying, “I am going to close forever.  Wait, are those Tigers’ front office people circling above me?  Crap!”  It’s too bad none of the Syrian refugees don’t have closing experience.  So, hopefully, the Tigers’ wait to find a closer is finally over.  Unless Bruce Rondon is reading this, then the wait has just begun.  Assuming Francisco Rodriguez doesn’t get off the plane in Detroit, see an Alburquerque jersey, think he’s in New Mexico, then beat the crap out of an American Airlines pilot for flying him to the wrong city, and get arrested by federal authorities for beating up an employee of a company with the word “American” in the name and get sent to Gitmo.  Sure, this sounds unlikely, not impossible though.  With K-rod sent to the Tigers, I’ll give him the projections of 4-2/2.69/1.02/66, 42 saves in 61 IP.  As for the Brewers, their closer now is Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith or Corey Knebel, i.e., the offseason is still young and they could trade for someone.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2016 fantasy baseball:

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It’s telling over a period of time, taken into account the teams success rate naturally, how well their bullpen is performing. Take a look at the Texas Rangers over the last 30 days.  They are a 19-10 and steaming toward playoff relevance… maybe.  During that time they had 17 save/hold situations.  Those of you that can’t count well, that is a lot. Leading the charge for them has been bullpen recall and future closer dubbed by me Keone Kela, who over that same 30 day period is contributing a hold basically every third game with 8.  As a team, they have 28 team holds which is more than the White Sox, Orioles, Phillies, Athletics and Mets… combined.  So basically they are the Costco of holds for those who like to buy in bulk.  Kela isn’t alone in his fantasy hold-em,  Sam Dyson has kicked in 7, Jake Diekman 6 and Sam Freeman with 4.  The best part of this whole thing is that the latter three guys were not on the roster to start the year.  I love that kind of stuff, that’s like wearing matching t-shirts with your friends whether it be on purpose or not.  Awesomely awkward.  Stick it here for some more bullpen tidbits and a fancy chart with gadgets and numbers that show an order.  Cheers!

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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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Some of the trade rumors I’ve seen are just plain funny.  Craig Kimbrel to the Yankees?  Wait, what!?  Really?  I’m not denying it as a possibility but I am thinking it might be a little overboard to acquire a premier closer when you probably only need a solid bullpen guy because you already have TWO premier closers.  The list of closers and strong middle relievers available is so long this year.  One thing’s for sure, there are going to be some strong bullpens vying for postseason play.  Here’s the lowdown on closers and some other relievers who could be dealt in the upcoming weeks, starting with some of the players most likely to be traded and ending in with those much less likely to be.

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