If there was a NBA Jam version for relievers, it would go to the Royals bullpen.  They are the hottest team since sliced pimento loaf, and as of this typing, are finding themselves tops in the AL Central.  I have said it before and I will say it again– play the hot hand until it slaps you where it shouldn’t.  They are led recently and not recently, as in all year, by Wade Davis. Davis, on the year, has been just stellar: 6-2 K rate over 13 and has allowed only 5 ER all year. That my friends is about as robust as the McRib sandwich being not not real rib meat. Over the last two weeks Davis has lead the world in Holds with 7.  His subtle sidekick has been a nice mix of Jason Frasor and Kelvin Herrera, both garnering fantasy value in their own way. Frasor notching 2 wins in relief and Herrera grabbing 4 holds for himself… both guys also have the same ERA as Davis during the last 2 weeks. It’s zero, so stop with the guesses. Ride the lightning here as the Royale’s w/o cheese are scorching the universe like a bikini waxing store. Stay tuned for more middle relief haps and slaps.

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The deadline will have past by the time you’re reading this, so I’m sorry that I can’t meet or exceed all those expectations. What I can do is give you the in’s and out’s of middle relief. Wait, why did everyone just get up and leave? There is punch and pie at the end! So is everyone else confused on what to do with Will Smith?… yeah, me too.  He’s been getting beat up lately needs a vacation. Smith leads the league in appearances, is the leader in appearances with the lead by a non-closer (41), and has pitched an amazing 17 times on consecutive days. He has rewarded you with 19( albeit painful) NSVH, but his recent implosions may lead me to think there could be a better option for the time being. His BB/9 over the last 30 screams bad news, (P.S., it’s in the seven’s). I mean, I know the 24 Holds this year is all good and looks like a Canal St. watch, but if you have someone that just reads stats and doesn’t read between the lines of fantasy too well, see if they give you a name you like better. My best advice is pull a Judas Priest and run for the hills. Stay tuned for some charts and fun words and sentences that lead to abbreviated paragraphs. Good luck in the week to come.

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Ahh, I remember the Midway, it was fun it was like an air show but instead of crashes there were bullets.  I was just informed by Jay that statement is both wrong and wrong.  Moving on as graceful as Martha Graham.  So  I was actually thankful for a few days off, unhappy I didn’t make the all-star team, but I’m told that poor vocabulary and lack of knowledge of the home row keys are not determining stats that merit all-stardom.  Holds are fun, I don’t care what you say, if that makes me a loser for rooting for a fake stat, then I’m a loser.  This guys help your team though even if you don’t play in a Holds or NSVH league.  I am being serious.  I am the Will I am Tell of the loogy business.  Let’s check out my four up and four down for the closers in the second half, and stay around after that for some set-up news and blues.

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I know bad raps can make a career… I mean Shaq made his secondary career off of them, but Joel Peralta is really getting one.  Everyone loves change, and the whole shiny new toy factor associated with bullpens, but I’m here to learn you something about guys that have been drafted, dropped, and then added and dropped twice over this year.  The Tampa Bay bullpen, and starters for that matter, are just bad this year. But, in the last 30 days, Peralta has lowered his ERA by 3-and-half runs.  That’s not exactly easy, especially on a team 15-plus games below .500. Also, he has more K’s, same ERA, and more Holds than the now more-coveted  Jake McGee during the last 30 days. Better pitcher all year, McGee, better lately? Peralta (but he burned us, so we give him the finger).  Just me giving my two cents.  I mean fluctuation, and “oooh that guy looks good in macrame shorts” are a blinding factor for rostering fringe bullpen guys.  Stick around for some cool bullet points shaped like baseballs… neat.

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Yesterday, Felix Hernandez had the best game of the season for fantasy — 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 15 Ks. F-Her was the best thing to hit the world since Natalie Portman decided it was a good idea to get naked for a short film. Granted, that short film was by Wes Anderson. In film school, it was always met with a mixture of amusement, bewilderment and excitement when any student filmmaker convinced an actress to take their clothes off for a student film. Invariably, they were a better salesman than auteur if they were able to pull it off. “So, your husband, hungry for approval, just left you for a ham sandwich and now you want to shed your clothes, which is a metaphor for the stripping of your soul. Don’t worry, it’s a locked set.” I’ve talked in the past about how if a pitcher has a difference of six between his K-rate and walk rate, then he’s usable in all leagues. F-Her has a difference of plus-8. That’s glorious. He has 106 Ks to 17 BBs. That’s insane. His ERA is at 2.39. He’s real and he’s magnificent. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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With a quarter season of jamming and cramming behind us, it may be time to start taking some serious inventory. No, not a fearless moral inventory, that’s 12-step talk and I ain’t no quitter – just ask my liver. I’m talking about taking an honest look at where your team is good and where it absolutely sucks donkey dongs*. We have enough data behind us now that we know Matt Kemp is actually Milton Bradley in disguise, Billy Butler needs a mansiere (It’s called The Bro!), Jedd Gyorko is more myth than man (and mercifully on the DL), Troy Tulowitzki is really good at baseball, and Nelson Cruz can hit a ball a long way with or without his juice. Now I’m not saying to go and blow up your team and drop Dustin Pedroia  because he has just two more homers than the late Johnny Pesky this year. What your humble-but-nonetheless-handsome Guru is pulling on your coat about here is that it’s time to drop the dead weight wasting away on your bench for some fresh meat that could save your fantasy season. I’ve played this fake game long enough to know that we have about two weeks to go until disgruntled owners completely abandon their teams for fantasy Cricket which cuts down on our trade options, but increases our chances of moving up the leader board. It was around this time last year that I bailed on Josh Rutledge and Jason Heyward for Jean Segura and Dominic Brown. I eventually traded them off for Ian Desmond and Hunter Pence. That worked, and all the cash and glory (and glory holes) were mine. Let’s scour the waiver wire for players owned 50% or less in most leagues and see if we can discover some riches for our bankrupt roster. It’s time to jam it or cram it.

*Donkey dongs is a technical sabermetric term taught at Mathew Berry’s Fantasy Baseball College for the Criminally Insane.

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Years ago, the movie industry left Mickey Rourke for dead. He couldn’t get a job with anyone. His face looked like pot-holed road that a Doberman took a dump on. His attitude was more disagreeable than Jack’s white supremacist gang from Breaking Bad. The rumors were he gave up acting prior to his last few movies and what you saw in those last few was simply a cardboard cut-out of Rourke that he bought in Chinatown in the 80′s. When Darren Aronofsky found Rourke for The Wrestler, Rourke was ice fishing in a tenement in West Virginia. The ice was methamphetamine and he’d toss a fishing line out a 4-story window and try to fish it out of a drug dealer’s hidden stash. Then The Wrestler happened and he acted well enough to distract from his face. Suddenly, the contracts started streaming in and Rourke was hot again. Then a funny thing happened. He brushed off the cardboard cut-out for his next few movies and started calling Marisa Tomei at four in the morning to see if she wanted to go get waffles and blow him. In the life cycle of Mickey Rourke, Nelson Cruz is now receiving acclaim for his performance in The Wrestler. At 33 years old, it is possible Cruz could have a career year, but he is 12 homers from his career high. What does he get the rest of the year? 15 homers? Maybe. That means you already got the bulk of his stats and it’s barely June. He’s also a .270 hitter that is currently hitting .313, so what does he do the rest of the year? 15 homers and a .260 average? That’s Khris Davis. If you have someone in your league with visions of Diner and Rumble Fish, I’d absolutely explore offers selling Nelson Cruz. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Everyone knows about the top prospects getting called up. The Singleton’s, Tavares’, and Springer’s get all the pub, as they should.  Hitters that actually hit the ball only need to be successful 3 out of 10 times, and they are considered fantastic… even all-stars.  Now a pitcher gets 3 out of 10 wins, he’s a bum of the highest order, like a bum that can’t play an instrument, but has a puppy for sympathy change.  We all know that guy.  So the rookie RP getting called up around this time may stick with their respective teams, and they may not.  The three in particular I am referring to are Cam Bedrosian, Shae Simmons and Corey Knebel.  Bedrosian’s numbers in the minors are crazy unimaginable, and he could find himself in a great situation once he gains the trust of the bullpen-opath in Scoiscia.  The latter two are prolly not really factors, just yet as Simmons is blocked by the current GOAT at the position, and Knebel, albeit the first 2013 draft pick to make the majors, is going to be a bit-player until next year unfold’s.  I just wanted to point out that bullpen only-guys that get promoted need some love, it’s not like they smell like that musically challenged, puppy wielding guy from previous.  These adds are more of a deeper league or keeper league adds now, though I have speculated on Bedrosian in a 16-teamer with a deeper bench.

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Lots of haps going on in the end-game of fake baseball this week. Matt Lindstrom fell down and sprained his crown. Surgery has already happened, so if you’re stuck in traffic, or your league has weekly adds instead of daily, Ronald Belisario looks like the dude. In case your looking for alterior adds, Daniel Webb looks like he will get some looks, as Belisario isn’t a spring chicken, nor proven commodity. So add willingly if space allows. Also in Oakland, where nothing ever survives, or lives there permanently, according to Jay(Wrong) [Ed. Note-- I was wrong. Bail Bondsman flourish there...], they finally got smart, used their shoe phone, and called in the option that may have been the right choice all along. Sean Doolittle is the shiny new toy, until the new shiny toy comes around or he breaks. I love me some Doolittle. If there was a wagon that hosted bands on it, I would be a groupie I guess. He has the K rate, the arsenal, but gets the whole “he is a lefty” shenanigans. So look past his Loogyness and just dig on the beard and 12-plus K rate, or if that doesn’t do it for ya, the 30/1 K/BB ratio.  Or if that doesn’t get ya… well, err… that was my last detail, sorry. Enjoy the tidbits of straight sizzurp laced knowledge that Stephen Hawking would even Ctl+Alt+Esc.

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Hey, hey,  hey, talking relievers on Thursday.  What could be better? Well, maybe ice cream covered in Kate Upton.  Actually strike that and flip it.  That sounds better.  OR exactly the same.  Regardless, the top ‘pens are starting to take shape as we reach the 1/5 part of the season.  The who’s are the who’s and the what the eff’s are, well, what the eff’s.  The MLB average for bullpen ERA is 3.92.  Now, that isn’t exactly something that makes you have confidence in any teams collective bullpens.   That’s why you get to be selective… take who you want and disregard the rest.  It’s like the Chinese buffet down the street– not everything looks edible, and yeah, you will probably get sick from most of it, but there’s some value savings.  Always go with the soup, excellent starter, can’t go wrong with that option.  So, take a look at bullpen arms that are doing these three things: Save situations, games with the lead, and total batters faced (and the percentage of K’s from that).  You have those three things, you have a stout middle reliever.  Yeah, I hear ya dude in the corner with his hand raised, there are other stats that we should look at.  Everyone looks at them, every site pounds you on the simple stats.  Dig deeper, look past the first page of stats and do something different.  Sorry… I was yelling. I get mad when I am hungry.  Food for me, continue reading and comments for you.

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