The season to date leader in holds heads to the DL and one of the better bullpens in baseball is in a tailspin… not so fast!  The Rockies have reliable arms that can cement games just as well as Adam Ottavino has done for the year.  With the likes of wily veterans in Mike Dunn, Chris Rusin, and even a little smattering of Jake McGee, the sedimentary bunch is going to attempt to hold down the fort. The comforting thing is that the Rockies lead MLB in holds as a pen, least amount of blown saves and have the most games pitching with a lead with 99 total.  The scary thing with the shoulder injury is that Ottavino is a stash, or a dash, and replace with new military holds parts made from recycled relievers.  Wait a week, see if the 10-day DL stint is a pain in the tuther end, and I can see if you need the space in Holds leagues, the move make sense.  I would most likely grab Dunn, Rusin, and McGee in that order, as the setup game in front of the Dutch Master is going to be pieced together differently than what we saw so far.  No need to panic though, there are tons of saves in the 6-8 innings to go around.  Speaking of which, let’s see what is going down in the neighborhood of hold-dom…

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What I particularly like about relievers is versatility.  The situation in San Diego is the one in particular I want to discuss.  We were all lured into the Carter Capps preseason love, and I was on the wagon driving the horses as well, but his injury and the results that we expected aren’t coming as fast as we hoped.  He isn’t bowling over anyone in the minors, sporting a 6-plus ERA, and the obnoxious K-rate hasn’t materialized.  Now onto the major league roster which isn’t lighting any fires.  They are second from the bottom in bullpen ERA, have only 12 holds on the year, and now their closer has hit the skids.  He being Brandon Maurer.  Enter who I think should, could be the next man up while we wait (forever) for Capps.  Brad Hand offers that former starter turned good.  I may just call him the Vigilante of holds and possibly saves very soon.  He has the K-rate, the BAA and the moxy to do the job… it is just a matter of if SD is ready to pull the trigger on something because Maurer looks cooked.  Regardless of his situation moving forward or your league perimeters, Hand is worthy for a spot because of speculation and the K’s that he will produce.  This is the bullpen report for this week, so let’s see what’s happening in the setup game and the hold chase…

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The biggest question I get regarding the Hold stat is: “How long should I hold onto a stud holds reliever if he isn’t getting the precious stat?”  Well, the stat is fluctuation between the sublime and the superfluous.  It is usually as explainable as binary calculus.  Take, for example, the story of the San Francisco Giants bullpen.  They have all the right pieces there to be a successful bullpen.  A stud closer and an excellent mix of RH and LH set-up men.  Now look closer at the stats.  Hunter Strickland is by all intents and purposes the 8th inning guy.  He has 12 appearances, 11 of which have come in the 8th inning or later in ball games.  He checks every other box for stats, low ERA, K/9 right about where you want it, but the inevitable stat faux pas is he has zero holds.  On a team that only has 9 holds collectively, what is going wrong?  He isn’t doing anything wrong, he isn’t vexed by a succubus or anything bad.  hell I bet he helps old ladies cross the street and then steals their groceries.   The simple answer is that the hold stat is an ever flowing team driven ideal.  Doesn’t mean I hate it, one bit.  i love the secondary save.  It just comes out of the blue sometimes and people who sometime deserve to be the beneficiary aren’t that’s all.  Hunter will finish the year with his share, but right now in holds leagues he is almost unownable.  So look elsewhere for good match-ups, good form in pitching, and the ever important stat with relievers is when did they pitch last.  That is the best determinant in acquiring a waiver wire darling.  If he pitched yesterday, odds are he won’t today.  Be smart as picking reliever for holds is a dumb game, don’t over-think it.  Here are some other deets, in the game of set-up…

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Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye.  Until then baby, are you going to let them hold you down and make you cry? Don’t you know?  Don’t you know things can change, things’ll go your way, if you hold on for one more day.  

That music of genius was brought on by a smooth impromptu karaoke session in a West Boston saloon.  It was me and Ralph and a girl who was paid by the dollar to talk to us about her kid.  It’s all a true story.  Fun times were had, and at the time I didn’t realize how correlative the song was back then to this particular stat category and one that is by far my favorite to talk about.  Funny, it only took a Wilson Phillips song on the drive home from work to reminisce about Boston, Ralph, and relief pitching.  I love the stat, not everyone uses it, but I still love it nonetheless. If your leagues uses it, cool, well I will be your every other week destination for giving you the low-down on the hold situations going across the MLB.  So get comfy, with a week to go until Spring Training starts, and the full extent of the 2017 season yet to play.  You will get sick of me, in say… 30 weeks.  So get comfy on your favorite porcelain fantasy reading chair and welcome to a brand new year!

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When looking at the standings, it is usually a great indicator of how well a team is doing by looking at the Hold leaders.  It doesn’t tell you all or is the end all be all of indicators, but when you have three guys in the top-4, it speaks volumes.  It shows the team is ahead, but not by so much that they are blowing people out, have a great set of flow through the bullpen with set jobs, and they are successfully in-sync.  Not that “in-sync”, but yeah, sorta because something that included J.T. can’t really be all that bad.  So what is making the Chicago White Sox so good at what they are doing right now?  First, it starts from the last inning back.  David Robertson has the goods of what you want from a closer, he has the K-rate and decent control to limit base runners.  What I am noticing is he is keeping the ball away from the upper part of the zone, which was his buga-boo from the past; that he gives up too many homers.  In front of him, he has a trio of relievers with different mindsets.  Nate Jones is basically a closer in front of the real closer, but with a better approach of pitching to contract then K’ing everyone.  Zach Duke is by far the sexiest LOOGY in the business right now and Matt Albers is an all effort pitcher with tons of movement on his pitches.  Add in the fact that they have Putnam and Petricka as sub pieces that can fit into anyone’s role, and they have what looks like in the early stages of the season the best bullpen in baseball. That is not to say that it will last but the investment level from a fantasy level, especially from a holds league, but it is very stout.  So check out the other tidbits and bits tids that I have for you after the bump.  (Plus a chart that monitors usage and runs given up by relievers that usually lead to them losing or gaining spots in the pen.)

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As much as I love publishing and giving you the “haps” on the closer ranks, I love the depth that a bullpen can give you and how it can affect your roster.  It is way to early to look into my Grafix crystal ball and say this guy and that one will be the crowned prince of the hold this year… to some degree.  Early usage and situations prove a lot.  Yes, injuries happen, and ineffective spells happen, and sometimes trades happen, but if you were good enough to make the team out of Spring, then usually you are good enough to make yourself an established piece of the bullpen.  The top names are still the top names.  The cream either rises to the top or it rules everything around me, both perspectives are interesting because how can you not believe the Wu or old school rhetoric. So with the first bullpen piece of the year, we will cover all the same things you are accustomed to from last year as I get more in-depth than anyone else when it comes to holds.  Some don’t care or are on the fence, as if it’s a completely comical or made up stat.  It is no more made up then saves, because that is exactly what it is, just before the save… so it is basically a pre-save.  Either way, I care and will give you some early trends to look at and some names to go with it.  Trends rule everything around bullpens or TREAB, dolla dolla bill y’all.

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You know, picking your fantasy baseball pitchers is surprisingly a lot like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  At the beginning, you want the old reliable guys – you know – the ones that can barely walk.  Looking at you R.A. Dickey.  You’ve got all this potential for an Oscar-winner/fantasy title.  But as the movie and baseball season progresses, you want younger and younger guys with the upside of their ML debuts and big K potential against hitters who have never seen them before.  Then after a longgggg middle half (and the dog days of summer in the baseball season), you’re in the final act and you’re ready to throw out there any 20-something-year-old just for the hell of it (just ask Kathy Griffin about that).  Or you’ve walked out of the movie because you’re just not into it.

As you well know, Pitcher Profiles usually select a pitcher from Sunday, but with overwhelming questions and requests for a profiling of Danny Salazar, I felt overwhelmed to buck the trend.

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When Jose Fernandez walks into the 18-and-over strip club, where only the drinks are virgins, that’s called “Rookie Nookie,” he flips his rookie cards like they’re dollar bills, yelling, “Jose make it rain! Jose make it rain! Get it? Hoe say, ‘Make it rain.'” He explains his puns, but he doesn’t need to explain his stuff. It’s filthy with a side of Dirt Nasty. Last night, his line was 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners (2 hits) and 10 Ks. Sure, it was against the Padres, but Nolasco just got his asco handed to him by the same team. Fernandez is in the upper echelon of K-rates (9+) for all pitchers with a more than manageable walk rate (hair above 3). Oh, and he’s 20 years old. He can’t buy alcohol! He can’t legally marry an illegal alien in the state of Mississippi without parental consent! He’s so young Jose Tabata’s wife could’ve gave birth to him! He skipped right from High-A to the majors, so this is basically his Double-A season. I just got goose pimples on my butt thinking about how good he can be next year. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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You wanted to sell R.A. Dickey, but no one was buying. Seeing last year as a fluke. Said he couldn’t do it again. Said you had too much fruit in your tapioca for even drafting him. They told you go fly a kite with Dickey, but not around children or it would be weird. Then Dickey throws a two-hit shutout yesterday with 6 Ks and you showed them that the only good thing that ever came out of being a naysayer is horse whispering. Or did you? Do you know anything more about Dickey than you did two days ago? He says he’s been dealing with cold weather and a sore back and he’s blaming the WBC. Excuses are like Alcides Escobar, everyone has one and they all smell. Did Dickey’s back suddenly clear up? Because he gave up six earned in his last start. Was the weather in his last start cold and Dickey shrunk up? This shutout was against the Rays, who are now 10 for their last 99 against him. They see Dickey and immediately go limp. Finally, your Dickey looks to be pointing in the right direction, but I wouldn’t start writing his name on your underpants just yet. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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When I told you to pick up Joaquin Benoit yesterday, I was 85% sure he would close games until the Tigers traded for Papelbon, who will be known in Detroit as a Papelbonneville. Then, because Leyland reads Razzball between smokes, he named Benoit closer by not naming him the closer. He said, “I’m not naming anybody closer. I’m just saying if Benoit was available right now, I would try to close with him.” Thanks for clarifying! Managers deciding on a closer is like debating euthanasia. Valverde’s done, pull the plug! The Yelp reviews for Benoit are through the roof, but there’s a lot of five star reviews from fantasy baseballers with only one other closer. I’d grab Benoit in all leagues and hope he can hold the job and make the thought of trading for Papelbonneville absurd. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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