With the season winding down and most H2H leagues in full-on go mode, this week’s holds post will be the last one of the year.  I know, so sad, right?  It has been a 25-week journey into the pits and pendulums that are fantasy bullpens.  But with the conclusion, it is always good to look ahead to next year for everyone in keeper, dynasty or just anyone looking to get a jump on next year now.  I mean, I never stop really doing bullpen research all year, I drink one can of beer at a time and then look to the bottom of the can to see if the answer or answers are printed on the bottom.  Alas, I haven’t found one yet, but that won’t stop me from trying again and again in my ever search for bullpen enlightenment. Things to look for late in the year for future bullpen potential; high leverage usage, a great success with stranded runners and a great situational involvement in that teams bullpen moving forward. Just a P.S., those are the things I give you with every bullpen piece in my helpful chart. Yes that last one is tough because we never know who will be traded and add or subtract value from another, but great bullpen arms on one team with potential for holds, saves and just overall decent fantasy return are very rarely ever traded and don’t return to same spot with new team.  So put your feet up, I have 10 more beers left before this post is done…

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As the season draws nigh, and it comes to the point in the season when we here at Razzball use words like nigh, verisimilitude, or even rancorous.  Don’t ask me what the meaning is, because I could barely spell them without my handy speak and spell.  The whole gist of this discussion is to basically look at our roster and think diversification.  Look at the bullpen pieces that currently occupy one or several of  your pitcher spots.  I say this because we all want counting stats at all times, and in a manner… this is why come the end of the year, it is very sexy to have guys who have multiple pitching eligibility for the off chance your don’t have a starter going in a spot or on an innings limit.  These fellas help out in K’s, rates, vulture wins, and since we are here for the holds, they do them too.  Listen, this isn’t a new thing or a crazy theory that I concocted in my basement after painting too man model airplanes.  Though, the thought process after that is kinda cloudy and sorta fun? So here is a rundown of the guys with some dual eligibility late in the fame to aide in your fantasy quest. Cheers!

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Rough year to be a Prince.  Watch yourself William, Henry and the kid who played Fred in the atrocious Scooby-Doo movies.  Prince Fielder is done from baseball with 319 homers.  Of the tens of thousands of other baseball players that have played the game, the only other person retired with exactly 319 homers is Cecil Fielder.  They are also the only two members of the 300-300 club — 300 HR/LB.  This also leads me to believe we’re on an 18-year loop with 1998.  Wait until Hillary Clinton meets a young Jewish intern in the White House who is just back from Cuba with some cigars.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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One look at this week’s most added player list in ESPN fantasy baseball leagues causes me to reminisce about my younger days in the early-mid 2000s. I can vaguely remember the bar-hopping, insane amounts of alcohol consumption, and late nights that frequently occurred during that time period. One thing that I can clearly recall from those days is closing time at those various establishments when the ugly lights would come on and that Semisonic song would be blaring over the speakers, signaling that it was time to pack up and go. Stumbling out the door and finding a local diner to satiate my pork roll, egg, and cheese fix meant that it was a good night. When no diner was to be found, man was that an annoying song! Why’d you have to ruin a perfectly good evening, Semisonic? It’s all your fault. Drunken logic! But I digress. The point is that this week could easily be dubbed closing time in fantasy baseball, as there were serious changes in the late inning pecking order of several teams. Injuries to Wade Davis and Huston Street created opportunities for Kelvin Herrera (39.2% owned; +10.8% over the past week) and Cam Bedrosian (22.8%; +17.2%) in the 9th inning in Kansas City and LA respectively. The trade of Jeremy Jeffress to Texas opened the door for Tyler Thornburg (31.0%; +16.8%) to close games in Milwaukee. But the biggest gainers of the week were the new stoppers in Seattle and Houston, Edwin Diaz (57.9% owned; +44.7%) and Ken Giles (57.0% owned; +37.9%). Diaz claimed the role for the Mariners after incumbent Steve Cishek hit the disabled list, and Giles took over for the Astros for a struggling Will Harris, and fantasy owners quickly pounced on the explosive duo. Over the last 30 days, Diaz and Giles have combined for 43 strikeouts against just 5 walks and have allowed just one earned run over that span. Their swinging strike rates are 24.1% and 25.4% respectively, and they’ve each averaged over 97.5 mph on their fastballs. There might not be more than five or six closers that I’d want more than these guys right now, so grab them if the other owners in your league have been asleep at the wheel.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

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The price that was paid, and the results that led him up to the trade had everyone believing that Andrew Miller would trump the incumbent Cody Allen in Cleveland.  Through two-pitched games, he has seen one save opportunity in the 6-7th inning, and the other was in a losing effort.  Now, I am not reading the tea leaves here, but after just two appearances and five games overall, I think Cody is not a droppable player in any format, saves holds or NSVH.  I mentioned it out loud to myself after the trade was completed, and also to Prospector Ralph.  With 55 games to play and save chances in 52 percent of games won… so that would leave 14 or so chances for the Indians and Miller to retain value.  And don’t get it twisted, he still has a ton of value with a ridiculous K-rate over 16, and the Indians are still a first place squad.  Just everyone that seems to matter has struggled with the Twins. It’s crazy that they are 20-plus games under .500.  So for the Allen owners, hold firm, like Gi-Joe style grip type stuff.  Miller owners, you have most likely owned him all year, so your peripherals aren’t going to be flawed because of him.  As far as saves go, I think it could go 70/30 the rest of the way and be a situational thing on occasion.  Let’s look at the plethora of changes that are basically pillaging the relief ranks around baseball…

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Shaba Antone in the know knows that I am all about Jamaica.  Love to visit the place.  I also have several friends that reside on the isle and like to partake in the national festivity of… well, you know, don’t make me say.  The Dodger pen has been a flux of capacitors all year, and I think at some point I’ll bet a sixer on the leading hold leader from them being someone who may have contracted a melanoma.  Enter Joe Blanton.  The resurrection project of all resurrection projects.  Not only has he flourished in the role of set-up to the stars, but he doesn’t seem to have any competition to say the opposite.  In his last 30 days, minus a week off for the All-Star break, he has a one-off the pace total of 7 holds, a K/9 rate of above average, and an ERA of two bills.  All this for a team that has lacked stability setting up the dude who sounds like someone you would rent a kickboard from in Jamaica.  Now, he isn’t the only reason for the Dodgers having a top-5 bullpen ERA in the last 30 days, but he isn’t not-not the problem.   He is someone you may need to own though, add in the fact that in some leagues, I have SP eligibility, and he looks even sexier.  So now that we have got the lede out the way, let’s get to the milk and cookies of the bullpen report.

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I am always a day late and a buck short on the posts because I am relegated to be the Saturday morning cartoon of the Razzball variety.  No worries, I mean, who doesn’t love 80’s cartoons and can’t list 10 shows that would drastically alter children’s universes today?  One word… Snorks.  So with everyone else doing the second-half rankings, I felt it was my duty to give the closer rankings based solely on the second games remaining.  The elite will still be the elite, the mediocre are still mediocre, and the middling teams will still be middling. I don’t care what algorithm Jimmy Bill came up with to have expected win totals and blah blah.  Expected win totals are an indicator of save expectations. because the percent of saves converted in wins by teams has been pretty stagnant at 52%, give or take a few sheckles each way.  So looking at the games remaining, some teams have less games to play then others, and some have more so the expected totals for some teams will be different then what you would expect them to be.  So as a wise person once said to me in throws of fantasy passion, lets have at it.  Cheers!

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Earlier this week, we looked at some lightly owned hitters in ESPN leagues who could be potential difference makers in fantasy baseball over the second half of the season. Today, it’s time to focus on some pitchers who can give your fake teams a boost down the stretch. Even if your team’s ratios look more unsightly than a Meg Ryan facelift, there’s still plenty of time remaining to fix those issues. So put down those Francisco Liriano and James Shields voodoo dolls people, and let’s go to work.

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*nervous finger tap*  How many days without baseball?  So, I can close my fantasy baseball team browser window without missing anything?  Okay.  *throws computer out window*  What?  Was there another way to close my fantasy team page?  I hadn’t in so long I forgot.  What do you mean I can go outside without worrying about missing anything in baseball?  But there’s real people out there!  I’m staying right here, thank you very much!  So, we’re headed to the break, but Craig Kimbrel just has a tear, no break. He hit the DL with a medial meniscus tear in his knee.  Oddly enough, a remedial mend-iscus Band-Aid is not used to fix this.  I think you messed up modern medicine, but I’ll reserve judgment.  This will sideline Kimbrel for about four weeks.  In his place will be Koji Uehara.  Koji is famous for his food truck and 41-year-old junk pitches.  The newly-acquired Brad Ziegler, who should put a Z like Zorro on the mound after every strikeout, will back up Uehara, because Ziegler’s kinda bleh (1.40+ WHIP, 6-ish K/9) and Koji’s been in Boston a while.  Since Boston’s colors are red, they should call him Scarlett Uehara.  As for over in Arizona, I agree with Dan Pants in Saturday’s roundup.  The non-Yankee Clippard is the one to own.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Whatever your cultivation of choice may be, go with it.  Oscar Gamble was, and is still a pimp in social culture, as is California sensemilia.  So whatever your subset of life is, that’s cool with me.  My obsession is a little of column A, a lot of column B, and I incorporate column C.  Column C being my love and passion for the deliverance of the most finite bullpen jargon on the web.  Go look, there isn’t anything better than me.  I checked, if I added a pretty colorful chart with catchy funny names, then I would literally have to kick my own ass.  So here we sit, and look at what the Rangers are doing.  They have been doing, in the last 30 days what the Cubs did over the first 30.  They are, in no large part, being buoyed by a stout bullpen.  Their starters are all hitting the DL and fast.  The trio of Matt Bush, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson are about as tight as a bullpen can get, and the best group I have seen since the Isley Brothers concert Prospector Ralph and I went to see.  I have talked about Dyson and Diekman on separate occasions this year.  So no, it’s the one without voting privileges turn.  Bush has basically been a la machina since promotion on May 12th.  He has appeared in 13 games for the Rangers to date, and his usage has only recently spiked having pitched in 13 of the last 22 overall for the Rangers.  His 10-plus K-rate over that time is coupled with an ERA under a buck and his xFIP is basically what David Phelps is giving you.  Who, in most hold leagues right now, is pretty much a must own and isn’t a guy you yawn at in mixed company leagues either.  Bush is a feel good story that I think can continue as long as the Rangers can duct tape their starting rotation together long enough to maintain their AL West dominance.  He should be rostered in most leagues going forward for his usage potential as the remaining Rangers starters, minus Cole Hamels, average less than 6 innings per start.  So head for the mountains and roster some Bush.  Stick with me for some other diatribes of greatness…

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