We all exploit it, and with good reason.  The elusive RP/SP eligibility is a sassy beast.  She entices you with peripherals and gaudy cheeses, and let’s you fill up starter spots with relievers and vice versa.  I mean, if cheese and dual-eligibility don’t draw you in, I don’t know what else to say.  As we are basically 45 games into the season for most teams, it is time to reassess the eligibility of some players.  Lots of eligibility has been added to a lot of pitchers, and that is a benefit to your fantasy roster.  Guys like J.C. Ramirez, Matt Andriese, and Jose Urena all have SP next to their names and on the reflexive, the names of Brad Peacock, Archie Bradley, and Jorge de La Rosa have been on some rosters at some points in the year. So do yourself a favor and scour the waivers in your leagues and recheck the eligibility of some of the players that have some use in some leagues.  It is a coveted thing in the preseason, so why not now? Get comfy, it is the closer report for this week!  Lot’s of tibits or bittids for you folks battling dyslexia.

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With the state of the pitching landscape, moments like last Thursday night, when Twins’ prospect Jose Berrios finally flourished in the major leagues force all fantasy owners turn a very watchful eye north to Minnesota, with a club that has situated itself atop the AL Central heading into Sunday’s action.

After two starts, Berrios has 15.1 innings of work under his belt with 15 strikeouts and two walks. Good for a sub 1.00 ERA and a FIP, that isn’t as good as Kenley Jansen’s -0.95, but will be buoyed by the advanced control always touted as a strength. How much of his current line is indicative of what we should actually expect is more of a puzzle after how dominant he was at home against the Rockies. Tampering expectations might come because his matchup was the second of a double header, and despite the Rockies hold on the NL West, their WRC+ in both home and road games is sub 90, suggesting they might be playing a bit over their heads.

Now that I’ve gotten the two most obvious points to calm us down from Ian Desmond’s comment that Berrios’ stuff looked like Jose Fernandez, I still can’t get over the fact that Berrios had 20 swinging strikes, seven on his curveball, 12 on his fourseamer, and a lone whiff to his sinker. This was basically double the amount of whiffs he had on his fastball and curveball independently, at any point in his major league career. Needless to say, this was a glimpse at the peak of the Berrios mountain. Watching this start, it was painfully obvious that the Rockies had no chance on his curveball, which he threw near 35% of the time and generated about 20% swinging strikes on.

Thursday was a game of firsts for Berrios, but as with any player that storms onto the scene, taking a step back to look at what is actually possible moving forward is extremely important.

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Well, the demise of the active leader in career saves has happened. I can remember the days when he burst on the scene all wide-eyed and rally monkey backed.   That, unfortunately, was a dogs age in closer years.  Hell, most closers now a days are judged by weeks instead of years.  I personally don’t wanna think that he is completely done closing, but I think that he is done closing with the tigers (barring an injury or three).  So now it is the Justin Wilson show.  He is no stranger to high-leverage spots as he has been a critical holds guy for the past three years.  For comparison’s sake, think Tony Watson type of reliever… they even came up together with the Pirates to boot.  So the main question is will Wilson continue as such as the Tigers closer?  I say why not.  Joe Jimenez isn’t ready for prime time yet, or they don’t wanna throw the reigns on him yet.  The team has looked mediocre, and sorta old.  So alleviating Wilson to the closer role does two things: Makes their best reliever in the bullpen the closer, and it gives him even more trade value should the Tigers fall out of the race and eventually sell of some pieces.  Saves are ownable everywhere, and this doesn’t appear to be a committee type thing, so if you own him good on ya.  Let’s see what else is going down on Save Street lately…

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When struggles happen, the fantasy geeks come out of the wood work with words like “decreased velocity”, “contact rate” and “swing strike percentage”.  Now I am no geek, but Roberto Osuna is failing the eye test for me.  Control is all over the place and he has zero confidence in his pitches.  Yes, if you look at all his secondary pitching attributes, they are all down or up for the worse.  First, his velocity is down almost two MPH from last year.  Granted, he did miss some time this spring though, so there is a reason to have a letter from his mom to explain that.  His z-contact rate (pitches in the strike zone) is off the charts bonkers.  It currently sits at 91%.  If he had pitched more than five innings to date and qualified, he would have the highest such contact rate in baseball among relievers.  That is not a good trait to have as a closer, let alone a mammal.  Finally, his swing strike percentage has bottomed out at a cool 10%, which would put him outside the top-100 relievers.  And surrounded by names like Tommy Hunter and Michael Ynoa, all staples to a flourishing fantasy team.  So what do we do?  You cuff him.  Jason Grilli is the best name there and Ryan Tepera just got the save in extra innings the other day.  All we can hope for from Bobby Osuna is that with some more innings and builds back up to the 9-plus K/9 reliever we drafted as our 1A closer.  It isn’t time to panic, but do yourself a favor and cover your bases.  Here’s what else is going down in the end game… Cheers!

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It was right in front of our faces and we ignored it.  No one said the obvious.  The elephant in the room.  We all should have known that we were getting fooled by the A’s because we trusted a Melvin.  A Melvin!  After years of hoodwinking by Upton, we now get the reflexive of this, and are getting bobbed.  Predictably, the A’s manager has made a real hash of the bullpen situation already, and we only sit four games into the season.  I get his mentality in some states, because you want your best pitcher pitching to the best players in the opposing lineups and yadda, yadda, yadda.  But this is fantasy baseball sir.  We don’t have the time or social skills warranted to be able to deal with this type stuff.  So for those of you living on a house boat with no wifi, the A’s bullpen usage is a flummoxed up mess with no one to trust.  It’s like November 23rd, 1963 in Dallas, Texas type of questioning everything.  Madson was the presumed closer and he has been treated as the go to guy for getting the tough outs.  Twice against the middle of the order which included a Trout named outfielder.  Then the first day went to Santiago Casilla, then the next day to Ryan Dull.  But the things that boggles the mind is set orders here.  I get that it is early and mixing and matching is cool like millennials do with socks now, but we need some kind of pecking order for rostering-type priorities.  I can’t deal with this madness, I am going to alphabetize my canned goods.  In the mean time, check out the closer menu, now with a deal on salads.

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Everyone that reads Razzball knows me as the guy that writes about points leagues. Either that, or the dude whose posts you never read. What most don’t know is that I secretly dislike points leagues, at least traditional head-to-head leagues. I might have mentioned that at some point in some post in the past, but that’s a discussion for another day. While I focus on points leagues for Razzball, I studied the art of rotisserie baseball at a young age. I was introduced to fantasy baseball back in 1991 when I was only fourteen years old. It was supposed to be an NL-only league, but shortly before the draft the league fell apart so I took over a team in the AL-only league. My dad paid and I played. The league was all adults and me, and I somehow managed to finish in third place out of ten teams. Nowadays the only place you can find an adult league that allows boys is through NAMBLA. Do yourself a favor and do not google that acronym. Is google and official verb yet?

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I think the biggest question I always get when I’m out for dinner trying to inconspicuously eat is: Who should I cuff and when should I start drafting handcuffs for the inevitable closerpocalypse?  My advice is always: As soon as I am done eating, I will tell you.  I then proceed to give them the Irish goodbye and smile as I gleefully think that I got the best of them.  But in all seriousness, the biggest question is: Do I cuff myself or do I cuff someone else’s closer?  Me personally, I am a “cuff someone else’s” kinda guy.  This way, it gives you better odds to have another closer.  Where as if you cuff yourself, you are only replacing what you already drafted to expect.  So in theory, look for the best cuff options that you currently don’t own and steal them from someone else.  Leaving them short and for you, the possible plus one.  So with this theory in mind, I have made a list of the guys that I would want to draft first, second and so on.  I have done closer lists with their back-ups, holds guys, and the pecking order and now you get the best handcuff options to draft and sit on.  Enjoy!

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Before we jump right into this draft recap, let’s go over a little bit of background about the league and its details. This isn’t like the typical RCL 5×5 rotisserie league we often talk about in this space. LOEG is a 10×10 head-to-head keeper league, with 10 teams and four keepers per team from year to year. The league has been around for something like ten years and has been graced by the presence of yours truly for the past five.

Since the categories, scoring, and rules are a little different in this league I’ll break down all the details below. I think it’s important to break this down a bit first because not only do I want to bore you to death, but I want you to have all the information while you are going over the results and making fun of my team in the comments section. Anyway, here we go:

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Surprise.  Huston Street is already injured and being replaced by someone who isn’t the full measure or picture of health in Cam Bedrosian.  Cam is the goods, it is just a matter of him grabbing that role, remaining healthy, and then riding off into the sunset like the end of the movie Shane.  Minus the slumped-over presumably a dead thing.  The thing that I love about Cam is that he is growing as a pitcher.  He always had the K/9 rate (9.3 in 2014, 9.2 in 2015, and 11.4 in 2016), but the thing that says that he is legit is that his walk rate was basically halved last year.  To extrapolate on that further, in his last 26 appearances of last year he faced 92 batters, walked 8, and allowed 12 hits.  Good for a slash line of .146/.239/.159 for a .398 OPS.  That is approaching reliever stalwarts like Bush and Barraclough. And we know how much they are coveted right now, and they don’t have a sniff of savedom. Oh… and add in only one earned run during that time.  Stats sound great because they are basically forgotten about, because his season ended the first week of August.  He was basically licking the closer bait, and then poof.  Til now.  If you are looking to invest in him for the season, he is basically going to give you Kelvin Herrera type production, and by his ever rising ADP (last week 200, this week 140) the secret is out for the save chase in La La Grey.  Let’s see what else is going down in the realm of closers as we get ever closer to draft days…

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I think this will conclude this year’s rankings for all players, but with the way closer roles can change between now and Spring Training, finishing will be bountiful. There seems to be a big difference among experts in the top-10, and I am no different.  Also, the bottom tiers for the rankings are a “wait and see” proposition, as there are easily 7-8 teams with a closer by committee situation, or at best, a closer who is a retread of a retread.   Everyone knows who you are Fernando, you don’t have to stand up and raise your hand or shoot an arrow fictitiously at me.  So as we approach draft season and beyond, use this list for now, because the situations will be fluid from here on out.  As I promised two weeks ago, you will get a new list every two weeks, with a holds post (no it won’t be in different color for people who just skip the preface of an article) in betwix.  Get excited folks! Spring is sorta here, and with that comes all of Grey’s rankings, my closer and bullpen stuff, and basically every tool under the sun to help you be the best you can be.  Now get out there and win one for Flipper!

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