Sneaky free K’s are all the rage for a streaming option when a starter just won’t do.  The numbers they put up are more of a collection-basis rather than a hunt, play and punt.  Relievers, not just closers, are the container that transports the glue.  Can you imagine glue not coming in a container and just being had at the local sundry store by the handful?  Messy proposition my friends.  Non-closers are what every complete fantasy team need.  They are like the egg in a good recipe – you can often substitute one reliever for another.  That’s what makes them so handy… they don’t usually carry a huge draft day burden.  They are basically free waiver-wire adds.  For those in holds leagues, that doesn’t always ring true, and when I start getting into the preseason hold rankings, some of the names will be similar.  That’s because the names you want just don’t give you holds, they give you multiple stats.  They are the five-tool performers in the industry of relief pitchers.  So here is a little preseason primer for guys who don’t really adorn too much draft day attention, but should be snagged in situations that require their services when you are short on K potential and maximizing the K/9 of your fantasy roster…

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The Cardinals never not produce prospects out of nowhere.  Double negatives don’t not be damned.  Or is that be damned?  There’s likely hundreds if not thousands (maybe five or six) prospects that have come out of nowhere for the Cardinals.  The big one I can think of is Albert Pujols.  Pujols was originally signed as the 402nd pick overall and turned down an offer of $10,000 to play instead in the National Baseball Congress, against Dick Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi.  Finally, he signed with the Cardinals when no one else wanted him.  We know how that turned out.  Jason Motte was a 19th round selection in 2003, and he was still closing games this year (though for the Cubs).  In 2001, the Cards drafted a little known shortstop, Michael J. Fox, in the last round and he had a fine career in sitcoms and starring film roles.  So, Thomas Pham was drafted in the 16th round of 2006 and came up with little fanfare.  “Little fanfare?”  No way, this is St. Louis baseball, we have the best fans yadda whatever!  Pham was considered a fringe prospect at best and a Thai beef salad at worst.  Could’ve Pham just got lost in the shuffle?  In 2014, he had 10 HRs, 20 SBs, hitting .324 in Triple-A.  Then, with no room to play in the majors, he went back to Triple-A this year and hit 6 HRs with 9 SBs and a .327 average in 48 games.  He’s likely more interesting in fantasy than real baseball, but, guess what, you numbnuts, we’re talking about fantasy.  For 2016 fantasy baseball, I could see him being a 14 HR, 25 SB, .280 hitter, who gets a huge boost if he stays at the top of the order as he’s been doing thus far.  For right now, Pham’s hitting near-.400 in the last week, and taking this back to the beginning with Pujols, he’s in the two-hole with his Phamy jewels.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Late season injuries and minor league call-ups are one thing.   Just not doing your job is an utter disgrace.  Bruce Rondon was sent home, literally, because of lack of effort.  Holy stereotypes.  Because getting out of bed, traveling first class and then having to pitch one whole inning a game in the oft-chance that your team may be winning.  Yeah, that sounds impossible to me to keep up with.  For now the Tigers will roll with a combination of Neftali Feliz and Alex Wilson.  So anyone looking for 3-4 saves til the end of the year can be rewarded with the plight of Rondon and his poor work effort.  I wouldn’t expect a treasure trove of riches, the Tigers rank in the bottom five in saves, save opps., bullpen ERA, blown saves, and believe it or not, balks by the bullpen.   I know that last stat is bupkiss, but when is the last time you ever read a balk stat in a reliever post?  It just happened for the first time in history and I am officially placing a copyright on it. So this is the final rankings for the year for closers I will do an end of the year wrap up next week with lots of zany stuff.

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I’ve made most of my recommendations this year with the long term in mind.  I’m not easily swayed by a “hot” hitter, instead I tend to lean on the projections to set an expectation level.  This late in the season, however, I’m uncertain of how effective that approach is.  We can’t exactly count on any “regression to the mean” happening over such a small sample size of games.  Some players will be good over the last few weeks, others will be poor and I don’t have a high degree of confidence that it is possible for me, or anyone for that matter, to predict the best base stealers to own these last three weeks (see this to know why).  But I have some names for you even though I have not a clue as to whether they’ll be difference makers over these last few weeks. Here’s my recommendations, I’ve attempted to rank them by number of steals they’ll get from now until the season ends…

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When I hear the name Domingo Santana, I’m immediately transported to a small village in the Catalan region of Spain.  A Gregorian monk overlooks the city of Barcelona.  A breeze of air rolls in.  Not from the Mediterranean, but it’s that breeze of air that rolls over the city from the residents pronouncing Barcelona with a lisp.  This is the Gregorian monk’s city, and his name is Domingo Santana Sr. Sr. and the year is 1789, and I feel like I just pitched a cheap wine commercial to a client at an ad agency.  “The tag line is:  This monk’s got spirit!”  Client leaves; I’m fired.  I scream, “But I’ve seen every Mad Men episode,” as the screen fades to black.  So, Domingo Santana isn’t the best guy on waivers in every league.  I’d likely go with Jayson Werth, Wil Myers and a bunch of other guys over Sunday Santana for this year, but some of youse are in keepers and this post can also be for 2016 fantasy baseball, because I said so.   According to some Jean Smarts at other sites, Santana made contact on only around 70% of minor league pitches that were in the strike zone over the past two years.  Only one other player in the minors was that bad (Rymer Liriano).  To put that in perspective, Domingo can’t hit balls that are in the strike zone.  So far this year in the majors, he has a 30% strikeout percentage.  What do all of these numbers mean?  He might hit .230 if he’s lucky.  So, why am I crushing on him so hard like I’m a Swede who just found a frozen time capsule filled with Frusen Glädjé?  Because Sunday Santana has 30-homer power and 15-steal speed, and kinda reminds me of a young Carlos Gomez with a bit less speed.  The same CarGo that struggled until he was 26 years old, and Domingo is only 23.  Will Santana ever make enough contact?  It’s hard to say, and it may not come in 2016, but I’d definitely grab him for cheap in keepers for a flyer for next year, and I like him in deeper leagues right now for some occasional flashes of the power/speed combo.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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From Koji to Ross…  Sounds like a bullpen whirlwind in the shade of a Justin-to-Kelly type scenario.  Have things goten so bad north of me… NJ… that they are just trouncing anyone out there.  Any retreads?  Well, it’s full on guess mode at the late stages of the season for the B0-Sawx.  If you are really scraping for saves this late in the game, than you my friend are a desperate man in search of desperation and regret.  The Red Sox as a team are near the bottom in blown saves, bullpen ERA and basically look drab and beaten down.  The only good news there is I think the Bruins start soon and Papi is chasing 500.  Listen, I get that you play to the end of the season, but is Robbie Ross really the direction you want to go to when the end is near? Do yourself a favor, add a quality non-closer work on your rates, your free-style composure and possibly go shop at the merry-go-round for some really cool back to school clothes.  Your pitching stats and your swagger will thank you with some compliments and some vulture wins.

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So, I’m here today to talk about The Gregorius D.I.D.  Yo, tell me, who’s hot, who’s not, who still out on waivers?  Check out my mustache, I’m no shaver.  D-I-D P-O-P-P-A, no info from the ESPN.  Free agents mad cause I’m flagrant.  Call my cell and I’m in my mom’s basement.   My fantasy team supreme, stay clean in the offseason.  Bats in holsters, pitchers and their effin’ shoulders.  Playboy, I told ya, cause I talk to the centerfolds and they talk back to me.  Hanley bruise too much, I lose too much.  I guess it’s cause you run and come up lame too much.  Me lose my touch?  Never that!  If I did, ain’t no problem to pick up a bat.  Yo, waivers, where the true players at?  So, Didi Gregorious, BK’s finest, has been smoking hot for the past week and should be owned in every league.  In the last week, he’s hitting near .600 with three homers.  Will it continue?  There’s only three weeks left of the season, it doesn’t matter if it will continue.  It’s Cadbury Crunchie time, own players that are producing right now, honeycomb.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in 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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Since the All-Star break, Joey Votto is hitting .399 with a .576 OBP.  His season line is 27 HRs, 70 RBIs, 81 runs, slashing .316/.457/.567.  Or as Reds manager, Bryan Price, would say, “I want to sew a sock puppet in Votto’s likeness, then put it on my c*** and–”  Okay, maybe we shouldn’t ask Bryan Price, he can’t keep things PG-13.  “PG-13 is for a man with a Cavapoo puppy.  Real men take their Votto-faced, sock puppet and pay an old stripper to suck its f****** yarn until those little f******** eye rolly glue-on things that you bought at Michaels Arts & Crafts store roll up into its f******* sock eye sockets.”  Yesterday, Votto had another big day in a 2nd half of lovely — 2-for-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs and his 27th homer.  To recap, or just tell you for the first time, Rudy almost drafted Votto in the 2nd round of Tout Wars (it’s an OBP league).  Rudy ended up getting Donaldson and is in first place, so I’ll be sure to bid a penny on eBay for the world’s smallest violin for him.  But for 2016 fantasy, I have to think Votto is right there in the 2nd round again for all leagues, OBP or not.  Good for Joey, making pitchers ‘roo the day!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Tomorrow is September 1st which means:  Hooray for September roster expansions and the many interesting players likely to be called up.  My recent focus for Steals Ain’t Got No Face advice has been a weekly reminder to use our SAGNOF stolen base success rates versus starting pitchers tool.  This goes hand in hand with the September call ups because most of these players won’t play anywhere near everyday, but some of them might make great ‘streaming for steals’ options.And guess which type of players are among those getting called up?  Some of the trendy SAGNOF sleeper types from earlier in the year, including one of my favorites, Dalton Pompey (bats Both, plays OF) of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Eric Young Jr. (B, OF, New York Mets) is on the way up as well and I think we all know what he can do.  James Jones (L, OF, Seattle), he of the 27 stolen bases in only 108 big league games last year, could be called upon as well.

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