Here I thought the Brew Crew were a dying entity this year with all this talk of punting and trading all their mid-level talent.  For soothe, they have had an impressive last 30 days in the Holds department.  It isn’t just one guy garnering them either…  It is a multi-syllabic hold dragon with three heads.  Each head is completely different and has a really cool story.  The first is the Fresh Prince of Holds, Will Smith. He has basically been what we all thought Jonathan Broxton would be this year, but probably with more success. Over the last 30 days he has 5 holds, 2 Wins, and a K/9 rate over pushing 14.  That is sassy with a Jor and extra emphasis on the dache.  The next is Michael Blazek, who in some weird way is basically Jeremy Jeffress‘s boy by name only.  I will call them Smoke, and yes please.   Common sense is there for anyone who knows dudes history.  He is my honorary hero and on the Smokey hall of fame wall with Lincecum, Chris Perez, and Dock Ellis.  So to their stats before I teeter out from pure excitement…  Blazek and Jeremy have both garnered 4 holds over the last 30 and form a power/finesse RH combo in front or beside Smith, and in front of K-Rod.  With all the trade talk surrounding basically everyone in baseball, it seems if K-Rod gets bounced out I have them Smith and Jeffress in a tie, then Blazek for saves, with Broxton on ready for that veteran preference.   So let’s see what other  bags of factoidal goodness I can come up with and of course the Holds chart for some good toilet reading…

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So, you may have missed out on Cesar Hernandez and I am partially to blame.  (But don’t worry because according to Rotowire “Unfortunately, he lacks both power and speed, assets he would need to be fantasy relevant in all but the deepest fantasy leagues.”  On the other hand there is also: “Cesar, basically the awesomest guy in the world.“).  Uhhh, anyway, he stole 6 bases in a three game span and I haven’t even written about him yet.  If you are wondering how that happens, it’s in large part a timing thing, although I definitely should have looked into him as soon as he started playing more often because I would have seen he did show decent speed in the minors.  So what can we expect going forward?  Well, prior to an injury to Chase Utley, Hernandez was starting less than half the time.  Despite being outfield eligible he has yet to play there this year.  Upon Utley’s return he could steal (pun intended) games from Freddy Galvis in addition to occasional starts at second base so maybe he sees 5 starts each week.  He has a pretty good track record of stealing bases in the minors but prior to this year he only stole one base in 100 games and 256 plate appearances in MLB.  I think that if you picked up Hernandez you can feel ok about it, but temper your expectations somewhat. And if you missed out you should perhaps start by looking at players that may have been dropped in your league.

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Any god fearing Jersey-ian grew up with the song of this week’s title track.  It was bred into our systems much like the IOU sweatshirt craze during the same time frame. It’s catchy, is easy to sing, sounds like some sorta bubbles being blown somewhere, and there’s some booty shaking.  Bubbles and booty, what could be better?  Another “B” obviously.  Bullpens!  I am turning this week’s eye to not only Glen Perkins, but the entire Twins’ bullpen.  POerkins has rebounded fantastically from last years injury blip which lead to him being ineffective.  He is the “watching paint dry”, 9 k/9 closer that is doing it well.  His effectiveness, he is 17/17 in save opps.   That is basically like going all Curt Henning on the save department. This time next week he will be climbing the corporate ladder of the save chart, book it. The thing that I love is the set-up chaps that are running-a-muck, in a good way, to completely be crushing the hold department, namely Blaine Boyer and Aaron Thompson.  They have both successfully made their way into the top-15 in holds on the year.  A good bullpen will always, always go a long way to propel a successful team.  It’s just fact, the two don’t usually meet at more then a passing glance from normal fantasy players, because they have their starters, and they have their closers.  The middle is always sketchy, it’s like where certain food comes from… who cares really? Just as long as it is prepared the way you like it before you eat it.

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Last week I went into what in the heck was wrong with Cody Allen.  That Situation is still a little foggy, like everyone’s memory of your buddy’s bachelor party.  This week, it’s time to look at the side-flinging Steve Cishek.  Because when it gets down to it, closers are more interesting and they are basically that key piece in Jenga.  It starts with them and everything trickles downhill.  He has looked god awful and the Marlins are in full BBC, no not that BBC, the one that is bullpen-by-committee.  Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, and Bryan Morris are all the names being bantered around as in the mix.  None of those guys, minus Ramos, has the repertoire to be a closer. I am just calling it like I see it.  If you want my honest opinion, I think they should just let them all do a round-robin thumb wrestling tournament.  But seriously, who are they going to trust?  Mike Dunn has 4 career saves, Morris is a re-tread reclamation project, and Ramos has been touted as the next guy for two years and hasn’t even gotten serious late-inning high pressure looks.  So stay right there and hit that little red bar thingy for more holds and closers and bullpens… oh my.

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Step right up folks, only $5 waiver wire bucks gets you the admission of a lifetime!  It brings you wonderment beyond compare, unfulfilled roster spots with the snap of a finger, and most of all, it gives you zero return on your initial investment sometimes.  Yes, that’s right gents (and gals too!), it’s the ever growing laundry pile that sits in the corner, but without the physical stench its the bullpen keystone capers.  Key the music!  The Blue Jays started the year thinking the man with the poor eye sight would be nice a cozy in the head bullpen chair.  Unbeknownst to them, he sucked and failed at his job and was demoted to a set-up role.  Fast forward two and half whole weeks, and he is somehow back to being the man again.  Did he develop a new pitch, started throwing with his feet? Nope, he is still the same ole Brett Cecil.  He isn’t throwing any harder and didn’t change his wind-up.  He is just the next man up after Miguel Castro went all bay of pigs, making us all buy into him, and then poof went the dynamite.  I personally didn’t think it would be a forever type scenario, and as far as I’m concerned, Cecil isn’t the man either as he sits right now.  That just opens the door for possiblities… a trade (Papelbon perhaps), a free agent signee off the street (Rafael Soriano), or eventually going back to Castro or letting Roberto Osuna get a shot at the title.  My answer is yes to all the above.  I think it takes another failure by Cecil for the contending Blue Jays to realize that they need to shore that thing up.  So in a month we could see a whole new bullpen there, and no, I am not kidding.  So now that the team beyond the wall is taken care of this week, let’s peruse what else is happening around the league in bullpen situations.

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After Rafael Soriano once again looked like his apologetic alter ego, Sorry-yo, Matt Williams said the Nats won’t have a set closer. Let’s backtrack to August 18th, it was a day after the fourth time Soriano had given up runs in the matter of two weeks. At that point, I wrote there was a problem, and I grabbed Drew Storen. That was three weeks ago, and things haven’t gotten better. So, why was I able to spot there was a problem with Soriano three weeks prior to the Nationals manager, Matt Williams? Terrific question. There’s a few possible reasons A) Matt Williams’s Oakleys are worn to shield TV cameras from showing he’s actually asleep. B) Matt Williams can’t find steroids that make him smarter. C) There’s no C. D) In a secret meeting in Bud Selig’s wood-paneled basement in Milwaukee in 1999, Major League Baseball declared that every team must have at least one Mark McGwire. Matt Williams was elected to be Arizona’s Mark McGwire. (Sosa was elected to be the Cubs’ McGwire, which is why he bleached his skin.) The experiment to have a McGwire on every team was a success at first, but soon the players that were elected to be McGwire began to say, “I’m not here to talk about the past,” every time any question was asked. The biggest offender of this was Matt Williams, so, rather than risk being found out, MLB made him the Nats manager. Any of these reasons could be right, but it’s probably D. So, with Soriano in trouble, the Nats could go to Storen, Tyler Clippard or Matt Thornton. My guess is it’ll go in that order, and yesterday Storen got the clean save, helping his case. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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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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Ah, charts with actual stats are so much nicer to look at.   The first bullpen report of the year was like reading Playboy in braile, ’cause technically we shouldn’t need both hands, but we do.  The cream is rising to the proverbial top when you look at the chart below.  The familiar names are settling in, and if you drafted some of them, or they have been mentioned in the closenado of 2014 for save chances, they probably are owned, were owned  or some semblance there in between.   Middle relievers are like that old cartoon Pound Puppies, yeah they are cute and good ‘n all, but they are still living in the pound in acartoon.  No homes to go to, no freedom…  Sad, but as kids we were fooled.  Relievers are much the same, they never really have a home unless we give them one.

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Closer news, closer news… We need a musical about fantasy baseball, sorta like Newsies, but with a little Book of Mormon thrown in.  Perhaps a musical adventure of sonnets and mignonettes by Stephen Sondheim.  Come on, everybody loves a musical… he, no.  Okay, it’s just me then.  So drafting season is here, it’s the first and last time you will see over 20% of the guys drafting in your league until… well, never.  Ahh, the internet and its anonymity. So with the games in the land of koala bears and oil cans happening this weekend, baseball is here.  Officially.  I have confirmed with multiple sources and gave them credit for groundbreaking stuff via twitter.  So the week before the fake regular season I have 4 questions that we still need answers to, or was just wondering in my own stoned malaise.

So down goes a top ten guy in an off week where I talk about set-up guys. Jason Grilli is beset with a forearm strain and up steps the league leader in Holds, Mark Melancon. Melancon has been spooktacular this year, and if wasn’t owned prior to the injury then your league is hot garbage. Sorry, but truth is truth. So the pecking order in the ‘Burgh now reads like this, which really isn’t devoid of good RP this year. I see Tony Watson and Justin Wilson splitting the left-handed set-up duties and Bryan Morris and Vin Mazzaro to continue their RH dominance. If given the opportunity, Victor Black could be brilliant, so keep an eye on him. Not one guy is going to run away and garner the hold chances that Melancon has gotten to date this year so it is going to be a mish-mosh of hold chances. Also factor in that the Pirates are in some trade rumors for some end game help and the rosterability of all these guys is tough to call until we know how long Grilli is under the weather. Enjoy the week to come.

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