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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So team success helps everything, from team building exercises to a secret program that siphons money into a bank account at fractions of a penny at a time. Whatever works, works, but at the end of the day the stats are what matters. Take for example the Texas Rangers’ bullpen. The trio of Neal Cotts, Tanner Scheppers and Jason Frasor are getting it done minus the flair. They have combined for 17 Holds in the last 30 days and are tied for the AL lead in Holds with 50. Earlier in the year, I was asked the best strategy for NSVH, and I said the best way is to grab a top 10 closer and 2 middle relievers from the same team. This is why this theory makes all the sense. Take a resurgent Cotts, who has dominated batters to a BAA of .187. “It’s Murda.” Thanks Ja Rule, for having nothing else to do. Throw in Scheppers and as of late a rejuvenated Frasor and you have a nice drunk punch of goodness for a Holds factory. Holds are a streaky stat, take a look at Mark Melancon, he is still leading MLB in holds only because he had 14 thru the first 30 days. The leader since then? Hmmm I betcha I just mentioned him above… Tanner Scheppers with 8. Enjoy the week to come.

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Well, last week I said the Boston situation would go swimmingly, results so far have been 2 drowning victims and an all-Asian rescue team. First, Andrew Bailey went down with triceps injury, then Joel Hanrahan said, “anything you can do I can do better,” and has a forearm strain. Now, I’m no doctor, I pretend to play one at 2 AM and it’s last call, different story, but you get my point, but isn’t it only one arm, not fore? So to the rescue in their tight red water panties are the best combo since Chico found the man, Koji and Junichi. The eighth and ninth innings for all games on NESN now will be in full anime, and Rem-Dog will be eaten. I fully expect Tazawa to be the focal point of save situations until either Bailey or Hanrahan return. He was closing for a tick last year at Pawtucket, which is like me fishing and saying I’m Gordon’s fisherman. The numbers this year are pretty outstanding (18 K’s in 14 In) so he has momentum, his only flaw is he is a fly ball pitcher and that tends to bite ya in the oshiri…sometimes. Stay tuned to see what else I see/saw or foresee coming up in the world of conclusionary pitchers and the gents that set them up.

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The week was going swimmingly, with inflatable swim muscles, I may add, then Kevin Gregg showed up and said “Oh, I thought everyone wore these glasses now.” I don’t trust Kevin for 2 reasons, closers come and closers go (Kyuji is coming back) so add that into your closer entree like a good splash of adobo. The second reason is he has two first names, I’m sorry, it’s a phobia of mine ever since I went to school with a kid named Ferris Ferris. No I didn’t stutter, that’s a true story. Next we move to Boston, where Joe-L is returning from the DL; John Farrell has said what is typical, we will see what happens. My 2 cents is that Bailey keeps it until he falters or Hanrahan whines enough to make a stink. If I could call Joel, this is how the convo would go. Sup Joel. Who is this? Then I would hang up and not answer when he star 69’s me. I do that cause I don’t like people messin’ around on my phone. Lastly this week, I have moved Jim Johnson, minus his cult following, into the top tier. He has shown me enough to warrant a bump up. The games he pitches in are showing the confidence that Buck has in him, like a great illegitimate dad would in his Maury Povich type son. The bump over Papelbon is based purely on stats and accumulation right now, Paps just isn’t seeing the chances that some other closers are seeing and that inevitably hurts my feelings and his stats/value. Enjoy the week as if you were listening to the soundtrack from Rocky 4, what could get better than that.? If you said that talking robot Pauly got, then we are on the same page my friend.

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