No, you haven’t stumbled onto a WebMd bait page.  Well… this is an advisory blog, none the same, but we won’t scare you into believing that you have clinical depression with every symptom.  I mean, I’ve seen some other fantasy sites that attempt to advise on bullpen strategy.  It’s easy to throw stuff up about closers and bullpens and say this guy will fail because of this and that.  Heck, I like watching Jeopardy and guessing at the stuff I don’t know about either.  Add in the fact that I remember my first beer…  So this is one of the last pieces of the fantasy bullpen puzzle before we get down to brass tacks.  The NSVH question…  I always get it from the fantasy inspectors of the net of how and what to do about it.  Do I stick with what I know, or do I go complete rover and draft whatever, whenever?  That’s why I am here, hopefully to quell all ills in the race for bullpen dominance.  The NSVH leagues are tricky and can be described as: people don’t know until they have to know.  I know that really isn’t a draft strategy that I am going to “learn” you with this post, since I am better than that and take pride in leading my disciples into reliever bliss.  So go get a comfy seat upon the porcelain throne of fantasy knowledge and let me guide you, for I am the fantasy bullpen shepherd.

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What if I told you that the top-four teams last year in Holds didn’t make the playoffs?  I know the obvious answer would be: it’s a made-up stat that does nothing but clog a fantasy roster with fodder and otherwise un-rosterable relievers.  Well, if you said that out loud, then I am mad at you and you can not come to the Razzball Winter Dance Carnival.  No, but seriously, I get offended when people make such determinations.  Listen, you are either in a league that uses Holds or you aren’t.  Not all of these guys is basically like having a second doorstop (when one doorstop will do).  Many of these guys are usable in most formats as ratio gaps in K/9, looking for cheap wins or for a slow day of waiver wire madness.  My theory on any league is to roster any two relievers that are non-closers at all times.  At worst, they decimate your rates for one day.  At best they give you an inning or two and give you great rates and a few K’s.  Now, for Holds leagues, I am a hoarder.  I live by this simple motto. Two pairs and a wild, just like five-card poker. It stands for two closers, two stud holds guys, and a streamer.  In moves leagues, it’s a little more difficult to do, but in non-move limited league, it’s a fun way to just basically win your Holds category by August, save yourself the innings/starts and then stream the holy hell out of the last seven weeks.  So since you have searched around the web and found zero other info on the topic (yeah, I looked, so take that), here are the holds tiers and sleepers for the 2016 year.

“A Hold is credited any time a relief pitcher enters a game in a Save Situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game never having relinquished the lead. Note: a pitcher cannot finish the game and receive credit for a Hold, nor can he earn a hold and a save.” ~ The edited out part of the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln.

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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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When your team is battling for a playoff spot, what’s the most important thing?  Winning.  Winning out of the bullpen is a thing that is not predictable, I get it, but when your team goes 7-0 from the bullpen in the last 14 games, that is just a damn near beautiful thing if you love bullpens as much as I… I mean, you may not, but that’s cool (maybe).  You have your love interests… invested in beanie babies or all your Gregg Jefferies’ rookie cards that your whole childhood fortune is invested in… Just saying, you should probably move out of your mom’s basement or branch out from the family business for a bit.  As a whole, the Pirates are a top-3 club for bullpen ERA, and are led by the king of Holds currently: Tony Watson.  Him and his merry men of “set-uphood” have completely just wrecked shop out of the pen lately, their ERA is 1.21 and they have allowed just a measly 34 hits in 52 innings.  Take it from me, that is getting the job done.  The addition of Joakim Soria has lengthened their bullpen to the point where Jared HughesJoe Blanton, and Arquimedes Caminero are in prime win plucking spots.  Yeah, I just used Joe Blanton in a fantasy write-up, and no it’s not 2000-never.  So stick around as I wax symbolic about other bullpen situations arising as we stream towards the fantasy baseball playoffs.

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All this talk about the Blue Jays offense is completely detracting from the fact that their bullpen to date has been mediocre-to-awful for most of the year.  The additions they have made, namely Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins, are a future holds market band-aid.  The one true positive addition for the back-end of the pen is Aaron Sanchez.  He comes in with filthy stuff, isn’t afraid to pitch inside, and gives them a hard throwing right-hander, which they’ve been lacking.  The Blue Jays, to date, have the fewest saves (19) namely because they do one of two things that both involving blowing.  (It’s either a blow-out or a blown save.)  It’s a miracle that they are where they are record-wise with the amount of blown saves they have (it’s 17 and counting).  But the team is setup to win, and they are going to score a ton of runs, so from a fantasy holds perspective, anyone outside of Sanchez is a fool’s chance at holds gold.  With 13 games remaining against front-running New York, the schedule isn’t on their side as the slugging they do takes away from the bullpen allure.

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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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Well, I guess that makes all the sense in the world, because those darn Flock of Seagulls got all in your head in the 80’s.  Then they had the nerve to be in GTA and get you all singing about running.  I don’t even run when chased anymore.  It’s a big game of “ooohhh ya got me”.  So north of the border, they do it all in groups now apparently.  That group started out as a singular to start the year, then a separate individual took over only to fail himself, then they went back to the original guy who had it out of spring.  Now they are on to a group format because I am guessing “strength in numbers” is the thing.  I think “paint by numbers” should be their next move.  So if you are scoring at home, to summarize, that is Cecil, Castro, Cecil, et. all.   Yeah, I mean if I had the offensive potential that the Blue Jays have, and they are being all fiddle and benz with the end game, I would make a move to a more permanent solution.  Don’t be cheap, I think the exchange rate is in your favor or close.  So the committee we are looking at now is a group that consists of Roberto Osuna, Steve Delabar, possibly another occasional save chance for Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Optimus Prime and any prime number.  From a rostering standpoint, I would own Osuna, Delabar, then Cecil.  If you missed out on all three, just be thankful, because it’s a mess.  But saves bring all the craziness out of people, so that’s why it’s bullpen week and we are getting down to the goods of the HOLD.  Enjoy the rankings, tidbits and the casual barbs at my peers.  Cheers!

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I hate it when the vagueness of an arm injury slams your roster and places the top closer on the DL.  Andrew Miller hit it yesterday with a forearm strain.  How could it be strained if there are fore of them?  I mean aren’t the other three there, to be like, back-up dancers?  The only good thing for you and the Yankees is that there is another top-5 relief pitcher in the mix.  Dellin Betances will take over as the lead sled dog in the saves in the Bronx.  After that, on the off chance you need a third option, there is Adam Warren, which is a deep shot in the dark.  Crazy as that sounds, and I dig that he is still starting, but if this drags out for Miller, he could return to what was excellent form from out of the pen last year.   If by all intents and purposes you are reaching this far down for saves or speculating that the Yankees are in trouble… then stick around for some extra tidbits,  there are a quite few this week.  Cheers!

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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 recommended Shawn Tolleson, a player that seemed on the cusp of closerdom.  The closer’s role is now his and even though they have a player in Keone Kela that is being groomed for the role (thanks for the tip, Smokey!), it is my belief that Tolleson will stay the closer until he loses the job by blowing saves, but that could be said of just about any closer.  This week it’s time to turn our attention to the happenings in Seattle, where Fernando Rodney has an ERA of 6.23 so far this year.  I’ve previously recommended Danny Farquhar but he’s been almost as bad as Rodney. Both of them sport BABIPs of about .350 so it’s been some bad luck in addition to bad pitching.  Your answer:  Carson Smith.  Some of you have caught on already because his RCL ownership is up to 39% but it should probably be near 100%.  His ERA is 0.90 but his FIP and xFIP are 2.40 and 2.36 because his BABIP (.182) and LOB% (95.6%) are unsustainable.  So now you know where all of Rodney and Farquhar’s luck went.  The sustainable part is the solid 23:5 K:BB in 20 innings.  That’s closer material.  He could, in theory, be named the closer any day now, but unfortunately Rodney has been given a long leash so it’s not likely to happen until after the next blown save or two.

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