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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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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It’s trendy to be trendy and follow your nose like Toucan Sam.  Unfortunately, there are no Fruit Loops here, only Holds.  Holds with a silver lining of saves that helps everyone.  For now though, it’s all about the holds.  It’s only a dozen games into the season and it’s never too early to turn a side eye to what’s going on with the key bullpen pieces around the league.  These guys are mostly for holds only leagues, but the elite of the elite are the rosterable guys that should be universally owned.   So, for those that are new to the Bullpen Report, it goes a little like this…  I focus on relievers that are pitching in high leverage situations, games with the lead, inherited runners and the inherited runners they allow to score.   Those more or less correlate to the stat we are chasing, and no it’s not that white dragon.  It’s the hold.  Team situations, team success, and the players ability in those situations all dictate that stat.  It’s no coincidence that teams with better teams usually have more save chances, it just happens.  So have a gander at some trendy type stats that have happened in the games so far.  Be aware that stats this early are misleading like a Polish GPS, so be aware and don’t go for the first car you see when your hitchhiking your way through the holds life.

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Whenever spring training starts to wind down and the closer spot is yet to be determined, it’s never a good thing.  It causes rosters to get fat off the land, and wastes your draft picks on no-news type situations. I will turn my one good lazy eye to the Minute Maid conundrum of “who closes for the Astros?”  Some may ask: “who cares?” But this is the essence of SAGNOF believers. Cheap closers are what makes the fantasy world get on a sit, spin, chug a beer, and scream obscenities at trolley cars.  So from the beginning of the hot-stove baseball season, and even after they signed Luke Gregerson, I believe that it’s still Chad Qualls‘ job.  No news is good news for the incumbent… Even though the news all across the reliever landscape is all speculation, “he said this” and “the beat writer said that”.  Well, the only person who actually knows is the manager, Hinch.  So I am going to do my best to break it down from my ivory soap tower.  Stick around, there may be something fun or edible once you get inside.

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I wish filling out your fantasy roster with middle relievers was as easy as plop-plop, fizz-fizz.  But I’m sure it isn’t, because not everyone is using the same model of success.  I can dig that, I mean, I come from a long line of Smokeys that like the art of shoveling.  Listen, I get it if you don’t wanna help your team-rates and ratios by adding guys that are stout in production for basically free at the end of your draft.  Streaming relievers is a real thing, I didn’t make it up.  It does exist, and it lives in the house between Nessy and Sasquatch.  It’s not for the faint of heart and is probably not for everyone.  It is about optimizing your free innings (very useful in RCL leagues that have games started limits, which everyone wants to win).  It’s a basic theory and the patent is pending, so stick around as I get into the art of streaming relievers. And as an added bonus, I have broken down the MR corps into four separate groups.  These groups are broken down by usefulness.  We have one for straight cuffs, one for rates and holds, a straight holds, and then some stone cold sleepers for you deep-leaguers.

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“Hey, Intern, let’s get the Mayans on hold just in case we need them in a hurry. What? Who the hell is Ralph Mayan of the Mayan Empire and Grille in Norwalk? Your blank stare tells me nothing. Go buff out my El Dorado while I write this post!” So, I’ve seen The Theory of Everything, the story of Stephen Hawking and his wife. It touches briefly on his theorems and the universe’s push and pull. Imagine the universe breathes in and out. The in is gravity and the out is energy generated by particles. However, the Cubs would breathe in, but when they exhaled it sounded like a wheeze. For over a hundred years, people thought it was dying. That constant wheeze of death. Then, Theo Epstein came along, kicked the Cubs in the ass and realized it wasn’t a wheeze but there was something stuck in its throat. The Cubs won’t breathe easy until they win a championship again, but the signing of Jon Lester should help. Last year, Lester had a 9 K/9 and a 2 BB/9. I just touched on this with the signing of Samardzija the other day, but a difference of 7 between K/9 and BB/9 is about the most beautifulest thing in the world, Keith Murray. For K-BB, Lester was 11th in the majors last year. Top ten is a who’s who that’s more glamorous than your Who’s Who of American High School Students Who Paid $75 To Be In That Who’s Who Book. I’ll give you a little hint: if you were to just draft based on K-BB, you’d win your league. Why is K-BB so important? It’s so basically basic basically basic it’s silly. If you strikeout hitters and don’t walk them, good things will happen. For 2015, I’ll give Lester the projections of 15-9/2.92/1.08/206, which is number one fantasy SP numbers. Yup, he’s going to be solid once again. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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The end of the year is always fun for me when it comes to the race for holds, and the guys getting them.  The names that appear on the leaderboard for the last 14 days of games looks like a Dateline special of guys who were abandoned by their actual parents, and just appeared in the majors.  For instance, of the top-20 Hold garnerers [Jay’s Note: garnerees? garnerererers? gonorrhea? Eh, let’s just go with garnerers…] over those same last two weeks, only three are in the top-20 for the year (Clippard, Cecil and Watson).  On a side note, these are guys for you in dynasty leagues and deeper keeper leagues to pay attention to…. wink-wink.  That right there echoes the fact of something, oh I don’t know, two weeks ago, where you should just stream the hell out of RP down the stretch to maximize everything. And by everything, I mean appearance, grooming techniques, hell, it’ll probably allow you to take better pictures to update your Tinder account.  Maximize is the name, and maximizing was the game. You see that boat in the distance?… That’s me sailing off into the sunset telling you au revoir, and that I told ya so.  I don’t make this stuff up, there are years and years of stats and performance charts that are readily available on the Google machine to prove my point.  So with that tangent concluded, here is the last bullpen/hold chart of the year, basically showing you who wins. Sort of. If winning holds is an actual award, that is.

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Ah, the stretch run and the second to last Holds post of the year.  If your not streaming RP at this point to your advantage, I don’t know what else to tell you but to give me your password, and just get ready for Sunday fundays.  It’s not Sunday is it?  Because I can’t talk about it with it around, because it slowly consumes me, then beats me, steals all my money, and makes me feel like that time at the water park.  Sorry, sidetracked on terrible memories.  So Drew Storen has popped up and taken the reigns until Soriano figures out why seven ate nine.  I have heard that people are questioning why Tyler Clippard isn’t in there trying to win one for the skipper.  It’s easy, but has multiple levels to it.  First, you don’t take your best reliever out of the key spot, and that’s setting up and clinching the game for you. Rhis is documented by Clippard dominating in appearances with the lead over the last 30 days.  The second is– Storen, who will be awfully expensive next year, while pitching effective, is basically being showcased and used to keep Rafael Soriano from getting his guaranteed 15 million doll hairs next year.  You heard me: 15 million.  Which becomes guaranteed at 120 games finished, he currentlly sits at 104.  The moon landing, JFK, and keeping Rafi Soriano from getting duckets. Conspiracy theories or truth, all I can do is type it… hold on, Oliver Stone is on the phone.  Stick around for some snippets of relief pitching lore and a flashy chart made from unicorn tears…

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The problem you’re having with your innings limit is everyone’s problem with just five weeks to go. The combative strategy against this is to use a familiar SP option for streaming, but this time, use it for RP.  The concept is sound, and is an effective method for leagues without limits, kinda like doctors without borders, but with mitts and jerseys.  So here’s how it goes: find the guys you’re streaming on your roster for SP, but instead, find an effective middle reliever or two or three. Get greedy, as they help in groups, kinda like the non-anime version of Voltron.  These RP stream guys don’t have to be elite names, as most of them are going to be owned already, but if they aren’t, lets start there.  You wanna focus on guys that have a K-rate above 10, which cuts the available guys you want in half. Next, pay attention to their opponent and their teams record… both important. Guys on contenders get used more frequently in better situations. Lastly, and this is important, as soon as they pitch, dump them and pick up a guy who hasn’t pitched that day or the day before to maximize your usable stats. I don’t care how well they did in the game you streamed them in.  He pitched? Now he’s is gone. Forget about em. Pretty simple. No? I’ll draw it in crayon, but put on this helmet so we don’t have any liability issues. (If you pick the right guys that is.)  Stick around for some pretty charts and tidbits of fantasy goodness…

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If Miggy were a Russian nesting doll, the first doll under him would be Avisail Garcia. They look like so similar they could do Sister, Sister-type stunts. “I don’t want to face Felix Hernandez today, you take my jersey and you face him…Then take my algebra exam.” “Okay, sis, but you have to go out with Bobby for me. Pinky swear!” That’s them conspiring to use their physical similarities on unsuspecting people. (Bee tee dubya, I’ve never seen an episode of Sister, Sister, and if I missed the general gist of the show, I apologize to all the prankster twins reading for generalizing. But, I will say, twins should apologize for looking similar, it’s disconcerting. The first time you see them you have to ask yourself, “Am I on peyote right now? No, I’m not, I’m looking at a twin.” Any the hoo!) Comparing him to Miggy doesn’t give the whole picture of Avisail. Well, it does, but, okay, bad choice of words. It doesn’t tell you what kind of hitter Avisail is. He’s not a 40-homer hitter. At least not yet. He has some speed, even stole 20 bases one year in the minors, when he was only 18 years old. He also probably won’t hit for more than 25 homers all of next year. He can hit for a solid average. Last year, while only 21 years old for half the year (no, he doesn’t have two birthdays a year; I mean he was 21 for half the season), he hit .370 in the minors. He reminds me more of a young Matt Holliday — think around 25 HRs, 15 SBs and .315. Definitely someone I would be aggressive about in keepers. As for this year, now that he’s fully recovered from his torn labrum, an injury that sounds like it would happen to a gymnast, he’s someone I’d look at in all leagues. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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