Whatever your cultivation of choice may be, go with it.  Oscar Gamble was, and is still a pimp in social culture, as is California sensemilia.  So whatever your subset of life is, that’s cool with me.  My obsession is a little of column A, a lot of column B, and I incorporate column C.  Column C being my love and passion for the deliverance of the most finite bullpen jargon on the web.  Go look, there isn’t anything better than me.  I checked, if I added a pretty colorful chart with catchy funny names, then I would literally have to kick my own ass.  So here we sit, and look at what the Rangers are doing.  They have been doing, in the last 30 days what the Cubs did over the first 30.  They are, in no large part, being buoyed by a stout bullpen.  Their starters are all hitting the DL and fast.  The trio of Matt Bush, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson are about as tight as a bullpen can get, and the best group I have seen since the Isley Brothers concert Prospector Ralph and I went to see.  I have talked about Dyson and Diekman on separate occasions this year.  So no, it’s the one without voting privileges turn.  Bush has basically been a la machina since promotion on May 12th.  He has appeared in 13 games for the Rangers to date, and his usage has only recently spiked having pitched in 13 of the last 22 overall for the Rangers.  His 10-plus K-rate over that time is coupled with an ERA under a buck and his xFIP is basically what David Phelps is giving you.  Who, in most hold leagues right now, is pretty much a must own and isn’t a guy you yawn at in mixed company leagues either.  Bush is a feel good story that I think can continue as long as the Rangers can duct tape their starting rotation together long enough to maintain their AL West dominance.  He should be rostered in most leagues going forward for his usage potential as the remaining Rangers starters, minus Cole Hamels, average less than 6 innings per start.  So head for the mountains and roster some Bush.  Stick with me for some other diatribes of greatness…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Dellin Betances is basically the fat of the fantasy set-up world. The goods are there, it just takes time and some settling before we all realize it is, what was and what always shall be…  I think I just laced this post with some subtle Led Zeppelin reference, but I may be crooked to walk on one leg to let myself know that I did, let alone let you subtly know.  So I will just go ahead and say there was a Zep reference-reference.  Good, moving on.  Success of a bullpen, let alone someone you should be relying on, is correlative of how well the team is performing. It’s science, if you score more you put yourself in a better position to win more, regardless of who is on the bump.  Dellin was and is the goods, currently and in post-script.  He came into the year as the man to target in any format that coveted fantasy goodness, condensed into a smaller innings unit of measure than that of a starter.  Now add in the dash of Holds sassiness, and he is a bullpen god.  He is now the king of the Hold in all leagues by quantity and not by just scripture.  His 16 holds on the year are tops on the this year’s gig and given the Yankees propensity to not score over 4 runs in a game, his reign may be a run away.  He has the good everywhere else; K/9, swagger, ability to tie multiple knots while buoyant at sea.  There are no bullpen stats that he isn’t the man at.  He basically walks into a bar/club and automatically has the best synchronized music to his step….think Matthew McConaughey in Dazed in Confused…and let here comes the story of the Hurricane ramble through your third eye for a bit.  So let’s jump into this fortnights dealing in the bullpen game… alright, alright, alright.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well we weren’t talking about deep fried empanadas.  We were talking about the retro-chich lads from that Navy town of San Diego…  Yes, those Padres of the last place origin.  The ones with 16 whole wins in their favor on the year.  Sneaky Hold situations make my world go round.  Which, in turn, makes me spurn to you on the recycled tip of the serving platter from a fantasy analyst.  Over the last 14 games, the Padres have endured some good fortune in the reliever ranks, namely Brandon Maurer.  Maurer has netted himself 7 Holds over that time, or in fantasy bullpen coverage terms here at the Razz-nation, a hold the fort(night). Maurer is the 8th inning guy and if you are in a holds league, then he is probably taken.  Him of the 14-plus K-rate over the last 10 games and because they strung a few victories in a row, boom! Stats.  But we all know how many holds he has in the last umpteen days… because we can all read stat lines and understand that one plus the previous amount equals today’s total.  Math catch-up lesson over.  The Father’s depth in the pen doesn’t just end with Brandon.  Take a look deeper and we will come across not the candelstick maker, nor the baker, but the Butcher.  As in Ryan Butcher.  While Maurer seems to get all the decent looks in the 8th for the beloved hold, Butcher seems to latch onto him like a paramecium in heat looking for a Padres win.  Averaging over a K per inning, and duly entrenched as the bridge to the bridge to Fernando Rodney (which probably really isn’t much of a bridge of at all, but just a rope with board entwined with hope aspiration and tears), so with this brief biopic on the San Diegans bullpen fellas, lets look at what else is bouncing around in the world of set-up, set-up to get beat down.  I get nothing but a hold.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Chicago_Cubs5

Welcome to the 2016 Razzball Team Previews! You’ll find everything you need to know about each team to get yourself ready for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. And I mean everything, folks. We’ve got line-ups, charts, Slurpees, lube, a guide for beginner electricians, and even a cactus! Well, that’s a lie. That’s what Jay had last year sitting in front of him. This year? Um…a little less lube? Take that as you will. But hey, we’ve got teams to preview and questions to ask, so let’s hop to it. We a very special guest for this post…Neil Finnell, to provide his take on what the team has in store this season. Now enough rambling, let’s see what 2016 holds for the Chicago Cubs!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was in my IROC at a red light when a Camaro Z28 pulled alongside, revving the engine. I knew he wanted to race, so I pushed the button for my rear spoiler to emerge that reads, “Spoiler Alert: You Suck!” and spun my wheels until smoke enveloped both cars, then…I burned away from him! Turned out, the light was still red, I narrowly avoided hitting a few pedestrians and the Camaro Z28 was actually a cop. While the police officer was writing me a ticket, I got to thinking about how I’m always out in front of things. Whether it’s telling you to avoid Cano or draft Bryce, Donaldson or Arenado, it’s like I see the future. Sure, my Magic 8 Ball has a few blind spots, like the cop, red light, pedestrians diving out of the way and Gyorko, but I still beat him through the light. With this said, you need to get through the red light and get to Jon Lester first. Save conjecture and anecdotal evidence for the tales you tell your grandkiddies one day about your fantasy team, assuming you’re still talking about the imaginary team that got away in forty years. I know I will about Ryan Klesko’s 1-for-4 on the final day of the 2001 season that cost me everything. Everything! I mean, I already sent my bedroom wall measurements to ESPN for the championship pennant! So, what we know is Jon Lester used to pitch for the Red Sox, where Epstein was the GM. They are Peaches and Herb, and reunited does feel so good. Would Epstein go out and get damaged goods that he knew so well? Seems unlikely. Lester’s velocity is essentially the same this year as last, his K/9 is .2 different, which is nothing. His walk rate is up, and June has been his worst month for control (2.9 BB/9). From year to year, his walk rate went from an even 2 to (stutterer!) 2.3. Not a huge difference, but it’s there. Well, last year his May walk rate was 3.6 and ERA was 3.90, so he even had bad months last year, and his ERA last year was 2.46. It now sits at 4.25, and his BABIP is .344, which is unlucky. Yadda squared, what do all of these numbers mean?! It means Lester could have four months of a 2.50 ERA from here until September and it wouldn’t surprise me at all. I’d absolutely go out and buy him. Now, if you’ll excuse me *rear spoiler emerges, tires spin, car darts out into traffic* Spoiler Alert: You Suck! Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?