Much like the famous Doors song that shares it’s name, bullpens are drawing near.  (Minus the Oedipus complex that the song explores.)  I mean, it may… but that is gross and I don’t wanna associate my bullpen goodies to that.  Moving on, shall we?  This year has been the SAGNOF-fest that we always come to expect.  Closers up, closers down.  Trades and attrition.  It happens every single year and it is the reason why the waiver wire is what it is: So we can get the new third closer for the Twins.  The chase for saves never ends, well, I mean it ends for season-long leagues, but for dynasty and keeper leagues, the times never change.  Saves are a category.  A deeply hated and often cursed at category that will always be debated about.  Whether or not to invest earlier picks then normal to get a stud, or just fill in with hope-so’s and also rans.  There unfortunately is no right or wrong answer because both strategies work as long as you are a waiver goblin.  So with the final post of the year, much like the other years that I have done this, we look to next year…  This year’s counting stats and information don’t matter, we want to know what lies on the horizon. So let’s find out!

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Quick, grab a coin from your pocket.  Now hurl it in a river, and imagine it’s at someone in your office two cubicles away.  Now mid-flight, make a wish.  Get back to me in two-three days and let me know how it went.  This luck and wish game is much like the closer game.  We hope and pray that all is well, but at the end of the day, we only care about the accumulation.  This late in the season its all about the job.  Who is doing it and who isn’t, period.  The stalwarts are on cruise control into the final stretch of the season and are mostly on more winning teams than the teams that have situations that aren’t the most ideal.  Good bullpens usually equal good-to-moderately-good success in real life.  Much is the same with fantasy closer investment and going into next year if you struggled for saves this year.  Invest in teams that will have aspirations of playoff baseball.  The investment in drafting a round or two earlier than usual should pay off in the long run of the ever treacherous 180 days of fantasy baseball.  So with the season winding down, let’s see what is happening in the saves market around the game as we transition into fantasy football, basketball, hockey and SOCCER!

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Yesterday, Gabriel Ynoa threw a gem, 8 IP, 1 ER, 7 baserunners, 3 Ks, ERA at 3.41 in just under 32 IP.  His name is pronounced EE-know-a.  As they say, the more you EE-know-a.  Ynoa was only at 94 pitches, so don’t you let Ynoa try for the complete game?  I mean, Ynot?  He looks like a number five starter, though on the Orioles that likely means a number three starter.  He can touch mid-90’s with his fastball, but he’s missing a decent breaking ball and tends to get beat up by lefties, like Fox News.  Though, better things may await him because the Mets traded him away.  He will likely come up a little short of the Mets’ all-time worst trade of Nolan Ryan, and even their 2nd worst trade of Amos Otis to the Royals for a prospect with a giant baseball head.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It is that time of the year when usual bullpen scenarios start to rear their ugly heads.  The terms “falling back to earth” and “gassed” take hold of even the veteran of bullpens.  That seems to be the case in the rock pile in Colorado with Greg Holland.  Cruising along and then bam, that reliever wall hits.  Especially for someone of his ilk that is coming off a few lost seasons with arm woes.  I usually say 50 innings is about when we start seeing it, but that number varies by innings in previous years, pressure situations, and the leverage that those situations come with.  The unfortunate thing is that with Greg the last two are very prominent.  He is fourth in the league amongst relievers in pressure situations, fifth in pitching with the lead, and the last four games are an indicator that he may be spinning his wheels a bit.  Three blown saves in his last five appearances and only 2 saves since August started.  Not encouraging news for a team that is honing in or trying to hone in on a playoff spot.  The good thing for Holland owners is that he looks to be given some leash here, but with proven relievers with semi-reliable numbers behind him, like Jake McGee and Pat Neshek, the need for a cuff here is paramount as the fantasy playoffs and season winds down.  Every save counts when you start losing them from a reliable source.  That is the worst predicament when projecting out the rest of the year to see if you have enough horses to get you to the finish line.  McGee and then Neshek are the adds for a just in case situation as Holland could be given a breather for a day or three.  Let’s see what else is going down in the land after starters…

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When I write titles like this, often times I say to myself: Do I need to extrapolate on the actuality of the point that I am trying to convey?  Fortunately for you I am going to be all basic with knowledge this week because it is pretty cut and dry.  Are you winning saves?  How much are you winning saves by?  If yes for the first question and over 20 for the second, be like Billy Ray and sell.  Do not liquidate all your assets, just slim down your roster to a smattering of usefulness instead of a hoard.  Find a culprit who maybe chasing second, third or even fourth.  My reasoning for this and why you should do it now is that before people realize that there is no hope in dope or chasing saves when you can’t make them up… they will lose interest and they will have zero trade value.  Don’t get stuck holding a struggling middle/upper closer when you can reinvest that in a bat that can make up a stat other than just one.  Today’s moral is:  sell saves, be aware that your return may not be as great as expected, but it’s better then dumping them to the waiver wire for nothing.

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The deadline is right around the corner, I know this because it said it would be right back and asked me to watch it’s dog while it shuffled up all the bullpen stuff that I just took the time to write out.  The trade deadline is a mischievous beast, he will lure you with rumors and a weird one-windowed van and leave you out of the loop when it comes to bullpens.  Contenders don’t care, they will have 2-3 closers or former closers on the roster… greedy is what I say.  But I am still looking at situations in flux because I have no life.  Scouring the goodies of bullpens left behind, and it takes me to Oakland.  The traded recipient, that being Blake Treinen is in the prime ready-five chair as he watches Santiago Casilla implode for 4 blown saves in his last 16 appearances… and of course he blows the first chance he gets.  No matter, I think that he still is a better bet going forward than Casilla.   The bullpen cupboard is bare, there’s no Doolittle, there’s no Madson, there’s no more Axford.  It is Treinen and Ryan Dull as the lone men standing, and Dull just got back from the DL.  It is a matter of when, not if Blake gets the go of things and makes all the Bay City girls swoon with his saves.  If the A’s go full on punt and trade the rotation to nothing, his potential for saves could be minimal, but chase away oh friends of the ‘NOF.

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We break from the usual 12 dollar salads, donkeys, and hypothermia to breakdown, in basic fashion, the relief rankings for the final 70-plus games.  Why is this helpful you may ask?  Because for trade target reasons or chasing saves for points, you may want guy A over guy B.  With the relief ranks it is as fluid as a clogged sewer drain, because on any given week, the middling type closer can hit bumps in the road and be removed from contention. So if you are using this as a trade commodity in your quest to add saves, my advice is this add the elite only.  Nothing lower than the top-12.  These guys are all nailed on and in an impressive state, barring an injury obviously. Now with that, we also have to realize that trades will happen… and take one reliever from a good situation to a better one, then on the reflexive of that, it can turn one with a job into a set-up situation.  Regardless, here is my stab at the top relief pitchers for the second half of the Fantasy Baseball season.  Cheers!

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It’s the last post before the all-star break and nothing seems more fitting than a Neal Diamond reference.  If you don’t like or appreciate Neal, then we have problems and I challenge you to a duel or whatever the young kids are doing now a days to show dominance.  (Because I know it’s not anything like what transpired in West Side Story.)  Moving on swiftly to the pressing closer news as I get lost in my ole timey spirit…  So the Cardinals have moved away from the Oh and more to the Rosenthal.  Trevor Rosenthal has sorta looked like he did three years ago, which seems like forever ago but really isn’t.  The bad thing is that he and the rest of the save chasers that are in the Cardinals bullpen are pitching blah-squared.  The best pitcher over the last 20 games is Matt Bowman… again.  I said that same statement about a month into the season when Oh originally looked about as shaky as an 11-year-old with his first attempt at using a blow torch.  Over the past 30 games the saves have gone Oh for 3, Rosenthal 1, Bowman 1 and Tyler Lyons with 1 (was a multiple innings save).  Over the past 30 games for a usual dominant bullpen fixture, in terms of fantasy, to post 5 saves (I am not counting Lyons effort) is more condemning than the way they are pitching.  If you are a Seung-Hwan Oh owner, you kinda have to hold the ship until it becomes more of an official thing.  If Rosey is on your wire (55% owned in ESPN leagues) then nab him up.  If you want to roster a RP with appeal, then Bowman is your guy (1.8% owned).  As I can see it, Oh is still the guy but with some daylight for others.  Just be leery that the past 30 days of track record for savedom have not been all that rosey for the Cards.  Don’t frown, we got more goodies and sunshine after the bump.  Cheers!

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In a full-on Willy Loman-type starring role, Andrew Miller now takes over the most responsible role in the Tribe’s bullpen.  I beg to differ that he is taking over the most important role, and can argue that he has seen more high-leverage situations and save situations than his sort of disposed closer, Cody Allen…  The only thing leading him to not be the most important factor in that pen was the stat of the save.  Listen, Tito beats to the sound of his own drum and Arnold, nor Willis are going to tell him how to handle his bullpen.  It is a luxury to have two top-10 overall relievers at his disposal and to use them how he sees fit.  Miller, is by definition, the closer to save his arm for the future.  But what we don’t realize is that if a save happens sooner than the 9th inning, Miller is going to be called on just like his original role.  Confused?  Yeah, it is kinda like saying: “Go look for the save in the corner of a circular room.” For ownership, this changes zero.  Miller is and was owned as he should be in every league imaginable.  Cody Allen is also owned and shouldn’t be dropped as he becomes the closer cuff in waiting, and is far superior to any RP on the waiver wire.  So hold on tight!  A month from now, when Miller has 5 saves and Allen has 3, not much stat wise will be lost, but by the end of the year when Allen has 32 and Miller 12, that is when we can look back on this and laugh and say “I shaved my eyebrows for this?”  Stay tuned kids, more closer and bullpen-y type goodness are on the way…

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We all exploit it, and with good reason.  The elusive RP/SP eligibility is a sassy beast.  She entices you with peripherals and gaudy cheeses, and let’s you fill up starter spots with relievers and vice versa.  I mean, if cheese and dual-eligibility don’t draw you in, I don’t know what else to say.  As we are basically 45 games into the season for most teams, it is time to reassess the eligibility of some players.  Lots of eligibility has been added to a lot of pitchers, and that is a benefit to your fantasy roster.  Guys like J.C. Ramirez, Matt Andriese, and Jose Urena all have SP next to their names and on the reflexive, the names of Brad Peacock, Archie Bradley, and Jorge de La Rosa have been on some rosters at some points in the year. So do yourself a favor and scour the waivers in your leagues and recheck the eligibility of some of the players that have some use in some leagues.  It is a coveted thing in the preseason, so why not now? Get comfy, it is the closer report for this week!  Lot’s of tibits or bittids for you folks battling dyslexia.

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