I remember years ago the gold standard for fantasy goodness was getting 20 home runs and 20 steals.  That trend is unfortunately not in our favor anymore.  As I have waxed poetic before about the growing trend of the stolen bases laying by the roadside and becoming less of an accumulated stat across baseball…  This year, we roughly have 50 games to go and we have one player that has just accomplished the feet, and if someone would have guessed that it would have been Wil Myers in preseason, I would have spit out my grape Fanta.  With other players on pace to eclipse this mark, the number is still trending in a bad way. In the last six years, the number was the highest in 2011 with 12 players making the 20/20 barrier.  Since then, it has reduced every year, 9 in 2012, 8 in 2013, 5 in 2014 and 4 just last year.  With Myers, there is some hope that a few other players get there, but the numbers are not in the stats favor to be opposite of what they once were, and there is no way that I can see it getting up to double digits again.  This tells me a few things about rostering SB guys, first, the elite are more coveted.  Players like Jose Altuve to me should be a top-5 player next year because he basically wins you, or at least is the reason that you win two categories.  Second thing is that grabbing players that are steal-only guys is probably not worth the chase, and the punt of the category is most likely the best strategy.  But hell, what do I know, I have only been here since forever and a day.

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The price that was paid, and the results that led him up to the trade had everyone believing that Andrew Miller would trump the incumbent Cody Allen in Cleveland.  Through two-pitched games, he has seen one save opportunity in the 6-7th inning, and the other was in a losing effort.  Now, I am not reading the tea leaves here, but after just two appearances and five games overall, I think Cody is not a droppable player in any format, saves holds or NSVH.  I mentioned it out loud to myself after the trade was completed, and also to Prospector Ralph.  With 55 games to play and save chances in 52 percent of games won… so that would leave 14 or so chances for the Indians and Miller to retain value.  And don’t get it twisted, he still has a ton of value with a ridiculous K-rate over 16, and the Indians are still a first place squad.  Just everyone that seems to matter has struggled with the Twins. It’s crazy that they are 20-plus games under .500.  So for the Allen owners, hold firm, like Gi-Joe style grip type stuff.  Miller owners, you have most likely owned him all year, so your peripherals aren’t going to be flawed because of him.  As far as saves go, I think it could go 70/30 the rest of the way and be a situational thing on occasion.  Let’s look at the plethora of changes that are basically pillaging the relief ranks around baseball…

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I was going to just delay this post due to inclement weather, but Grey’s super Doppler 5001, which is also a giant B.S. detector, wouldn’t let me.  So here we sit, some 48 hours before the list that you are about to see means about as much as single-ply toilet paper…  Really, what cheap s.o.b. concocted this idea of pinching pennies?  I mean everyone has had a run-in with it at some point.  Awful.  It’s part of the reason I have a salt-water bidet in all three outhouses at the Smokey compound.  So back to the deadline… closer gossip teams are lining up other contenders closers in such a bullish market, namely the rumors surrounding Mark Melancon.  The market and teams that need reliable relievers, let alone closers, is the Nationals, Indians, Rangers and Giants.  It is just the land of confusion and there is not enough LOOGY’S to go around.  I will touch on who I can see where after the bump to prolong the suspense, but the teams I just mentioned are teams to monitor on the opposite end of closers, because if the big names start rolling, all but Cody Allen looks to be out of a job.  Here’s what I can see going down by the deadline in the bullpen game, plus some rankings and next in line stuff.  Plus, Razzball Soccer has started pumping out quality, so go over and check it and join the official game…

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I am always a day late and a buck short on the posts because I am relegated to be the Saturday morning cartoon of the Razzball variety.  No worries, I mean, who doesn’t love 80’s cartoons and can’t list 10 shows that would drastically alter children’s universes today?  One word… Snorks.  So with everyone else doing the second-half rankings, I felt it was my duty to give the closer rankings based solely on the second games remaining.  The elite will still be the elite, the mediocre are still mediocre, and the middling teams will still be middling. I don’t care what algorithm Jimmy Bill came up with to have expected win totals and blah blah.  Expected win totals are an indicator of save expectations. because the percent of saves converted in wins by teams has been pretty stagnant at 52%, give or take a few sheckles each way.  So looking at the games remaining, some teams have less games to play then others, and some have more so the expected totals for some teams will be different then what you would expect them to be.  So as a wise person once said to me in throws of fantasy passion, lets have at it.  Cheers!

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So this year, like so many before, the closer trade market is always an interesting cocktail mixer of events that shake things up.  The Padres waited to be first, which makes zero sense… but also makes total sense.  A conundrum wrapped in bacon as they traded Fernando Rodney to the ever more deadly bullpen in Miami.  He will not be closing there, but will basically make that bullpen just deeper and taking value away from great holds guys on the year in David Phelps and Kyle Barraclough.  Rodney brings his glistening 1 earned run on the year, to a situation behind the Marlins closer A.J. Ramos, who hasn’t blown a save to date.  So now the ramifications don’t just stay with the Marlins, their bullpen is solid.  The Padres, however, are like the movie Thinner, a cursed bunch of unprovens, which is sometimes good and bad.  Ryan Buchter is the first guy up, as he has carved out a decent set-up niche there.  After that, it is a bunch of Quacks, Villas, and BM’s.  Buchter has the K-rate, just not the pedigree… yet, to be a closer.  He has the job as they say in fantasy, which is better than being fantasy homeless or unemployed. So Buchter is the add. Maurer and Quackenbush are on ready five.  Here what else is happening in the game of final bosses.  Have a safe and Happy 4th of July weekend!

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The save buffet line in Minnesota is becoming a tiresome “wait-and-see who gets the chance today”.  We all sit there and wait to own all the bullpen condiments that they offer, whether it be Brandon Kintzler, Fernando Abad, Trevor May, Kevin Jepsen, or Michael Tonkin. Including Perkins, those are the names that have been gifted a precious save chance for the occupants of the Twin Cities.  A save opportunity total that is second to last in the league (18), in front of a surprise first place team in the Cubs.  The Cubs are only there because they are beating everyone up and don’t have the late-inning chances that other losing teams do.  So back to the Twinkies… they have the least amount of saves, holds, and have the least amount of appearances by relievers with the lead.  All those things are so bad for roster space that you are speculating it to get you a save. They are on pace to average less than 3/4 of one whole save a week.  But if people want to keep roster shuffling, looking for the odd save here or there, who am I to judge?  I mean, some people say cucumbers taste better pickled.  The fortunate thing for you is that I am here to guide that steady hand and give you astute advice for a nominal (not nominal, it’s free) fee.  So here the rankings of closers for week 11, now with more added snippets of goodness!

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Situations arise all the time with closers. Injuries occur, poor performance, and then the return of the incumbent.  In the preseason, Will Smith was the guy the Brewers had tabbed as the closer.  Then, like I just said, an injury happened.  So now that he is back, what goes on in the back-end of the Brewers bullpen?  Jeremy Jeffress has done a stellar job with a less than average set-up crew in front of him.  He has pitched to a 2.45 ERA and a slightly more bloated xFIP of 3.41.  For all his previous tangles with pitching, he is striking out far less then he is normally accustomed to at just a 6 K/9 rate.  Low for a closer, even from the Lauvern and Shirley state.  He has managed 14 saves in 15 opportunitioes, and for a team like the Brewers, 14 is a healthy total.  So does his reign come to an end now that the best reliever is back in the fray?  Granted, it is never a great thing when usual mop-up relievers start stealing your stats, namely Blaine Boyer and Carlos Torres, who have 3 saves between them in the past nine games.  And granted, saves are wonky and games dictate them sometimes, come from behind wins, and situational loogy-ness are also a factor.  So I think with the way Jeffress has been going, he stays there until Will comes and steals his mojo and never looks back… Until the trade deadline, which could alter things up completely and basically revert it back to the way it was.  So if Will Smith is on your waivers, do yourself a service and add him speculatively for a week or two.  If he doesn’t give you the returns that you expect, then, well, the opposite happened of what I think should happen.  Enjoy Week 9 of the fantasy baseball season’s closer report!

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Besides that Eric Prydz catchy a** song, the bullpen situation/decision in Tampa is drawing nearer and dearer to our closer hearts.  The return of the “Box” is coming, and it drums in the deep.  Now we automatically assume, myself included, that three weeks ago, Brad Boxberger would just go all cutzies like in the high school cafeteria and get his job back at the time he arrives.  Fast forward three weeks, or to now, and that situation doesn’t look like it is a foregone conclusion because look what Alex Colome is doing in the role.  He checks all the “I am keeping my job” boxes. He of the 10 saves in 10 chances, 12 K/9, 2 BB/9, BAA under two bills variety.  Those are all good things to have, and better than 15 other closers in baseball for stats across the board.  Now, I just said that I don’t see Box claiming what’s his right away, but it could happen, because loyalty rules everything around baseball.  So if you own Colome and can get Boxberger before he gets noticeable stats on the cheap, I advise to do so.  If you own Boxberger and don’t own Colome, well, the price will be higher because the people that own him can read stats just as easily as I can type them out for you.  So be proactive as we reach the quarter post in the fantasy year, and for giggles, stay around as I find some goofy things to learn you…

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Ugh, the smell of my onsies de Mayo is so much worse than a normal day.  I reek of sizzlin’ fajitas and am all cotton-mouthed from… well let’s just say alcohol.  So attacking the usual Saturday bullpen rundown is a dizzying affair to say the least.  Speaking of a dizzying places, let’s look at the Rockies bullpen situation; it’s definitely not all kush, but it’s not charcoal brick pack.  The trust in Jake McGee is still there, because to be honest, the talent level behind him isn’t really there, is not ready, or has no experience in the end-of-game thing.  Behind Jake are Chad Qualls, who has pitched the majority of the right-handed match-ups in the 8th inning with a smattering of Boone Logan mixed in.  Now, I was nervous about McGee’s K-rate until I saw what Qualls’ was.  The stout bunch of McGee and Qualls have a combined K/9 over the last 14 games of 5.16.  That is combined!  I can’t make up this stuff.  The role of closer is most likely safe because the next guy up is Qualls, and well, if that last stat statement wasn’t enough to make you bored, I don’t know what else to say.  The look of the rest of the pen is very unproven with Scott Oberg, Justin Miller, and Gonzalez Germen.  What this bullpen needs is a youth movement to come front and center.  They have the guys there, but aren’t utilizing them in a role that is conducive for anything outside of dynasty leagues that count holds.  Eddie Butler and Carlos Estevez (no not that one) are a good start to what could be a decent mix.  And yes, I see Butler as a bullpen arm.  Getting chances are sparser than other teams for the Rockies, but with time, and once they start invigorating the youth into the chain of holds and saves command, progress will be made even above sea level.  Let’s see what other gobs of knowledge we have for the closers over the last few weeks…

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At some point, you look at your roster, then look at yourself in the mirror and the repeat that 31 more times and ask yourself this question…  When is chasing saves from the worst possibilities a bad idea?  My best advice, as your advocate of bullpen swagger, is never.  Realize the talent that is in the bullpen and say: is 1-2 saves really worth a waiver claim, a roster drop of someone else and a complete destruction of your rates and quite possibly your dignity?  If you haven’t guessed it, I am discussing the shatuation in the ‘Nati.  Just to get everyone up to speed on the demise, their (and keep in mind that it has only been two-plus weeks of games roughly) Hoover sucked. Jumbo is demoted to minors, Hoover back in and bad again, Cingrani more like Cingran-no.  Now all the hype is on Caleb Cotham.  Who has the time and rosterbatory rituals to have the right frame of mind to roster these guys from change to change?  I get that if you are in a NL-only league, it makes sense to be on the ball, but in mixed league… well, these guys are poop.  I was searching for a better word, but I can’t, and poop it is.  The combined ERA this year of Reds relievers in a save situation is over five.  That, my friends, is not worth the stretch for the sexy total of one save as a team.  Seriously, one whole save… you could have been rostering Ivan Nova and gotten the same total number so far. So anyone who likes the punishment, keep an eye on the health of Michael Lorenzen, as he could be next up. So what I am saying is: yes it’s cool and swanky to be the first guy on your fantasy block to unlock the new closer somewhere, but use common sense.  If a team is a pile of dung and will kill more stats then the assist, then, well, you already know my response because this is the end of the lede and I just went over it.  Stick around for some rankings, general chicanery with words on a page, and hell, maybe a whole pack of lies wrapped around stats.  Cheers!

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