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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Oakland promoted Franklin Barreto this weekend, and a friend of mine who I only see when he’s mowing my lawn said, “You got to go to The Mission if you really want a Barreto.”  Recalling my 1600 Yelp reviews of every Chipotle in Los Angeles county, I exclaimed, “No way, Jose!”  But he replied, “Mr. Grey, my name is Julio.”  Then we laughed, and, even though he laughed with jajajajaja and I laughed with hahahaha, we found a common ground.  As for fantasy, Prospector Ralph said, “Barreto offers hard contact, some speed.  Gets caught a lot, and who knows how much the A’s send him.  He’s exciting though.  Upside guy with a low floor this season.  Now can I go back to bitching about Tanaka?”  There ya go!  Right from the prospect whore’s mouth!  I tried to get Barreto in all of my leagues, but, alas, he was gone.  Yesterday, he went 2-for-5, 1 run, after homering in his first game on Saturday.  He’s worth a flyer in all leagues in case he sticks with Semien.  Ew.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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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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The worst news in terms of closers, especially in a situation like Philadelphia, is the word: committee.  I mean, it is kind of like getting free tickets to see the Village People, hell yes they are the Village People.  But do you wanna be known for knowing more than two of their songs?  Nope, not me.  So look at this way, Pat Neshek got the save the other day after Gomez and Mortecia Neris had their turns at the gig.  Now this isn’t a Pat on the back (pun intended for Neshek), because it is still a full blooded committee for a team that ranks in the bottom six in all of MLB in saves, save opportunities, and relief appearances with them having the lead.  Add all that up and it goes back to what I was spitting a few months ago, are saves really worth the rigmarole of dumpster diving for futility?  The problem with that whole “rostering multiple guys for a chance at a save” is all well and good if you are able to roster both or even three guys… and that is the dumbest thing I have ever typed out.  Who in here has a Philly reliever let alone three?  Show of hands?  Yeah, you shouldn’t.  So Neshek is worth a grab while they showcase him for trade value, and Neris is a hold because who knows when a last place team tries to keep it real? Let’s hop on the good foot and see what’s going down with the late-gamers…

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While he hasn’t ever been the end all, be all fantasy shortstop, Elvis Andrus is putting it together this year.  He has gone from a Ron Popiel special at SS to a must own, and by own I mean a trade for candidate.  Because I am not sure people really realize how well he is comparatively to some of the leagues elite shortstops with bigger names and bigger draft day price tags.  Across the five counting stats that matter for most leagues, and RCL’s are no different. this is where he ranks among qualified two-and-a-halvers. He sits 5th in batting average (.305), 5th in Homers (7), 5th in runs (34), 3rd in RBI (32) and since this is the SAGNOF post, 2nd in steals with 14.  It is interesting to compare yesterday and this year.  He has more steals at this point in the season than Segura did, and in case you were wondering all counting stats across the board are in King Creole’s favor, but at a 80 pick reduction in price from draft day.  Value plays are what makes the fantasy champ.  If Andrus, through one third of the season, can steal 14, score 34, and knock in 32 for a Rangers team that has yet to really hit their stride offensively…  Why is he not a trade target for someone who may know (that is now you) to someone who thinks that Andrus is like watching paint dry and boring?  His name to me in trade talks would be the most exciting, unless you were really paying attention to things.   Hell, look at what Zack Cozart is doing, and that is not even a joke. So enjoy this week’s tidbits and fantasy snares that may help you on the waivers or taking advantage of some situations this week. Cheers!

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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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Well, the demise of the active leader in career saves has happened. I can remember the days when he burst on the scene all wide-eyed and rally monkey backed.   That, unfortunately, was a dogs age in closer years.  Hell, most closers now a days are judged by weeks instead of years.  I personally don’t wanna think that he is completely done closing, but I think that he is done closing with the tigers (barring an injury or three).  So now it is the Justin Wilson show.  He is no stranger to high-leverage spots as he has been a critical holds guy for the past three years.  For comparison’s sake, think Tony Watson type of reliever… they even came up together with the Pirates to boot.  So the main question is will Wilson continue as such as the Tigers closer?  I say why not.  Joe Jimenez isn’t ready for prime time yet, or they don’t wanna throw the reigns on him yet.  The team has looked mediocre, and sorta old.  So alleviating Wilson to the closer role does two things: Makes their best reliever in the bullpen the closer, and it gives him even more trade value should the Tigers fall out of the race and eventually sell of some pieces.  Saves are ownable everywhere, and this doesn’t appear to be a committee type thing, so if you own him good on ya.  Let’s see what else is going down on Save Street lately…

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We’ve reached the one month mark and as expected, there are plenty of early surprises. Eric Thames is the #1 player according to the Razzball Player Rater, Ryan Zimmerman is #3 and Ervin Santana is the #1 overall pitcher. Quietly sitting at #5 is Mike Trout. Trout’s line is outstanding with 18/7/18/5/.365 yet all of the talk is about Thames, Bryce Harper and a few others. At the end of the day, this is why taking Trout with the first overall pick is a no-brainer. We all know this. There’s nothing like safety and upside in the first round which is why I have Paul Goldschmidt on a bunch of teams this season. Au Schizz is as safe as anybody but Trout yet he was consistently falling in drafts to the middle or late part of the first round. I preach on the hockey side of things that you can’t win your league with your first two picks but you can certainly lose it. “Safety first” is even more important in baseball where it is easier to find hot schmotatos to fill out the bottom of your roster. Obviously we are long past draft season at this point but if you can trade some guys off hot starts for some consistency, I’d generally advise doing it. Let’s take a look at everything that was posted on Razzball over the last week:

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When struggles happen, the fantasy geeks come out of the wood work with words like “decreased velocity”, “contact rate” and “swing strike percentage”.  Now I am no geek, but Roberto Osuna is failing the eye test for me.  Control is all over the place and he has zero confidence in his pitches.  Yes, if you look at all his secondary pitching attributes, they are all down or up for the worse.  First, his velocity is down almost two MPH from last year.  Granted, he did miss some time this spring though, so there is a reason to have a letter from his mom to explain that.  His z-contact rate (pitches in the strike zone) is off the charts bonkers.  It currently sits at 91%.  If he had pitched more than five innings to date and qualified, he would have the highest such contact rate in baseball among relievers.  That is not a good trait to have as a closer, let alone a mammal.  Finally, his swing strike percentage has bottomed out at a cool 10%, which would put him outside the top-100 relievers.  And surrounded by names like Tommy Hunter and Michael Ynoa, all staples to a flourishing fantasy team.  So what do we do?  You cuff him.  Jason Grilli is the best name there and Ryan Tepera just got the save in extra innings the other day.  All we can hope for from Bobby Osuna is that with some more innings and builds back up to the 9-plus K/9 reliever we drafted as our 1A closer.  It isn’t time to panic, but do yourself a favor and cover your bases.  Here’s what else is going down in the end game… Cheers!

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