On Saturday, our prayers were answered.  No, not the prayer about winning Powerball.  Or the prayer about sweatpants becoming the new formalwear.  Or the prayer about muttonchops being some magical aphrodisiac.  Or the prayer about your mom forgetting that time you accidentally sexted her.  Or that prayer about being as successful in real life as you are in fantasy.  No, not those.  The prayer about Yu Darvish returning and looking as dominant as ever.  On Saturday, he threw the fastest pitch of his major league career, throwing three pitches for more than 98 MPH.  The line of 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners, 7 Ks was solid, but I imagine this will be the start of him reaffirming his place in the top 10 starter conversation.  Kevin from ESPN’s “Get Him In Your Lineup” Department sang, “Yu, Yu got what I need…Yu say he just spends Yen…Yu say he just spends Yen…But baby Yuuuuuu,Yu got what I need!”  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Bryan Price, always one for colorful language, should go full Tony Montana about his relievers, “Look at that, I got a junkie bullpen, mang.  My bullpen is so polluted!  I can’t even have a save with that bullpen.  It’s so polluted!”  After his Montana rant, Price could clarify who will save games in his bullpen through a string of curse words and em-effers.  Yesterday, Price said they’d go to a committee.  Great, maybe they can make a camel.  Hoover’s out, Jumbo’s gone because his physique reminded them too much of their ERA.  Caleb Cotham could see some saves, and he’s been good vs. minor leaguers, but he’s been honing his craft in the minor leagues for a while.  This isn’t like a potter who needs time to hone his ashtray-making skills before hitting the big-time flea markets.  Being in the minors long just means you might never achieve success in the majors.  Going for Cotham is that he throws righty and he hasn’t failed yet.  Then there’s Tony Cingrani, who I grabbed on Tuesday.  He has been decent enough in the bullpen this year, but he’s a lefty and he blew the save yesterday in the 8th inning.  Oh, and there’s Blake Wood, who is reminiscent of Jeanmar Gomez, and we know how well that turned out.  *intern whispers in my ear*  Seems that so far Jeanmar has worked out okay.  For now, I’d own Cingrani then Cotham, but this is nigh-thurr pretty nor set in stone.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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There’s nothing he can do that can’t be done. Gets on base, multi-hit games and hits home runs. There’s nothing you can say he just knows how to play the game. It’s easy. The Cuban rookie Aledmys Diaz continued his hot start going 2-for-5, with his second home run of the season and for your sake and mine I hope you read those first few sentences in your best Paul McCartney accent. Honestly, everything sounds better in a Beatles accent. Try it! But enough about old rock and/or roll bands no one has ever heard of, Aledmys Diaz is 11-for-27 (.407 AVG) through his first eight games, 5 extra base hits, 8 RBI and 8 runs scored. Al–can I call you Al? No? Aledmys “Don’t Call Me Al” Diaz has also hit safely in all but one game he’s played in. Can I tell you if Diaz is going to be a star (ha-cha-cha!)? No, not exactly. But he’s got a quick bat with good plate discipline and the Cards have invested enough money in the Cuban rookie that he will likely get a chance to show what he can do. Grey told you to BUY and now I’m telling you. Don’t make this more complicated than it has to be, we’re only trying to help.

Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:

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Noah Syndergaard steps into a giant metal milk can and submerges himself.  At first, bubbles come up, then nothing.  Only Houdini has ever been able to escape this, and even then Tony Curtis struggled to keep his life in order afterwards.  The beautiful-despite-her-pantyhose girl locks him in.  Everyone watches, and Noah just sits there, locked in.  The audience shifts, then realizes this is what they want.  They want Noah to stay this locked in.  This locked in leads to Cy Young awards.  This locked in carries teams to championships.  One man stands in the audience and screams, “Grow gills and stayed locked in!”  The crowd erupts.  Harvey’s looked just okay, that other Mets pitcher put out the welcome Matz to opposing hitters and deGrom is battling an injury.  Syndergaard?  Oh, he’s so locked in.  Yesterday, he went 7 IP, 1 ER, 8 baserunners, 12 Ks and looked like he could’ve beat the 1927 Blue Jays in Coors Field.  If you own him, ‘gaard your grill and knuckle up if anyone tries to trade you for him.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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A week into the season and everyone has basically contracted closer asthma.  Breathe…  I know it’s tough from time to time to fathom that the fantasy kingdom that you drafted two weeks ago is coming crumbling down because Shawn Tolleson just wet the bed and is shaking the Walker Texas Rangers bullpen.  He has guys behind him that have been gone over, which in most leagues that count pitchers who throw the bal,l should have been rostered. Namely Kela and Dyson.  So what is all this bad karma at the beginning of the season good for, besides chasing saves?  It is good for people who panic and drop the top set-up guys too early.  Dellin Betances was dropped four times more then he was added this week.  That is a coup for you, don’t run to that, hop on a tricycle and find a hill to roll down as fast as possible.  Early season turnover and panic buttons are what make your team weak in one department now, and especially strong in the next several weeks by “calculated” guessing.  So with that, here is the first installment of the 2016 Closer Report with the changes and job winners from Spring Training newly nestled into their respective spots. I will tackle Holds and the set-up crews next week when we start seeing usage and match-up based stuff.

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With the baseball season starting in the blink of seven-days-eyes, I figured it would be fitting since we all crunch drafts ’til the last possible moment.  Waiting until the end isn’t always a bad idea, you get the last news possible on injuries and job security.  Bad thing is that you lose some of the sleeper appeal.  By now, if you haven’t heard of a guy who could be closing, there is a great possibility that he doesn’t have a Sam Hill’s chance of closing.   Just facts.  These guys aren’t born yesterday and matriculate with a mastery of three pitches overnight.  The bullpen folk have one job and that is to make a save situation stay a save situation.  This holds true for holds guys, pun semi-intended.  So the list is basically where it should be until we start seeing some production from the lads.  The committee situations that exist in Milwaukee and possibly Philly will be that until someone gets the bulk of the load on his back.  Which sounds gross, but from a fantasy perspective, you want a full orgy of saves on your closer.  After all, quantity is the name of the game, that and continued success at it.  It is like everyone else’s job; you do good you stay.  You do poorly, you get pink slipped and sent to middle relief-dom.  So fingers crossed, or if you play the cuff odds, just simply uncross them and pray for the worst. Here is the last rankings of Closers and their hand-cuffs for the start of fantasy baseball version, 2.016…

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Now that the calendar officially says Spring has begun, Spring Training injuries start to get more and more important. Injuries early in camp have time to heal and players still have time to catch up, injuries occurring now can linger into the regular season and rehab can eat into a player’s important playing time leading up to Opening Day. Here’s a look at some of the biggest injury news of the week:

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Seems like Andre Ethier followed Natalie Portman’s advice in Garden State a little too closely when she told Braff that The Shins will change your life.  Dodgers announced that Ethier would miss 10 to 14 weeks with a fractured tibia.  What is that, two days after I drafted Ethier in Tout Wars?  Two and a half?  One and one three-quarters of a tibia later?  All you can do is laugh.  A high-pitched, crazed laugh like when you lose your job, then step in an empty elevator shaft.  One of those real crazy laughs that you expect to hear from someone pushing a shopping cart filled with Ho-Ho boxes that have been removed of Ho-Hos and replaced with dog turds.  One of those kind of laughs.  Filling in for Ethier will be some combo of Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford, Kike Hernandez and Trayce Thompson, a group that could be summarized with:  Bleh, Meh, Jewish, Girl.  I removed Ethier from my top 100 outfielders and top 500.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for fantasy baseball:

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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.

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A bullpen battle is like watching a boxing match with a blind man in one corner, and a one-legged man in the other.  The ole’ mantra of never paying for saves is the cattle call of many Razzballians, but in leagues that we all pay, in terms of saves there has to be some semblance of order, and ADP plays a huge part in that.  No one ever admits to paying up for saves, but when push comes to shove in your draft, more times than not, you are most likely jumping at the chance to own an elite closer.  I love being the fifth guy to draft a closer.  It allows me the extra round to grab another essential roster piece, and since I am awesome at my craft, I tend to get my pick of the litter of who I really want.  Listen, not everyone pays for saves, but it isn’t an awful thing to do.  They do only really count for one category, with parts of another, but in reality, so does a hitter drafted in the eighth round.  That eighth round product isn’t going to give you, at best, a five share in a points league (minus Billy Hamilton).  He is the same product that we are saying don’t pay for and falls firmly into the SAGNOF sandbox.  So I am here to tell you that paying for saves is okay, but within reason of course.  Don’t be a lemming and get sucked into a bidding war or a run scenario where it leaves you completely short after the draft without any saves to speak of.  So here are some strategies and basic ideas I like to use for approaching saves based on formats and for giggles, we’ll be looking at some ADP stuff after my advice.  Cheers!

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