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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With every first list or preseason edition of anything, there comes question marks. Lots of ifs and buts, with no real sound determination until we actual see the product. I am pretty sure Jane Austen’s first attempt at Pride and Prejudice was an abomination because who knew if Elizabeth Bennett was up to the task of being wifey material? It turns out that I can win a bet and correlate anything into the bullpen situations of the current MLB teams. Until injuries, demotion or a better option arises, we have to go by two main instincts: former ability and common sense. So the list is based off of the news to date that we have gotten on all the potential closers to date and for gigg’s I have ranked them accordingly. I have been doing bullpens for a long time and have been wrong on a few occasions, but I am not the manager or GM for the team pulling the strings, I am merely a fantasy writer. So here is the Spring training edition of the Closer rankings, their set-up men, and the cuffs we covet for fantasy in 2016.

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Rich Hill pitched a complete game two-hit shutout last night against the Mighty Orioles walking just one batter and striking out 10 for his second win. Where the heck was this guy in April when Justin Masterson and Steven Wright were starting? Am I really asking that question about a 35-year-old southpaw journeyman who hasn’t started a big league game since 2009, and was out of baseball in July? Yeah I guess I am asking that because Hill has been an absolute monster since debuting with the Sawx two weeks ago in Tampa Bay. In just three starts, he’s pitched 23.0 IP, allowing just 10 hits and 3 ER, with a 30/2 K/BB rate. Yes, my friends, the Hill Has Ks. That was almost your headline. Also, not for nothing, the three earned runs were surrendered to the Blue Jays, and I mean, come on, it’s the Blue Jays. And just in case you thought this story couldn’t get any sweeter, Rich was pitching for the Independent League’s Long Island Ducks just months ago. He holds a 1.70 ERA and 0.52 WHIP through three starts and although I love what he’s doing, he’s scheduled to take on the Yankees in New York next week and I wouldn’t call it a slam dunk. If you’re feeling lucky, by all means ride the snake, but I’m not sure I’d risk my fantasy season on Rich Hill, despite how awesome he’s been. But cool story, bro!

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

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Late season injuries and minor league call-ups are one thing.   Just not doing your job is an utter disgrace.  Bruce Rondon was sent home, literally, because of lack of effort.  Holy stereotypes.  Because getting out of bed, traveling first class and then having to pitch one whole inning a game in the oft-chance that your team may be winning.  Yeah, that sounds impossible to me to keep up with.  For now the Tigers will roll with a combination of Neftali Feliz and Alex Wilson.  So anyone looking for 3-4 saves til the end of the year can be rewarded with the plight of Rondon and his poor work effort.  I wouldn’t expect a treasure trove of riches, the Tigers rank in the bottom five in saves, save opps., bullpen ERA, blown saves, and believe it or not, balks by the bullpen.   I know that last stat is bupkiss, but when is the last time you ever read a balk stat in a reliever post?  It just happened for the first time in history and I am officially placing a copyright on it. So this is the final rankings for the year for closers I will do an end of the year wrap up next week with lots of zany stuff.

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Don’t you know about Greg Bird?  Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy! Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy! Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy!  I, honestly, figured you would’ve heard.  Heard what, you ask.  Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy!  Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy!  Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy!  Well, everybody said about Greg Bird that Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy!  Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy!  Bird Bird Bird, Bird is the buy!  You know, I thought you’d heard.  Heard what?  About the Bird!  I was watching a TV show on cybercrime recently, and I have an idea on how to attack North Korea.  Just pump in the “Bird is the Word” song into their national Bose speakers.  (If North Korea has taken over the US by the time you read this, this cyber attack could be used in the reverse direction.  I’m yours, Kimchi Jong-il, however you want to use me.  I am very loyal.)  So, now that we know the word and that word is indeed Bird, what do we do with this info?  We pick him up in our leagues.  He has seven homers in only 29 games.  Sample size, she says.  Well, he had six homers in only 34 games in Triple-A, six homers in only 49 Double-A games, seven homers in only 27 games in Double-A last year…Do you see a pattern?  Bird’s got power.  Not really anything else, but there’s only two weeks left, grab him if you need homers.  Or had you not heard?  Bird Bird Bird, Bird– Okay, I’ll stop.  Anyway, here’s some more players to buy or sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, Chris Coghlan went full Ivan Drago on Jung-ho Kang‘s knee, taking him out in a hard slide.  Kang is now done for the year, and could miss a month of next season, with a torn MCL.  That’s not the year 1150, if any Romans are reading this.  He also has a fractured fibia.  Coghlan should not be allowed to wear that Iron Mike Sharpe knee pad.  Things couldn’t be much worse for the Pirates, who will now rely on Jordache Mercer (full name).  Kang’s agent said, “It is unfortunate that what would be considered heads up baseball would cause such a serious injury.  That said, Coghlan was playing the game the way it should be played.”  Doesn’t that sound backhanded?  Like, “It’s a shame we allow 85-year-old people to drive, but that’s the law and thanks for crashing into my car.”  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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When I hear the name Domingo Santana, I’m immediately transported to a small village in the Catalan region of Spain.  A Gregorian monk overlooks the city of Barcelona.  A breeze of air rolls in.  Not from the Mediterranean, but it’s that breeze of air that rolls over the city from the residents pronouncing Barcelona with a lisp.  This is the Gregorian monk’s city, and his name is Domingo Santana Sr. Sr. and the year is 1789, and I feel like I just pitched a cheap wine commercial to a client at an ad agency.  “The tag line is:  This monk’s got spirit!”  Client leaves; I’m fired.  I scream, “But I’ve seen every Mad Men episode,” as the screen fades to black.  So, Domingo Santana isn’t the best guy on waivers in every league.  I’d likely go with Jayson Werth, Wil Myers and a bunch of other guys over Sunday Santana for this year, but some of youse are in keepers and this post can also be for 2016 fantasy baseball, because I said so.   According to some Jean Smarts at other sites, Santana made contact on only around 70% of minor league pitches that were in the strike zone over the past two years.  Only one other player in the minors was that bad (Rymer Liriano).  To put that in perspective, Domingo can’t hit balls that are in the strike zone.  So far this year in the majors, he has a 30% strikeout percentage.  What do all of these numbers mean?  He might hit .230 if he’s lucky.  So, why am I crushing on him so hard like I’m a Swede who just found a frozen time capsule filled with Frusen Glädjé?  Because Sunday Santana has 30-homer power and 15-steal speed, and kinda reminds me of a young Carlos Gomez with a bit less speed.  The same CarGo that struggled until he was 26 years old, and Domingo is only 23.  Will Santana ever make enough contact?  It’s hard to say, and it may not come in 2016, but I’d definitely grab him for cheap in keepers for a flyer for next year, and I like him in deeper leagues right now for some occasional flashes of the power/speed combo.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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From Koji to Ross…  Sounds like a bullpen whirlwind in the shade of a Justin-to-Kelly type scenario.  Have things goten so bad north of me… NJ… that they are just trouncing anyone out there.  Any retreads?  Well, it’s full on guess mode at the late stages of the season for the B0-Sawx.  If you are really scraping for saves this late in the game, than you my friend are a desperate man in search of desperation and regret.  The Red Sox as a team are near the bottom in blown saves, bullpen ERA and basically look drab and beaten down.  The only good news there is I think the Bruins start soon and Papi is chasing 500.  Listen, I get that you play to the end of the season, but is Robbie Ross really the direction you want to go to when the end is near? Do yourself a favor, add a quality non-closer work on your rates, your free-style composure and possibly go shop at the merry-go-round for some really cool back to school clothes.  Your pitching stats and your swagger will thank you with some compliments and some vulture wins.

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Yoenis Cespedes went 3-for-5 with his 31st homer and, like, his 12th homer in the past week.  Doode’s straight combustible heat.  Like a fatty steak on the grilling heat.  Uh-oh, I feel my rap altar ego, B-Fire, coming on.  Cannot stop the blaze.  Like a Scottish sheep, I can’t stand here, I gotta graze.  Between Monday and Tuesday is a hidden day called Muesday, between Monday and Sunday is all Grey’s days.  I watch a Merchant-Ivory period flick with my piece, because I’m strapped and going through a phase.  Shh, it’s my Victorian secret.  Whomp, there’s another Yoenis hit.  Cepedes is so on-lock it’s like he’s got a hundred legs all stuck in tar pits.  For my Def Poetry Jam audition tape, this I will submits.  I liked About Schmidt, but why Kathy Bates gotta get out of the tub naked with her flabby– Nah, I need to quit.  So, on the year, Yoenis has a line of 93/31/92/.298/7 and is nearly top five for all players on our Player Rater, not just top five outfielders, and, for 2016, it’s going to be real hard to knock him down much past the 2nd round.  Unless, of course, the Padres get their grubby mitts on him.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Tomorrow is September 1st which means:  Hooray for September roster expansions and the many interesting players likely to be called up.  My recent focus for Steals Ain’t Got No Face advice has been a weekly reminder to use our SAGNOF stolen base success rates versus starting pitchers tool.  This goes hand in hand with the September call ups because most of these players won’t play anywhere near everyday, but some of them might make great ‘streaming for steals’ options.And guess which type of players are among those getting called up?  Some of the trendy SAGNOF sleeper types from earlier in the year, including one of my favorites, Dalton Pompey (bats Both, plays OF) of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Eric Young Jr. (B, OF, New York Mets) is on the way up as well and I think we all know what he can do.  James Jones (L, OF, Seattle), he of the 27 stolen bases in only 108 big league games last year, could be called upon as well.

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