Step right up folks, only $5 waiver wire bucks gets you the admission of a lifetime!  It brings you wonderment beyond compare, unfulfilled roster spots with the snap of a finger, and most of all, it gives you zero return on your initial investment sometimes.  Yes, that’s right gents (and gals too!), it’s the ever growing laundry pile that sits in the corner, but without the physical stench its the bullpen keystone capers.  Key the music!  The Blue Jays started the year thinking the man with the poor eye sight would be nice a cozy in the head bullpen chair.  Unbeknownst to them, he sucked and failed at his job and was demoted to a set-up role.  Fast forward two and half whole weeks, and he is somehow back to being the man again.  Did he develop a new pitch, started throwing with his feet? Nope, he is still the same ole Brett Cecil.  He isn’t throwing any harder and didn’t change his wind-up.  He is just the next man up after Miguel Castro went all bay of pigs, making us all buy into him, and then poof went the dynamite.  I personally didn’t think it would be a forever type scenario, and as far as I’m concerned, Cecil isn’t the man either as he sits right now.  That just opens the door for possiblities… a trade (Papelbon perhaps), a free agent signee off the street (Rafael Soriano), or eventually going back to Castro or letting Roberto Osuna get a shot at the title.  My answer is yes to all the above.  I think it takes another failure by Cecil for the contending Blue Jays to realize that they need to shore that thing up.  So in a month we could see a whole new bullpen there, and no, I am not kidding.  So now that the team beyond the wall is taken care of this week, let’s peruse what else is happening around the league in bullpen situations.

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Rajai Davis is, once again, a SAGNOF-ian legend.  Again, again, again, was exactly what he did on Saturday when the 34-year-old outfielder stole 3 bases.  This year he might just be the best fantasy player of all those playing only part time (the other player fighting for this honor, in my opinion, is Alex Guerrero).  He has 6 stolen bases despite starting in only 9 of 18 games through Saturday for the Tigers.  Digging up some career stats I see that he’s never needed much playing time to rack up the SBs.  Since he broke out with 41 stolen bases in 2009 he’s averaged 42 steals per season while at the same time averaging only 124.5 games played.  And many of those games weren’t starts.

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I’m a value oriented fantasy manager.  I’m not a believer in positional scarcity and I take that approach (aka meritocracy) to my draft by relying largely on projections.  When evaluating my slumping players I look at their projections and peripherals to see if the slump means anything.  When looking at the hot players in the player pool I take the same approach.  I am going to make recommendations to you based on these approaches.  For the next in line closers it means recommending players with good projections but also considering each players chance to close in the future.  For base stealers it means making sure the player won’t destroy your AVG or at least letting you know if he’s going to.

This week in SAGNOF (Saves Ain’t Got No Face) Recap: Early last week Adam Ottavino ascended into the closer role for Colorado and it looks at the very least to be semi-permanent.  He was previously my 7th best next in line closer to own.  Formerly my 2nd best next in line closer to own, Joakim Soria had ascended due to an injury to Joe Nathan, who should be back soon and will regain his closer role.  Jordan Walden notched a save last night but it appears Trevor Rosenthal was being given the night off.  Now onto this week’s recommendations…

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It’s trendy to be trendy and follow your nose like Toucan Sam.  Unfortunately, there are no Fruit Loops here, only Holds.  Holds with a silver lining of saves that helps everyone.  For now though, it’s all about the holds.  It’s only a dozen games into the season and it’s never too early to turn a side eye to what’s going on with the key bullpen pieces around the league.  These guys are mostly for holds only leagues, but the elite of the elite are the rosterable guys that should be universally owned.   So, for those that are new to the Bullpen Report, it goes a little like this…  I focus on relievers that are pitching in high leverage situations, games with the lead, inherited runners and the inherited runners they allow to score.   Those more or less correlate to the stat we are chasing, and no it’s not that white dragon.  It’s the hold.  Team situations, team success, and the players ability in those situations all dictate that stat.  It’s no coincidence that teams with better teams usually have more save chances, it just happens.  So have a gander at some trendy type stats that have happened in the games so far.  Be aware that stats this early are misleading like a Polish GPS, so be aware and don’t go for the first car you see when your hitchhiking your way through the holds life.

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Why does it seem like there’s always more closer situations in flux in the first week than at any other time?  Well, whether that’s true or not, this year was no different.  Don’t even try to think about what that actually means.  Here’s your sumary: By Thursday there were already three new closers, then Sunday we had two old guys getting worked like speed bags at your local gym.

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Saves can often come from little known sources.  That concept is something we Razzballers call SAGNOF – Saves Ain’t Got No Face.  I played in one RCL (Razzball Commenter League) last year and in that league I owned Sean Doolittle from Sunday March 30th until the last day of the season.  I didn’t draft him.  I picked him up because I was looking for someone that could help with ERA and WHIP as well as adding some additional Ks (the latter of which can’t be bolstered through extra starting pitchers because of the games started limit) and his projections indicated he was worth it.  I didn’t really care about whether he was going to contribute any saves because I had David Robertson, Steve Cishek, and a DL’d Aroldis Chapman which seemed like a good group for a 12-team league.

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Some people consider it a made up stat, I say hogwash or peeee-shaw.  For the people who play in the leagues where the stat matters, it matters.  That’s about as devout as I can get since I had to sell my soapbox to pay for my addiction of collectible thimbles.  Now, I get it, the Hold stat isn’t for everyone. The basis of actually being a stat is wonky at best. These guys do more than just come in for one inning or one batter, they hold your periph numbers in check.  If you don’t believe, that’s fine, I don’t believe myself half the time.  Heck, I have no reading comprehension, so it’s more of a “in one ear out the other” type thing.  See, I already forgot what I was discussing here.  So this year, some of the top options that are going to be the go-to-holds guys are actually jumping up and taking the starring role for their teams due to injury. So I will delve into a few situations to monitor from a Holds perspective, as well as a nice handy chart with some predictions on the side of caution for the top-20 middle relievers, in terms of them garnering the coveted stat of the Hold.

Want to take me on in a Razzball Commenter League? Join my league here!

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This draft was by Yours Trudy. Never understood that, Yours Trudy. Who is this Trudy that everyone is talking about? No, no, I’m not changing the subject before even embarking on the subject simply because I’m not happy with my team. How dare you j’accuse Yours Trudy of that! So, yesterday, on the Not-the-Ides of February, Grey Albright, the Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it!) took part in a 12-team NL-Only draft that was commissioned by Scott White of CBS Fantasy. You know, CBS, they brought you such head-scratchers as Viva Laughlin and Travis d’Arnaud as a top 60 overall pick. In fact, I razzed one of the CBS ‘perts about his d’Arnaud love in the beginning of the draft, then the room nominated d’Arnaud and the CBS ‘pert didn’t draft him. I think I might’ve shamed too hard. *shrugs* C’est la. This league is deep so hold onto ye old hat. (If you want a shallower league, play against me and 1,000 of your closest buddies in the Razzball Commenter Leagues.) Anyway, here’s my 12-team NL-Only team and some thoughts:

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I wish filling out your fantasy roster with middle relievers was as easy as plop-plop, fizz-fizz.  But I’m sure it isn’t, because not everyone is using the same model of success.  I can dig that, I mean, I come from a long line of Smokeys that like the art of shoveling.  Listen, I get it if you don’t wanna help your team-rates and ratios by adding guys that are stout in production for basically free at the end of your draft.  Streaming relievers is a real thing, I didn’t make it up.  It does exist, and it lives in the house between Nessy and Sasquatch.  It’s not for the faint of heart and is probably not for everyone.  It is about optimizing your free innings (very useful in RCL leagues that have games started limits, which everyone wants to win).  It’s a basic theory and the patent is pending, so stick around as I get into the art of streaming relievers. And as an added bonus, I have broken down the MR corps into four separate groups.  These groups are broken down by usefulness.  We have one for straight cuffs, one for rates and holds, a straight holds, and then some stone cold sleepers for you deep-leaguers.

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This late in the year, Big Head Bochy minus his monsters goes and has to be all “I am changing it back to the way it used to be when all was being drafted and confidence in February Grey was at an all-time high.”  So the news that Santiago Casilla will now be in a co-starring role this late in the season just sucks for all parties involved.  Sergio Romo gets back into the fray as the closer situation is all muddled now in the city by the bay. Whoa, whoa, whoa-o.  Even Steve Perry hates this idea. Don’t believe me? Go ask him, as he seems like he’s over Sheila and prolly all good in the wits department.  Now I can see if Casilla was pitching awfully, which he wasn’t… well not completely, but come on Bruce.  You can’t do this and actually sleep at night knowing you torture fantasy line-ups the way you do, and I for one am writing a letter. No, an email, screw that a petition!  You hear that Bruce? A petition… so get yourself ready, I may even sue you. Smokey smash. So if you saw the writing on the wall from this, you already had Romo stashed. Let’s see what the jumbled up rankings look like with the injuries, demotions, and the rigmarole that is involved in the Saves of Thrones.

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