When your team is battling for a playoff spot, what’s the most important thing?  Winning.  Winning out of the bullpen is a thing that is not predictable, I get it, but when your team goes 7-0 from the bullpen in the last 14 games, that is just a damn near beautiful thing if you love bullpens as much as I… I mean, you may not, but that’s cool (maybe).  You have your love interests… invested in beanie babies or all your Gregg Jefferies’ rookie cards that your whole childhood fortune is invested in… Just saying, you should probably move out of your mom’s basement or branch out from the family business for a bit.  As a whole, the Pirates are a top-3 club for bullpen ERA, and are led by the king of Holds currently: Tony Watson.  Him and his merry men of “set-uphood” have completely just wrecked shop out of the pen lately, their ERA is 1.21 and they have allowed just a measly 34 hits in 52 innings.  Take it from me, that is getting the job done.  The addition of Joakim Soria has lengthened their bullpen to the point where Jared HughesJoe Blanton, and Arquimedes Caminero are in prime win plucking spots.  Yeah, I just used Joe Blanton in a fantasy write-up, and no it’s not 2000-never.  So stick around as I wax symbolic about other bullpen situations arising as we stream towards the fantasy baseball playoffs.

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All this talk about the Blue Jays offense is completely detracting from the fact that their bullpen to date has been mediocre-to-awful for most of the year.  The additions they have made, namely Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins, are a future holds market band-aid.  The one true positive addition for the back-end of the pen is Aaron Sanchez.  He comes in with filthy stuff, isn’t afraid to pitch inside, and gives them a hard throwing right-hander, which they’ve been lacking.  The Blue Jays, to date, have the fewest saves (19) namely because they do one of two things that both involving blowing.  (It’s either a blow-out or a blown save.)  It’s a miracle that they are where they are record-wise with the amount of blown saves they have (it’s 17 and counting).  But the team is setup to win, and they are going to score a ton of runs, so from a fantasy holds perspective, anyone outside of Sanchez is a fool’s chance at holds gold.  With 13 games remaining against front-running New York, the schedule isn’t on their side as the slugging they do takes away from the bullpen allure.

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Here I thought the Brew Crew were a dying entity this year with all this talk of punting and trading all their mid-level talent.  For soothe, they have had an impressive last 30 days in the Holds department.  It isn’t just one guy garnering them either…  It is a multi-syllabic hold dragon with three heads.  Each head is completely different and has a really cool story.  The first is the Fresh Prince of Holds, Will Smith. He has basically been what we all thought Jonathan Broxton would be this year, but probably with more success. Over the last 30 days he has 5 holds, 2 Wins, and a K/9 rate over pushing 14.  That is sassy with a Jor and extra emphasis on the dache.  The next is Michael Blazek, who in some weird way is basically Jeremy Jeffress‘s boy by name only.  I will call them Smoke, and yes please.   Common sense is there for anyone who knows dudes history.  He is my honorary hero and on the Smokey hall of fame wall with Lincecum, Chris Perez, and Dock Ellis.  So to their stats before I teeter out from pure excitement…  Blazek and Jeremy have both garnered 4 holds over the last 30 and form a power/finesse RH combo in front or beside Smith, and in front of K-Rod.  With all the trade talk surrounding basically everyone in baseball, it seems if K-Rod gets bounced out I have them Smith and Jeffress in a tie, then Blazek for saves, with Broxton on ready for that veteran preference.   So let’s see what other  bags of factoidal goodness I can come up with and of course the Holds chart for some good toilet reading…

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So, you may have missed out on Cesar Hernandez and I am partially to blame.  (But don’t worry because according to Rotowire “Unfortunately, he lacks both power and speed, assets he would need to be fantasy relevant in all but the deepest fantasy leagues.”  On the other hand there is also: “Cesar, basically the awesomest guy in the world.“).  Uhhh, anyway, he stole 6 bases in a three game span and I haven’t even written about him yet.  If you are wondering how that happens, it’s in large part a timing thing, although I definitely should have looked into him as soon as he started playing more often because I would have seen he did show decent speed in the minors.  So what can we expect going forward?  Well, prior to an injury to Chase Utley, Hernandez was starting less than half the time.  Despite being outfield eligible he has yet to play there this year.  Upon Utley’s return he could steal (pun intended) games from Freddy Galvis in addition to occasional starts at second base so maybe he sees 5 starts each week.  He has a pretty good track record of stealing bases in the minors but prior to this year he only stole one base in 100 games and 256 plate appearances in MLB.  I think that if you picked up Hernandez you can feel ok about it, but temper your expectations somewhat. And if you missed out you should perhaps start by looking at players that may have been dropped in your league.

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Don’t yell at me! I own Carlos Santana and I know how awful he’s been! It makes sense that his name is Carlos Santana, because Carlos Santana looks like Edward James Olmos and the acne scars Olmos has are how deep Carlos Santana’s scarred my fantasy soul. Sometimes I wake at night in a cold sweat, frightened that Carlos Santana has found his way on all of my fantasy teams, only to realize it’s just a dream and I haven’t been sweating. Instead, I peed myself, so I fall back to sleep soundly. So, with that uplifting lead-in to this Buy, what do you sell to get Santana? A herpes blister and hope for a dead cat bounce? Yes, that would seem to be the case. Okay, enough hubbub on the tomfoolery, do I really want you to buy Santana? Yeah, I do. Let’s look at his 1st half vs. 2nd half last year. 1st half: 14 HRs, 37 RBIs, .207 average, 45.8% ground ball rate, and death threats for what he did to fantasy teams. The 2nd half last year: 13 HRs, 48 RBIs, .260 average in 16 less games than the 1st half. His ground balls went way down (not literally!) to 34.2% and his fly balls shot up (literally!). His hard contact went up, his Ks went down, his everything went up. Some thought that his 2nd half last year was a sign he was going to break out in April this year. Yeah, that didn’t happen, but he’s not old and I can’t imagine he’s going to stay this bad all year. This year’s 1st half of 9 HRs, .211, 44.8% GB rate isn’t the end of an era, but maybe about to be the end of his error. Pithy points! Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Well, I guess that makes all the sense in the world, because those darn Flock of Seagulls got all in your head in the 80’s.  Then they had the nerve to be in GTA and get you all singing about running.  I don’t even run when chased anymore.  It’s a big game of “ooohhh ya got me”.  So north of the border, they do it all in groups now apparently.  That group started out as a singular to start the year, then a separate individual took over only to fail himself, then they went back to the original guy who had it out of spring.  Now they are on to a group format because I am guessing “strength in numbers” is the thing.  I think “paint by numbers” should be their next move.  So if you are scoring at home, to summarize, that is Cecil, Castro, Cecil, et. all.   Yeah, I mean if I had the offensive potential that the Blue Jays have, and they are being all fiddle and benz with the end game, I would make a move to a more permanent solution.  Don’t be cheap, I think the exchange rate is in your favor or close.  So the committee we are looking at now is a group that consists of Roberto Osuna, Steve Delabar, possibly another occasional save chance for Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Optimus Prime and any prime number.  From a rostering standpoint, I would own Osuna, Delabar, then Cecil.  If you missed out on all three, just be thankful, because it’s a mess.  But saves bring all the craziness out of people, so that’s why it’s bullpen week and we are getting down to the goods of the HOLD.  Enjoy the rankings, tidbits and the casual barbs at my peers.  Cheers!

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I hate it when the vagueness of an arm injury slams your roster and places the top closer on the DL.  Andrew Miller hit it yesterday with a forearm strain.  How could it be strained if there are fore of them?  I mean aren’t the other three there, to be like, back-up dancers?  The only good thing for you and the Yankees is that there is another top-5 relief pitcher in the mix.  Dellin Betances will take over as the lead sled dog in the saves in the Bronx.  After that, on the off chance you need a third option, there is Adam Warren, which is a deep shot in the dark.  Crazy as that sounds, and I dig that he is still starting, but if this drags out for Miller, he could return to what was excellent form from out of the pen last year.   If by all intents and purposes you are reaching this far down for saves or speculating that the Yankees are in trouble… then stick around for some extra tidbits,  there are a quite few this week.  Cheers!

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I loved when Junior Lake homered the other day and, as he rounded first base, he held his finger to his lips, shushing the Marlins dugout, as if he was some kind of maniacal librarian. The only disappointing thing from this whole encounter is no one wrote an article titled, “Junior Mince Words.” It’s that kinda of braggadocio, WWE-type attitude that makes Grey’s man muscles tingly. Baseball needs to shed its 1920s demeanor and get rowdy-bawdy. If rowdy-bawdy means acting a fool, what the eff, go for it! The game is losing fans and fans want crazy/stupid/cool. Even in the conservative Japan, baseball players flip their bats like they’re cutting up an imaginary origami crane. I say everyone needs to come up with their own home run trot and pitchers need to blow on their gun finger after a K. As for Junior Lake, I’m a big fan outside of the theatrics. He’s a 12-homer, 15-steal guy that should play most days until Soler returns. I’ve added him everywhere I could. After I added him, I shushed my hand on my mouse. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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This is the SAGNOF Special “broken record edition” where I repeat things I’ve touched on in the past.  Danny Santana bad.  Rajai Davis good.  But let’s start with: sell Steven Souza.  Why?  So many reasons, but the most important are his 37% K rate and 35.7% HR/FB.  The K rate is bound to come down some, but how much?  32-35% might still be too high for Souza to have great value going forward, once the HR/FB rate regresses. To put that HR/FB rate in perspective, last year’s leader among qualified batters was Jose Abreu, with 26.9%.  Nelson Cruz‘s HR/FB rate was “only” 20.4% last year.  So on the one hand you can be very successful with a much lower HR/FB rate, on the other hand if Souza’s HR/FB rate were halved and we assume that half of his home runs were instead FB outs, his AVG drops from  .238 to .206.  While he can in fact have value with such a low AVG, the problem is, will the Rays send him down?   To look at it another way, think of how low his average might be during a 3-4 week home run drought.  So who to trade for?  If you want a similar type player maybe Charlie Blackmon or Gregory Polanco.  If you need some pitching maybe Jake Arrieta.  In any case, I’m trying to tell you to trade him as a player batting .238 with 10 home runs and 7 stolen bases, because that’s what he’s done.  So if you trade him make sure you get plenty in return because you are assuming the risk that he can lower his K% down to 32%-ish while maintaining a HR/FB of above 20%, because if he can do those things he can be pretty good.  But I don’t think his value will ever be higher than it is right now.

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Any god fearing Jersey-ian grew up with the song of this week’s title track.  It was bred into our systems much like the IOU sweatshirt craze during the same time frame. It’s catchy, is easy to sing, sounds like some sorta bubbles being blown somewhere, and there’s some booty shaking.  Bubbles and booty, what could be better?  Another “B” obviously.  Bullpens!  I am turning this week’s eye to not only Glen Perkins, but the entire Twins’ bullpen.  POerkins has rebounded fantastically from last years injury blip which lead to him being ineffective.  He is the “watching paint dry”, 9 k/9 closer that is doing it well.  His effectiveness, he is 17/17 in save opps.   That is basically like going all Curt Henning on the save department. This time next week he will be climbing the corporate ladder of the save chart, book it. The thing that I love is the set-up chaps that are running-a-muck, in a good way, to completely be crushing the hold department, namely Blaine Boyer and Aaron Thompson.  They have both successfully made their way into the top-15 in holds on the year.  A good bullpen will always, always go a long way to propel a successful team.  It’s just fact, the two don’t usually meet at more then a passing glance from normal fantasy players, because they have their starters, and they have their closers.  The middle is always sketchy, it’s like where certain food comes from… who cares really? Just as long as it is prepared the way you like it before you eat it.

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