The Mariner bullpen has basically been that round-up ride at your local carnival.  It doesn’t look that bad until it totally messes with your vertigo and you end up spewing up kettle corn and other assorted goods for two hours there after.  Last year, the Mariners bullpen had a 2.60 ERA, good for tops in the MLB.  They also saved 51 games to only 11 blown saves.  They were all comfy and coozy like footed pajamas last year, and basically everyone could rely on the decent value of return from drafting Fernando Rodney.  Then the year changes to five and the ship went askew.  Their bullpen ERA is over 4.30 and are on pace to accumulate 45 saves, and, to date, have already blown 18 saves (behind only three other teams for worst).  So let’s just run down the year so far: Rodney was the closer, then he wasn’t the closer, Carson Smith took over, and now it seems as though they are reverting back to 2012 in hopes that Tom Wilhelmsen can right the ship of battered and injured bullpen dreams.  Stick around for some tid-bits and bullpen ranks…

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*swirls a glass, takes a gulp. spits it back in a bucket*  “That’s vintage Justin Verlander,” said Kate Upton.  “Okay, this might sound gross, but can you spit into my mouth?”  That’s you getting up the nerve to say something to Kate Upton.  I just thought of a moneymaking idea for Shark Tank!  You stand outside of Comerica Park with a cardboard cutout of a naked Verlander and have people pay $10 to take a picture with him, pretending to be Kate Upton.  Oh, and no, this post isn’t an attempt to Bleacher Report up Google’s rankings by mentioning Verlander and Upton repeatedly, though it does seem that way…Verlander/Upton, Verlander/Upton and Verlander/Upten for the illiterates.  So, Verlander did look magnificent yesterday until the 8th inning when he began to tire, ending up with a one hitter –> 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners (1 Hit), 9 Ks with an ERA at 3.45.  Big Magoo captured Verlander’s upside about two weeks ago with this post.  Worth reading, but the key part (cause I know, y’all can only read so much), “Since the All-Star break, Verlander’s 7.25 K/BB ratio is the 5th highest among qualified starting pitchers, and his 1.1 BB/9 is the 6th lowest.  He shares the same swinging strike rate (12.1%) as Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole over that span as well.  Now, excuse me as I go drain the weasel on a picture of Grey.”  Hey, wait a minute!  I didn’t remember that last part.  So, if Verlander is out there in your league, the one-hitter yesterday doesn’t seem to be a hirame.  Sorry, I just had sushi.  It’s not a fluke.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It feels like only yesterday when everything was right in the world.  An animated blue bird landed on my window ledge and sung to me about boobies and other things the republicans want to make illegal, then another animated bird joined him and sung to me about foie gras and other things the democrats want to make illegal, then a centrist animated bird landed and said a lot of nothing that could neither be refuted nor approved.  Why do I have all of these damn cartoon birds but no Carlos Carrasco?!  Yesterday, Carrasco hit the DL with a sore shoulder.  This sounds to me like an early shutdown is not too far off.  “Hello, shopping mall ear piercer, can you put a diamond stud in the hole in my heart that Carrasco left?”  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Jorge Soler is likely done for the year with a strained oblique.  This is one of those injuries that comes with a sigh of relief.  Yay, I don’t have to keep running Soler out there and being disappointed.  Disappointment, you are the mistress of expectation, aren’t you?  Soler fascinates me in a car crash that you rubber neck while you pass sorta way.  Here’s a preseason tweet from Peter Gammons, “John Mallee (Cubs hitting coach) says Jorge Soler hasn’t swung at a pitch out of the strike zone all spring.  Scary good.  May be best of Cubs lot right now.”  Cubs committed to playing him, and, by the end of the year, you had to wonder if they should’ve just been committed.  If his year is over, he ends with 7 HRs, 3 SBs and a .265 average in 278 plate appearances.  Worse (yeah, it can get worse), his strikeout rate zoomed, and not in the fun way like Aretha Franklin’s zooming.  On our Player Rater, he was about as valuable as Will Venable, Brandon Moss and Jeff Francoeur.  Or make that, as craptastic as those guys.  In 2016, Soler will be one of those guys that goes in the 150 range that could be as valuable as Pollock this year, or as valuable as the Pollock that parked so close to your car you couldn’t get in your door and needed to climb through the trunk, knock down the backseat and crawl through to the steering wheel.  Time, not the magazine, will tell.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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SAGNOF just keeps finding ways to stay absurd.  Tom Wilhelmsen, Jean Machi, John Axford = good.  Carson Smith, Junichi Tazawa…. even Greg Holland = bad.  If all you care about are saves there’s been a wealth of options available.  Realistically, I think chasing saves with bad closers can be a losing proposition.  What do the first three (the so called “good”) have in common aside from taking over as the closer?  How about WHIPs greater than 1.40.  These players need to come with a warning label.  “Implosion likely to occur.”  I mean, it only took Edward Mujica about a week to implode and he was arguably better than any of these three.  Axford and Wilhelmsen look like brothers from different mothers with their K:BB ratios at 1.75 and 1.91 respectively.  Anything below 2.50 is really bad for a closer.  Unless you’re Brad Ziegler.  Then it’s okay.  (I need a “no sarcasm” alert for that one).  Here’s the lowdown on the closer situations that will make you want to scream.

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I’m in New York celebrating my grandfather’s 88th birthday, or as he calls it “achy-ache,” and we started talking about Caitlyn Jenner, and he said, “She’s a hot number, I’d throw her one.”  Throw her one, I believe, means have sex with her.  I thought this was pretty forward thinking for my grandfather, then he continued, “Do you know how they put lost children on the side of a carton of milk?  I heard if Caitlyn got lost, they’d put her on a carton of Half & Half.”  Ah, there he is.  Reminds me a bit of Marge Schott, which brings us to Raisel Iglesias, who threw a gem yesterday — 7 IP, 1 ER, 6 baserunners, 13 Ks.  “Raise the Church” has looked far superior since he returned from his stint in the minors with an ERA that’s bordering on startable everywhere (3.93), and peripherals that look ownable everywhere (9.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.42 xFIP).  At this point in the year, I would go one start at a time for him, but I would definitely own him, and start him for his next one.  Now, if you excuse me, I have to get back before my grandfather tries to “throw one” at Cougs.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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We are going to take a break from the closenado news to bring the middle-reliever news and updates for those of you that are in Holds and NSVH leagues. While it’s not as sexy as the closer news that you usually expect, it is still fundamental in forming a well-balanced pitching staff. It has been a bizarre season, as far as Holds go, and no one person is showing their stoutness and running away with being “that guy”.  The usual candidates are lying in the weeds [Ed. Note– you haven’t smoked it all?] waiting to jump out and show you how to make balloon animals. So here are some snippets that I’ve noticed so far this year, though the season is still short ‘n sweet. There’s a long ways to go my friends. So be patient when it comes to the dudes who pitch after the dudes, but before the dudes that really matter.

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First off, I would like to say Eric Sogard should be the Face of the MLB; that vote was rigged in David Wright’s favor.  Baseball needs more nerdy-looking, glasses-touting, Bernie-leanin’, jive-walking players.  But without further ado, here is the AL West Spring Training Showdown. (You can check out the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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In the spring of 2013, Astro fans celebrated through the streets of Houston, shooting guns in the air and playing Houston’s own, Mind Playing Tricks On Me and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits, because her last name hailed from there. Those fans (all 17 of them) were celebrating the Astros’ National League exodus. “Let my people go, NL!” That’s what they chanted for years. “We need a fresh start like our entire body is covered in deodorant.” That’s what they told each other. Unfortch, no one explained to them that they wouldn’t just be able to play split squad games in their own league, they would have to join the AL. Yesterday, the Sawx destroyed them for 15 runs. Jacoby Ellsbury hit two homers (6 & 7), scored four runs, knocked in three and went 2-for-4. David Ortiz went 4-for-4 with 2 runs, 2 RBIs and one big belly laugh at what A-Rod is going through. Shane Victorino went 3-for-5 with 4 runs and even walked once in honor of Jackie Bradley Jr. Jonny Gomes hit a homer and knocked in four runs and he didn’t even start. This was also a reminder to not go near any Lastro pitcher. A sad, sad reminder. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Why don’t I have Yu Darvish on any teams? Why don’t I have him on every team? It’s not like I ranked him low in the preseason. Maybe not crazy high, but I should’ve drafted him once. In ten leagues, you would’ve thought it had to happen. I wanna find a Japanese man and feed him grapes and tell him, “Yu are beautiful.” I wanna walk five paces in front of a Japanese woman and tell her how much I love Yu. He just jazzes me up so much I wanna do weird shizz with Japanese people! Something that takes my mind off not owning Yu in fantasy and transports me to living in some kind of weird fantasy with Yu surrogates. Cradle me in your arms, Japanese surrogate that I found on the street, and tell me Yu love me too. So, yesterday, Yu was dazzling again. This was his fourth game with 14 strikeouts as he went seven strong with zero earned runs and only five baserunners, resurrecting the Diamondhacks. After yesterday’s game, Arizona now wants to close all borders. It’s a little early to be talking about this, but I want Yu Darvish in every fantasy league in 2014, but I know now I won’t be able to afford him. Come here, Japanese surrogate, you fill in for Yu. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?