Dellin Betances is basically the fat of the fantasy set-up world. The goods are there, it just takes time and some settling before we all realize it is, what was and what always shall be…  I think I just laced this post with some subtle Led Zeppelin reference, but I may be crooked to walk on one leg to let myself know that I did, let alone let you subtly know.  So I will just go ahead and say there was a Zep reference-reference.  Good, moving on.  Success of a bullpen, let alone someone you should be relying on, is correlative of how well the team is performing. It’s science, if you score more you put yourself in a better position to win more, regardless of who is on the bump.  Dellin was and is the goods, currently and in post-script.  He came into the year as the man to target in any format that coveted fantasy goodness, condensed into a smaller innings unit of measure than that of a starter.  Now add in the dash of Holds sassiness, and he is a bullpen god.  He is now the king of the Hold in all leagues by quantity and not by just scripture.  His 16 holds on the year are tops on the this year’s gig and given the Yankees propensity to not score over 4 runs in a game, his reign may be a run away.  He has the good everywhere else; K/9, swagger, ability to tie multiple knots while buoyant at sea.  There are no bullpen stats that he isn’t the man at.  He basically walks into a bar/club and automatically has the best synchronized music to his step….think Matthew McConaughey in Dazed in Confused…and let here comes the story of the Hurricane ramble through your third eye for a bit.  So let’s jump into this fortnights dealing in the bullpen game… alright, alright, alright.

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The change in Texas has reverbed into the Holds ranks as well.  Tolley was the guy, now Frank Perdue’s arch-nemesis Sam Dyson is all comfy in the save bird seat.  The best part of this whole deal is that Jake Diekman is reaping all the benefits from a fantasy hold perspective.  This is a coup for the people who listened to me early and figured him to be the lefty-version of the lock-down pen arm in Arlington.  All Jake has done on the year is garner 13 holds with 11 plus K/9 and a HR/9 just a smidge over one.  We in the fantasy community rely on such precise words as smidge, scoonch, pinch… and I’m throwing prolly in there because some people like it and it doesn’t get more accurate than that.   So the main question is, can Diekman be the man and continue to be the man?  Absolutely.  He is thriving in a role that he started when he was with Philly.  The Rangers, also if anyone is paying attention, aren’t a half bad team and are fairly solid with or without Tolleson closing at the end.  So let’s take a look at what else has happened in the fortnight of games since the last bullpen lowdown, or ho-down.  Depending on how strong your hold pimp hand is.

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Well we weren’t talking about deep fried empanadas.  We were talking about the retro-chich lads from that Navy town of San Diego…  Yes, those Padres of the last place origin.  The ones with 16 whole wins in their favor on the year.  Sneaky Hold situations make my world go round.  Which, in turn, makes me spurn to you on the recycled tip of the serving platter from a fantasy analyst.  Over the last 14 games, the Padres have endured some good fortune in the reliever ranks, namely Brandon Maurer.  Maurer has netted himself 7 Holds over that time, or in fantasy bullpen coverage terms here at the Razz-nation, a hold the fort(night). Maurer is the 8th inning guy and if you are in a holds league, then he is probably taken.  Him of the 14-plus K-rate over the last 10 games and because they strung a few victories in a row, boom! Stats.  But we all know how many holds he has in the last umpteen days… because we can all read stat lines and understand that one plus the previous amount equals today’s total.  Math catch-up lesson over.  The Father’s depth in the pen doesn’t just end with Brandon.  Take a look deeper and we will come across not the candelstick maker, nor the baker, but the Butcher.  As in Ryan Butcher.  While Maurer seems to get all the decent looks in the 8th for the beloved hold, Butcher seems to latch onto him like a paramecium in heat looking for a Padres win.  Averaging over a K per inning, and duly entrenched as the bridge to the bridge to Fernando Rodney (which probably really isn’t much of a bridge of at all, but just a rope with board entwined with hope aspiration and tears), so with this brief biopic on the San Diegans bullpen fellas, lets look at what else is bouncing around in the world of set-up, set-up to get beat down.  I get nothing but a hold.

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When looking at the standings, it is usually a great indicator of how well a team is doing by looking at the Hold leaders.  It doesn’t tell you all or is the end all be all of indicators, but when you have three guys in the top-4, it speaks volumes.  It shows the team is ahead, but not by so much that they are blowing people out, have a great set of flow through the bullpen with set jobs, and they are successfully in-sync.  Not that “in-sync”, but yeah, sorta because something that included J.T. can’t really be all that bad.  So what is making the Chicago White Sox so good at what they are doing right now?  First, it starts from the last inning back.  David Robertson has the goods of what you want from a closer, he has the K-rate and decent control to limit base runners.  What I am noticing is he is keeping the ball away from the upper part of the zone, which was his buga-boo from the past; that he gives up too many homers.  In front of him, he has a trio of relievers with different mindsets.  Nate Jones is basically a closer in front of the real closer, but with a better approach of pitching to contract then K’ing everyone.  Zach Duke is by far the sexiest LOOGY in the business right now and Matt Albers is an all effort pitcher with tons of movement on his pitches.  Add in the fact that they have Putnam and Petricka as sub pieces that can fit into anyone’s role, and they have what looks like in the early stages of the season the best bullpen in baseball. That is not to say that it will last but the investment level from a fantasy level, especially from a holds league, but it is very stout.  So check out the other tidbits and bits tids that I have for you after the bump.  (Plus a chart that monitors usage and runs given up by relievers that usually lead to them losing or gaining spots in the pen.)

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As much as I love publishing and giving you the “haps” on the closer ranks, I love the depth that a bullpen can give you and how it can affect your roster.  It is way to early to look into my Grafix crystal ball and say this guy and that one will be the crowned prince of the hold this year… to some degree.  Early usage and situations prove a lot.  Yes, injuries happen, and ineffective spells happen, and sometimes trades happen, but if you were good enough to make the team out of Spring, then usually you are good enough to make yourself an established piece of the bullpen.  The top names are still the top names.  The cream either rises to the top or it rules everything around me, both perspectives are interesting because how can you not believe the Wu or old school rhetoric. So with the first bullpen piece of the year, we will cover all the same things you are accustomed to from last year as I get more in-depth than anyone else when it comes to holds.  Some don’t care or are on the fence, as if it’s a completely comical or made up stat.  It is no more made up then saves, because that is exactly what it is, just before the save… so it is basically a pre-save.  Either way, I care and will give you some early trends to look at and some names to go with it.  Trends rule everything around bullpens or TREAB, dolla dolla bill y’all.

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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 few weeks ago, we looked at some interesting hitter stats over the last few years. If you didn’t find the stats and trends that were highlighted in that article to be particularly interesting, at least you might have been mildly amused by the inclusion of names such as Jack Cust, Candy Nelson, and Silver Flint. Today, it’s the pitchers’ turn. Perhaps I can find an excuse to reference Cannonball Titcomb in this post. There’s only one way to find out! (spoiler alert: he won’t be mentioned again)

Just as I did in the hitter edition of this series, I’ll be listing various statistics with little to no analysis so that you can be the judge of how relevant each statistic and/or trend is in regards to the 2016 season. This article focuses on pitchers only, and the stats that will be highlighted range from the basic (strikeouts, win-loss record, innings pitched, ERA, WHIP) to the slightly more advanced (K/BB ratio, LOB%, batted ball profile, SwStr%).

Let’s get to it. Here are some interesting pitcher stats and trends to consider entering the 2016 fantasy baseball season:

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What if I told you that the top-four teams last year in Holds didn’t make the playoffs?  I know the obvious answer would be: it’s a made-up stat that does nothing but clog a fantasy roster with fodder and otherwise un-rosterable relievers.  Well, if you said that out loud, then I am mad at you and you can not come to the Razzball Winter Dance Carnival.  No, but seriously, I get offended when people make such determinations.  Listen, you are either in a league that uses Holds or you aren’t.  Not all of these guys is basically like having a second doorstop (when one doorstop will do).  Many of these guys are usable in most formats as ratio gaps in K/9, looking for cheap wins or for a slow day of waiver wire madness.  My theory on any league is to roster any two relievers that are non-closers at all times.  At worst, they decimate your rates for one day.  At best they give you an inning or two and give you great rates and a few K’s.  Now, for Holds leagues, I am a hoarder.  I live by this simple motto. Two pairs and a wild, just like five-card poker. It stands for two closers, two stud holds guys, and a streamer.  In moves leagues, it’s a little more difficult to do, but in non-move limited league, it’s a fun way to just basically win your Holds category by August, save yourself the innings/starts and then stream the holy hell out of the last seven weeks.  So since you have searched around the web and found zero other info on the topic (yeah, I looked, so take that), here are the holds tiers and sleepers for the 2016 year.

“A Hold is credited any time a relief pitcher enters a game in a Save Situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game never having relinquished the lead. Note: a pitcher cannot finish the game and receive credit for a Hold, nor can he earn a hold and a save.” ~ The edited out part of the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln.

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Sneaky free K’s are all the rage for a streaming option when a starter just won’t do.  The numbers they put up are more of a collection-basis rather than a hunt, play and punt.  Relievers, not just closers, are the container that transports the glue.  Can you imagine glue not coming in a container and just being had at the local sundry store by the handful?  Messy proposition my friends.  Non-closers are what every complete fantasy team need.  They are like the egg in a good recipe – you can often substitute one reliever for another.  That’s what makes them so handy… they don’t usually carry a huge draft day burden.  They are basically free waiver-wire adds.  For those in holds leagues, that doesn’t always ring true, and when I start getting into the preseason hold rankings, some of the names will be similar.  That’s because the names you want just don’t give you holds, they give you multiple stats.  They are the five-tool performers in the industry of relief pitchers.  So here is a little preseason primer for guys who don’t really adorn too much draft day attention, but should be snagged in situations that require their services when you are short on K potential and maximizing the K/9 of your fantasy roster…

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Jay’s Note: Seeing as how Smokey’s title has put this song in my head for what will probably be the entire week, I’m happy to include this video to pay it forward.

That’s it.  Shows over.  Please help the rest of the Razz staff by stacking your chairs at the back of the room.  So with there only the same number of days left as fingers on Jason Pierre Paul’s hand (sick football reference!), it is only fitting to do a fun wrap of lots of gimmicky things and fun factoids.  I rented a cool clown horn for that moment, so if you don’t live in a one block radius of me, it was for not.  For the the rest of you, put that horn in your head and add it to the the tumor hum and the slight tinnitus.  So to recap the year, there were a total of 14 closer changes, and that includes teams changing multiple times.  We have 21 closers with 30 plus saves, which my research tells me… this is the new record.  While the overall number and percentage of saves successfully converted is in line with the norm, it just shows that teams are sticking with their guys and the committee approach is fading. Tons more are inside, it’s my last post of the year, so things might get either weirdly informative, or informatively weird.  Suspense!

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