I was all about some of that young prospect snell early in the season, ranking Blake Snell within my top-75 preseason ranks. He destroyed the Minors in 2015, then was a little iffy when he hit the Majors for the first time. HE’S AWFUL FOREVER! As we see 95% of the time, initial failure means a prospect is forgotten, even if they start putting up solid numbers a month or two later.

And such was the case for Snell, who had a 3.86 ERA over his first 5 starts (passable), but a horrific 20:15 K:BB and a WHIP close to 2.00. He’s no Trevor Rosenthal! That aforementioned success in the Minors came with some control issues as well, so it stood to reason he might need a little more refinement. On top of that, I watched a few of his starts and his stuff looked a little too “loopy” for me. I have no idea if that makes sense… But it looked like a lot of huge rolling movement, with nothing crisp, ala a Corey Kluber or Jake Arrieta cutter. Just very bendy.

Things have gotten a lot better lately though, with a 24:11 K:BB heading into yesterday’s start against the Yanks in 24 innings. As such a highly regarded prospect and with good pure stuff that I think just needed that little extra “umpf” of crispness, I bought in heavily across my leagues and in last week’s ranks. But I figured it would be a good idea to see for myself if his breaking stuff looks a tad better than when I saw it in his 2nd and 3rd starts. Here’s how he looked:

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Oh man!  So close to a Joel Youngblood sighting!  Melvin Upton was traded from the Padres to the Blue Jays, a team they are currently facing.  Is it me or does it seem like this year the teams are so cheap, they’re not even using their cell minutes.  If they’re playing against a team, then they’re trading with them.  That’s it.  Surprised the Indians haven’t been more active then.  Ya know, cause they could use smoke signals.  By the way, nothing you could ever say about Native Americans is more racist than a team being called Redskins or the Indians’ mascot.  So, go ahead, try!  Melvin Upton shook the B.J. name, but you can’t take the Upton out of the B.J.’s, Blue Jays, that is.  The trade of Upton takes him from a mediocre team to a solid offensive team, but moves him from the middle of the order to the lower third of the order and potentially even hurts his playing time if the Jays want to get Smoak into the lineup.  I’m gonna say all things being equal, it’s a push, which technically means all things are equal, so there!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It’s been awhile since there’s been any Trevors of note. In 1986, professional boxer Trevor Berbick became the first (and only) person to fight both Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. If you’re a fan of the Castlevania series of video games, the name Trevor Belmont might ring a bell. Most fantasy baseballers are undoubtedly familiar with Trevor Hoffman’s dominance from the mid 90s through the end of his Padres days (and with apologies to Mariano Rivera, it’s hard to forget the coolest entrance in baseball history). Lately though, there haven’t been too many newsworthy Trevors out there. Perhaps Trevor Noah would qualify, but longtime fans of The Daily Show would probably insist that it’s for all of the wrong reasons. In fantasy baseball, however, there’s been no shortage of relevant Trevors in recent weeks. Let’s start off by highlighting this week’s most added player in ESPN leagues, Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (69.3% owned; +32.1% over the past week). Known mostly for his extreme training techniques and inconsistency throughout his MLB career, Bauer had been notoriously unreliable from a fantasy perspective entering the 2016 season. Since making his MLB debut with the Diamondbacks in 2012, Bauer has posted solid strikeout numbers (8.45 K/9) but has been a ratio killer along the way (4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP entering this season). These poor ratios have been largely a result of shaky control (4.2 BB/9) and an inability to consistently keep the ball in the park (1.1 HR/9). This season, Bauer ditched his mediocre slider in favor of a cutter, and reduced his reliance on his fourseam fastball while leaning more heavily on his sinker, terrific curveball, and vastly improved changeup. The results have been impressive. Bauer has managed to maintain his solid K-rate (8.37 K/9) while drastically cutting down on his walks (2.99 BB/9) and homers (0.7 HR/9) allowed. His new pitch mix has resulted in a career high 50.0% GB% as well. Over his last five starts, Bauer has been downright dominant (37.2 IP, 37/9 K/BB, 1 HR, 1.67 ERA, 0.93 WHIP). If he can maintain his newfound control, you’re looking at a top 30 starting pitcher the rest of the way.

Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:

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On Saturday, Michael Conforto was demoted to the minors.  Ouch.  Not only did he fall far from preseason expectations, but he seemed to be breaking out in April.  Coming out of April, he had 4 HRs and a .365 average.  In May and June, he hit .169 and .119 and, finally, the Mets threw in the towel just as Conforto’s head was bouncing on the canvas.  Shame, isn’t it?  Not a shame, a product of not being able to hit.  I’m sure he’ll be back at some point, but you can drop him in all but the deepest dynasty leagues.  In his place came, Brandon Nimmo.  Okay, let’s get them out of the way up front.  The Mets are finding Nimmo in a sea of prospects.  The Mets aren’t finding Drury because he’s on a different team.  Is Nimmo the Mets’ outfield fixar?  That’s a clown fish question, bro.  Nimmo’s minor league numbers look dynamite, but that’s because he was playing in the PCL, which is like playing on the moon with an aluminum bat.  He had five homers, five steals and a .331 average.  That seems to be his profile more or let’s be generous, maybe 10/15/.280.  Sounds downright Lagaresque.  Outside of deep mixed leagues and NL-Only, I’d ignore for now.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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The Houston Astros top first base prospect, future MLB All-Star slash hall of famer and savior of my fantasy team, A.J. Reed, has finally been called up after several weeks of waiting. The 23-year old phenom was currently slashing a very modest .266/.345/.509 with 11 homers and 36 RBI in 59 games with AAA Fresno. Certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it’s the fact that A.J. has hit safely in his past 8 games batting .372 with 14 hits, 3 homers, 3 doubles and 7 RBI in that stretch that makes me say, “aww yissss, thatswhatimtalkinabout!” You need more? What if I told you that A.J. Reed was one of the best hitters in the minors last year hitting .340/.432/.612 with 34 homers and 127 RBI between AA and AAA (135 games). Oh boy, now that is some POWER! All caps! Yessir, A.J.’s got a molly whopping home run stick and then some. Primed to hit the ding dongs! The one caveat, which is a French word for bad stuffs, is that A.J. has struggled mightily against lefties batting just .222 against them. This appears to be Houston’s primary reason for delaying his call-up, and as a result I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reed sit versus lefties in the early going. Regardlesss, irregahdless, irrecaveats, let’s recap: A.J. Reed is finally here, he should get the majority of the playing time at first base, he has immense power upside and you should add him everywhere he’s available. He’s going to save my fantasy team and trust me I wouldn’t have quoted Top Gun if I wasn’t completely serious. This kid’s gonna be a star! Ha-cha-cha!

Here’s what else happened Friday night in fantasy baseball:

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You know how they have pink bats for Mother’s Day?  They should have bats in the shape of penises for Father’s Day.  “Ooh, a swing and a miss.  Damn, he had that schlong just out in front of that ball.”  “You know socialism never worked, but penises have worked for thousands of years, depending on what interpretation of the Bible you ascribe to.”  “Wow, what size bat is David Ortiz using?”  Happy Father’s Day to all of our readers minus five ladies!  Yesterday, for Dad’s Day, Julio Teheran showed us Americans how they do it in Iran on Father’s Day.  Teheran #1 — ptooey everyone us!  His line was 9 IP, 0 ER, 1 hit, zero walks and 7 Ks, lowering his ERA to 2.66.  I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that Teheran is worth picking up.  He’s obviously not this good.  His xFIP is 3.97, but his walk rate is down from last year and his ground balls are up, not literally.  Other than last year, he was a consistent low-3, high-2 ERA guy, and he looks like he found his way back there.  By the way, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, agreed, we should not allow any university lacrosse teams access to the penis bats.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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The save buffet line in Minnesota is becoming a tiresome “wait-and-see who gets the chance today”.  We all sit there and wait to own all the bullpen condiments that they offer, whether it be Brandon Kintzler, Fernando Abad, Trevor May, Kevin Jepsen, or Michael Tonkin. Including Perkins, those are the names that have been gifted a precious save chance for the occupants of the Twin Cities.  A save opportunity total that is second to last in the league (18), in front of a surprise first place team in the Cubs.  The Cubs are only there because they are beating everyone up and don’t have the late-inning chances that other losing teams do.  So back to the Twinkies… they have the least amount of saves, holds, and have the least amount of appearances by relievers with the lead.  All those things are so bad for roster space that you are speculating it to get you a save. They are on pace to average less than 3/4 of one whole save a week.  But if people want to keep roster shuffling, looking for the odd save here or there, who am I to judge?  I mean, some people say cucumbers taste better pickled.  The fortunate thing for you is that I am here to guide that steady hand and give you astute advice for a nominal (not nominal, it’s free) fee.  So here the rankings of closers for week 11, now with more added snippets of goodness!

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Situations arise all the time with closers. Injuries occur, poor performance, and then the return of the incumbent.  In the preseason, Will Smith was the guy the Brewers had tabbed as the closer.  Then, like I just said, an injury happened.  So now that he is back, what goes on in the back-end of the Brewers bullpen?  Jeremy Jeffress has done a stellar job with a less than average set-up crew in front of him.  He has pitched to a 2.45 ERA and a slightly more bloated xFIP of 3.41.  For all his previous tangles with pitching, he is striking out far less then he is normally accustomed to at just a 6 K/9 rate.  Low for a closer, even from the Lauvern and Shirley state.  He has managed 14 saves in 15 opportunitioes, and for a team like the Brewers, 14 is a healthy total.  So does his reign come to an end now that the best reliever is back in the fray?  Granted, it is never a great thing when usual mop-up relievers start stealing your stats, namely Blaine Boyer and Carlos Torres, who have 3 saves between them in the past nine games.  And granted, saves are wonky and games dictate them sometimes, come from behind wins, and situational loogy-ness are also a factor.  So I think with the way Jeffress has been going, he stays there until Will comes and steals his mojo and never looks back… Until the trade deadline, which could alter things up completely and basically revert it back to the way it was.  So if Will Smith is on your waivers, do yourself a service and add him speculatively for a week or two.  If he doesn’t give you the returns that you expect, then, well, the opposite happened of what I think should happen.  Enjoy Week 9 of the fantasy baseball season’s closer report!

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Big Game James went into Milwaukee and clinched at least a 16 win season for the Padres. Clutch!

This was a flashback Shields start – 7 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, 0 HR. I thought the NL would extend his fantasy acehood a little longer – like it did for Jon Lester and his fried chicken and beer buddy, John Lackey – but Shields’ BB and HR rates spiked insanely last year.

The HR rate (a near league-leading 1.47 HR/9 IP) was due to regress a bit (now around 1 HR/9 IP) but his BB rate is still 3.6/9 which relegates him to streaming in shallow leagues and an Ian Kennedy-like SP4/SP5 in 15-team leagues. If he could regain his control, he has a shot at a 3rd act as a KaBoB.

So Grey handed me the roundup keys on a short slate Thursday. I’m so excited. I’m so scared. I’m so tired (I’m shocked Grey hasn’t moved to Hawaii yet so he doesn’t have to write at night). I asked him to return the favor and give me a title and all he came up with was, “Brooke Shields Is Handsome” and “The Shields Start Was RiChiklis”. Oy.

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Ugh, the smell of my onsies de Mayo is so much worse than a normal day.  I reek of sizzlin’ fajitas and am all cotton-mouthed from… well let’s just say alcohol.  So attacking the usual Saturday bullpen rundown is a dizzying affair to say the least.  Speaking of a dizzying places, let’s look at the Rockies bullpen situation; it’s definitely not all kush, but it’s not charcoal brick pack.  The trust in Jake McGee is still there, because to be honest, the talent level behind him isn’t really there, is not ready, or has no experience in the end-of-game thing.  Behind Jake are Chad Qualls, who has pitched the majority of the right-handed match-ups in the 8th inning with a smattering of Boone Logan mixed in.  Now, I was nervous about McGee’s K-rate until I saw what Qualls’ was.  The stout bunch of McGee and Qualls have a combined K/9 over the last 14 games of 5.16.  That is combined!  I can’t make up this stuff.  The role of closer is most likely safe because the next guy up is Qualls, and well, if that last stat statement wasn’t enough to make you bored, I don’t know what else to say.  The look of the rest of the pen is very unproven with Scott Oberg, Justin Miller, and Gonzalez Germen.  What this bullpen needs is a youth movement to come front and center.  They have the guys there, but aren’t utilizing them in a role that is conducive for anything outside of dynasty leagues that count holds.  Eddie Butler and Carlos Estevez (no not that one) are a good start to what could be a decent mix.  And yes, I see Butler as a bullpen arm.  Getting chances are sparser than other teams for the Rockies, but with time, and once they start invigorating the youth into the chain of holds and saves command, progress will be made even above sea level.  Let’s see what other gobs of knowledge we have for the closers over the last few weeks…

Please, blog, may I have some more?