If there was a NBA Jam version for relievers, it would go to the Royals bullpen.  They are the hottest team since sliced pimento loaf, and as of this typing, are finding themselves tops in the AL Central.  I have said it before and I will say it again– play the hot hand until it slaps you where it shouldn’t.  They are led recently and not recently, as in all year, by Wade Davis. Davis, on the year, has been just stellar: 6-2 K rate over 13 and has allowed only 5 ER all year. That my friends is about as robust as the McRib sandwich being not not real rib meat. Over the last two weeks Davis has lead the world in Holds with 7.  His subtle sidekick has been a nice mix of Jason Frasor and Kelvin Herrera, both garnering fantasy value in their own way. Frasor notching 2 wins in relief and Herrera grabbing 4 holds for himself… both guys also have the same ERA as Davis during the last 2 weeks. It’s zero, so stop with the guesses. Ride the lightning here as the Royale’s w/o cheese are scorching the universe like a bikini waxing store. Stay tuned for more middle relief haps and slaps.

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The deadline will have past by the time you’re reading this, so I’m sorry that I can’t meet or exceed all those expectations. What I can do is give you the in’s and out’s of middle relief. Wait, why did everyone just get up and leave? There is punch and pie at the end! So is everyone else confused on what to do with Will Smith?… yeah, me too.  He’s been getting beat up lately needs a vacation. Smith leads the league in appearances, is the leader in appearances with the lead by a non-closer (41), and has pitched an amazing 17 times on consecutive days. He has rewarded you with 19( albeit painful) NSVH, but his recent implosions may lead me to think there could be a better option for the time being. His BB/9 over the last 30 screams bad news, (P.S., it’s in the seven’s). I mean, I know the 24 Holds this year is all good and looks like a Canal St. watch, but if you have someone that just reads stats and doesn’t read between the lines of fantasy too well, see if they give you a name you like better. My best advice is pull a Judas Priest and run for the hills. Stay tuned for some charts and fun words and sentences that lead to abbreviated paragraphs. Good luck in the week to come.

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Welcome to the unofficial second half of the fantasy baseball season. If you’re reading this, I tip my dirty turban in your general direction, because that means despite half your roster being on the DL you’re still in the hunt for all the cash, bragging rights, glory and glory holes that is a fake baseball championship. If you’re reading this because you thought this was a Ben Wa ball site, let me be the first to apologize and welcome you to the Razzball Lounge. I’m sure we have some of those balls around here somewhere. Tehol? This is the place we almost award winning fantasy scribes come to pour over the numbers a little and pour out the scotch a lot more. Bellying up to the bar in his Montreal Expos Gary Carter throwback we find resident Razzball Radio on the TV host Nick C-A-P-O-Z-Z-I.  “I’ll trade a Razzball 32 in 32 in 32 ticket for one more Labatts and two of those Slim Jims.” Over at the juke box is the Razzball editor-in-kimchee Jay(Wrong) dropping quarters and lip syncing to Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up” for the seventh time. “Hey guys, I drafted Joaquin Benoit in the third round. Who’s the expert now?” *bottle smashes above head* Duct taped to the bar stool is rookie writer Ralph Lifshitz. Feel free to draw this on his face with a Sharpie. “Hazing is a crime ya know!” Silence, rook! Staggering out of the ladies room with his latest conquest is the one and only Tehol Beddict. “Why the long faces gang? I’ve been in last place since April.” And won’t you join your-humble-yet-not-quite-sober Guru here at the pool table. *adjusts turban, closes eye, banks cue ball off three rails, sinks eight ball, lights smoke, sets beard on fire* Shut off that damned boy band crap and put on some Motorhead. It’s time to play the game. It’s time to jam it or cram it.

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Ahh, I remember the Midway, it was fun it was like an air show but instead of crashes there were bullets.  I was just informed by Jay that statement is both wrong and wrong.  Moving on as graceful as Martha Graham.  So  I was actually thankful for a few days off, unhappy I didn’t make the all-star team, but I’m told that poor vocabulary and lack of knowledge of the home row keys are not determining stats that merit all-stardom.  Holds are fun, I don’t care what you say, if that makes me a loser for rooting for a fake stat, then I’m a loser.  This guys help your team though even if you don’t play in a Holds or NSVH league.  I am being serious.  I am the Will I am Tell of the loogy business.  Let’s check out my four up and four down for the closers in the second half, and stay around after that for some set-up news and blues.

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In my first ever post on points leagues in the beginning of May, I left you with the closing statement, “POINTS ARE POINTS.  SELL THE NAME TO WIN THE GAME.”  The premise is simple, don’t worry about the guys who garner all the attention in traditional category leagues.  Find ways to score more points, regardless of the players’ name recognition value.  Points leagues are their own little fantasy worlds that exist under some vary skewed parameters.  Think of points leagues like fetish porn.  Razzballin does invoke some interesting imagery as the title of an adult film.  Eeeee… Some thoughts just can’t be unremembered.  Grab some hard stuff and throw it back to help ease trauma.  The foreplay of the season is behind us and July signals the time to really turn it on to make the push for your fantasy playoffs.  Let’s get you lubed for some nice 2nd half moves.

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I know bad raps can make a career… I mean Shaq made his secondary career off of them, but Joel Peralta is really getting one.  Everyone loves change, and the whole shiny new toy factor associated with bullpens, but I’m here to learn you something about guys that have been drafted, dropped, and then added and dropped twice over this year.  The Tampa Bay bullpen, and starters for that matter, are just bad this year. But, in the last 30 days, Peralta has lowered his ERA by 3-and-half runs.  That’s not exactly easy, especially on a team 15-plus games below .500. Also, he has more K’s, same ERA, and more Holds than the now more-coveted  Jake McGee during the last 30 days. Better pitcher all year, McGee, better lately? Peralta (but he burned us, so we give him the finger).  Just me giving my two cents.  I mean fluctuation, and “oooh that guy looks good in macrame shorts” are a blinding factor for rostering fringe bullpen guys.  Stick around for some cool bullet points shaped like baseballs… neat.

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Yesterday, there was a pitching performance that truly captured the minds and hearts of the general public. You know, the general public — the people you smile at on the street and wonder how they got their shirt on because they look so dumb. Those people! This pitching performance wasn’t done by just any average pitcher. No, it was done by…an outfielder. Travis Snider struck out Joey Votto! Whaaaaaaat?! Oh, and Clayton Kershaw threw a no-hitter. It should’ve been a perfect game, but Hanley didn’t feel like it. It’s okay, Hanley, don’t beat yourself up over it too much. Let Dodger fans do it for you! Kershaw’s game wasn’t perfect in the strictly record book sense, but it was in the fantasy sense. 15 Ks, no hits, no walks — you now have the best pitching performance of this year, and it might be a top ten fantasy start of all-time. I wonder if you could buy him low. I keed! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Lots of haps going on in the end-game of fake baseball this week. Matt Lindstrom fell down and sprained his crown. Surgery has already happened, so if you’re stuck in traffic, or your league has weekly adds instead of daily, Ronald Belisario looks like the dude. In case your looking for alterior adds, Daniel Webb looks like he will get some looks, as Belisario isn’t a spring chicken, nor proven commodity. So add willingly if space allows. Also in Oakland, where nothing ever survives, or lives there permanently, according to Jay(Wrong) [Ed. Note-- I was wrong. Bail Bondsman flourish there...], they finally got smart, used their shoe phone, and called in the option that may have been the right choice all along. Sean Doolittle is the shiny new toy, until the new shiny toy comes around or he breaks. I love me some Doolittle. If there was a wagon that hosted bands on it, I would be a groupie I guess. He has the K rate, the arsenal, but gets the whole “he is a lefty” shenanigans. So look past his Loogyness and just dig on the beard and 12-plus K rate, or if that doesn’t do it for ya, the 30/1 K/BB ratio.  Or if that doesn’t get ya… well, err… that was my last detail, sorry. Enjoy the tidbits of straight sizzurp laced knowledge that Stephen Hawking would even Ctl+Alt+Esc.

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The debates will always rage on– the chicken or the egg, bacon or more bacon, and quality or quantity?  All are equally important discussions, I mean who doesn’t want more bacon?  But for pretend-baseball sake I am going to focus on quality vs. quantity.  Relief pitchers continue to get a bum rap, judged as useless and set to harsh shunning like dudes subjected to Megan’s Law.  Well, I’m here to learn you something, or at least completely waste your time for 10-12 minutes.  I ask you, who doesn’t want more K’s with low ratios?  Sounds like the 24-36-24 dimensions of that skin mag you “borrowed” from that zany uncle.   K/9 is the stat that people tend to light up there funky jazz cigarettes to.  They bask in it, the better… the more greedy.  So why not just stream SP and get all the K’s you want?  Well there are reasons for and against it.

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At the time of this writing, there’s a tentative trade in place, one that would send Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers in exchange for a few prospects, including the heavy hitting 1B/3B, Mike Olt. Olt has long been a trade candidate — he’s an MLB-ready third baseman, but he’s thoroughly blocked by Adrian Beltre — and I’m surprised he wasn’t moved last season when his value was higher. Still, he’s a good fit for the Cubs and he’s been hitting quite well over the past month at Triple-A. The deal seems to make sense for both clubs, but this sort of tentative trade is never a sure-thing, as Cubs fans can attest. There’s a decent chance that this one will be off the table by the time this post runs. And if that’s the case, then Garza is scheduled for two starts next week. He’s listed below along with all the others going twice.

As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click that link.

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