I am always a day late and a buck short on the posts because I am relegated to be the Saturday morning cartoon of the Razzball variety.  No worries, I mean, who doesn’t love 80’s cartoons and can’t list 10 shows that would drastically alter children’s universes today?  One word… Snorks.  So with everyone else doing the second-half rankings, I felt it was my duty to give the closer rankings based solely on the second games remaining.  The elite will still be the elite, the mediocre are still mediocre, and the middling teams will still be middling. I don’t care what algorithm Jimmy Bill came up with to have expected win totals and blah blah.  Expected win totals are an indicator of save expectations. because the percent of saves converted in wins by teams has been pretty stagnant at 52%, give or take a few sheckles each way.  So looking at the games remaining, some teams have less games to play then others, and some have more so the expected totals for some teams will be different then what you would expect them to be.  So as a wise person once said to me in throws of fantasy passion, lets have at it.  Cheers!

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Earlier this week, we looked at some lightly owned hitters in ESPN leagues who could be potential difference makers in fantasy baseball over the second half of the season. Today, it’s time to focus on some pitchers who can give your fake teams a boost down the stretch. Even if your team’s ratios look more unsightly than a Meg Ryan facelift, there’s still plenty of time remaining to fix those issues. So put down those Francisco Liriano and James Shields voodoo dolls people, and let’s go to work.

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Wade Davis hit the DL with a forearm strain.  Brooks Pounders was called up in a corresponding move.  Brooks Pounders is also my favorite AVN starlet.  This sounds ominous for Davis, a forearm strain is not good for pitchers.  A precursor for Tommy John surgery, they say.  They also chew Copenhagen and call everyone kid.  The one bright spot in this dark, gloomy sky is the backdating of the DL stint.  Maybe, just maybe, Davis will return right after the All-Star break, when he’s eligible.  Yes, he could only miss seven games from now.  That skywriter is trailing smoke behind him, writing, “Hope Davis.”  But maybe he ran out of fuel and was gonna write, “Hope Davis Will You Marry Me?”  In Davis’s place, Joakim Soria or Kelvin Herrera will replace him.  Kelvin is much better, so why ‘You must be Joakim’ at all?  That hard-to-quantify, harder even to justify outside of your own front office, closer experience.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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So this year, like so many before, the closer trade market is always an interesting cocktail mixer of events that shake things up.  The Padres waited to be first, which makes zero sense… but also makes total sense.  A conundrum wrapped in bacon as they traded Fernando Rodney to the ever more deadly bullpen in Miami.  He will not be closing there, but will basically make that bullpen just deeper and taking value away from great holds guys on the year in David Phelps and Kyle Barraclough.  Rodney brings his glistening 1 earned run on the year, to a situation behind the Marlins closer A.J. Ramos, who hasn’t blown a save to date.  So now the ramifications don’t just stay with the Marlins, their bullpen is solid.  The Padres, however, are like the movie Thinner, a cursed bunch of unprovens, which is sometimes good and bad.  Ryan Buchter is the first guy up, as he has carved out a decent set-up niche there.  After that, it is a bunch of Quacks, Villas, and BM’s.  Buchter has the K-rate, just not the pedigree… yet, to be a closer.  He has the job as they say in fantasy, which is better than being fantasy homeless or unemployed. So Buchter is the add. Maurer and Quackenbush are on ready five.  Here what else is happening in the game of final bosses.  Have a safe and Happy 4th of July weekend!

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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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Sorry to miss last week fellas; especially those that have been following closely (you have no idea how much I appreciate you! Yes, you!). I just moved to Southern California from St Louis and boy are my arms tired! Tired from holding the wheel of a U-Haul for almost 30 hours through the mountains of Colorado and Utah that is. Beautiful country, lots of sweet scenery to bask in, but having never driven a U-Haul before and going with downhill grades of 7% and higher at night there were more than a few moments of some white knuckle fear; much less scary was driving in LA traffic because if other cars don’t want to get out of the way of a U-Haul then it’s their funeral. Anyway I’m here, I have beer, I’m looking to walk along the pier, get used to it. And I’m back to talk some more OPS strategy…

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Besides that Eric Prydz catchy a** song, the bullpen situation/decision in Tampa is drawing nearer and dearer to our closer hearts.  The return of the “Box” is coming, and it drums in the deep.  Now we automatically assume, myself included, that three weeks ago, Brad Boxberger would just go all cutzies like in the high school cafeteria and get his job back at the time he arrives.  Fast forward three weeks, or to now, and that situation doesn’t look like it is a foregone conclusion because look what Alex Colome is doing in the role.  He checks all the “I am keeping my job” boxes. He of the 10 saves in 10 chances, 12 K/9, 2 BB/9, BAA under two bills variety.  Those are all good things to have, and better than 15 other closers in baseball for stats across the board.  Now, I just said that I don’t see Box claiming what’s his right away, but it could happen, because loyalty rules everything around baseball.  So if you own Colome and can get Boxberger before he gets noticeable stats on the cheap, I advise to do so.  If you own Boxberger and don’t own Colome, well, the price will be higher because the people that own him can read stats just as easily as I can type them out for you.  So be proactive as we reach the quarter post in the fantasy year, and for giggles, stay around as I find some goofy things to learn you…

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Danny Valencia had himself a nice little weekend.  On Friday, he hit two homers, then yesterday he became only the third player to ever have a three-homer game (3-for-5, 5 RBIs) against the Rays (last one was Carlos Delgado in 2003), and only the 2nd player that also stood for the pregame National Anthem.   Valencia grew up Jewish, and, according to Wikipedia, “(Valencia’s) two key hitting coaches growing up were Bob Molinaro, a family friend who is a former major leaguer, and his mother Mindy.”  I didn’t have a Jewish mother, but have plenty of experience being half-Jewish, so I can imagine the guilt trips he got, “Why don’t you marry a nice Jewish girl and stop swinging at balls in the dirt?”  “You never call your mother, and you’re opening up too soon.”  “You can go take batting practice after you give your mother a kiss.”  Wikipedia doesn’t mention it, but one less guilt-inducing hitting coach he had was Jose Bautista.  Valencia learned how to hit for more power from Joey Bats.  Since Bautista imparted wisdom on Valencia, he’s hit 30 homers in the last 580 ABs.  So, can Valencia keep it going?  It appears so.  Now finish your latkes and keep your hands back!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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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…

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