With the season winding down and most H2H leagues in full-on go mode, this week’s holds post will be the last one of the year.  I know, so sad, right?  It has been a 25-week journey into the pits and pendulums that are fantasy bullpens.  But with the conclusion, it is always good to look ahead to next year for everyone in keeper, dynasty or just anyone looking to get a jump on next year now.  I mean, I never stop really doing bullpen research all year, I drink one can of beer at a time and then look to the bottom of the can to see if the answer or answers are printed on the bottom.  Alas, I haven’t found one yet, but that won’t stop me from trying again and again in my ever search for bullpen enlightenment. Things to look for late in the year for future bullpen potential; high leverage usage, a great success with stranded runners and a great situational involvement in that teams bullpen moving forward. Just a P.S., those are the things I give you with every bullpen piece in my helpful chart. Yes that last one is tough because we never know who will be traded and add or subtract value from another, but great bullpen arms on one team with potential for holds, saves and just overall decent fantasy return are very rarely ever traded and don’t return to same spot with new team.  So put your feet up, I have 10 more beers left before this post is done…

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If history teaches us anything about fantasy baseball, it’s that the proof is in the pudding.  If history actually teaches us anything, it’s that Brad Pitt killed Hektor.  See what I did there, I pulled the ole okie doke.  It’s a favorable trick passed down through the years of dudes who vape and like to talk about how a dime won’t even buy a nickle anymore.  Those first few sentences are brought to you by filth and non-sense, because life isn’t fitting if there isn’t filthy or nonsensical.  So onto Holds, which about six actual readers, and one of the female variety still get all excited about.  The title says it all this week for the lede, Hector Neris has been carried in most formats all year because he brings some fantasy goodness to the table.  As a handcuff, there’s no way he can do it for the whole year, even with Jeanmar, or the fact that he has sexy enough reliever numbers, 11-plus K-rate, under 3 ERA.  I could go on and on and bore the crap out of you, but let’s just put it this way: he has 27 Holds behind a closer that has 34 saves for a surprise bullpen asset in the Phillies.  So in the last two weeks with the Phil’s getting there fair share of victories he has been an augmenter to your hold total notching a league high 5 holds.  He is a key cog down the stretch for not only the Phils , but for your fantasy team regardless of format.  So go take a look, just in case the late year shuffle has thrown him by the wayside.  After you do that follow the bottom for some Holds, set-up and other relief goodies…

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The holds leaderboard has been basically demolished as guys have switched roles. Three out of the top-10 holds guys (Bettances, Herrera, and Watson) currently are holding down the closer roles for their respective teams.  Add in two more from the top-20 (Andrew Miller and Ken Giles) and you can see that 20% of the entire holds leaders are double dipping in stats.  Not always a bad thing, but when you are counting on one stat from a guy and then it switches to another, it detracts from the previous.  Have no fear, because the bullpen aficionado is here to steer you through the muck and mire that is the bullpen shuffle.  So for this week, we are going to look at guys who aren’t in a closing role.  I have taken current closers out of the equation for the chart, because this is a holds piece and we don’t want “their kind” infiltrating the holds stuff.  So be active on the waiver wire as we come down to the end of the season, there should be no commitment in the relief game.

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One look at this week’s most added player list in ESPN fantasy baseball leagues causes me to reminisce about my younger days in the early-mid 2000s. I can vaguely remember the bar-hopping, insane amounts of alcohol consumption, and late nights that frequently occurred during that time period. One thing that I can clearly recall from those days is closing time at those various establishments when the ugly lights would come on and that Semisonic song would be blaring over the speakers, signaling that it was time to pack up and go. Stumbling out the door and finding a local diner to satiate my pork roll, egg, and cheese fix meant that it was a good night. When no diner was to be found, man was that an annoying song! Why’d you have to ruin a perfectly good evening, Semisonic? It’s all your fault. Drunken logic! But I digress. The point is that this week could easily be dubbed closing time in fantasy baseball, as there were serious changes in the late inning pecking order of several teams. Injuries to Wade Davis and Huston Street created opportunities for Kelvin Herrera (39.2% owned; +10.8% over the past week) and Cam Bedrosian (22.8%; +17.2%) in the 9th inning in Kansas City and LA respectively. The trade of Jeremy Jeffress to Texas opened the door for Tyler Thornburg (31.0%; +16.8%) to close games in Milwaukee. But the biggest gainers of the week were the new stoppers in Seattle and Houston, Edwin Diaz (57.9% owned; +44.7%) and Ken Giles (57.0% owned; +37.9%). Diaz claimed the role for the Mariners after incumbent Steve Cishek hit the disabled list, and Giles took over for the Astros for a struggling Will Harris, and fantasy owners quickly pounced on the explosive duo. Over the last 30 days, Diaz and Giles have combined for 43 strikeouts against just 5 walks and have allowed just one earned run over that span. Their swinging strike rates are 24.1% and 25.4% respectively, and they’ve each averaged over 97.5 mph on their fastballs. There might not be more than five or six closers that I’d want more than these guys right now, so grab them if the other owners in your league have been asleep at the wheel.

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

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I was going to just delay this post due to inclement weather, but Grey’s super Doppler 5001, which is also a giant B.S. detector, wouldn’t let me.  So here we sit, some 48 hours before the list that you are about to see means about as much as single-ply toilet paper…  Really, what cheap s.o.b. concocted this idea of pinching pennies?  I mean everyone has had a run-in with it at some point.  Awful.  It’s part of the reason I have a salt-water bidet in all three outhouses at the Smokey compound.  So back to the deadline… closer gossip teams are lining up other contenders closers in such a bullish market, namely the rumors surrounding Mark Melancon.  The market and teams that need reliable relievers, let alone closers, is the Nationals, Indians, Rangers and Giants.  It is just the land of confusion and there is not enough LOOGY’S to go around.  I will touch on who I can see where after the bump to prolong the suspense, but the teams I just mentioned are teams to monitor on the opposite end of closers, because if the big names start rolling, all but Cody Allen looks to be out of a job.  Here’s what I can see going down by the deadline in the bullpen game, plus some rankings and next in line stuff.  Plus, Razzball Soccer has started pumping out quality, so go over and check it and join the official game…

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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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After swinging a deal for Aaron Hill on Wednesday, the Red Sox have beefed up their bullpen trading for Brad Ziegler. Ziegler was rocking a 2.82 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 18 saves with Arizona but he will likely be relegated to set up duty in Bean town. This is not to say his value is completely shot…yet. With Craig Kimbrel crying about his sore knee, Boston may be in need of an interim closer. Koji Uehara is the obvious first choice but his 4.96 ERA and 8 homers allowed in 32.2 IP make it seem like the choice ain’t so obvious. Still Koji’s 46/9 K/BB ratio makes me happy, and he notched the save Friday night (after surrendering a home run), so he’s the best bet for saves if Kimbrel misses any time. As for your new closer in the land of the rising sun? Tyler Clippard is the most likely candidate if you need saves or a buzz cut. He’s got a 3.06 ERA with 39 strikeouts over 32.1 IP, and saved 19 games for the Mets and A’s last year, but his career 57% save conversion rate certainly doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. Daniel Hudson is the ideal saves candidate in Zona but has struggled mightily over the past month (12.96 ERA, 2.40 WHIP in 8.1 innings). Regardless, if you need a save and a haircut, I’d grab Clippard and Hudson in that order. And if you’re a Boston Red Sox team that desperately needs starting pitching, I’d recommend trading for a infielder and a relief pitcher.

Here’s what else I saw Friday night 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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Whatever your cultivation of choice may be, go with it.  Oscar Gamble was, and is still a pimp in social culture, as is California sensemilia.  So whatever your subset of life is, that’s cool with me.  My obsession is a little of column A, a lot of column B, and I incorporate column C.  Column C being my love and passion for the deliverance of the most finite bullpen jargon on the web.  Go look, there isn’t anything better than me.  I checked, if I added a pretty colorful chart with catchy funny names, then I would literally have to kick my own ass.  So here we sit, and look at what the Rangers are doing.  They have been doing, in the last 30 days what the Cubs did over the first 30.  They are, in no large part, being buoyed by a stout bullpen.  Their starters are all hitting the DL and fast.  The trio of Matt Bush, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson are about as tight as a bullpen can get, and the best group I have seen since the Isley Brothers concert Prospector Ralph and I went to see.  I have talked about Dyson and Diekman on separate occasions this year.  So no, it’s the one without voting privileges turn.  Bush has basically been a la machina since promotion on May 12th.  He has appeared in 13 games for the Rangers to date, and his usage has only recently spiked having pitched in 13 of the last 22 overall for the Rangers.  His 10-plus K-rate over that time is coupled with an ERA under a buck and his xFIP is basically what David Phelps is giving you.  Who, in most hold leagues right now, is pretty much a must own and isn’t a guy you yawn at in mixed company leagues either.  Bush is a feel good story that I think can continue as long as the Rangers can duct tape their starting rotation together long enough to maintain their AL West dominance.  He should be rostered in most leagues going forward for his usage potential as the remaining Rangers starters, minus Cole Hamels, average less than 6 innings per start.  So head for the mountains and roster some Bush.  Stick with me for some other diatribes of greatness…

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You have Eugenio Suarez as your middle infielder and are growing bored, so you check out The Replacements, and there’s so many possibilities.  Anything you want, dear, is fine, fine, fine, fine, fine.  Everything you say, dear, I’ll buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, goodbye Eugenio.  He was merely a steward to better things.  Sorry, too formal, he was a waiter in the sky.  He played/was fair, don’t wanna complain.  Don’t want to treat him like a bum, don’t wanna ask Cougs and Ted who I should pick up in case of a tie.  Now, I like what I hear about Tim Anderson.  If bein’ wrong’s a crime, I’m waiver wiring forever.  If bein’ strong’s your kind of pick up, then I need help here this Tim’s got power like a feather.  If bein’ afraid is a crime, put the two players side by side.  Cause Tim’s at the SAGNOF party down the line.  So, Tim Anderson is just steals?  Well, not entirely, but that’s what he mostly is.  He can also hit for a solid average.  In the minors the last three years, he hit .364, .312 and .304.  The Honkey Sox seem happy to try him at leadoff, and, with his batting average skills, he should stick there.  The speed is real — stealing 49 bases last year in the minors.  I’d absolutely take a flyer on him for speed alone.  South Park isn’t the only place that has a Tim A. with wheels.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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