For some strange reason, I have the great Willie Nelson song in my head… On The Road again.  Why, you ask? Because I am out perusing the great country of ours and doing fantasy football’s 32x32x32 with Nick.  I may be thinking football, but my heart is in San Francisco… rather bullpens.  So it was all quiet on the savedom front til recently, when some usual save stalwarts stubbed some toes.  While some repeat offenders… yeah you Joe Nathan just continue to lull us into a state of perpetual eye-rolling… all of these issues are no bueno for the push to make playoffs in some formats, or those pining for the stat push in point leagues.  I am personally not too worried about the married guys, they are there for good reasons; they do it all year and you have them for saves or to save not.  I am more throwing my ire towards those middle guys, the Steve Cishek‘s and Rafael Soriano types who have  given us decency all year and then have recently given us both ERA’s over 7 a piece the last 2 weeks.  So buyer beware at this point for stat purposes with these guys they aren’t going to be replaced but the production is on the level of a doozer on light duty. Stick around for some tid-bits of knowledge or  stay to just say high. [Jay's Note: Oh... I get it.]

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It’s way too quiet in here… I need a sniper to take out a closer or something. Maybe a team of trained Labrador assassins [Jay's Note: Everyone knows that Labradoodle assassins are better.], no one would expect that.  The “Seeing Eyes of Terror” would be their name. Speaking of which, I want to concentrate this week on the under-ratedness of Huston Street. The trade that helps him, the new ballpark that allows his team to actually score runs, and the ability to be that close to Mike Trout. So we are going to venture back through time and space, steal some plutonium from some Libyans, and go back to stats for 2012 to the present day. Confused? Good, me too. So, since 2012, Huston St. is top-10 in saves (86), tops in save % with only 4 BS in 3 years, at a 95.3% clip. And he also has had a resurgence in K Rate to push it over 9 K/9, but for a better perspective, he K’s batters at a 26.5% rate. Hold on, I’m not done yet. He is also one of only four RP with a K rate of over 9 and a walk rate under 2.1.  Add all that up, and I love Street for this year, and next year well he will probably be over-drafted based on this post alone. Catch you all on the flip-flip, meaning comments.

Psyche! Before you go further, you should take me on in our Fantasy Football RCL’s for chances at some really neato prizes! (Or commish one for a chance at a Best Buy gift card!)

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As I type this, I’m in a small, but expected depression as a disgruntled Mets fan living in Minnesota after today’s non-waiver trade deadline. In the middle of thermal packaging related activities, I saw deal and deal and deal swing by. All I get from both the teams that I follow most? A Kurt Suzuki extension. Oye. All that did was disgruntle me more, as I like Josmil Pinto quite a bit. I figured at least Bartolo Colon would get traded for some PTBL or a BoB (bucket o’ balls). Ah well.

On the other hand, if you’re a Tigers fan (I’m not a bandwagon A’s fan until the Mets are good, I decided today), you must be pretty excited. Drew Smyly wasn’t as dominating as a starter and Austin Jackson continued to short-come expectations. Instead you have an second ace, and can now appropriately consider Justin Verlander your number 3 or 4 or 5. [Jay's Note: Or playoff closer?] Verlander has not been good, but he’s also been almost as unlucky as he’s been bad, or he’s hurt and isn’t saying anything/doesn’t know it.

July 1st, I noted the luckiest pitchers to date, but the one thing I didn’t do at that time was look at the pitcher’s luck/bad luck relative to their career rates. So for this post, for luck, I z-scored each pitcher’s luck stats relative to their career stats (homerun to flyball ratio, left on base% and BABIP). I weighed each z-score by the stats correlation to ERA. Therefore the luckies pitchers (using luck alone and excluding skill) as of 7/27 is: Josh Beckett, Jake Arrieta, Collin McHugh, Scott Kazmir, Garrett Richards, Zach Britton, Jordan Lyles, Drew Pomeranz, Dellin Betances, Alfredo Simon and Danny Duffy. Chris Young, Jason Hammel and Jesse Chavez (update: both Hammel and Chavez were rocked in their last start). However, this all excludes skill (contact rate, strikeout% minus walk% and ground ball to flyball ratio). Incorporating this, here are the actual luckiest pitchers as of 7/27:

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Well, I guess enough was enough in Detroit.  It’s always nice to waltz around with a security blanket like Linus, and have the ability to add a closer to back-up a closer that is making 10 mil a year.  Joakim Soria walks into the room dressed like Lloyd Christmas and is all tops and tails.  Great starting pitching and an actual winning team that he can back up.  For the Rangers this year, he had 17 saves for a 40 win club.  Turn that around, and he went from being on a 21-games-under-.500-team to a 14-games-over one.  His only problem is that he is flirting at the Sadie Hawkins dance with the date that Brad Ausmus brought, and Nathan has a some pull there.  My take is it’s not going to be long before the settle in on “The Mexicutioner”.  So I have them ranked mid-table until the dust settles and we see what’s what. I mean, all Soria has to do is show some kind of consistency, and boom, you have a top-8 closer for the rest of the year.  You can think what you want, but Detroit is a 90 win team all day and a bag of chips tomorrow, however that expression goes…  In Texas, Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz as of now look like the two heads of the class for minimal save value in Arlington.   So the closer-thon to cure save depravity has begun, adjust your rosters, operaters are standing buy to take your recent waiver wire donations.

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OH-WA-AH-AH-AH! Woah, sorry about that. A little rough for a Saturday morning for you? Well what can I say but toughen up, kiddos. There’s only a little over 60 games left on the season for you to tell your significant others that you’re scouring the waiver wire for decent players at 12:30 AM on a Tuesday morning with that ‘Brown Chicken Brown Cow’ sound in the background playing on your computer and no, you’re not listening to Trace Adkins. You don’t like country and you don’t even know who that is. But you do know who Jason Kipnis is…was that a segue? I’m not even sure. If it was, it was a little weak at best but it’s done and now we’re here so lets get down to the goods of it all. Kip – I can call him that since I have a friend from OH with whom I’m bros with; that’s how these things work – hit 2 bombs from the lead off spot for the Tribe on Friday, finishing the night 2/5 with 4 RBIs and 2 runs. And here’s me telling you to sell on dat chit. He’s had a little hotty toddy, we likes to party July, hitting near .300 with 2 said HRs and 5 stolen bases but let us not forget what he has done for his career in the second half. He loses about 20 points of average, about .040% on Slugging and even finds a way to steal less down the stretch. Obviously, past doesn’t always dictate the future. I mean, look at people who get married a second a third time. The percentages staying together get better right? *Looks at percentages*…oh. History is just not on the side of Kipnis being a second half savior for you and I’d make a move if I can still get a price return on him close to what you had to draft him for. In other news from the All-Star break return to our 2014 Fantasy Baseball season…oooh, on the TLC tip! Just a friendly reminder that myself and some other cool cats (I think Mike might be a Toyger) do this thing called DraftKings for you all every day of the week. That last link takes you away to Daily Fantasy land care of our VIP card but this link shows you all the content we’ve been providing to help you get the game down while you’re with us. BTW, didn’t bring up Mike just cuz. I’m swinging for Dan Pants today because apparently he’s pantsless or something. I told him just to change his name to Dan Assless Chaps for the day but he declined. That said, I’m gonna be away from the good ‘ole ‘puter for the day but Mike will be fielding all your burning questions. No, not those questions. If it burns down there, go see a doctor. Mike is just a cool cat and cats aren’t doctors. Duh. But enough chicanery, let’s really get back to this show…

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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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In school they teach, or try to teach, in most of our cases for the ADHD crowd, the essentials of a good curriculum. Reading, Writing and arithmetic. We can apply that to the closer situation in Arizona.  Addison Reed is the closer, but for how much longer?, is the key conundrum. He see’s the writing on the wall, but he also has the backing of his manager throughout the season (and again on Tuesday), and has since blown 2 more saves. Though the way the D-Backs are going, would it be optimal for them to ground an asset, or a “sort of asset” now, and then try and go a different direction later via trade?  Cuz let’s be honest, they aren’t going anywhere, and have capable arms in the majors and minors to jump in if necessary.  Now the math part, well that is why we do fantasy baseball, it’s all about the numbers.  Which, in Addison’s case, really sounds like a totally hot chicks name, prolly drives a Jeep Wrangler, wears her dad’s old jeans as cut-offs, basically a goer if you catch my drift.  [Jay's Note: I really don't.] Where was I and why am I all sweaty?  Oh…numbers.  Reed’s K’s are up and walks are down from his career numbers… but but but Smokey, those are good things.  Right?  Well, technically yes, but when luck runs out you go to Zig-Zags, and by that, I mean Brad Ziegler, (the next guy up in the event of  a change). Yes, even with the escape-goat win on Wednesday.  I mean, Addison has done really nothing wrong besides blow 5 games, and sometimes looks about as hittable as Rihanna.  So sit on Addison, but cushion the blow with B-Rad, and for dynasty lookers, take a look at Jake Barrett.  Let’s see what other geniuses of truth happened in the last week or two.

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It was a good night for a rally, but a bad night for a closer. Summer is officially here which means we can no longer use the “he’ll heat up as soon the weather warms up” excuse for our struggling stars. And just as the air at Coors makes the balls fly higher, the increased temperature and humidity also causes those baseballs to travel even farther. This time of year the advantage tends to shift from the pitchers to the hitters. It’s science, Mr. White! Fact. Just go ask a scientist. He’ll tell you summer is coming, Jon Snuh, no need to look so depressed all of the time. Perhaps this explains why last night, on Summer’s Eve, a number of closers collectively decided to destroy your ratios in an all out Closer Catastrophe. Let’s start with Zach Britton (0.2 IP, 3 hits, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, BS (2)). I haven’t seen a Yankee beat a Britton like that since the Battle of Saratoga. Revolutionary war joke! (NERD!)  With nine saves in the past month, it’s hard for Britton’s owners to complain here, so let’s move on. Old Reliable Glen Perkins (1.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB), was handed his third blown save but managed his third win, in expert vulture stylez. The crowning jewel of last night’s CloserTastrophe, Aroldis Chapman (0.2 IP, 2 hits, 2 BB, 4 ER) was handed the loss after a five run ninth inning capped off by a 3-run HR by Edwin Encarnacion. Say it ain’t so, Roldy! Is no one safe? With Craig Kimbrel (1.0 IP, 1 hit, 2 BB, 1 ER) notching his fourth blown save I should think not. Anthony Rendon hit a game-tying HR (11) off Craig, the first homer Kimbrel has surrendered all season. Are you getting scared yet? Was there a full moon last night or something? How about Greg Holland (1.0 IP, 3 hits, 2 BB, 2 ER) taking his second loss. This one was tied when he entered but stillz. By this time in the night when I saw Kenley Jansen (0.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 hits) enter the game with one run lead, I knew it could only end poorly. Escape while you can, Kenley! Fake a stomach cramp or something! He was handed his third blown save of the year. Sure, I’m ignoring all the closers who did manage to notch saves last night, but that’s not the point. It was a tough night to be a closer, but an even tougher night to own one in fantasy baseball. I feel your pain, all.

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

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The job in Tampa isn’t as pretty as it used to be, as the team is super underachieving, and not in a superhero-footed pajamas kinda way. Joe Maddon looks like he needs an executive parachute, even though he is a hoot to listen to during an interview. I think he is waiting for someone to jump and run with the job. Jake McGee, Joel Peralta or even the artist formally known as Leo Nunez may be the most obvious and experienced options, but I have another one for ya: Kirby Yates.  I didn’t make that up. He reminds me of what Jim Henderson did two years ago with the Brewers. Career journeyman, decent, but nothing stands out about his minor league numbers… then boom. K -ates in the minors are above 12 for the last 3 seasons, and he has over 50 saves during that same time.  Tampa is the place to rehab relievers, and Korean War shrapnel wounds, so crazier things have happened.  Kyle Farnsworth, Fernando Rodney, Troy Percival, Danys Baez, Lance Carter, Al Reyes…. you get the point. The rule with closers is: It’s better to be first then not at all. So if time and space are in alignment and Rod Serling is already taken, pounce. Stick around, it’s a good week to speculate on saves and save-nots.

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There is something to be said about doing your job, and then saying “good job but the regular guy is back, and he’s taking your job back.”  Mark Melancon filled in swimmingly for the injured Jason Grilli and his line is better than most closers in the F-tier of my rankings.  To his dismay, Grilli is back, and is being eased back into his role.  Is it fair? Probably.  Does it suck for Melancon stat vultures? Most definitely. Going back exactly one year, when Melancon became a fantasy stalwart on our rosters, he has an ERA under 2, 25 Saves and 17 Holds.  That’s all after Grilli went down last year. Besides the K factor, which is in Grilli’s favor, Melancon is basically being grounded for getting only an A- in English class… but but but it’s still and A!, I’m sure he’s muttering.  But, I’m rooting for Grilli, dat journeyman done good, saved all those kids from dat thang. Whatever that thing was. You know the story. No? Well make one up, tell your friends it happened, and let’s start a rumor. So good luck Jason Grilli, just make sure to look both ways when you cross the street. Oh, we totally forgot about your 3 BS in April. Cause you’re back here forever.  Subliminal message: Hold onto Melancon.

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