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The 2010 fantasy baseball rankings are just about in the bag, but first we look at the top 20 middle relievers for 2010 fantasy baseball.  No, next we’re not going to do the Top 20 Guys Who Will Have The Most Balks.  Chillax.  The only fantasy baseballers (<–my Mom’s term) that seem to pay attention to middle relievers are those that play in a Holds league.  That’s wrong, I tell ya.  A great way to balance out your ratios is by carrying a few middle relievers on your staff.  (BTW, Ron Jeremy can carry three middle relievers on his staff.)  Say you had James Shields last year and he mistook your team’s ERA for his toilet, but you also had Takashi Saito.  With just Shields, you had the 4.14 ERA dump to clean up.  With Saito and his brand new toilet brush, you had a 3.80 ERA.  If you also carried Matt Thornton, you had a combined 3.59 ERA.  Not to mention, you had 6 vulture saves.  Oh, and your WHIP went from Shields’s 1.41 to 1.28 and had an additional 139 Ks.  Middle relievers can also help balance out your junky closers.  Okay, school’s out, Alice Cooper.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 middle relievers for 2010 fantasy baseball:

1. Matt Thornton – Last year Marmol was number one; this year we go to the South Side.  Not only do I think he steps in for Jenks before the season is through but I also think he puts up fantastic numbers with his purdy K-rate.  2010 Projections:  5-1/2.70/1.05/80, 18 Holds, 15 Saves

2. Fernando Rodney – Will there be guys with better ratios?  Yes.  Isn’t the whole point of being a MR. B is for ratio help?  Yeah, but who’s kicking vulture saves out of bed?  Rodney’s high ranking is predicated on the chance Fuentes loses the job.  2010 Projections:  3-5/4.25/1.35/65, 15 Holds, 12 Saves

3. Scott Downs/Jason Frasor – Frasor should be the closer, could be Downs, but Gregg was just brought in.   You know how sometimes you don’t remember what you did with your keys?  Okay, now imagine you’re Cito Gaston and choosing a closer is the keys.  Downs’s 2010 Projections:  4-2/2.75/1.24/55, 22 Holds, 7 Saves, Frasor’s 2010 Projections: 6-3/3.05/1.22/60, 12 Saves

4. Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain – This will be a Spring Training decision for the Yankees and fantasy owners.  The one in the bullpen may actually end up with more value than the one in the rotation.  Projections will come once it’s decided, but expect a lot of Ks and Holds, but not a lot of Saves.

5. Takashi Saito – Member how well he pitched as the Dodgers closer?  Yeah, we can see all that again.  Even if we don’t, he’s proved to be a valuable MR.  2010 Projections:  6-2/2.35/1.24/60, 22 Holds, 5 Saves

6. Matt Lindstrom – It’s anyone’s guess who will be worse in the Astros bullpen, Lindstrom or Lyon.  One will probably get 25 saves and the other will probably get 12.  My guess is Lyon will be the one with 25.  Lindstrom’s for save vultures, not better ratio seekers.  2010 Projections:  2-4/4.40/1.40/50, 15 Holds, 12 Saves

7. Jason Motte – Motte’s ERA should come down from last year and he might get a look as the closer (though I have my doubts on the last point as explained in the top 20 closers for 2010 fantasy baseball post).  2010 Projections:  5-3/3.30/1.28/60, 17 Holds, 3 Saves

8. Matt Guerrier – If this list were simply about Holds, Guerrier would be top 3.  2010 Projections:  4-3/3.55/1.22/50, 22 Holds

9. Drew Storen – I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that the Nats signed Crapps.  Oh wait, I can:  very.  I think Storen can be lights out as the Nats closer right now, but we won’t see him until midseason at the earliest.  This is more a heads up for deep leagues or keepers.  2010 Projections:  1-3/2.00/.90/35, 7 Holds, 3 Saves

10. Franklin Morales – Since he has a Cuddle Boy and a closer labeled “Fragile” in front of him, Morales will probably see some saves.  2010 Projections:  3-3/3.75/1.38/50, 10 Holds, 10 Saves

11. J.P. Howell – Thurston and Lovey’s son is mentioned, but Wheeler and Balfour could also be included because once Soriano goes down with an injury (and he probably will) there will be a vacuum at the closer spot.  2010 Projections:  5-2/3.00/1.18/70, 10 Holds, 5 Saves

12. Michael Wuertz – This is more of a gut call, but I think Bailey falters.  Yes, Ziegler’s also there.  Hey, aren’t we all entitled to our nonsensical projections? 2010 Projections:  4-2/3.15/1.35/85, 15 Holds, 10 Saves

13. Chris PerezKerry Wood’s all, “I’m a pro!  You can’t get with my stuff!  Ow, I have tendinitis.”  2010 Projections:  2-3/3.75/1.30/60, 10 Holds, 3 Saves

14. George Sherrill – As I said back in October, “From Donkeycorn to a middle man but still retained his value, especially for MR. B’s, as Sherrill only gave up 2 earned runs in 27 2/3 innings in LaLa Land.”  And that’s me quoting me!  2010 Projections:  5-2/3.25/1.25/55, 20 Holds

15. Joel HanrahanOctavio Dotel will probably be the best value closer in terms of his ADP when he’s healthy, but Dotel’s 36 years old with a history of elbow problems.  That sounds like a recipe found on Worst Cooks in America. (What, you’re too cool to admit to watching The Food Network?  I know why Anne Burrell always wears a skirt.  So she’s not confused with Guy Fieri.) 2010 Projections:  2-4/4.25/1.40/75, 10 Holds, 5 Saves

16. Sergio Romo – Unless you’re a Giants fan, you’re probably wondering why I’m ranking Tony Romo’s fashion line, Sergio Romo.  His stuff isn’t overpowering but his K-rate is sorta ridunkulous.  Lots of risk with Romo, but if he can continue to baffle hitters he could be a nice find.  2010 Projections:  2-3/3.05/1.00/65, 10 Holds

17. Jim Johnson – I’m confident in Mike Gonzalez’s ability to get saves, but I’m never confident in his manager’s confidence in him.  I really think people in baseball look at his numbers on paper and think, “Great, we have ourselves a cheap closer!”  Then they watch him pitch and they suddenly think, “Wait, he’s a lefty?  Lefties can’t close.”  2010 Projections:  2-6/3.85/1.35/45, 15 Holds, 5 Saves

18. C.J. Wilson – I don’t completely buy the ERA or K-rate last year, but he has experience as a closer and Francisco’s prone to injury.  2010 Projections:  5-4/4.20/1.35/60, 15 Holds, 7 Saves

19. Joel Zumaya – This is more of a flier than anything.  If he finally makes good on his promise, he’ll have more value than most guys on this list.  2010 Projections:  2-3/3.60/1.40/45, 15 Holds

20. Danys Baez – He’s pretty dreadful, but so is the Phils bullpen.  If Baez were on any other team, he wouldn’t be in the top 20… Or top 40 for that matter. 2010 Projections:  3-6/4.50/1.35/45, 12 Holds, 5 Saves

After the top 20 middle relievers for 2010 fantasy baseball, there’s lots of names, but this one stands out:

Daniel Bard – I don’t see Bard getting any saves unless Papelbon gets hurt krumping.  Bard could still, however, be the most valuable middle reliever with his wicked fastball.  (Wicked is being used here to add emphasis.  Example, “Mary Sullivan’s so hawt.  She barfed all over a Havahd kid.  What a wicked pissah.  I think I love her.”  2010 Projections:  5-3/3.15/1.25/85, 20 Holds

  1. big o says:
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    neshek to cut into guerrier’s value ?

    with the exception of that chocolate pudding mess , i’d take ms. fieri’s menu over that of the doug heffernan-looking guy , who rode his own pudding cake to victory .
    best part of the whole show was that drunken (?) sot little fairy , jeffrey , walking those two wide-ass broads into the restaurant .

    and yep , the beauty of it all was enhanced on the wife’s wide-screen tv .

  2. Big Mike says:
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    @ Grey, He’s prob no top 20, but whaddya project for Brandon League? Is he a needed handcuff for Aardsma?

  3. GopherDay says:
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    Thank you so much, Grey!! I’ve been needing this for a draft I’m having this weekend! Perfect timing!

    Will you do a post ranking the rest of the closers?

  4. Tony says:
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    Ichiro vs. Juan Pierre, gimme a reason why you’d take Ichiro 10 rounds PLUS ahead of Pierre when with Pierre getting FULL TIME PT he should put up about the same line minus 20 to 30 points in average….?

    Ichiro might bat 30 points higher, but Pierre should steal 15-20 more bases, runs will be very close Ichiro might beat Pierre out by like 10? RBI’s similar, HR’s go to ichiro but if you’re drafting ichiro for power thats just dumb he’ll beat Pierre by 5…. IDK.

    Grey you said Pierre is SAGNOF the other day, but doesn’t that make ICHIRO SAGNOF? or almost worse because he’s not stealing more than 35….. when he hits for that .350 average tho thats the kicker…

    idk. school me here grey, all i know is I’m not taking ichiro anywhere in the top 4 rounds…. not worth it, doesn’t do enough….

  5. GopherDay says:
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    @Tony: Grey is not a fan of Ichiro. He never tells people to draft him, he tells people to avoid him. Ichiro isn’t worth it, and thats why I’m not drafting him.

  6. PJtres says:
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    grey…in a keeper league…

    just traded a 20th round pick and drabek for nolasco…
    we only keep 6…
    is nolasco keeper worthy? or should i try to upgrade further?

  7. Tony says:
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    @GopherDay: ya i wouldn’t take him either, i wasn’t saying that, i’m saying if you are an ichiro fan OR if you want similar production, Juan Pierre is going to give that to you… I find it hard to put Ichiro in the SAGNOF bargain bin, but if you look at his stats thats about where he belongs…. besides the stellar average he’s not doing much more than Pierre for you. 35 Steals isn’t that special when there’s andrus, pierre, everth, etc later in the draft…. And with Pierre getting PT i think he’ll almost score 100 runs, plus the dude doesnt K… i’ll sacrifice ichiros big average and take pierres 10-20 extra SB’s.

  8. Hebrew Hammer says:
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    grey, where is our good friend mr. gregerson?

    bell will inevitably get traded and either mike adams or luke g. becomes the closer and they already put up the stellar ratios.

  9. Tony says:
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    @PJtres: if you’re only keeping 6 i find it hard to believe Nolasco would be one of your top 6, depends on your other options….

  10. sean says:
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    @Tony: Grey went over in length why Ichiro’s benefit is minimal earlier this offseason. Sure, he adds monster average, but he’s basically an average-only guy now that he’s not over 100 runs and he’s not swiping 50 bags, or 40, or 30. Don’t pay for the name or the average.

    It’s not like you can get 13 points in average if your team bats .300;.280 usually gets you where you need to be…

    I can understand Pierre late in the draft as a SAGNOF-type fifth outfielder, but I think his value diminishes greatly if you already have adequate speed. Like I said with average, there are no bonus points for crushing a category.

    Get in. Accumulate enough steals to get you 10 points. Get out.

    Tim Dierkes at Rotoauthority has a nice feature on his site that gives goals for 5×5 12-teamers. http://www.rotoauthority.com/what_it_takes_to_win/index.html

  11. cubfever7 says:
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    I don’t see Ryan Madson–you must have him under closers? By the way Grey–nice work on the Yahoo! fantasy mag. I assume your contribution was not limited to the mock draft? You took some dicey outfielders and Coco Cordero? Great American is like homerun derby brutha.

  12. Tarasco'sSecretStash says:
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    Any Texans in the house get a look at Samuel Gervacio last year? His minor league numbers suggest last year’s 10.7 K/9 was legit, albeit in a small 21 inning sample size. He have the stuff to dominate over a full season?

  13. Tony says:
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    @sean: YEP. In my league tho its a 10×10 and we count singles, doubles, triples and HR’s plus 6 other offensive cats including average….. so with individual hits counted a guy with higher average bumps up some… obviously if he has a higher average and a full time gig he’s going to help you more in the hits categories….

  14. sean says:
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    @Tony: 10×10 sounds like an absolute clusterfuck

  15. cubbies299 says:
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    Hey, do you do Ellsbury, Josh Johnson, and Kubel for Miggy and Cain? Is this deal outrageously bad?

  16. sean says:
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    @Grey: in a standard CBS league with 9P and 6BN, can I safely roster two of these guys?

  17. Howie says:
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    @Grey: Can’t middle relievers be an integral part of a LIMA strategy? I’m in a 4×4 Roto auction league and considering employing such an approach this season. Any comments about the pros and cons of the LIMA strategy?

  18. Tony says:
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    @cubbies299: i’d take the miggy side personally… a 1st rounder and cain for a sb guy, elite hopeful and kubel nuts? snag pierre late and you replace ells sb’s and you’re set with a better/consistent hitting option in Miggy.

    @sean: actually its great, pitching and hitting is very balanced and its much more exciting. Instead of Rooting for a HR or guys to get multiple hits so i can raise my average we actually count singles, doubles, triples, etc, the whole shaBAMMM… so on sunday Granderson could hit you two triples and win you a point that week (h2h). Or in pitching maybe you’re trying to take a guy in saves so you leave your RP’s in and one gets shelled takes a LOSS and you lose that category when trying to make way in another… (we count losses). Its interesting, been this way for years, we’ve tweaked it here and there, use to count CG SHO’s! Stupid as hell, which made hitting much more valuable, last year we finally swapped that to Quality Starts, which has made a HUGE difference, really makes ya feel better too when your pitcher goes 7-8 strong innings, gives up 2 runs only to get his WIN blown my some numbnuts RP….

  19. Tarasco'sSecretStash says:
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    @ cubbies: Depends on your team’s needs and who your other first base options are, but I wouldn’t do that deal. At worst you’re looking at a wash between Johnson and Cain (and I’d rather have JJ between the two – Cain’s strand rate was ridiculous last year), and then you’re giving up the best base-stealer in baseball and a + power outfielder in his prime (an increasingly rare breed) for power and production at first base, which is easily the deepest power position. In other words, Billy Butler, Ellsbury, & Kubel > Cabrera.

  20. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @big o: Totally, there hasn’t been many better moments on TV this year than all of them walking slowly down the street like they were in The Lords of Flatbush. Eh on Neshek.

    @Big Mike: Not out of the gate he’s not unless Aardsma looks terrible in the spring, which is a possibility.

    @GopherDay: I did too much bullpen this weekend, the rest of the closers aren’t coming to next week. Sorry…

    @Tony: Yeah, Rudy and I haven’t liked Ichiro any season. Hard to find a nice word about him on the site.

    @PJtres: No idea who your other keepers are, but Nolasco’s good.

    @Hebrew Hammer: Yeah, pretty filthy Ks, with only a 91 MPH heater. Guess the slider does the trick. He can go in a Holds spot if someone needs him.

    @cubfever7: Thanks… Madson is with the closers.

    @Tarasco’sSecretStash: Yeah, could be. MRs always come out of nowhere.

    @cubbies299: It’s fair. I’d take the Miggy side.

    @sean: Sure

    @Howie: Depends how well you draft your pitchers. See no reason why it can’t work. Half the starters are risky anyway.

  21. Tarasco'sSecretStash says:
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    @ sean & Tony: I’m with Tony, I play in a 9×9 league, and it kicks ass. Lots more planning at the end of a given week to figure out how to steal those extra couple categories on Sunday…

  22. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @cubbies299: i’d want miggy, but johnson is arguably better than cain, and maybe the guy values ellsbury’s speed, and figures kubel will give him .280-25-90 to help fill miggy’s power void.

    sometimes when everyone in the league is focused on power guys, it’s not bad to zig when everyone else zags. in my H2H league, there are 2 dudes that go straight after pitching instead of hitting (total counterintuitive and against the other 10 owners strategy). one of them is successful at it, the other not so much.

  23. Tony says:
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    @Tarasco’sSecretStash: yep, counting individual hits and things like losses, QS’s, etc you’re having to game plan much more…. there has actually been instances where on a sunday night i’ll bench my hitters because i know If i bat them i can’t win anymore cats, but if they K too much or lower my average i’ll lose those cats…. plus you’re rooting more for individual stats like a triple, instead of just hoping a guy gets a hit to bump your average….

    Its been great, and very competitive, our message board usually gets over 1500 posts, of course i’m 1000 of them, lol

  24. cubbies299 says:
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    @ThePoonTycoon: The guy also gets Scherzer. I forgot about that. So it’s Miggy Scherzer Cain for JJ, Ellsbury, Kubel

  25. Asdrubal Bastardo says:
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    Again, this is probably because I am a Giants fan…. but no love for Jeremy Affeldt? He was money last year, and I used him as a ERA and WHIP bolsterer for half the season.

  26. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Asdrubal Bastardo: The love for Romo wasn’t enough? Geez… (Insert emoticon)

  27. Asdrubal Bastardo says:
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    @Grey: You’re right, I am just being bitter. In your defense, Affeldt had a lackluckster K-rate for a dude with a +95 MPH heater..

  28. PJtres says:
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    its a 16 team league…we all keep 6

    other keepers are
    Hanley, Utley, Kemp, Felix, Youk, and now Nolasco…

    everyone seems pretty high on SP…so it was either Nolasco for cheap (drabek plus 20th round pick) or A LOT more for an ubaldo/josh johnson, etc

    2nd point:
    im my other keeper league…would you try to move Miggy Cabrera for like a Votto plus picks? or a greinke for a lester and picks???

  29. Tony says:
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    @PJtres: you have hanley, utley, kemp, felix, and youk in a 16 team league? if you lose something is WRONG….

  30. PJtres says:
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    @ tony…
    im new to the league – took over for a nonexistent owner..so i did a bunch of trades and ended up w/ them…i lost a couple draft picks – but thats pretty solid going in, eh?

  31. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @PJtres: Solid keepers in that one league, for sure. I’d keep Nolasco. I’d trade Greinke for Lester if the picks were decent.

  32. PJtres says:
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    thanks grey.

  33. EastCoasta says:
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    @Grey: for a 12 team 6×6 H2H…get to keep 7 of the following…Hanley, R Braun, E Longoria, J Morneau, B Roberts, CarGo, M Wieters, B Abreu, Vlad, J Vazquez…would like to hear what you think…I have pick 9 in the draft so my cuts probably won’t get to me…

  34. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @EastCoasta: Hanley, Braun, Longoria, Morneau, Roberts, CarGo and Wieters…

  35. cubbies299 says:
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    Sorry to ask again’ish, but he took fcord out of the deal. Do you trade Pujols for Ubaldo/Braun? I could also take Teixeira at that pick too where braun is

  36. EastCoasta says:
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    @Grey: thanks Grey…Paps gets hurt krumping…what a beautiful thing!

  37. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    In case anyone doesn’t care, and I’m sure you do, Drew Storen is on Twitter… @DrewStoren… Word.

  38. big o says:
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    is that pay per word ?

  39. rafi says:
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    I already said this on twitter but repeating here cuz it seems you’re mute like dummy hoy over there:

    i’m surprised you have perez so low. i’d think wood is every bit as risky as jenks/fuentes/gregg and more so than bailey/soriano.

  40. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @rafi: I don’t think 13 is that low and, honestly, you can have almost anyone on this list at almost any draft spot so if you like Perez go for it.

  41. rafi says:
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    I like Perez. I’ll go for it!

  42. Middle relievers have been a part of my strategy for several years now, especially in large leagues or leagues with a shallow free agent pool.
    You can usually draft the top guys without much interference or expectation of getting sniped.
    If you want to try out the strategy, might I suggest joining our mock drafts on Wednesday evening @ 8 PM EST over at Mock Draft Central. Look for the FantasyGameday mocks, and use password FGD2010. Everyone is welcome, expert and regular joes alike.

  43. Dave says:
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    Who are some decent long relievers (as opposed to 8th inning setup men) that I can stream in my H2H leagues for those weeks where Luke Hochevar craps himself on Monday and I gotta dig my ERA out of his little accident by the end of the week? Basically I’m looking for guys who eat innings with getting too lit up rather than someone who shows up for two outs before the closer gets called.

  44. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Dave: Will be an easier in-season call. For instance, Joba could be that guy. For last year, Carrasco and Aceves were decent long men.

  45. donniebball says:
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    @grey…
    in a keeper league…if you owned felix hernandez…would you accept a trade for either greinke or wainwright and a draft pick? (6th round?)

  46. GoBigPelf says:
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    @Grey: I play in a not all that high level of a league and after the 11th round or so the people in my league will start drafting people they’ve heard of and I can pretty much take anyone I want at that point. So with the ten rounds left which pitchers should I draft?

  47. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GoBigPelf: Check the top 40, 60 and 80 starters. If there’s still questions, hit me back.

  48. Greg says:
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    Two things: 1) Nice call on Thornton. I’m hoping Jenks has a solid year, but he hasn’t been trending well. 2) Thurston and Lovey’s son is no longer the closer for the Rays? Dang, this is bad for my fantasy keeper team (keeps 18).

  49. Paul says:
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    Thanks for leaving Mike Adams off the list. Now all that’s left is for the Madres to trade Heath Bell.

    On an unrelated note, some have way too much mancrush on Nelson Cruz. You might as well go with Kyle Blanks.

  50. CadeWTM says:
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    In 9×9, 3 keeper league, which 2 do you keep (for sure keeping Holliday)? McCann, Jeter, Gonzalez, Verlander, J Johnson, Markakis, Zobrist?

  51. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @CadeWTM: Gonzalez and McCann…

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