We now get to the ugly step-sister of rankings and the waiver darling position that we all chase.   The relief pitcher is by far the most debated position on who to draft, where, and when.  For the most part, I agree with you (with whatever you think), but the guys you want…if you get them where they are being drafted, usually beat or exceed value.  Injuries suck and do happen, you just can’t prevent them. You just have to be in a position of favor and hope that you land his replacement.  Sucktitude, i.e see Joe Nathan last year, is just a roster burden and usually drags you down all season because he isn’t someone you can just drop, but he makes it awfully hard to roster.  It’s a catch-22, to stat or not to stat.  Last year saw an unforgivable 10 closer changes in the first six weeks. That is not something you can pad your roster with enough save-cuffs for.  So let’s get to the first set of rankings of the year.  I will get into draft strategies for them, and as always, cover holds in the countdown to the season.

Note: Don’t forget to come visit me on the new Razzball Fantasy Soccer home everyday of the week. If you’re not familiar with the format, NBD, relax, you got us. Ralph and I are giving you the best Fantasy Premier League coverage out there. If you haven’t tried fantasy EPL, you’re missing out…

  • This list is based on if the season were starting now and who would be closing for their team respectively.  That’s why Jake McGee isn’t ranked higher (if healthy, he would rank 18th).  For now, Brad Boxberger is the guy to me that will get all the early saves, and if your drafting for saves out of TB, you still want McGee, but you wanna cuff him with Boxberger or Ernesto Frieri.
  • The same holds true with Oakland, as Sean Doolittle looks likely to miss the opening day.  He would rank 14th if healthy.  What’s good for you is that they have a better first chair sub in Tyler Clippard.  Who, in most formats, should be drafted regardless if he is getting save chances as he has proven to be one of those reliable RP types that can survive on your roster all year.
  • I am a little leery that Dellin Betances is the guy for certain in New York.  I do think that him and Andrew Miller get save chances throughout the year, and if you draft one you really need to draft the other.  The K’s are nice, but burning a mid-round pick on guys from the same team for the saves chase is something I don’t really recommend.

 

$12 Salads

You know that restaurant your girlfriend/wife/what-have-you likes to go to that charges, like, $12 for a salad? Every time you go there, you have a thoroughly solid meal. No complaints, except you just paid $12 for a salad when you could’ve went to McDonald’s and stuffed you and your woman for ten schmools and had $2 in quarters left over to make the hotel bed vibrate. These closers are $12 salads.

1. Aroldis Chapman – (Jumbo Diaz, J.J. Hoover)

2. Craig Kimbrel – (Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson)

3. Kenley Jansen – (Joel Peralta, Brandon League)

4. Greg Holland – (Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera)

5. David Robertson – (Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam)

 

Donkeycorns

Imagine you’re following a donkey, who’s wearing a wool cap, through a desert for 1700 miles. Why are you following a donkey? Because he promises you something wonderful and you just need to trust him. Does the donkey talk? Yes. Yes, he does talk. So when you and the donkey in the wool cap arrive at his destination, he removes the wool cap to reveal a horn. The donkey is a unicorn and his gift to you for your trust is saves. These closers are Donkeycorns.

6. Cody Allen -(Bryan Shaw, Nick Hagadone)

7.  Trevor Rosenthal -(Jordan Walden, Seth Maness)

8. Drew Storen – (Casey Janssen, Aaron Barrett)

9. Dellin Betances – (Andrew Miller, David Carpenter)

10. Huston Street – (Joe Smith, Cam Bedrosian)

11. Steve Cishek – (A.J. Ramos, Aaron Crow)

12. Mark Melancon -(Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo)

13. Jonathan Papelbon – (Ken Giles, Jake Diekman)

14. Koji Uehara – (Edward Mujica, Heath Hembree)

15. Zach Britton – (Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter)

16. Glen Perkins – (Casey Fien, Caleb Thielbar)

17. Fernando Rodney – (Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmsen)

 

Brain Freezes

I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples, bananas and Carlos Marmol– Wait, he just gave up 12 earned runs and hit Castro in the head with a pick-off throw. Brain freeze! Make it stop! Use the following closers at your own risk.

18. Joaquin Benoit – (Kevin Quackenbush, Dale Thayer)

19. Neftali Feliz – (Shawn Tolleson, Roman Mendez)

20. Hector Rondon – (Jason Motte, Neil Ramirez)

21. Addison Reed – (Brad Ziegler, Evan Marshall)

22. Santiago Casilla – (Sergio Romo, Jean Machi)

23. Joe Nathan – (Joakim Soria, Al Alburquerque)

24. LaTroy Hawkins – (Rafael Betancourt, Rex Brothers)

25. Chad Qualls – (Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek)

26. Tyler Clippard – (Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook)

27. Jonathan Broxton – (Will Smith, Jim Henderson)

28. Jenrry Mejia – (Bobby Parnell, Vic Black)

29. Aaron Sanchez – (Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar)

30. Brad Boxberger – (Jake McGee, Ernesto Frieri)

 

 

  1. noah says:
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    in my league, which is basically a three-closer league, I tend to shoot for 1 guy from the middle group and two guys from the bottom group. Two-time defending champ. Bad closers are the best closers.

    • SwaggerJackers says:
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      @noah: I usually go with 1 from the middle and 3 from the bottom. You know at least one of the three is going to lose his job before mid season. If by some small chance none of them do, you’ve got a decent piece to sweeten a trade.

      • noah says:
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        @SwaggerJackers: Our rosters aren’t big enough to keep an extra reliever. You’ve gotta grab up the new closers quick when the old ones lose their jobs. The way our league works, closers are basically only good for saves, so you can’t over invest.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @noah: everyone has different methods the average save mark is always the goal

      • noah says:
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        @Smokey: Of course. You don’t have to do what I do. I was just saying what I’ve done with some success in a league that puts a very low value on closers.

  2. Adam says:
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    Donkeycorns are back! Top3 off-season development.

    • A Hill O' Beans says:
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      @Adam: That was my first thought as soon as I read past the intro. Is that a $12 Salad…..damn right Donkeycorns are back!

  3. Clint says:
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    I’ve been struggling to reconcile the top 400 rankings with your reliever rankings to get an idea of roughly what round each of your tiers comes in around. Using the top 400, barely any of these guys shows up but we know that’s not going to be a reality come draft time so can you give me a rough estimate of where these tiers come in for a 26 round draft? Last year, I got killed in the draft and missed out on a lot of closers, I think, due to this same confusion.

    • Cram It says:
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      @Clint: What, did you refuse to draft a closer because guys outside the top tier weren’t in the top 400? I let the other drafters dictate. There’s usually a closer run. When I see 10 closers go in two mid-rounds, it’s time to jump in and get one.

      • Clint says:
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        @Cram It:
        No, I waited until the runs started (and they started extremely early in my roto league) and stocked up on hitters and/or SP’s instead. By the time it was done, I ended up w/a lot of Brain Freezers who wound up getting hurt and/or lost their jobs not too early on in the season. I snagged K-Rod off waivers so he carried me until I made a few trades to gain in that category by season’s end so between that and snatching guys quickly off the wire, I ended up okay. Just rather not repeat that “strategy” while trying to maintain value on guys I do grab.

    • noah says:
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      @Clint: That doesn’t make a ton of sense. In my league only really helpful stat any non-$12 salad closer can give you is saves. As a result, those are the only closers who have any chance to be in the top 400. But if you don’t carry at least two closers in my league, you’re pretty much guaranteed last place in saves, and if you don’t carry 3 you have no chance to be in the top half of saves. So, not top 400 players , but they obviously need to be drafted.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Clint: 1-5 of the closers in rds 5 through 8, 6-17 in 9-15. and the rest whenever you can get them at a value

  4. Andrew says:
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    Where would Giles be if/when Papelbon is dealt?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Andrew: if he had more of a mlb pedigree def right about where Pap is but I would prolly have him 19th or 20th.

  5. PK says:
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    Smoke!

    Nobody seems to like Benoit except me. Is it because of his injury last year?

    • Pizza says:
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      @PK: It must be age / health concerns. Steamer projects Benoit for 34 saves with great ratios. He’s under contract for 2015, so he’ll be the closer if healthy.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @PK: PK!!! I actually love Benoit for where he is getting drafted, I am just leery that sd will get all in win mode and sign soneone to give him a run for his money.

  6. J_FOH says:
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    Thank you for bringing back the terms. I will stop sending those cut and pasted pics to your house. Seriously, though, thank you

    Ok, why no like the Britton? and his name sounds like something a surfer would wear. Dude check out my new pair of Britton’s!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @J_FOH: Balt as a team has regressed and Lot of his value last year was that he had a sp/Rp flexibility attached to him.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Smokey: obviously that 1.65 ERA didn’t hurt last year nor is it sustainable. I like that he went to the two seam exclusively and stayed away from the 4. I would of thought he would of used the slider more but either way he wont be any value on draft day and hence someone I wont own.

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @J-FOH: Oh definitely not. The 4 MPH gained on that fastball is the real reason for his success and it’s very sneaky, and that 2 seamer that you mentioned is basically his sinker.

          • J_FOH says:
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            @Smokey: I’m confused, fangraphs says he threw his two seamer 89.3% of the time and the 4 seamer 2.1% of the time. Is there another site that says differ.

    • The Harrow says:
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      @J_FOH: don’t underplay your part in the name switch.

      • Smokey

        Smokey says:
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        @The Harrow: yea that’s all he needs is you to feed his ego.

        • The Harrow says:
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          @Smokey: he knows already, it’s why he continuously bitched about it since July at least 12 times on here. I doubt he did nothing behind the scenes along with that.

        • The Harrow says:
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          @Smokey: whether or not I liked your categories i certainly respect your ability to make your own choices in your own column. Be cool if that was the M.O. of more people.

          • Smokey

            Smokey says:
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            @The Harrow: thanks. It will be a constant changing thing this year, and I will be incorporating the readers on some occasions to name caregories.

  7. manormachine? says:
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    What are your thoughts on Mejia? He should have SP eligibility in my league which will make him extremely valuale, a la brett Myers from a few years ago.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @manormachine?: def helps him. I still think Parnell is the guy to really watch there. He was just starting to turn the closer corner prior to injury.

  8. Blue says:
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    This is one area where I depart from Razzball, I think–in a redraft I like getting one elite closer in rounds 5-7 as my first pitcher. I thinking SAGANOFing the entire RP category is really risky.

    • Cram It says:
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      @Blue: I understand the conventional thinking, but if you’re SAGNOFING one closer, why not all of them? One 40 save guy isn’t going to get you more than 1 point in roto by himself.

      • Blue says:
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        @Cram It: Because the risk to your ratios can get really high. At least with one top guy you can balance out those hits a bit.

        I’m also generally not a fan of SPs in rounds 4-8; I think that near-elite group has the highest possible downside without offering much upside.

        • Cram It says:
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          @Blue: Agreed on the SP’s. I don’t know, I think full time incumbent closers, with ratios that are so putrid they screw with your team numbers, are few and far between. You can end up with an Ernesto Frieri even if you draft a Kimbrel. Plus a diesel MR can always correct that.

        • Cram It says:
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          @Blue: I think the difference in philosophies has a lot to do with formats. In a large roto league, I’m not trying to win saves at the draft at the expense of offense. I’m just shooting for middle of the pack and working the wire during the season.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Blue: believe it or not I am in the same methodology. Next week I break down draft strategy for closers.

  9. ShawnoftheLiving says:
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    Donkeycorn Salad. Nice.

  10. ashtray says:
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    Any difference in closer drafting strategy in a H2H league as opposed to a roto?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @ashtray: not really, you need 3. I would want a top 8 guy in either format. H2H you are looking to get to 10 a week that always seems like the magic number for me, where as Roto you gain points for not being first. If that makes sense.

  11. Ante GALIC says:
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    Smokey!

    Nice article. In my seasonal H2H re-draft league, I have Jansen and Allen as my RPs.

    A. I have a crush on Pomeranz because he would be SP/RP elgible.

    1. Would you drop Allen to draft Pomeranz?
    2. Would you drop Liriano to draft Pomeranz?

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Ante GALIC: keep Allen and Liriano. You can re-draft Pomeranz in most scenarios at a bargain

  12. Bye Felicia says:
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    Betances has elite shizz. If he takes the reigns & runs with the job all season he’ll easily be a $12 salad .

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Bye Felicia: Oh most definitely, but I can see Miller getting 12-15 saves this year which saps the stats of Dellin a bit

  13. DanThePoorMetFan says:
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    who is this year Betances?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @DanThePoorMetFan: basically looking for a rookie to come out and get a 13 plus K rate is rare. Cam Bedrosion, Shae Simmons and M. Foltynewicz (if he loses out on rotation spot), or a few good deeper sleepers like Christian Friedrich or Samuel Tuivailala

  14. Mike says:
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    I have 5 slots available for Saves and Holds. Some of us in a H to H draft zero closers and draft for holds only. It is really hard to draft a top 5 closer when your looking to draft your 1st starter.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Mike: It’s all about good value for teh top 8 closers and what the draft is dictating.

  15. goodfold2 says:
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    The triumphant return of Smokey! yes. i’m in middle of 30 man free agent bidding period in a 6X6 with holds. want to try to find cheap guys, ranked by saves opps/holds/ratios/wins. Does this rank look about right? So early in year only thing i had to go off was mlbdepthcharts.com and Baseball Forecaster skills (BPV) scores.
    is this about the rank for these guys for saves opps/holds/ratios/wins:
    farquar/salas/dunn/al al/hunter/thornton/abad/atchison/belisle/warren/leone/duke/matusz/tonkin/furbush/rzepczynski/diekman/de fratus/bastardo/stauffer. i’ll clearly ask Smokey as well. Leone looks to have no deep bullpen job yet but extraordinary skill set.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: sorry, petricka inbetween warren and leone, as he’s listed in 7th inning. However, everybody knows about how he closed last year and he probably gets too expensive.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @goodfold2: Farquahr, Diekman, Leone Abad are teh names that stick out and would be targets

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Smokey: do i drop de fratus or atchison first (i appear to have overpid on those guys in the first week out of 4 on bidding). If i drop either i have to eat half of their contracts (our rule is contracts over 1 Million you cut and eat half), i bid 1.24 on de fratus and 1.27 on atchison. 100 mil budgets and .4 mil minimum contracts. If i get one of the better guys for cheaper i’ll cut one of these (eating the .6ish mil).

        • goodfold2 says:
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          @goodfold2: guys like edgin and w.wright went for around .6-.8 million.

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @goodfold2: de frautus is the drop

  16. George Bell says:
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    AA gave Cecil the vote of confidence for closer FWIW

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @George Bell: Yea, that makes sense as I just read that they are looking at finding a vet closer. My opinion is if you give basically the rookie the job early on and he has a go only helps his confidence that he knows he has the job, Sanchez talent is lost in set-up

  17. Cheez Whit says:
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    The ranking on Melancon seems a little low for me. He is at #6 for RPs in NFBC leagues. Do you see any red flags with him?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Cheez Whit: K potential of guys in front of him is greater and to some degree save chances are going to be greater. Melancon is still a great option at closer, I would just want to pair him with someone ahead of him if possible.

  18. Ken Plane says:
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    Sanity has returned in the form of salads, donkeycorns and brain freezes.

    Thank you, thank you very much.

  19. S P says:
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    What do you think the strategy should be in deep leagues, mine is 16 team? Melancon and Cody Allen would be competing with Fielder, Soler,Teheran, Alex Wood, and Degrom for my last 2 spots.

    I think it’s Teheran and Wood (Greinke is my only other SP pitcher), and the other 7 are position players.

    I think I can get one of Allen/Melancon in round 3 or so, where as Wood/Teheran would likely be gone. Would you advocate otherwise?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @S P: i agree you don’t have to keep them over the other guys

  20. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    what source are you seeing Betancourt going back into COL setup? I’m seeing him buried in minors, and nearly 40. ottavino/brothers look entrenched at SU there, as far as i can see.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: I don’t know about buried, but he is the only other person in that pen besides Hawk that has any remote history of closing games. He was resigned because they don’t have veteran depth, and with 2 months to see what’s what there i don’t think its too far fetched to see him chisel out a role there.

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Smokey: maybe not buried, but listed 3rd from top.

  21. Nico says:
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    Smoooooooooooke! I’ve missed these, but I don’t miss closers at all. In fact, fug closers. They made by fantasy b-hole so raw last season it wasn’t fair. But yeah, glad these are back, bud.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Nico: Nico, what’s shakin kid. Yea they tend to sting like an STD.

      • Nico says:
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        @Smokey: Unfortunately, no medication for a bad case of the Closers.

      • Nico says:
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        @Smokey: Also, what’s a Mets fan gotta do to get some Vic Black. You think he shows up as the starting closer at some point this season?

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @Nico: I love Vic Black, I think he takes a step closer this year, but I really like what I have been reading about Parnell so I would invest there first then Black.

  22. OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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    Smokey, I just was curious to get your opinion on what middle relief pairings to target in a 6×6 holds league. It has always been my strategy in this league to try to get the more “elite” of this group, pair two of them (i.e. Betances and Davis last year) and really dominate holds and usually ratios, all while taking the burden off of my starters.

    The pairing of Betances and Davis last year essentially gave you Kershaw like numbers, plus a few saves and monster Ks. Do you have any preferred options that could replicate close to similar production? My initial hunch is to pair Davis with a Tony Watson type, but do you have any thoughts on this concept?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @OldMilwaukeePounders: Well Davis with anyone is going to be awesome but like last year a lot of guys wont be necessarily drafted. I like Davis and Boxberger, Farquhar and Diekman, and last pair I like is Watson and Delgado.

      • OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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        @Smokey:

        Thanks Smokey, Davis and Boxberger was my first thought too. Is there a decent chance that Boxberger keeps the closing gig? What are your thoughts on Martinez if he is in a mid-relief role in STL?

        Thanks for the suggestions, those pairing will definitely be on my radar. It never ceases to amaze me that my league mates almost neglect the holds/mid relief guys in our draft…my starting staff always gets lampooned by them post draft and I end up top 2/3 in all pitching categories year in year out.

        Thanks again!

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @OldMilwaukeePounders: Yea I can preach it all day it’s a none listened to theory. McGee is the guy there when he gets back. Martinez in middle relief would mean the cardinals starters are pretty good, they want him in the rotation, and by this time next year he is this years Tyson Ross. Anytime brudda

  23. AdamH says:
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    Smokey, I’m in a points league where I like to load up on cheap, up and coming relievers. Don’t necessarily need holds or saves, just quality innings. Got any rookies/guys that didn’t play much last year that you expect to have an impact in a pen this year? Besides the obvious Aaron Sanchez/Foltynewicz etc.

    Thanks for any help!

    • AdamH says:
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      @AdamH: FYI I combed through all the names in this post – looking for guys not named above. Thanks!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @AdamH: guys like Chasen Shreve, Zac Rosscup, Christian Friedrich, Shae Simmons. I will touch more in this next week as I touch MR and holds guys.

      • AdamH says:
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        @Smokey: Great. Thanks a lot Smokey!

  24. Alan says:
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    I am competing now and need saves bad. Lost Doolittle. How far down this list would you go before you wouldnt trade Doo for another closer?

    Thanks

Comments are closed.