We’re back to chasing speed this week. Keep an eye towards shuffling batting orders, rookies on the horizon, and second-half surges. The NFL pre-season will soon have its hooks in us. There may be some surprising names on the wire thanks to this. Maybe suggest a surprisingly friendly trade for the thing you need most. Grind on in the name of the faceless god, free category juice.

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Not much has changed since we last talked. Only A THIRD OF THE BULLPENS have been drastically altered. The Brain Freeze is Slurpee Big Gulp level this week. At least the dust is starting to settle from the flurricane of activity. Exercise some caution on those new openings. Often the less expensive, less glitzy alternative has the same odds to net some saves.

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Last week we dug into closers who came out of the break hot. Let’s give the hitters their turn. Who’s squeezing some some speed out on the bases since the All Star break?

  • Someone must have told Gleyber Torres they were playing the 2019 Orioles all of last week because he has been a man on fire. Since the break he’s hit three bombs and swiped four bags. The talent is there. Torres just hasn’t lived up to it. Maybe he can help those rostering him to dig out of the hole they likely find themselves in.
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The All-Star break seems to have helped some folks but wasn’t enough of a break for others. Let’s see who’s working to earn your trust back.

  • The Edwin Diaz implosion continues. He’s blown two saves this week while Trevor May has picked up two saves.
  • The break did Aroldis Chapman some good. His velocity was better and he got the save Tuesday despite giving up a solo homer. Keep your finger on the eject button if he wears out again soon.
  • Heath Hembree seems like the only righty the Reds can trust at the moment. He’s likely to earn the bigger share of the saves until the Cincy bullpen upheaval.
  • Tyler Wells has worked his way into the mix for the ninth in Baltimore. The mountain of a man brings big K numbers but is also volatile.
  • The Pirates DFA’d Kyle Crick after some blowups. That makes David  Bednar the top option if Richard Rodriguez gets traded.
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We’re reaching the point of the baseball season that feels like the Bastogne episode of Band Of Brothers depicting the Battle of the Bulge. We’re running out of everything, can’t help the injured, and hold our breath that disaster isn’t looming. It’s also the turning point. Ground gained now will decide who’s in for the stretch run. The ever-changing saves landscape is a big part of that. Get in a foxhole with someone you can trust.

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It’s SAGNOF speed week! That means saves are the thing that need to have no faces. We’ll talk a few runners and a few catchers. I’ve included a chart of the catchers yielding the most stolen bases thus far. I find people often forget that half of the equation when trying to find a hitter to stream as a speed spec play. We’re looking for both a volume of steals given up and poor defense throwing runners out.

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As the weather turns hot so do the seats of shaky relievers. It can be risky to jump ship early on someone that’s been good to you but a shrewd move can pay off big time in the summer. I often tell myself, “Carl, live in the future, dammit!” Don’t ask me why “Carl” is how I refer to myself in the third person.

  • Mark Melancon remains a step ahead of the league. He ditched spider tack weeks ago and is now using beetle spunk. It’s the only explanation for a guy that projected to be mediocre, yet leads the league in saves. In actuality, he’s likely locating his stuff as well as ever with a near career high in GB% and career low in FB%.
  • The Reds are optimizing the adage if you many of something you really have none. Their bullpen is filled with quality arms. Without that clear-cut go-to closer, things have been messy. Lucas Sims is starting to show the strain of the role. Tejay Antone just returned from the IL but also blew a save (and poached a win).
  • Tampa Bay can’t catch a break in their back end either. Name a reliever for them and they’ve blown a save or took a loss in the past week. Nothing like some extra ambiguity in the murkiest of bullpens.
  • Richard Rodriguez continues to be a sharp closer. That almost certainly means he’ll be relocating prior to the trade deadline. Two possible paths exist here. He could go to a contender that needs a clear closer and earn many more save opps. He could also go to a team with an already strong closer and become a setup man, which seems the more natural fit for him.
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Allow myself to reintroduce myself: I’m Roto-Wan. Long-time saves chaser, non-pricey pick payer, part-time closer ranker. You may remember from such columns as this one, last season. Grey kidnapped my dog and is forcing me to write about saves with masks or something. Contact the authorities if you’re reading this. All kidding aside, I enjoyed my hiatus and look forward to helping valued readers like you navigate the treacherous waters of saves in the MLB. I’ve dusted off Grey’s original tiers, as I like to do in the early going. It’s important to remind us of the jerks we’ve been to help us know the jerks we can become.

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When I decided to name this piece the RP Thrift Shop I couldn’t get the Macklemore jam by the same name out of my head. So here I sit, wearing a fake mink coat, shaving the sides of my head. Like Mack I’m not looking to spend $50 on a t-shirt. I’ll take the 99 cent stuff that smells like R-Kelly’s sheets. Thus, the framework is laid. Let’s talk relievers. Maybe Ryan Lewis will drop a bomb chorus for us.


The Gucci shirt: Edwin Diaz

If you just look at Diaz’s 2020 surface numbers when you’re in the draft room you might click his name when it’s your pick. What those numbers leave out is how the Mets protected him from his Molotov throwing self for an entire month of a two-month season. Sounds exactly like someone you want to invest a top 100 pick on.

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