Last week we covered the other “S” in the “AGNOF”, that being the steals part of the whole acronym.  This week it’s saves… sorta.  And to be fair, I will touch on some steals guys this week too.  But for today, we take a gander at the Saves portion, but for better and more finite terminology, we are going to look at some of the changing needed cuffs that before the year were must owns and have basically faded away from their usefulness so far to date.  Now, being a setup relief pitcher is basically like a coupon that eventually expires.  The amount of useful relief pitchers from day one to game 162 is small, like the count on both hands kinda small.  It is an ever fluxing market where injuries, poor form, and situational involvement change from one game to the next.  I wish it weren’t so, but it is.  Everyone has a crush on the roster the draft at the beginning of the year, but soon enough a girl from another school moves in and is more prominent or endowed than the previous love fest.  That is baseball, and the last 1-2 relieve spots on your team should always be changing, just to maximize the roster spot value. So here are some of the more popular names that have fallen by the way side of rosterability or some guys that may have increasing market value.  Get your hands up, so we can slap some cuffs on ya…

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When struggles happen, the fantasy geeks come out of the wood work with words like “decreased velocity”, “contact rate” and “swing strike percentage”.  Now I am no geek, but Roberto Osuna is failing the eye test for me.  Control is all over the place and he has zero confidence in his pitches.  Yes, if you look at all his secondary pitching attributes, they are all down or up for the worse.  First, his velocity is down almost two MPH from last year.  Granted, he did miss some time this spring though, so there is a reason to have a letter from his mom to explain that.  His z-contact rate (pitches in the strike zone) is off the charts bonkers.  It currently sits at 91%.  If he had pitched more than five innings to date and qualified, he would have the highest such contact rate in baseball among relievers.  That is not a good trait to have as a closer, let alone a mammal.  Finally, his swing strike percentage has bottomed out at a cool 10%, which would put him outside the top-100 relievers.  And surrounded by names like Tommy Hunter and Michael Ynoa, all staples to a flourishing fantasy team.  So what do we do?  You cuff him.  Jason Grilli is the best name there and Ryan Tepera just got the save in extra innings the other day.  All we can hope for from Bobby Osuna is that with some more innings and builds back up to the 9-plus K/9 reliever we drafted as our 1A closer.  It isn’t time to panic, but do yourself a favor and cover your bases.  Here’s what else is going down in the end game… Cheers!

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As I have gone over in the preseason, streaming against a starting pitcher is sometimes a good approach.  The problem is that sometimes the blame isn’t completely on the pitcher.  This isn’t Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny isn’t playing all nine positions versus the Gas House Gorillas.  So obviously I am referring to the catcher in this scenario.  Streaming against a pitcher is all well and good, the bad is that they only pitch once every five days and while it’s fun to rosterbate the high hell out of it, why not take advantage of a starting catcher who usually gets five starts a week?  Seems like genius and a better way to try and capitalize on a three game set versus a weak catcher oriented team at gunning down baserunners. So the handy chart below gives us an early glimpse of who we should be taking advantage of with our waiver additions in the steals category.  Stay after the chart, because I drop some tidbits of grandeur.

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Even being 1/10th of the way through the season, it is never too early to see some trends forming.  The trends I am learning you about are the bullpen usage rates.  Not every team follows an A to B to C type formulas, and it would be nice, but usage rates in certain situations, even 15 games into the season, peak their heads out for fantasy usefulness.  The ancillary stats that no one really notices, and that I use all year, are runners inherited and appearances with the lead.  All key factors for what a reliever is and what they are at sustaining.  The inherited runners stat is a ruiner, not only for themselves but for the pitchers they are replacing.  Basically a sad trombone in the case of reliever sad trombones.  The appearances with the lead factor is what we all eat our Holds and gravy with.  It basically says that they are pitching with a lead, granted, holds are scored the same as a save.  So all that less than four runs runner on deck shenanigans that people made up for it to qualify.  So welcome to the first Holds/bullpens post of the year as we embark on a road far less traveled then it should.  Holds matter, regardless of color.

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It was right in front of our faces and we ignored it.  No one said the obvious.  The elephant in the room.  We all should have known that we were getting fooled by the A’s because we trusted a Melvin.  A Melvin!  After years of hoodwinking by Upton, we now get the reflexive of this, and are getting bobbed.  Predictably, the A’s manager has made a real hash of the bullpen situation already, and we only sit four games into the season.  I get his mentality in some states, because you want your best pitcher pitching to the best players in the opposing lineups and yadda, yadda, yadda.  But this is fantasy baseball sir.  We don’t have the time or social skills warranted to be able to deal with this type stuff.  So for those of you living on a house boat with no wifi, the A’s bullpen usage is a flummoxed up mess with no one to trust.  It’s like November 23rd, 1963 in Dallas, Texas type of questioning everything.  Madson was the presumed closer and he has been treated as the go to guy for getting the tough outs.  Twice against the middle of the order which included a Trout named outfielder.  Then the first day went to Santiago Casilla, then the next day to Ryan Dull.  But the things that boggles the mind is set orders here.  I get that it is early and mixing and matching is cool like millennials do with socks now, but we need some kind of pecking order for rostering-type priorities.  I can’t deal with this madness, I am going to alphabetize my canned goods.  In the mean time, check out the closer menu, now with a deal on salads.

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The last week of the spring always breeds injuries, demotions, and the occasional leap frogging.  Or in some cases, Dusty is going to be simply be Dusty.  But I will get to that little blurb in a few.  So with the injury news to T.T., the Red Sox order is now Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, and then maybe Bob Stanley.  Joe Kelly is the interesting name here because I always thought he was at least in the conversation for the secondary chair behind Tyler.  This is interesting because if, and only if, Kimbrel goes down, the man on the spot may very well be Joe freaking Kelly.  The same guy that said that he could win a Cy Young last year.  Adjusting to a newer role is always a tough spot, even though he appeared in 14 games as a RP last year.  His K-rate spiked, his walk rate halved, and his ability to be touched for hits disappeared.  Not unusual for former starting pitchers, but this was kind of a drastic change from what we saw as a starter. He is not the second coming of Luke Gregerson circa 2012, but is a fine enough arm with enough quality in it to garner the counting stats needed in Thorny’s stead. Let’s see what else is happening in the set-up facet of the game and update the final preseason Holds chart before the games actually mean something…

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As we enter the busiest week for the world famous Razzball commenter leagues,  I think it’s important to look back unto the days of yester-year and let us not forget that numbers sometimes, very rarely… OKAY, they lie a lot!  But usually after massaging them, numbers are gluttons for attention.   They always wanna be gone over, hen-pecked, and prodded.  Just like your mother.  RCL leagues are no different, and the SAGNOF’s general audience is those of us in these type leagues, looking for a special boost to their team, whether it be a streaming option, growing trend, or just some divine intervention that I say something useful. So with the help of the RCL guru, Matt Truss.  I got some info that will help you analyze your stats as you peer onto your team for projecting steals and how you stand in the category.  Because going into battle knowing what you need to compete is, according to G.I. Joe, “half the battle”.  But since we already know, does that mean the battle is already over and we are just competing and arguing with ourselves?  Confused?  Me too!  Well here is some less confusing info that is straight to the point with numbers and stuff…  Cheers!

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I think the biggest question I always get when I’m out for dinner trying to inconspicuously eat is: Who should I cuff and when should I start drafting handcuffs for the inevitable closerpocalypse?  My advice is always: As soon as I am done eating, I will tell you.  I then proceed to give them the Irish goodbye and smile as I gleefully think that I got the best of them.  But in all seriousness, the biggest question is: Do I cuff myself or do I cuff someone else’s closer?  Me personally, I am a “cuff someone else’s” kinda guy.  This way, it gives you better odds to have another closer.  Where as if you cuff yourself, you are only replacing what you already drafted to expect.  So in theory, look for the best cuff options that you currently don’t own and steal them from someone else.  Leaving them short and for you, the possible plus one.  So with this theory in mind, I have made a list of the guys that I would want to draft first, second and so on.  I have done closer lists with their back-ups, holds guys, and the pecking order and now you get the best handcuff options to draft and sit on.  Enjoy!

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In what very well may be the first hostile takeover of the closer year, we turn our eyes to the land of Primanti’s and Yinzers.  Yes my friends, I am talking about Pittsburgh.  The incumbent closer there, Tony Watson, has had a rough spring training.  One that usually I would brush aside and say “ehh ST stats mean bupkis” and he has the vet preference behind him to back him up.  I usually believe that type of big brother back-up mentality, but not when they signed a free agent who was viewed by several other clubs as a closer, that player being Daniel Hudson.  So before we get to Danny, let’s stay on Tony Watson for a bit.  He is the 19th closer off the board in most scenarios, which by all intents and purposes puts him in the lower-middle.  Last season he only took over the closer’s role after the trade of Melancon and notched himself 15 saves on the year.  But they weren’t all comfy ones.  Tony Watson is a phenomenal relief pitcher, notice, I said “relief pitcher”.  In my mind, he is just not a closer.  A closer by default last year though?   Very much so.  Now, you add the tumultuous spring that he is having; faced 24 batters, allowed eight hits, walked three and eight ER in four-and-a-third innings. good for a 16 plus ERA.  Looking for a silver lining, okay, there are two!  Zero home runs allowed and a K-rate above 12.  Yah… for peripheral stats, Hudson has been basically himself this spring, high-K middle-3 ERA, and holding opponents to a .200 BAA, while everyone is hitting Teddy Ballgame against Watson.  I am not completely panicking yet, because in reality I would have two higher ranked RP before Tony Watson comes off the board, but those looking to get a cheeky head-start on the SAGNOF craze, grab you some Daniel Hudson.  So for the first invasion of the season, I am flying the Jolly Roger upside down for distress.  Let’s see what else is going down for the end game of ballgames…

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Welcome to the fantasy wrestling league.  (If that is why you are not in the right place.) If you came for some fantasy baseball holds league info, then please, by all means, get comfy for a spell.  We as a people who play in holds leagues all know the big name guys.  The proven commodities.  The reason we know about them is because I have talked about them in my Holds Ranking Post.  Go check it out, there’s fun for the whole family in there, with coloring sections and a pop-up section for the Misses.  So bigger leagues that rely on deep knowledge into hold-dom require some names that in special situations would garner interest.  This is why we are here… I am going to break down some names in each league (for your league-specific needs) so you can win the deep end of the draft.  None or almost all of these guys aren’t going to be in the handy dandy chart I provide below, because they are off the beaten path a a bit.  So enjoy some depth to the bullpen discussion…

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