From a straight love em’ and leave ’em perspective, the middle relief guys (the ones that are only there for stream-ability) are the daily glue that keeps a lineup together.  Unlike hitters who get the spot start and we know pregame that they are in the lineup, inserting the correct reliever to help with K’s and ratios becomes a guessing game.  So we are still in draft mode and we can always go into the season with some idea of the guys in the middle relief core that don’t get the save love, but still are vital contributors to the fantasy community.  Their spotty appearances allow you to add innings with substantial K/9 value, and at a fraction of the innings price that streaming a starter would.  Because if there was a starter on the waiver wire that had a 12-plus K/9 rate, he would not be on the waiver wire. So adding to the sum total one inning at a time is a nice way to get a good chunk of strikeout and ratio help.  Granted that they don’t suck when they are in your lineup. My theory on in-season middle relief for leagues that don’t use Holds is this: Find two.  Fall in love with one (but don’t move in together) and promise the other you will call her all the while you are totally looking for that next best one the very second that the other pitcher pitches. I call it the “steady girl and grass is greener” theory. With the innings limit, and minimums upcoming for the Fantrax Razzball leagues, it is important to find middle relief that gives you some middle relief.  Roster one all the time, and always find a new fling on the horizon.  Here are some K/9 relievers that are late draft day boons to your fantasy roster from the jump. We are talking about the guys after Chad Green, Carl Edwards Jr., Chris Devenski and Dellin Betances are long off the board.

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Analyzing the Jefe’s work in the top-500 and finding things you disagree with is difficult business. Not many come at the king, unless summoned to do so, and survive the fall.  I almost feel like some kind of twilight zone GOT episode where instead of medieval type barbs, we argue over swinging strike percentage and spin rate.  Loser walks down Second Avenue to get the freshest matzo ball soup.  No matter, here I sit looking over Razzball Top-500 for 2018 to see where rankings may be off for the good and the bad.  For other positions it may be an easier exercise, as the rule of thumb with relievers and closers is SAGNOF and Grey’s rankings show that his approach to that acronym hold true.  Drafting closers to me is always a value-type drafting situation.  Don’t be last, but don’t be first scenario.  Unless the value is too deeming and obvious that when it’s time to jump, you ask how high.  The second rule of the reliever fight club is don’t get sucked into a run on closers.  Wait your turn and get value at other positions and than if you get stuck, SAGNOF is always in your back pocket. Every year the closer market is a fluctuating beast that tempts you with fruit and flowers to jump on the next hot waiver wire add.  So be patient in your closer endeavors and the stat will run its course as long as you stay proactive on the free agent market.  So here is my stab at the King and who is underrated and overrated in his eyes.

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The most important thing in fantasy baseball relief-dom in terms of holds is consistency.  Without consistency of opportunities, of placement in the bullpen, and a team’s consistent success in utilizing their bullpen to your fantasy advantage… you get left out out in the cold when it comes down to accumulating a stout holds based relief pitching corps. Until there is a shift in the utilization of bullpens for the benefit of fantasy, more so, the leagues that use the hold stat.  I will admit that I am more of an eye test person than a numbers guy.  Numbers scare me.  They prove too many things that don’t factor in the human error factor and the good ole eye test.  So against my better mental state, I used numbers from the past five years to show that the bullpens are being used more frequently.  Not just by some teams, but by all teams.  I know, duh.  This is something that we all eyed to be happening than Smokey goes in the opposite direction like a dyslexic salmon and gets some data to prove the incline of a stat that he holds so near and dear to his fantasy bear heart.  Well sit back, relax, it’s going to be a fun ride on the holds bus this week as we do some research and than put the top-50 relief pitchers into hold tiers.  Enjoy!

The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points!

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Now to finish out the positional rankings for 2018 with my favorite: the relievers!  I may have went a little crazy here, 3000 words on closers and one stat fellas is just bonkers to think about.  I could have just used “save potential” and “hard hit percentage in medium leverage situations” about 40 times in my rankings, but I didn’t.  Ranking relievers is an ever changing game of robbing Peter to pay Paul scenario.  There are always going to be injuries and attrition, which lead to relievers getting changed and making the preseason rankings look stupid in hindsight.  Last year there were 40 relievers that garnered 10 saves or more.  Now, if you are keeping track, there are still only 30 teams so my previous sentence about replacement value in relievers is very true.  That is why handcuffs and secondary bullpen pieces on draft day are important, not only for saves but to help your cranky ratios that creep up from day-to-day.  This ranking is just based on relievers with potential for saves and how they will stack up in that department.  Holds post will be something separate and should be forthcoming, though you sure as hell aren’t getting 3000 words on Holds because I’d rather blow my brains out.  Still love the Holds game as much as, or even more than any other fantasy writer, just gotta temper expectations as not many other sites give you so much bullpen love as we do.  So enjoy the rankings of 2018 fantasy relief pitchers.  (It says 50 but I went ahead and did a little extra.)  Enjoy!

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You shouldn’t have to read tea leaves or do a sneaky scroll down to see who I am talking about in this week’s closer report.  If you are new to this guessing game and word association type stuff, it is Brad Hand.  Why Brad Hand, I say why not?  I hear what you are all saying closers on losing teams are not that fantastic fantasy options, and for the most part you are right.  Because the stats behind that prove that… mostly,  But we can get into that a little later with handy-dandy stats and percentages and such.  So all Brad Hand did last year is basically his job, which in most instances gets you paid.  Which he just did by inking an extension this offseason.  The stats are all there for him to be a legit closer numero uno, with flair.  The flair that I am talking about is kinda like the buttons worn on suspenders at Shenanigans, but only with fantasy intrigue. He boasted a 11.8 K/9 rate last year, amassed 21 saves and 16 holds.  All stuff we can read on any fantasy bio sheet. Dig deeper though, and he does have a few kinks in the armor, namely a HR/FB rate that is not what you are looking for in a an elite closer, but he’s being drafted as a number two.  He falls just outside the elite though, because he is capped by being on the Padres and their expected win totals… or is he?

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As I sit here and awake from my winter’s hibernation, I search for and do only the essentials.  Gold chain, check.  I also tell myself that the transition from Fantasy Soccer to Fantasy Baseball will be as easy as riding a bike.  But you forget, I’m a bear.  Nonetheless, here we are fantasy folks and four female folkers.  Baseball 2018 is already in high gear with posts from the usual gaggle, and as always my contribution is at the back-end of ball games.  Namely saves, holds, and relief pitchers that have intrinsic mixed league value and individual league value heading into the draft stages of this new and bright year. So keeping it simple, I formed a chart that will be included it in every week’s post that will have the bullpen pictures of all MLB teams, updating it with every sleeper or bullpen post… because I am a giver.  That and who knows what will happen in the forthcoming weeks that may skew the dynamics of the bullpens around the fantasy world?  Once Grey starts doing his pitcher rankings, I will then drop my own rankings in  proper fashion.  Til then, sit back relax, ask questions about almost anything relating to bullpens or closers, as I will gladly be here as always for my ninth season here at Razzball.  So it is with pleasure that I can bring you the first bullpen related post of the year.  Individual closer and reliever posts are on the way. Enjoy!

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Much like the famous Doors song that shares it’s name, bullpens are drawing near.  (Minus the Oedipus complex that the song explores.)  I mean, it may… but that is gross and I don’t wanna associate my bullpen goodies to that.  Moving on, shall we?  This year has been the SAGNOF-fest that we always come to expect.  Closers up, closers down.  Trades and attrition.  It happens every single year and it is the reason why the waiver wire is what it is: So we can get the new third closer for the Twins.  The chase for saves never ends, well, I mean it ends for season-long leagues, but for dynasty and keeper leagues, the times never change.  Saves are a category.  A deeply hated and often cursed at category that will always be debated about.  Whether or not to invest earlier picks then normal to get a stud, or just fill in with hope-so’s and also rans.  There unfortunately is no right or wrong answer because both strategies work as long as you are a waiver goblin.  So with the final post of the year, much like the other years that I have done this, we look to next year…  This year’s counting stats and information don’t matter, we want to know what lies on the horizon. So let’s find out!

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Quick, grab a coin from your pocket.  Now hurl it in a river, and imagine it’s at someone in your office two cubicles away.  Now mid-flight, make a wish.  Get back to me in two-three days and let me know how it went.  This luck and wish game is much like the closer game.  We hope and pray that all is well, but at the end of the day, we only care about the accumulation.  This late in the season its all about the job.  Who is doing it and who isn’t, period.  The stalwarts are on cruise control into the final stretch of the season and are mostly on more winning teams than the teams that have situations that aren’t the most ideal.  Good bullpens usually equal good-to-moderately-good success in real life.  Much is the same with fantasy closer investment and going into next year if you struggled for saves this year.  Invest in teams that will have aspirations of playoff baseball.  The investment in drafting a round or two earlier than usual should pay off in the long run of the ever treacherous 180 days of fantasy baseball.  So with the season winding down, let’s see what is happening in the saves market around the game as we transition into fantasy football, basketball, hockey and SOCCER!

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Wanna take a guess at who the title is?  Anagrams are fun, and by fun, I mean about as fun as going to a baseball game and staying sober.  Since that first sentence merely took eight seconds to read, I would assume that your guess of Fernando Valenzuela was wrong.  The real answer is Amed Rosario.  I could have went with endless possibilities, but a “sore diorama” sounds like a science fair experiment gone wrong.  So onto the SAGNOF usefulness for the man that could have been “armoire soda,” but alas the diorama wins.  Over the last 15 games with the Mets on coast mode to losing, the question is: are they in a coasting mode for losing and futility?  Anyways, over his last 15 games, he has a .364 batting average, a .391 OBP, 7 runs, and the all important 3 steals.  He never exuded elite-type speed in the minors, maxing out at 19 across two levels this year and last.  So the speed could be blossoming like the ability to make pumpkin spice anything nowadays and have lonely single people furnish an entire apartment with it. With the season less than two weeks from finish, look high, look low, look Amed Rosario.

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I have said it here previously that grabbing relievers from a hot team or a team on a winning streak is usually a fantastic strategy from a holds perspective.  I really have said it multiple times, so my memory is better than your’s.  The Indians are in unprecedented territory as the team is in the midst of a win streak for the ages.  It seems like two Hatteberg’s and maybe half a David Justice ago that we remember the A’s had a win streak of twenty. But now the Indians are on their own 20-plus win streak.  Winning is a team effort, but Holds are what we care about in the Bullpen report.  The Indians Bullpen over the course of their win streak is just over a buck fitty, and that’s not what matters for this post.  The accumulation of goodies is what makes them all shiny.  The group of Bryan Shaw, Nick Goody, Tyler Olson and Joe Smith have totaled 20 holds over their last 20 games.  That total is just crazy, because since the all star break (which was 40 plus games ago) the have more holds than six teams do in total since said All Star break.  So investing in Cleveland for bullpen stuff is where it’s at currently.  Chase the win streak to aide in your pursuit of a Holds championship.  Let’s see what else is going down in the world of holds and bullpens…

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