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Let’s set our baseline for the closer hierarchy as spring evolves. There hasn’t been that much in the way of news and Craig Kimbrel remains unsigned. He’s therefore unranked. If he signs he goes in the top tier. I shoveled snow this morning, so you’re getting winter weather themed tiers.

  • One guy I’m coming back around on is Archie Bradley. He dealt with a fingernail issue last season that sapped some bite from his curveball. He recently said, “I’m throwing some hammers this year. I’m going to have one of the best curveballs in the big leagues.”
  • I’m coming around on Matt Barnes. He should have the inside track to that job as the veteran.
  • People are paying too much for Pedro Strop in my eyes. There’s almost no chance he has that job to himself all year.
  • I’d be cautious on Jordan Hicks and Andrew Miller. With Carlos Martinez nursing an arm issue he might be moving into the pen.
  • Some of the best pens to speculate on for early saves are going to be the Twins, Rays, and Mariners. All three team will be competitive. If someone takes the job and runs with it they’re a league winner.
  • Please, blog, may I have some more?

NL West | NL Central | NL East || AL West | AL Central | AL East

As the resident save chaser, I feel it’s my duty to give you some names that you maybe don’t expect to get shots at saves this year. Bullpen’s are more volatile than the fake friendships on the Real Housewives programs my wife watches to get back at me for monopolizing the TV during the NFL season. I did this exercise last spring and Wily Peralta was in there. I almost didn’t publish it after including him, if that gives you an idea of what we’re dealing with here. I’m not talking the closer in waiting or guy that got 30 saves two seasons ago. I’m going to do my best to write a name so repulsive you consider never reading my column again. We’ll go division by division, starting with the NL East.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The hot stove has been bubbling this winter, mostly thanks to Jerry Dipoto. Bullpen arms tend not to rank all that high in offseason coverage, so I cobbled together the notable moves for your reading pleasure. I know, I know, you’re thinking seriously ‘Wan, I’m not anywhere near the state of mind you need to think about the saves chase. There’s no rest for the closing wicked when it comes to the bullpen landscape, I’m afraid.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The past week has been an eventful one for bullpens. A whole slew of committees has emerged. Injured guys have returned. A couple challengers have even been thrown back into the muck of non-ninth inning pitching. The most notable of the returning closers was Sean Doolittle. He’s really settled in as the closer for Washington and they have been very comfortable with him there. Most of us dislike seeing the doctor and opponents of the Nationals are no different. Hopefully, you’ve received an infusion of save opps as you look to close out the 2018 season. If not, SAGNOF at will.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Teams with playoff aspirations are setting their bullpen roles for October. Guys like Johnny Venters have gained a ton of value in holds leagues. Who can you trust for high leverage roles? Let’s jump in and see.

  • With the veteran arms Oakland brought in struggling, Lou Trivino has reemerged as a daily threat to get a hold. The A’s gained faith in him through the first half. He’s back in the circle of trust with nice Ks and ratios. It helps that he pitches for a competitive team.
  • A rogue save went to Ryan Pressly when Roberto Osuna and Hector Rondon were unavailable. That illustrates the faith A.J. Hinch has in him. Pressly has as many holds (7) as anyone the last 30.
  • As a 28-year-old journeyman reliever, there were not many expectations for Richard Rodriguez coming into the season. He didn’t make the big league roster. Ray Searage saw something and turned Rodriguez into his latest reclamation project. To quote Searage on Rodriguez even demeanor, “Maybe because he’s been punched in the face so many times that he says, ‘What the hell, what do I have to lose?’” He certainly hasn’t lost the strike zone with a double-digit K/9 this season, 18 K/9 the last 14 days. When in doubt, bet on a Searage project.
  • Brad Ziegler has thrown his name into the HAGNOF circle. With the Diamondbacks having ninth-inning issues, he could be a SAGNOF candidate soon, too.
  • Apparently, the Braves also acquired a time machine in addition to Johnny Venters. He’s slotted right back into his old role in the Atlanta pen and chalking up holds at a stellar rate. You won’t get many Ks from him these days, but the ratios don’t hurt.
  • Your weekly update on the Cleveland closer see-saw is that Allen got a couple saves this week. I still think he’s more likely to see a hold than save, but it’s a coin flip.

Below you’ll find notable SVH performers…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We’re inside the final month of your fantasy baseball seasons. Hopefully you’re in contention for some titles and payouts. Who to trust for saves matters down the stretch. Don’t let a brain freeze drop you in the standings. Also keep an eye out for shifting roles in places like Minnesota, Cleveland, or San Francisco. The Brad Hand types could make or break your stretch run depending on what inning their manager calls on them.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Count me among those who think we should put the save out to pasture. If you’re interested in holds, you clearly play in a superior league. There’s such a minimal difference between a save and a hold, that they should be treated equally for fantasy purposes in my book. Pat yourself on the fantasy back for being an elevated fake sports mind. We’re looking for reliable roles in high leverage situations. Plus strikeout rates and friendly ratios help, too. Below is a table that includes those opportunities. A few of the more notable middle relievers below, as well.

Please, blog, may I have some more?