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!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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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There are two times of the year taxing comes about.  Once at the beginning of the fantasy baseball season for legal tax reasons, and then about now in September.  The Yankees seem to be flip-flopping useful relievers from one to another as they all seem to be getting worn.  So Aroldis Chapman with some wear and tear eased off his arm is going to be worked back into the clutch-save position for the Yanks.  Betances over the past 14 days has maintained his K/9 rate of over 15, but at the expense of his ERA (7.91), and his BB/9 rate has spiked all the way up to near 8 per 9.  That is the stuff that gets people fired or demoted.  (Which is exactly what is happening in his case.)  I can see him dropping to a lesser role for the next week or so and being used in less pivotal situations.  Allowing Robertson and Chad Green to show what they got in front of the flame-throwing Cuban.  Aroldis’ last 14 games have been a far improvement over his last 14.  Era was only 2.70, K/9 way below his standard at 10.80.  The bad department is that he hasn’t really been used too much.  So as he gets back on the bike in closer role and the season comes to an end soon, let’s see what else is going down in the world of saves…

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It is that time of the year my good fellows, that allegiances and brand loyalty are thrown out the window.  As stalwarts start to grow warts, and the season long compilers gather some moss.  Allegiances and growing to fond of your roster for Holds is what sets apart first place and the rest of the standings.  Who you roster on your team is your own business, but I am here to learn you something as the season long leaderboard for holds is kinda stale.  The overall season leader, Taylor Rogers, has 2 in the past two weeks.  It doesn’t get any prettier as you go down the top 5 either.  Nick Vincent has 1, Jacob Barnes has 1, Jose Ramirez has 2, and Pedro Baez has 2.  Not completely awe-inspiring returns for the top of the top for holds.  On the contrary, the leaders in the past 14 days: Kyle Barraclough, David Hernandez, and Tommy Hunter all have 5.  Far more significant returns for a reliever, and it brings me to my key point… Grab a hold and ditch, period.  The names that are garnering late game situations is growing rapidly and will increase even more once rosters expand.  This is the “what have you done for me lately” approach to hold accumulation down the stretch.  Yes, the guys you roster may be great at K/9 and BB/9 and have stellar WHIP totals etc, but when chasing the one key cog stat for set-up men, that being the hold, no allegiances should remain.

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It is that time of the year when usual bullpen scenarios start to rear their ugly heads.  The terms “falling back to earth” and “gassed” take hold of even the veteran of bullpens.  That seems to be the case in the rock pile in Colorado with Greg Holland.  Cruising along and then bam, that reliever wall hits.  Especially for someone of his ilk that is coming off a few lost seasons with arm woes.  I usually say 50 innings is about when we start seeing it, but that number varies by innings in previous years, pressure situations, and the leverage that those situations come with.  The unfortunate thing is that with Greg the last two are very prominent.  He is fourth in the league amongst relievers in pressure situations, fifth in pitching with the lead, and the last four games are an indicator that he may be spinning his wheels a bit.  Three blown saves in his last five appearances and only 2 saves since August started.  Not encouraging news for a team that is honing in or trying to hone in on a playoff spot.  The good thing for Holland owners is that he looks to be given some leash here, but with proven relievers with semi-reliable numbers behind him, like Jake McGee and Pat Neshek, the need for a cuff here is paramount as the fantasy playoffs and season winds down.  Every save counts when you start losing them from a reliable source.  That is the worst predicament when projecting out the rest of the year to see if you have enough horses to get you to the finish line.  McGee and then Neshek are the adds for a just in case situation as Holland could be given a breather for a day or three.  Let’s see what else is going down in the land after starters…

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