I wish filling out your fantasy roster with middle relievers was as easy as plop-plop, fizz-fizz.  But I’m sure it isn’t, because not everyone is using the same model of success.  I can dig that, I mean, I come from a long line of Smokeys that like the art of shoveling.  Listen, I get it if you don’t wanna help your team-rates and ratios by adding guys that are stout in production for basically free at the end of your draft.  Streaming relievers is a real thing, I didn’t make it up.  It does exist, and it lives in the house between Nessy and Sasquatch.  It’s not for the faint of heart and is probably not for everyone.  It is about optimizing your free innings (very useful in RCL leagues that have games started limits, which everyone wants to win).  It’s a basic theory and the patent is pending, so stick around as I get into the art of streaming relievers. And as an added bonus, I have broken down the MR corps into four separate groups.  These groups are broken down by usefulness.  We have one for straight cuffs, one for rates and holds, a straight holds, and then some stone cold sleepers for you deep-leaguers.

So the art of streaming will be performed using the groups below.  It doesn’t require a ton of roster space, only two max.  That second spot, if done right with the right guys, will net you between 120-130 free innings of calculated RP stats by my estimation (and the use of round numbers for easy comprehension).  The average relief pitches 70 innings a year.  The guys you want to stream are the upper-part of that average and in-season trends will lead you in the right direction.  I will get into them during the year, but since you are here, they are appearances with the lead and Inherited Runners (IR) and Inherited Runners scored(IRS).  These two stats are prime indicators if a guy is going to take a dump on your stats.  So here is my theory and cheat below.  You are going to own one of the Cuff or K/9 (Man’s Best Friend) dominant group at all times, think Wade Davis/Andrew Miller last year.  Then basically add another guy from that same category (I listed 25) to start the season.  So Davis is the pivot and the other rostered guy is the swinging gate, think Jimmy Chipwood.  As soon as that guy pitches two consecutive days or a scheduled team off day, you switch to another of the group. Then rinse and repeat.  Best of all, all you need to do is read, because I will be providing weekly Closer Reports and Bullpen Reports.  And you can always slide over to Razzball Soccer and drop me a line there.

 

Cuffs

The cuffs are the macrame’d version of jean shorts, but in a closer type world.  These are the guys you want to draft when you get stiffed in a draft, or even the guys you should put on your watch list for future FAAB usage.

Andrew Miller

Ken Giles

Brett Cecil

Joakim Soria

Luke Gregerson

Jordan Walden

Bobby Parnell

Danny Farquhar

Kevin Quackenbush

Darren O’Day

Edward Mujica

Sergio Romo

Jason Motte

 

Man’s Best Friend

It’s the K/9 crew.  The best thing is you don’t have to feed it, walk it or clean up after it.  Just sit back and if your league allows, stream the piss out of this group.

Wade Davis

Will Smith

Tony Watson

Kevin Jepsen

Neil Ramirez

Jake Diekman

A.J. Ramos

Adam Ottavino

Pedro Strop

Nick Vincent

Rex Brothers

Jeurys Familia

Cam Bedrosian

 

Hold Me Now

Holds are basically the Thompson Twins of the fantasy stat community.  All that needs to be said is… So I’ll sing you a new song, please don’t cry anymore

Brad Ziegler

Joe Smith

Casey Fien

Pat Neshek

J.P. Howell

David Carpenter

Justin Wilson

Kelvin Herrera

Jason Grilli

Adam Warren

Zach Putnam

Tommy Hunter

Bryan Shaw

Jumbo Diaz

Zach Duke

 

Straight Sleepers

The Serta sleeper of hold format type stuff, do you feel comfortable…ehhh in a few months it will feel a whole lot better.

Aaron Barrett

Dominic Leone

Bruce Rondon

Christian Friedrich

Heath Hembree

Roman Mendez

Chasen Shreve

John Holdzkom

Sam Tuivailala

 

 

  1. Gray's Sports Almanac says:
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    Thanks Smokey! This is the list I have been waiting for so I can fill out my roster! Great work!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Gray’s Sports Almanac: Thanks will get more in depth as season gets closer, with updates and charts during year.

  2. Brian says:
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    Howdy folks,

    I’m looking to get a new league started with a live auction draft in San Francisco. I’ve never done an offline draft and think it will be a very fun league!

    If you are interested, please email [email protected]

    Thanks,
    Brian

  3. Smooch says:
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    No Boxberger?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Smooch: I have him penciled in as the closer until McGee gets healthy. He would be with Quackenbush and Farquhar in rankings.

  4. OldMilwaukeePounders says:
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    Thanks, Smokey. Awesome resource here as I have expressed before my shared love of middle relief as integral parts of team building. I look forward to your updates throughout the year.

    My league has holds and is essentially a 5×6 because of it, would drafting Miller/Davis give me the optimal mix of holds/ratios/ks? I know you mentioned Boxberger in a previous post, he is dope too, but is a Miller/Davis pairing be the “safest” bet for me?

    Thanks again!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @OldMilwaukeePounders: if you get them both at a good draft value there is no better place to start and for my money either Is the safest bet as a singular option but together they are like the wonder twins.

  5. Sideshow says:
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    Sounds like Doolittle is looking healthier. Would you make him a top 10 guy? 15?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Sideshow: top 15

  6. Dave says:
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    Cool column.

    16 team Keeper question.

    My Yadier Molina & Alex Wood for Starling Marte

    I have Rosario as a replacement catcher (long story….) so Yadier is expendable.

    My remaining SPs will be:

    Carrasco
    Wheeler
    Fister
    Iwakuma
    Hutchinson
    Aaron Sanchez (maybe if he makes the rotation)
    Paxton

    I’m tempted as my OF is a question mark (Betts, Melky, Choo, Cain, Souza) and I have Byrd and Hunter on the geriatric bench…. Feel like I could use a Marte….

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Dave: I think I would be looking for an OFwith more power personally, you have-3 guys that are similar skill level with HR’s

  7. Hey Smokey,

    Love the closer updates. Quick question: I have 3 closers in an AL only keeper league; Betances, Perkins, Feliz. Which one would you be shopping around?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Turd Ferguson: Feliz lower return, Perkins may et you a more useful piece

  8. KevinB says:
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    Thanks Smokey! I’ve been waiting for an article that addresses middle relievers. Middle have help my teams big time over the years.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @KevinB: My pleasure glad you enjoy them

  9. Great White North says:
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    Damn fine post to be used in my Saves + Holds league. Using middle relievers / setup guys in fantasy makes me feel like I can pretend to understand sabermetrics, or have the time to.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Great White North: yea I think we all pretend a little. Thanks.

  10. Regan says:
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    I’m leaning towards holding a core MR group of Davis & Miller and then streaming 2 others so i’ll always be rolling with 4. Pretty much how i use SP. Core of 3 and stream 1. The MRs make up for the 5th SP spot.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Regan: the more the better, 2 RP for every one starter is usually my theory as the only thing they don’t matchup well is innings pitched. But if you do it right the periphs are always in your favor in the long run

  11. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    even just after the intro i know how good this is gonna be.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: I guess it underachieved your expectations since you never commented again. Kicks rock

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Smokey: of course not, i just had things to do.

        • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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          @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: i was just happy you upped the RP rankings i wanted to say so right away.

  12. sport says:
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    Great read. I really enjoy your write ups. Do you have any strategy with these guys in yahoo leagues with 1400 inning caps? 5×5 roto. I try to get as many SO as possible but vulture g a few wins is handy. I would love to hear your strategy for yahoo.

    Thanks for all your time spent in research!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @sport: Thanks. I would invest in high value closers, don’t chase saves and waste innings there. For MR I wouldn’tr grab a guy that had less than 10 k/9 or higher.

  13. J-FOH says:
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    I saw the title and I thought about LT’s who have nice boobs.

    An LT are ladies that are 56ers (5’s and 6’s)

    In a dialogue it would go like this “Hows the bar tonight?” Just a bunch of LT’s” or a “Its a 56 night”

    Im way too bored at work right now

    oh and love the list, great division of usage

    I watched Hembree in the minors like a cyclops with a monocle last year when Romo struggled and Casilla was still on the DL. Then he got moved to Beantown and lost that K rate

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @J-FOH: Thanks, I gues an LT bar is better then a Walter Payton one. Hembree has a good spot though in Boston, no pressure right now but has the reserves to be something of a usable fantasy piece.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Smokey: Payton’s Place is a no no for me…unless its a slump busting night

  14. UL's Toothpick says:
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    The A’s’ Alvarez on your radar?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @UL’s Toothpick: to a lesser degree, A’s have a dearth of talent ahead of him. Cook, Otero, a helathy o’flaherty, Abad and the Clippard and Doolittle. If he was a lefty I could see him carving out a bigger role right away. He looks to me like a guy taht will need an injury or 2 to make an impact.

      • Baggiejohn says:
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        @Smokey: I think you mean a ‘wealth’ of talent … as a ‘dearth’ would be the opposite!

        Great article … love my middle relievers, as most of my Leagues include ‘Holds’ … it’s a great way to identify Closers in waiting, too! Boxberger, Andrew Miller and Ken Giles are ones I’m targetting late in Drafts this year

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @Baggiejohn: totally was typing on I phone, stuff doesn’t know what I am talking about

  15. Michael Bridges says:
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    God bless ya, Smokes! Great work.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Michael Bridges: thanks, but I didn’t sneeze

  16. mz510 says:
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    If you were in al-only, 5×5, h2h, 12tm, starting 2sp, 2rp, 3p

    how many relievers would you have?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @mz510: consistently 4 at all times. 2 closers, 2 bullpen guys. If bench allows and your not getting killed in SP categories possibly another

  17. Mac McMacinmac says:
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    Good times

    Who do you like better for a keeper?

    $15 Jansen or $5 Allen? $269, 14team, 5×5 roto.

  18. Dave F says:
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    Hey Smokey,

    Thanks for the article. How would you handle a league that 1) has a combined holds/saves category but only 4 roster spots max for closers/holds, 2) Has a 5 move/week limit, and 3) a 60 move yearly max?

    Would you look for more stability, and what would your balance between closers and setup men be?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Dave F: Get a top 5 closing option, his best handcuff option, try and focus on teams that would have a clear handcuff. Think STL with Rosenthal and Walden. A mid level closer, Cishek type, and then the top holds guy you can muster. I would devote a waiver for this once every other week maybe once every 15 games.

  19. Jax says:
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    Great stuff, Smokey!

    I’ve always wondered about implementing a strategy like this, constantly arguing with a friend of mine who is a fellow Razzballer, but never knew where to even start. I usually play the Yahoo! Pro Leagues, which are 12-team/H2H/Standard 5×5 formats. So, which group am i looking to score from? One each from Cuff and K/9, or two from either one of the group? Sorry if you mentioned this and I didn’t see this.

    Thanks!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Jax: Well if your not chasing saves get the best K/9 guys out there and stream from there. Pay attention to usage and appearances with the lead. Along with K’s.

  20. George Bell says:
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    Thoughts on Hunter Strickland for k/9?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @George Bell: high 9 ‘s low 10

  21. S>H says:
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    Great read smokey.

    I am in real need of a close. .All closers are taken in my league,and most good setup guys are gone since trading cost a lot, I am trying to get ahead of the curve.

    Who gets a higher chance to be a closer at the mlb level,the soonest,
    J.BarrettAri, A.Barrett, or Hembree,And who do you think will take over for Hawkins in Colorado when he fails, Brothers or Ottavino.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @S>H: colorado is muddled. Ottavino looks like the obvious guy but they signed Axford and still have Betancourt there lurking around. Look at Keone from Tex as well. If your going for a homer. Hembree, Jake then Aaron of the guys you lited though. Bigger list of guys would be more helpful if you need me further.

  22. S>H says:
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    Response from above.

    N.Burdi, J.Keller Bal., Lindgen but don’t know when he would get chances down the road. Do you see Bedrosian as the future closer in Anaheim,or RJ Alvarez in Oak. How about after Rodney’s end of day coming soon, and Nathan/Soria in Detroit and the future in Houston.

    Any help on top of what you have given me would be awesome, and perhaps prospects that I should target for a future closer role.

    Thanks again smokey.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @S>H: Bedrosian, Farquhar looks like immediate fix in Sea. I hev gone over the closer prospects in previous comments alot to list and I am planning a deeper look at future closers coming soon

  23. Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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    12 team dynasty with holds/saves/OBPA/K’s/HR against as pitcher stats.
    3 RP/2 P. big benches so absolutely no reason to have anything but 5 RP here.
    i have f-rod (NA currently, will switch with taillon when both taillon gets NA and F-Rod gets a team)/cecil/rodney/perkins/j.smith. There seem to be better options than j.smith on waivers. This ranking seem about right?
    farquar (since i own rodney he goes first)/walden are ranked higher, but should i keep smith over all of these if i miss on the first 2?
    j.peralta/carpenter/ziegler/herrera/shaw/diekman/fien/neshek/familia/dunn/strop/n.ramirez
    No add limits per week, and in 12 teamers you ain’t kidding about streaming after they’ve played 2 str days as the guys available is straight up crazy good compared to most other leagues i play in here.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo: your comments always hurt my eyes…lol. Rodney and Perkins are above Cecil. Rest look about right

      • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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        @Smokey: so keep smith over these (j.peralta/carpenter/ziegler/herrera/shaw/diekman/fien/neshek/familia/dunn/strop/n.ramirez) if i don’t get farquar or walden?

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo: yes, best option there. Fien andRamirez are intriguing as well

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