What’s poppin’, Razzpimples?

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Let’s do it to it.

I decided to go a little different route this week. Get my Laura Holt on and spin something for you deep league or AL/NL-only league folks. And I’ve got saves+holds on the brain, too. If you’re a standard-leaguer, this week’s column may not be for you. That’s okay. I still love you. For the rest of y’all, given some injury shake-ups and whatnot, some guys who may not have been on your radar at all maybe now be in a position to help you. I’m also just tossing out some names for 7th/6th-inning guys on some teams. Guys who are overshadowed by their 8th-inning teammates but who can also provide good value in deeper formats. There’s no particular order whatsoever to the names below. Jotted them down as they came to me, and it’s by no means an exhaustive list. So here we are!

Chad Green and Tim Mayza are first up. Cheating by using a duo to kick things off. Whatever. Green used to be a monster for the Yankees, and then injuries. Yadda yadda, long story short, he’s with Toronto now, and while his spring numbers are eye-popping in a bad way, you could just ignore the bad like I do and look at the good: 11:1 K:BB in 7.2 IP. Since Romano and Swanson will almost definitely start on the IL, I figure Yimi is the primary saves guy, but it could be Green or Mayza being the primary setup man depending on matchup. Green being the righty and Mayza being the lefty. Mayza was superb last year, compiling a 1.52 ERA en route to 22 HLD.

Danny Coulombe is actually better than Yennier Cano. Heard it here first. Cano was the shiny gem last year and gobbled holds, but Coulombe has better stuff and underlying metrics. I think Cano will be good enough to keep his 8th-inning gig all year and be the better fantasy asset, though I do think Coulombe has the better year IRL. I really don’t put much stock in Spring numbers, though one guy is clearly doing better than the other, and it’s not the one you drafted (but you should still feel just fine if you drafted him. I ranked him pretty high).

Steven Okert stands to see more holds now that Duran is out, which in turn paves the way for Jax/Stewart to see save chances. Okert’s southpaw-ness is in his favor as well. Plus, he’s just pretty darn good at pitching. Rocking a 12:2 K:BB so far in just 8.1 spring innings. Which again, I don’t put too much stock into ST numbers, but you gotta love a good K:BB ratio in any setting. The hits and runs are whatever. Guys are usually just tinkering with grips and release points, especially if their role is already set in stone. But no matter the scenario, a 12:2 K:BB looks nice. Duran is likely missing a month+ of action, so Okert should be a good early holds source.

Jordan Leasure has made the Opening Day roster for the White Sox. Throughout the minors, the 25-yr-old has always flashed dazzling strikeout stuff. Last year he pitched some in Double-A and Triple-A and was north of 35 K% in both. This spring, he’s struck out 11 to four walks in 9.1 IP, boasting a 19.6 SwStr% along the way. Can’t ignore the upside here, even if it’s with the crappy ChiSox. He’s got the chops to surpass everyone except maybe Kopech back there. Maybe even Kopech himself! Though I think RP Kopech is gonna do better than SP Kopech.

Ian Hamilton could very well ninja sneak his way into being a holds badass in 2024. With 8.1 spring innings to his name as well, he’s doing an even better job than Okert has been: 1 H, 2 BB, and 13 K, all while allowing no runs. Hamilton pitched 58 innings for the Yanks last year and did a very fine job. Only amounted to 7 SVHD though. This year, he might be in line for more consistent late-inning usage, especially since Tommy Kahnle should start the year on the IL. Johnny Loaisiga is still a thing, but his health is a huge risk as well, and also he’s not gonna pitch on consecutive days most likely since he’ll be a bulk-IP kinda guy.

Caleb Ferguson also could figure into the late-inning mix for the Yankees. He certainly did well for the Dodgers last year. As the best lefty in that pen, consistent high-leverage looks are well within reason.

Alex Vesia has Ferguson’s departure to thank for a possible 2024 rebound. I’ve been on the Vesia train for a long time now. I’m choosing to believe 2024 is the year. His second half of 2023 was quite good, buuut I’ll admit he had a fair dose of non-high-leverage work overall in 2023. Still amassed 10 SVHD to just one blown save. Even set a career-high in BB%. Am I crazy confident in him? Does a bear actually wipe its ass with Charmin? But also does a bear shit in the woods?

Tanner Rainey used to be the closer for the Nationals. Remember that? Got two dudes ahead of him now, but he still remains at worst a 7th-inning option. Won’t lie, spring has been ugly. More walks than strikeouts and also more hits allowed than strikeouts lol. But still! Who else they got? This is a dude who’s already locked into his role. ST don’t matter for the likes of him. I don’t think his heyday 42.7 K% of 2020 will be what we get, but I expect, health permitting, a year no worse than what Kyle Finnegan is gonna give us, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 HLD?

Miguel Castro should see a bump in late-inning work now that Paul Sewald is shelved with an oblique injury. And I just like his stuff better than Scott McGough’s, so I’m gonna shout him out and leave McGough in the dark. Castro was one of the league’s best at not getting hit hard, while McGough was damn near the very worst.

Andrew Kittredge could shine for the Cardinals in 2024. His peak Rays days were fantastic. If he finds that magic again, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he ousts Gallegos as the 8th-inning guy. It’s hard to predict what we might get, though, since we’ve only seen him for a combined 31.2 IP in 2022 and 2023. But you can bet the Cards fan in me is manifesting the guy who beasted for Tampa in 2021 and 2022 with a combined line of 91.2 IP, 70 H, 22 ER, 17 BB, and 91 K. Translates to a 2.16 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.

Ryne Stanek and Gabe Speier come as a package deal for now. We know Gregory Santos won’t be ready for a good while, and I just don’t see Matt Brash making it happen at first. We still haven’t seen him actually pitch, and if there’s any kind of setback then his timeline is pushed back even farther. Stanek has had setup success in his career back in his Houston days, while Speier remains the lefty specialist for the M’s. The latter collected 17 HLD and 1 SV in 2023. He should just straight up be on your deep league radar anyway, but especially more so with the two big guys ahead of him battling injuries.

Adam Cimber saw a decent amount of holds come his way when with Toronto, and now with the Angels he might get some more. Robert Stephenson is most likely gonna be on the IL, leaving Matt Moore next in line for 8th-inning work. That probably means the 7th goes to Cimber on most days. Jose Soriano is being stretched out to be a starter, and Ben Joyce is having a doo doo spring. For a guy like Joyce, who only has 10 innings to his big-league belt, a doo doo spring means a lil sumpin.

While everyone else has their goo goo eyes on Mason Miller, I’m over here drafting Dany Jimenez for saves. And I figure he’s also just a solid SVHD guy throughout. Not great, cuz I mean it’s the A’s, but still. We’re talking deep leagues or AL-only here. Also keep Lucas Erceg on the ol’ radar. Trevor Gott is done for the year, so it’ll be Jimenez/Miller/Erceg running the high-leverage show.

Wandy Peralta is last but certainly not least. Already even has a hold to his name in 2024 from the Seoul Series. I’ve noted a time or two this preseason that he’s making a fair chunk of change and is thus likely to see pretty consistent later-inning work. Suarez and Matsui are definitely ahead of him, but then after that no one else is. He’s had two straight seasons of a sub-3.00 ERA and has always been one of the very best at not getting hit hard. If you don’t get hit hard and have a good Whiff% like he does, good things are on the horizon more often than not.


That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading. Leave me a comment below so I feel all warm and fuzzy.

I specialize in bullpens, and I also do some fantasy hockey as well here at Razzball. Find me on Elon’s Disaster: @jkj0787. DMs are always open for questions, comments, concerns, complaints, etc. Odds are good I’m drinking black coffee, dark beer, or some form of bourbon at any given time of day.