The inter-webs may something different, but I am here to learn you that it is going to be a committee instead of what the searched answer may be.  It’s not looking fantastic for Trevor Rosenthal as he was pulled from the game on Wednesday with an injury and then sent home for further testing.  So that leaves a “collage” of relievers chirping to get a shot and maybe a re-emergence of Seung-Hwan Oh.  My guess is that it becomes a complete match-up based issue for their skipper Mike Matheny.  (Name that I wanna hone in on here is Tyler Lyons though.)  This, after all, is the bullpen report and he does, like the aforementioned names, pitch from the bullpen.  Lyons, over his last 14 appearances, which coincidentally is after the last earned run he allowed, has pitched to the tune of a 0.00 ERA, 18 K’s (good for a 14 K/9), and only has allowed 2 hits and 3 BB’s, good for 5 baserunners against 44 batters faced.  If you don’t have a calculator watch handy, that is a .032 batting average against.  So in laymen’s terms, he has been awesome.  It is the holds post for the week, so he had 5 of those to boot.  Hot teams, breed hot bullpens.  It is a fact.  Chasing holds, find a team that is over .600 in win percentage over the last 15 games and roster any guy that is in the pen that sees leverage situations.  Returns will come.  Advice and morale of the story given, now onto some other factoids of deliciousness for the week in bullpen/holds news.  Cheers!

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The trade deadline usually makes a real hash out of bullpens, and this year was no different.  Closers become just ordinary relievers.  Ordinary relievers become closers on teams punting.  Even further down, the holds through the obtuse guys now become a usable commodity.  Fantasy baseball with hold leagues, catch the spirit!  So like I was just saying, we have seen 5-6 teams rip apart their pecking order for hold-dom, and in some cases muddle up the closer order by trade, attrition, or subtraction.  This is a good thing, makes decisions easier.  Aim for guys on teams that are still getting you save opportunities. If you can’t find the stat, always fall back on the standings to guide your waiver wire hand.  Or even more finite, look at that teams W/L record over the last 10 games.  It is no coincidence that the top three teams in save opportunities since the All-Star break have winning records (Dodgers, Mariners, and Blue Jays).  Also, if you haven’t been streaming Holds yet this year, there is no better time than the present.  The list of holds leaders over the last 15 games is littered with names that weren’t even in print by me for the whole year.  So don’t be afraid to roster the unknown rather than a commodity because with the season basically over in six weeks (three if you have playoffs), every one counts and every H2H win counts.  Cheers!

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This is the best time of the year, next to when Shark Week is on TV.  All the movement in real baseball sends a ripple throughout the fantasy universe and in most position player cases, the player is owned to the moon or already a contributor.  Not so much in the realm of baseball’s forgotten warriors: the setup men.  As teams scramble for bullpen help, it creates an everlasting (not really forever) waterfall effect that resonates to the new and old team.  Take for example the Yankees/White Sox trade it has created job questions for five separate relievers: Betances, Robertson, Kahnle, Clippard and Swarzak.  Now with all the hype surrounding trade rumors, it is best to identify the team who gets the bullpen help first, than the trading team second.  Because the trading team usually is where the goodies are at.  Anthony Swarzak looks to be the biggest beneficiary in the setup options, and yes, Clippard will be closing, but Swarzak will be there when Clippard gets dealt again whether it’s before or after the non-waiver trade deadline.  So to summarize here, be speculative but not crazy.  Pay attention to the reliever deals in place and realize that some pitchers get moved down a few pegs, but on the reflexive, some move up. Have at some juicy reliever tidbits, Cheers!.

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Just when the ship couldn’t sink any lower, the Giants lost their closer for the second time this year.  When it happens once, sure… twice?  I have my doubts. Mark Melancon hit the DL with more arm ailments and received a PRP injection in his arm.  No, a PRP injection isn’t something that you search for on your go-to-p0rn site of choice.  It is never a good thing, especially for a scuffling team like the Giants.  They have already had attempts at the closer with Derek law, Hunter Strickland/ and now re-tread candidate Sam Dyson is thrown into the fray.  I mean, I am no Nostradamus here, but it doesn’t look good.  It’s almost like that 2:00 AM special when you stare across the bar and try to decide if it’s better then going home alone and revisiting that PRP search on that website of choice.  We saw earlier this year that Dyson is not to be trusted, granted that saves are saves are saves, but at what cost?  An inflated ERA and 1-2 save chances a week… maybe.  Hunter Strickland got the first save, but only because Dyson was plucked from the bullpen in 4-of-the-last-5. For a team that struggles to score runs, can’t keep the ball in the yard from a starting pitcher standpoint, and a bullpen with tons of failed attempts at a closer, the benefit just isn’t there.  So if you must, the order as of right now is: Dyson, Strickland, then Kontos.  But for a team with only 16 saves to show on the season, the chase is more exciting than the ownership.  Enough about the city of Rice-A-Roni, and onto the week in Holds and such!

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At some point, the bullpen levee is going to break for the Nationals.  Never in my fantasy existence have I seen such blahness, injury, and utter roster futility like I have seen with the first place Nats. I don’t know if they are lucky or good…  they have had six guys garner saves this year.  Already had three closers changes by injury or attrition, and are still collectively better than the sum of their parts.   They have the second worst bullpen ERA sitting in the low 5’s, allow the second highest BAA at .273, and have the worst OPS against.  Oh, and just for giggles, they have 11 blown saves.  So how are they doing it you may ask?  I haven’t the foggiest idea. But in a weird case of scenarios, the Twins are equally as bad in almost all the same categories.  Re-inventing the winning relief ways, I guess. What I do know is Enny Romero over the past 15 games has been the bull’s balls, or lack there of if you are into those kind of delicacies. After the rise and fall of Koda, the fluctuation of weight by Albers and the over-hyped value of Kelley being the wily veteran, Romero has stood out.  His K-rate is pushing 11 on the season and it’s even better over the past 15 games as it pushes 14.  This is the bullpen post, so relievers are what make my pants miraculously disappear and I love me the hold stat.  Enny Romero looks like the match-up proof guy that even Dusty can rely on until the relief relievers are acquired via trade.  So if you wanna capitalize on a winning team, which is a positive in hold searching, and need to zero in on a guy to maybe get a ton of high leverage situations, please go take a gander at Enny Romero.  So while you go search the waiver wire to see if he is available, stay here as we get some intimate details about late inning goodies…

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The season to date leader in holds heads to the DL and one of the better bullpens in baseball is in a tailspin… not so fast!  The Rockies have reliable arms that can cement games just as well as Adam Ottavino has done for the year.  With the likes of wily veterans in Mike Dunn, Chris Rusin, and even a little smattering of Jake McGee, the sedimentary bunch is going to attempt to hold down the fort. The comforting thing is that the Rockies lead MLB in holds as a pen, least amount of blown saves and have the most games pitching with a lead with 99 total.  The scary thing with the shoulder injury is that Ottavino is a stash, or a dash, and replace with new military holds parts made from recycled relievers.  Wait a week, see if the 10-day DL stint is a pain in the tuther end, and I can see if you need the space in Holds leagues, the move make sense.  I would most likely grab Dunn, Rusin, and McGee in that order, as the setup game in front of the Dutch Master is going to be pieced together differently than what we saw so far.  No need to panic though, there are tons of saves in the 6-8 innings to go around.  Speaking of which, let’s see what is going down in the neighborhood of hold-dom…

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What I particularly like about relievers is versatility.  The situation in San Diego is the one in particular I want to discuss.  We were all lured into the Carter Capps preseason love, and I was on the wagon driving the horses as well, but his injury and the results that we expected aren’t coming as fast as we hoped.  He isn’t bowling over anyone in the minors, sporting a 6-plus ERA, and the obnoxious K-rate hasn’t materialized.  Now onto the major league roster which isn’t lighting any fires.  They are second from the bottom in bullpen ERA, have only 12 holds on the year, and now their closer has hit the skids.  He being Brandon Maurer.  Enter who I think should, could be the next man up while we wait (forever) for Capps.  Brad Hand offers that former starter turned good.  I may just call him the Vigilante of holds and possibly saves very soon.  He has the K-rate, the BAA and the moxy to do the job… it is just a matter of if SD is ready to pull the trigger on something because Maurer looks cooked.  Regardless of his situation moving forward or your league perimeters, Hand is worthy for a spot because of speculation and the K’s that he will produce.  This is the bullpen report for this week, so let’s see what’s happening in the setup game and the hold chase…

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The biggest question I get regarding the Hold stat is: “How long should I hold onto a stud holds reliever if he isn’t getting the precious stat?”  Well, the stat is fluctuation between the sublime and the superfluous.  It is usually as explainable as binary calculus.  Take, for example, the story of the San Francisco Giants bullpen.  They have all the right pieces there to be a successful bullpen.  A stud closer and an excellent mix of RH and LH set-up men.  Now look closer at the stats.  Hunter Strickland is by all intents and purposes the 8th inning guy.  He has 12 appearances, 11 of which have come in the 8th inning or later in ball games.  He checks every other box for stats, low ERA, K/9 right about where you want it, but the inevitable stat faux pas is he has zero holds.  On a team that only has 9 holds collectively, what is going wrong?  He isn’t doing anything wrong, he isn’t vexed by a succubus or anything bad.  hell I bet he helps old ladies cross the street and then steals their groceries.   The simple answer is that the hold stat is an ever flowing team driven ideal.  Doesn’t mean I hate it, one bit.  i love the secondary save.  It just comes out of the blue sometimes and people who sometime deserve to be the beneficiary aren’t that’s all.  Hunter will finish the year with his share, but right now in holds leagues he is almost unownable.  So look elsewhere for good match-ups, good form in pitching, and the ever important stat with relievers is when did they pitch last.  That is the best determinant in acquiring a waiver wire darling.  If he pitched yesterday, odds are he won’t today.  Be smart as picking reliever for holds is a dumb game, don’t over-think it.  Here are some other deets, in the game of set-up…

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Even being 1/10th of the way through the season, it is never too early to see some trends forming.  The trends I am learning you about are the bullpen usage rates.  Not every team follows an A to B to C type formulas, and it would be nice, but usage rates in certain situations, even 15 games into the season, peak their heads out for fantasy usefulness.  The ancillary stats that no one really notices, and that I use all year, are runners inherited and appearances with the lead.  All key factors for what a reliever is and what they are at sustaining.  The inherited runners stat is a ruiner, not only for themselves but for the pitchers they are replacing.  Basically a sad trombone in the case of reliever sad trombones.  The appearances with the lead factor is what we all eat our Holds and gravy with.  It basically says that they are pitching with a lead, granted, holds are scored the same as a save.  So all that less than four runs runner on deck shenanigans that people made up for it to qualify.  So welcome to the first Holds/bullpens post of the year as we embark on a road far less traveled then it should.  Holds matter, regardless of color.

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This morning, I decided to look at my deepest NL-only league to see who the highest-ranked player who went undrafted was. It didn’t take long to find him: as of Tuesday morning, Anthony Senzatela was ranked as the eleventh most valuable pitcher in standard, mixed 5×5 fantasy baseball leagues. My NL–only league includes a fairly complex farm system as well, so it is beyond hard to find a diamond in the rough, since most minor league players with any decent prospect status at all were drafted years ago. It’s clear why Senzatela slipped through the cracks, though – he was a mid-level prospect at best, who entered spring training as a long shot to be part of a pitching rotation in the worst pitchers’ ballpark baseball has ever seen…

Will Senzatela still be the eleventh best pitcher in fantasy at the end of 2017? Uh, no. We’d have to expect some major bumps along the way even if half of his starts weren’t going to come at Coors Field. But he’s owned in just 20% of Yahoo leagues (21% of ESPN), which I think is too low. I am basing this almost entirely on the gut feeling I had while watching him pitch. In fantasy, upside can be overrated: just ask the Robert Stephenson owner in the league I mentioned above. Stephenson has been taking up a minor league spot on his owner’s roster for four years now. Even worse, now that he’s on the big club and his owner feels pot-committed to him, Stephenson and his 5.40 ERA are taking up a valuable active roster spot. There is no guarantee that even the highest-ranked prospects will even reach star status, either in real baseball or the fantasy variety. Taking a flyer on gut feeling won’t always work out either, and sometimes can be fairly disastrous, but it’s a risk that I think you need to take from time to time in a deep league. Otherwise, how will you ever find this year’s Junior Guerra — that guy whose past statistics make you absolutely sick to your stomach, but looks damn good on the mound every time you watch him pitch… and before you know it, has been a major contributor to the success of your single-league team.

Moving on to some other deeper-league names, starting with the AL…

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