And the men who hold high places

Must be the ones who start

To mold a new reality

Closer to the heart

 

What? You didn’t know that Toronto-based prog rock band Rush were huge roto baseball fans? That song was released in 1977 — the same year the Toronto Blue Jays played their inaugural season. It’s actually about their love for under-appreciated closer Pete Vuckovich who saved 8 games for the blue birds that year. A lot of us have that same love for certain closers and when it comes to draft time we think with our hearts rather than our heads. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Holds Ain’t Got No Face! 

These poor schlubs. No one’s favorite player is a middle reliever. The middle reliever never gets the girl. The signed middle reliever rookie card never fetches more than a buck-fifty on eBay. 

Yet these working-class heroes continue to go out every day and grind away to bridge the gap between the billion-dollar, sexy starting pitchers and the dark, mysterious closers. 

So here’s to you Graeme Lloyd! Here’s to you Mark Eichhorn! Here’s to you Matt Thornton! And MY personal favorite player of all time — here’s to you Jeff Nelson! 

 

From a fantasy perspective, the middle reliever has been a non-factor since the beginning of roto baseball. In your standard 5×5 leagues there’s just no room for a player who barely contributes in any of the 5 pitching categories. However, after years and years of heart attacks from being forced to draft Fernando Rodney because they missed the closer runs — cardiologists have created a new fantasy category to prevent such cardiac conditions: saves + holds 

Below I’ve ranked the top-40 non-closers for saves + holds leagues. In true Kerry-fashion, I’ve manufactured my own ranking system. I’ve ranked these guys out into three categories: sv/hlds, limiting runs, and K/9 — the three categories that middle relievers can consistently help you in. Limiting runs is a combination of ERA and WHIP — basically, in one inning, a reliever needs to keep guys off the bases — and if there are already guys on the bases — keeping them from scoring runs. You know — like the job of every pitcher! 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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

I don’t pay much attention to Spring Training Statistics.  You never know who the statistics are coming against.  Baseball-Reference did, however, have an amazing tool last year that attempted to quantify the quality of opposing pitchers or batters faced during spring training games on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being MLB talent and 1-3 being high A to low A level.  This tool is great, but it averages all the Plate Appearances or batters faced.  You would still need a deeper dive to see if your stud prospect smacked a donger off of Chris Sale or off of your kid’s future pony league baseball coach.  So what should we watch for in March when we’re starved for the crack of the bat?  Ignore “best shape of their life” stories and Spring Training statistical leaderboards.  Pay attention to injuries and lineup construction and position battles!  Also pay attention to where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign… Note that those two signings can instantly eliminate some of the position battles detailed herein.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Can you imagine if Kevin Pillar (OF, Sprained Shoulder) played in Boston? Yeesh. Boston Radio would be the most unlistenable noise ever recorded. “You see dat catch by Kevin Pillah?! I almost friggen ran outta my pahlah!” Pillah is going to be out 4-6 weeks after injuring the area near his collarbone. Shame. His 19 HR+SBs were looking pretty good and I think there was a good chance his run production numbers would’ve gotten a boost if he got traded to a competitor. Stash or Trash: Stash. He was having a pretty good year so far and will be back to help you for your stretch run. Fill In: Kevin Kiermaier (8.4%.) “Wait Klug. You want me to replace one injured guy…with THE injured guy?” Yea I know, Kiermaier, Shmiermaier. “I don’t want to pick that clown up just to read about him in next week’s Ambulance Chasers!” I know it’s been a lost season for KK, but he’s hit safely in 9 of his last 11 games and has a HR and two SBs in that time as well. He’s got 10 HR/10 SB capability in the second half even though, yes, he also has DL-60 capability in the second half as well.

Please, blog, may I have some more?