Please see our player page for Brad Hand to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

We know spring training is fully underway when a bunch of arms break. We’re sure to see more as soreness becomes less general and more devastating to our early drafts. The four-tier format is back for our closer report. This week, pandemic foodstuff themed tiers. I’d laugh but for fear that might cause me to cough resulting in those nearby turning mob justice on me. Let’s get to some news and notes on the reliever front first.

  • Emmanuel Clase – He of the hardest cutter in baseball is starting his Cleveland career off on a sour note. A back strain will likely sideline him for 8-12 weeks. This opens the door for fellow reliever wunderkind James Karinchak to solidify a leverage role. If you want a job relieving for Cleveland just have a hard to spell name, throw gas, and be in your early 20’s.
  • Jose Alvarado – Don’t look now but Alvarado looks sharp as ever. But Roto-Wan, Nick Anderson is *the* it closer of draft season?!? I have no issue with Anderson’s stuff, just his role. He factors into their ninth inning, no doubt. Let me ask you this, though. He saved some games for them last year since they’re a team that’s the most progressive in leverage roles, right? No? Ok, well he came over from Miami, who’s bullpen was a collection of molding leftovers. He racked up a bunch of saves there, surely? How about one save. Well, at least he’s a young prospect? Turns 30 in June. I don’t mean to rain on your Nick Anderson parade, and by “don’t” I mean I do, but he’s far from a lock. I’m betting on Alvarado seeing some of their saves as the lefty side of a committee in every league I draft that uses RPs.
  • Brandon Kintzler – Things are not off to a great start this spring for the presumptive Marlins closer. Like, walking four straight batters bad. I’d consider a spec play on Ryne Stanek early on.
  • Ryan Helsley – I’m not the Helsley guy but some people I respect (see: Matt Thompson, Nick Pollack) have made it a point to draft the young Cardinal in the late rounds. Their ninth inning is a mess to predict, as usual. Helsley also has an outside shot at the rotation it seems, depending on the health of their assumed starters.
  • Trevor Rosenthal – Rosie is the latest zombie reliever. He’s always been able to light up radar guns. He just has zero command at times, as in most of the time. The command seems to be there this spring, however. KC would love to add any talent it can to baseball’s most mediocre bullpen.
  • Please, blog, may I have some more?

I kicked off the bullpen parade last week with the AL East. It’s a safe place for us reliever analysts with mostly secure jobs and quality arms. The tradeoff for that comfort is following it up with the AL Central. The odds are far better that all five of these projected closers will be changed out than none of them being replaced. There isn’t a ton of depth either. I suppose that’s what happens when you refuse to spend money. Let’s push through this muck like a swamp on dagobah and hope a little green man imparts us some wisdom in rearranged syntax. Did no one else take a hit of acid for this? Just me? Ok. Fire up the Rage Against the Machine and on to the pens.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Generally, when it comes to closers I’m not interested in blowing too much draft capital. There are two reasons why. First, closers lose their jobs so frequently—by virtue of injury, poor high-leverage performance in small samples, or trade deadline deals—that it’s not worth investing too much draft capital in them. Second, because so many lose their jobs, others will always be available on the waiver wire at various times throughout the season. Look no further than 2019’s top two closers who both lost their jobs: Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen. They not only lost the closer role, but they also wasted top-75 picks for their fantasy owners.

Recently, I took part in a mock draft where I selected three closers: Brad HandTaylor Rogers, and Ian Kennedy. I got them at picks 113, 176, and 224, respectively. After the draft, I wrote about my picks, which required me to research them in greater detail. And diving deeper into Hand, Rogers, and Kennedy only strengthened my resolve not to draft closers early.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The end of the 2019 fantasy baseball will be no easier than the rest of it. Pitching is imploding all around us. Do what you can to stem the tide of disaster and consider an effective middle reliever over a volatile starter.

  • The Brad Hand saga continues. More positivity from the team (shocker!) as they say Hand “looked like himself” in a bullpen session. I guess that’s better than looking like Willie McGee? We’re still locked in the downward spiral of news, shaky outing, rest, repeat. The bullpen usage in Cleveland hasn’t sent any clear message about saves in Hand’s stead. Oliver Perez earned a save of the one out variety while Nick Wittgren is getting used in leverage spots but not getting the final out. Call ups James Karinchak and James Hoyt are also in the mix with Nick Goody and Adam Cimber as other possibilities. Fun times.
  • Turns out Felipe Vasquez is an asshole and a pedophile. Can’t say it was nice knowing you. Enjoy federal pound me in the ass prison. As for the shipwreck that is the Pirates Keona Kela is the lead candidate to close given his stuff and closing experience. Richard Rodriguez could see the ninth if Kela is shaky or gets hurt, as he tends to do.
  • Kenley Jansen blew his eighth save, just after a stretch of solid outings. The Dodgers seem to be committed to him as their closer and want him to get right for the postseason. When you thrive with only an elite cutter the end comes fast when the pitch loses some bite. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jansen retire this offseason when you consider his 2018 heart issue.
  • Matt McGill returned to the head of the closer committee in Seattle notching his fifth save Wednesday. He’s the favorite to finish as their primary closer if he remains healthy.
  • We all roasted the Brewers for acquiring Drew Pomeranz. Who’s laughing now? He’s been an excellent reliever and just picked up his second save. Only having to face batters once clearly suits him with 36 Ks in 21.1 IP.
  • Hunter Harvey is being shut down for the rest of the season with bicep soreness. File his name away as a late dart in the 2020 saves chase.
  • Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The ones that don’t draft pitching early. The Muslim Mrs. Garretts. The Yu’s that we saw in the 2nd half. The ones that see things differently and not simply the ones who are holding drinking glasses up to their face to make googly eyes. They’re not fond of the rules like:  Don’t wear sweatpants every day. And they have no respect for the status quo, because they’ve checked out every time someone defined “status quo” for them. They held onto Yu Darvish (6 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 14 Ks, ERA at 3.97) all 1st half and were rewarded nicely. Unless he’s just on a team that started checking out fantasy football in June. Back in July, Coolwhip wrote, “I’m not prepared just yet to say he’s back back, but it’s looking like he’s finding his way back. I’ll call him a tentative buy for now, while advising to keep an eye on his walks and I’ll be watching his velocity and arm slot. In fact, I just picked him up where I could to see what happens.” Hashtag nailed it. Prior to that, Darvish had a 5.01 ERA.  Since then, 2.44 ERA in 66 1/3 IP. The fix, as we all know by now, he’s stopped walking everyone. His season-long peripherals 11.2 K/9, 3 BB/9, 4.39 FIP are sweet, but his 2nd half peripherals are legendary, and some of the best in baseball — 12.6 K/9, 0.8 BB/9, 3.20 FIP. For 2020, the thought of getting anywhere close to Darvish’s 2nd half has me, not only interested in him, but thinking he could be a steal as a number two fantasy starter. Yu might think I’m crazy, but the crazy ones change the world, or at least do well sometimes in their leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Jose Berrios continued his 2nd half slide, going 5 IP, 6 ER, ERA at 3.78. His ERA in the 2nd half is 5.37. That’s…uh, what do I call this, thesaurus? Synonymous Rex? No, I’m asking for another word for bad, not for another word for thesaurus. Ooh..What’s this, an ad for a thesaurus film festival? Pulp Fabrication followed by Schindler’s Menu? Very provocative! Saw recently at another site an article dated late-June for how Berrios could be the AL Cy Young.  *makes Michael Scott grimace face* His BABIP in the 2nd half is .354 (up from .276) and his LOB% plummeted to 66% (from 78.3%), while his Ks skyrocketed to 10.2 K/9 (from 8), and his walks went the wrong way too, which is up from 1.8 to 3.3 BB/9. It’s simplistic to say he’s missing out of the zone. Which is why I’m going to say he’s also missing in the zone. He’s throwing everything either off the plate or dead center. This all feels fixable for 2020, but there’s no time left and you need to move on in shallower leagues. Now, excuse me, I’m going to take in The Shawshank Refunding and Batfellow in a twin picture show. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What a disaster major league pitching has been this year. With the juiced ball on top of mounting injuries, we’re all plugging holes faster than Captain Ahab. If you’re in good shape in your pitching categories I recommend a conservative approach using a stopgap reliever until you can sort out something more permanent. Protect those ratios, maybe grab a few strikeouts, and figure out your fringe solution on your bench.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So, when does Brendan McKay come up to replace an Ineffective Listed Blake Snell?  Ton of people asking about McKay, so I’ll go over him briefly, because I have nothing else to do but service you.  I am a mere vessel for your wants and dreams. Bit like the Flowbee if you need a haircut.  Prospect Mike just went over McKay in his last post.  McKay is the Rays’ Ohtani.  Though if hitting and pitching made Ohtani a unicorn, I’m not sure what that makes McKay.  A Loch Ness Monster?  Seen more often, but just as imaginary?  McKay’s likely headed for a Middler role in Tampa, and maybe some at-bats.  His arm excites me more than his bat, he could have a 9+ K/9 and always has insane command (2 BB/9), but Jalen White Clarence Beeks or Brendan McKay?  Meh, I don’t think there’s that much of a difference.  Guess McKay has more upside, and love how he sounds like what a dad would call a character on 90210 back in the 90s.  Why do we even care about McKay?  Have you seen Blake Snell (3 1/3 IP, 7 ER, ERA at 5.01)?  If you have, send him back to replace the stunt double who is wearing his jersey.  “I thought when they said ‘changeup,’ they meant a changeup from pitching well, so I started pitching like garbage.”  That’s Blake Snell addressing dozens of crying Rays fans.  I know no one wants to hear this right now, but Snell doesn’t appear to be pitching poorly; he’s having atrocious luck.  Like if a ball is hit right at a fielder, a squirrel grabs the ball and throws it into the outfield for a double.  He could be a buy low, as long as he’s not hiding an injury, real or fake.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome to part two of my four-part #2EarlyMocks draft series. If you’re looking for part one you can find it here: 2EarlyMock Draft Part 1. In part one, we covered the sexy rounds — one through seven. Not too many risks or reaches in those rounds, you grab your studs and stars and reap the rewards. But in rounds eight through 14 is where owners are starting to take risks and grab their sleepers, rookies and potential bounce back players. I’ll be comparing the draft position of these players during this draft to their cumulative ADP on Fantasy Pros. This cumulative ADP includes the 288 players from ESPN’s ADP, the 999 players from Fantrax’s ADP plus data from CBS, Yahoo, RT Sports and NFBC draft results. Let’s get right into it:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The story of German Marquez isn’t one they tell you in your parochial schools.  It’s an ugly story punctuated with cowardice and the worst atrocities in history.  You’d think if a family emigrated from 1940’s Germany they would’ve had the common decency to not name their child German.   Also, his father claiming to be an appliance repairman who specializes in ovens is disgusting.  The last straw was when his family tried to claim sauerkraut was good in tacos.  Shame on you!  What’s less shameful is how he’s pitched in the 2nd half.  He now has a 2.64 ERA in the 2nd half in 68 1/3 IP, and his peripherals on the year are gorgeous — 10.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.21 xFIP.  He’s doing it with newfound success in his slider, which he throws 15% of the time. That slider is top 15 in the majors, and is supported with a 95 MPH fastball.  In other words, this breakout appears real.  Last night, he went 7 IP, 1 ER, 7 baserunners, 11 Ks, ERA at 3.94, and I see no reason to not start him in any matchup, even in Coors.  Or Löwenbräu as he calls it.  Disgraceful!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?