Now to finish out the positional rankings for 2018 with my favorite: the relievers!  I may have went a little crazy here, 3000 words on closers and one stat fellas is just bonkers to think about.  I could have just used “save potential” and “hard hit percentage in medium leverage situations” about 40 times in my rankings, but I didn’t.  Ranking relievers is an ever changing game of robbing Peter to pay Paul scenario.  There are always going to be injuries and attrition, which lead to relievers getting changed and making the preseason rankings look stupid in hindsight.  Last year there were 40 relievers that garnered 10 saves or more.  Now, if you are keeping track, there are still only 30 teams so my previous sentence about replacement value in relievers is very true.  That is why handcuffs and secondary bullpen pieces on draft day are important, not only for saves but to help your cranky ratios that creep up from day-to-day.  This ranking is just based on relievers with potential for saves and how they will stack up in that department.  Holds post will be something separate and should be forthcoming, though you sure as hell aren’t getting 3000 words on Holds because I’d rather blow my brains out.  Still love the Holds game as much as, or even more than any other fantasy writer, just gotta temper expectations as not many other sites give you so much bullpen love as we do.  So enjoy the rankings of 2018 fantasy relief pitchers.  (It says 50 but I went ahead and did a little extra.)  Enjoy!

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As I sit here and awake from my winter’s hibernation, I search for and do only the essentials.  Gold chain, check.  I also tell myself that the transition from Fantasy Soccer to Fantasy Baseball will be as easy as riding a bike.  But you forget, I’m a bear.  Nonetheless, here we are fantasy folks and four female folkers.  Baseball 2018 is already in high gear with posts from the usual gaggle, and as always my contribution is at the back-end of ball games.  Namely saves, holds, and relief pitchers that have intrinsic mixed league value and individual league value heading into the draft stages of this new and bright year. So keeping it simple, I formed a chart that will be included it in every week’s post that will have the bullpen pictures of all MLB teams, updating it with every sleeper or bullpen post… because I am a giver.  That and who knows what will happen in the forthcoming weeks that may skew the dynamics of the bullpens around the fantasy world?  Once Grey starts doing his pitcher rankings, I will then drop my own rankings in  proper fashion.  Til then, sit back relax, ask questions about almost anything relating to bullpens or closers, as I will gladly be here as always for my ninth season here at Razzball.  So it is with pleasure that I can bring you the first bullpen related post of the year.  Individual closer and reliever posts are on the way. Enjoy!

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Much like the famous Doors song that shares it’s name, bullpens are drawing near.  (Minus the Oedipus complex that the song explores.)  I mean, it may… but that is gross and I don’t wanna associate my bullpen goodies to that.  Moving on, shall we?  This year has been the SAGNOF-fest that we always come to expect.  Closers up, closers down.  Trades and attrition.  It happens every single year and it is the reason why the waiver wire is what it is: So we can get the new third closer for the Twins.  The chase for saves never ends, well, I mean it ends for season-long leagues, but for dynasty and keeper leagues, the times never change.  Saves are a category.  A deeply hated and often cursed at category that will always be debated about.  Whether or not to invest earlier picks then normal to get a stud, or just fill in with hope-so’s and also rans.  There unfortunately is no right or wrong answer because both strategies work as long as you are a waiver goblin.  So with the final post of the year, much like the other years that I have done this, we look to next year…  This year’s counting stats and information don’t matter, we want to know what lies on the horizon. So let’s find out!

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Quick, grab a coin from your pocket.  Now hurl it in a river, and imagine it’s at someone in your office two cubicles away.  Now mid-flight, make a wish.  Get back to me in two-three days and let me know how it went.  This luck and wish game is much like the closer game.  We hope and pray that all is well, but at the end of the day, we only care about the accumulation.  This late in the season its all about the job.  Who is doing it and who isn’t, period.  The stalwarts are on cruise control into the final stretch of the season and are mostly on more winning teams than the teams that have situations that aren’t the most ideal.  Good bullpens usually equal good-to-moderately-good success in real life.  Much is the same with fantasy closer investment and going into next year if you struggled for saves this year.  Invest in teams that will have aspirations of playoff baseball.  The investment in drafting a round or two earlier than usual should pay off in the long run of the ever treacherous 180 days of fantasy baseball.  So with the season winding down, let’s see what is happening in the saves market around the game as we transition into fantasy football, basketball, hockey and SOCCER!

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There are two times of the year taxing comes about.  Once at the beginning of the fantasy baseball season for legal tax reasons, and then about now in September.  The Yankees seem to be flip-flopping useful relievers from one to another as they all seem to be getting worn.  So Aroldis Chapman with some wear and tear eased off his arm is going to be worked back into the clutch-save position for the Yanks.  Betances over the past 14 days has maintained his K/9 rate of over 15, but at the expense of his ERA (7.91), and his BB/9 rate has spiked all the way up to near 8 per 9.  That is the stuff that gets people fired or demoted.  (Which is exactly what is happening in his case.)  I can see him dropping to a lesser role for the next week or so and being used in less pivotal situations.  Allowing Robertson and Chad Green to show what they got in front of the flame-throwing Cuban.  Aroldis’ last 14 games have been a far improvement over his last 14.  Era was only 2.70, K/9 way below his standard at 10.80.  The bad department is that he hasn’t really been used too much.  So as he gets back on the bike in closer role and the season comes to an end soon, let’s see what else is going down in the world of saves…

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It is that time of the year when usual bullpen scenarios start to rear their ugly heads.  The terms “falling back to earth” and “gassed” take hold of even the veteran of bullpens.  That seems to be the case in the rock pile in Colorado with Greg Holland.  Cruising along and then bam, that reliever wall hits.  Especially for someone of his ilk that is coming off a few lost seasons with arm woes.  I usually say 50 innings is about when we start seeing it, but that number varies by innings in previous years, pressure situations, and the leverage that those situations come with.  The unfortunate thing is that with Greg the last two are very prominent.  He is fourth in the league amongst relievers in pressure situations, fifth in pitching with the lead, and the last four games are an indicator that he may be spinning his wheels a bit.  Three blown saves in his last five appearances and only 2 saves since August started.  Not encouraging news for a team that is honing in or trying to hone in on a playoff spot.  The good thing for Holland owners is that he looks to be given some leash here, but with proven relievers with semi-reliable numbers behind him, like Jake McGee and Pat Neshek, the need for a cuff here is paramount as the fantasy playoffs and season winds down.  Every save counts when you start losing them from a reliable source.  That is the worst predicament when projecting out the rest of the year to see if you have enough horses to get you to the finish line.  McGee and then Neshek are the adds for a just in case situation as Holland could be given a breather for a day or three.  Let’s see what else is going down in the land after starters…

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When I write titles like this, often times I say to myself: Do I need to extrapolate on the actuality of the point that I am trying to convey?  Fortunately for you I am going to be all basic with knowledge this week because it is pretty cut and dry.  Are you winning saves?  How much are you winning saves by?  If yes for the first question and over 20 for the second, be like Billy Ray and sell.  Do not liquidate all your assets, just slim down your roster to a smattering of usefulness instead of a hoard.  Find a culprit who maybe chasing second, third or even fourth.  My reasoning for this and why you should do it now is that before people realize that there is no hope in dope or chasing saves when you can’t make them up… they will lose interest and they will have zero trade value.  Don’t get stuck holding a struggling middle/upper closer when you can reinvest that in a bat that can make up a stat other than just one.  Today’s moral is:  sell saves, be aware that your return may not be as great as expected, but it’s better then dumping them to the waiver wire for nothing.

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The deadline is right around the corner, I know this because it said it would be right back and asked me to watch it’s dog while it shuffled up all the bullpen stuff that I just took the time to write out.  The trade deadline is a mischievous beast, he will lure you with rumors and a weird one-windowed van and leave you out of the loop when it comes to bullpens.  Contenders don’t care, they will have 2-3 closers or former closers on the roster… greedy is what I say.  But I am still looking at situations in flux because I have no life.  Scouring the goodies of bullpens left behind, and it takes me to Oakland.  The traded recipient, that being Blake Treinen is in the prime ready-five chair as he watches Santiago Casilla implode for 4 blown saves in his last 16 appearances… and of course he blows the first chance he gets.  No matter, I think that he still is a better bet going forward than Casilla.   The bullpen cupboard is bare, there’s no Doolittle, there’s no Madson, there’s no more Axford.  It is Treinen and Ryan Dull as the lone men standing, and Dull just got back from the DL.  It is a matter of when, not if Blake gets the go of things and makes all the Bay City girls swoon with his saves.  If the A’s go full on punt and trade the rotation to nothing, his potential for saves could be minimal, but chase away oh friends of the ‘NOF.

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We break from the usual 12 dollar salads, donkeys, and hypothermia to breakdown, in basic fashion, the relief rankings for the final 70-plus games.  Why is this helpful you may ask?  Because for trade target reasons or chasing saves for points, you may want guy A over guy B.  With the relief ranks it is as fluid as a clogged sewer drain, because on any given week, the middling type closer can hit bumps in the road and be removed from contention. So if you are using this as a trade commodity in your quest to add saves, my advice is this add the elite only.  Nothing lower than the top-12.  These guys are all nailed on and in an impressive state, barring an injury obviously. Now with that, we also have to realize that trades will happen… and take one reliever from a good situation to a better one, then on the reflexive of that, it can turn one with a job into a set-up situation.  Regardless, here is my stab at the top relief pitchers for the second half of the Fantasy Baseball season.  Cheers!

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Welcome, prematurely balding men and five women who are married to prematurely balding men and decided if you can’t beat them, join them!  Make yourself comfortable, this is gonna be a long post.  Here, enjoy some coffee.  Oops, you just drank rat poison.  Don’t worry, it can’t be worse than owning Matt Harvey in the 1st half.  Oh, you owned him and that’s why you drank the poison!  Now, I’m following!   Hey, I’m supposed to be leading!  Before we get into the top 100 for the 2nd half of 2017 fantasy baseball, let’s just be glad our 18-year-old selves can’t see us now, we’d get beat up!  But our twelve-year-old selves would think we’re the coolest!  So, as with all of the other 2017 fantasy baseball rankings, take this list with a grain of salt.  If you need a 2nd baseman, but an outfielder is above him that doesn’t mean you can’t trade that outfielder for that 2nd baseman.  Also, things change in fantasy baseball.  Daily.  I could put Bryce Harper number two on the top 100 list for the second half of 2017 and he could pull a–Well, we won’t even mention an injury with Bryce.  Why soil a good thing, ya know?  This list is a road map for where I think guys are valued.  It’s not the Holy Grail in the Church of Grey, that would be my mustache.  This list is NOT (caps for emphasis, not aesthetics) where I see guys ending up if you were to take their first half and combine it with the 2nd half. This is simply a list of the top hundred fantasy baseball players if you were to pick them up today.  So while Mike Trout did not have the greatest first half, he will appear on this list because, well, Mike Trout.  The projections are not their combined 1st half and 2nd half numbers; these are their projections for the 2nd half of 2017.  I also liberally used our rest of the season Fantasy Baseball Player Rater.  That’s right, we have a Player Rater that tells you what players will do.  It’s like that camera from The Twilight Zone.  Welcome to the future!  Anyway, here’s the top 100 for fantasy baseball for the 2nd half of 2017:

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