Please see our player page for Ian Kennedy 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?

Head-to-head fantasy baseball encompasses some of my favorite parts of fantasy – rivalries, strategies, and ties. Okay, maybe not that last one, but overall, it’s my favorite format to play. Like in roto leagues, you’re focused on compiling stats in your scoring categories (homers, runs, steals, strikeouts, etc.), but your matchup resets each week and you’re on to the next opponent.

Punting is one of my favorite strategies in H2H Categories, mostly because it allows me to not pay a premium for saves or speed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a) punting both or, b) fully punting either, but I do recommend a version of punting that I feel gives you an advantage over your opponents.

Here’s our disclaimer – This is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. You know your league and your in-season management ability. If you’re an owner who is excellent at scooping up new closers, then punting saves is a reasonable strategy to explore. These strategies are also not meant to be half-assed. If you’re leaving your draft knowing you need to find steals on the wire, take the time to find those steals. Now that you’ve been warned, enter the punting dungeon……if you dare.

 

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

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I don’t really care about the Super Bowl too much this year. I’m a Giants fan so I’m just biding my time until they’re back in it in 2022. MARK MY WORDS! So instead I’ll do the next best thing — I’ll cover the Kansas City baseball team. Now I’m not going to be writing about Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi or Jorge Soler. Those are the 3 obvious names on this team and you can find articles about them on Razzball by people much smarter than myself. Just like when I get to the Angels — what am I supposed to write about Mike Trout?  “He’s the best player in the game — draft him!” Duh — you should be so lucky. No, instead I’m going to focus some other lesser-known guys on this team who should be on your radar. 

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?

This year the Razzballies are going without a host. I, Grey Albright, Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it) am merely a long-form presenter. Remember, you can’t spell ghosting without host. You also can’t spell hostage, but no one is forcing you to stay for the award show. You’re going to want to, though, because without these awards, you’ll have no idea who was the best and worst hitters and pitchers this year, and you’ll be left giving out your own awards and no one cares if your “Low sodium tomato soup in a sourdough bowl” won your “Whitest Lunch Of All-Tme” award. Stop making up fake awards! For all of you winners and losers, I ask that you please keep your acceptance speeches down to a minimum. As a hero once said, “I’m going to thank everyone in private.” So, before I’m talking to no one but a room full of seat-fillers, here’s the year-end awards for the best and worst of fantasy baseball:

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America’s greatest Indian was Sitting Bull. Maybe Pocahontas. Possibly Bob Feller. I’d accept Apu even. But on the list of great Indians, Jose Ramirez and the service he provided this year does not go unnoticed because I am here noticing it. First, he did awful to make me look like a genius for telling you to avoid him in drafts, then he did well after I told you to buy him in June. Jo-Ram did what others thought impossible:  made me look brilliant. Stop throwing roses at my feet, I’m allergic. Now, Jo-Ram’s gone for the year with a hamate bone injury. If he’s anything like Matt Olson, he’ll return in October and hit 35 homers in ten games. Glory be. He’s droppable in redraft leagues though, and Yu Chang will replace him. He was David Bowie’s favorite player. Time may Chang Yu, but Yu can’t Chang time. Prospect Mike just gave you a Yu Chang fantasy, and I didn’t run out to grab him, but, in deep enough leagues, I could see it. Prospect Mike did mention Aristides Aquino in relation to Chang, and I had to Chang my underwear. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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From the journal of Jim Morrison, he wrote about an encounter he had with lizard wearing a crown of thorns that he alternated calling, Jesus Luzardo and The Luzard King. Here, I wish to transcribe Jim’s musings, “Today, I rode with a large Native American man to a Wawa to get some beej ferky (sic). The Native American man told me about the many lives he had lived and how he never trusted rookie pitchers. He recounted a story about how he traded all his pitchers for Chris Paddack, due to a great April in 2019.  This was confusing to me, since this was 1970, but this wise Native American knew more in his head, which he covered in an Indians baseball club hat, than I’d ever know. Was this Lou Boudreau? Before we got to the Wawa, which was only three minutes away by automobile, so not sure why it was taking so long — were we lost? — the Native American man pulled over and picked up a pitchman for an insurance company which was an animated lizard.  This was The Luzard King. An obvious lizard, which made it weird when it kept saying it was a gecko.  The Luzard King said it had a shoulder issue early in the preseason of the 2019 season, which I had a premonition would be 38 years after my death. Also, oddly enough, I’m being fed a quote from the future from Prospect Mike about Jesus Luzardo.  He will say, ‘Luzardo’s stock just continues to rise. He’s in the rarified air of ‘best pitching prospects’ now. The lefty threw 109 innings across three leagues in 2018 and posted a 129/30 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Everything is plus or better – the heater, the curve, the change, the control. He’s the total package, like the package I filled with anthrax and sent to Grey.’ Who is this Grey he speaks of? Who is Prospect Mike? Was it the peyote talking or was it something more mysterious?”  And that’s me quoting Jim Morrison quoting Prospect Mike!  Don’t think Luzardo is going to be up before the All-Star Break, but now is the time to stash him. He could be a top arm in the 2nd half, or at least a solid Middler like early Yonny.  Call him Once Uponny.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

No one is perfect. Even the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, had a career save percentage of 89%. In addition, no one can have an approval rating of 100%. There are too many divergent perspectives, opinions, and experiences for that to be feasible. John F. Kennedy, the 35th POTUS, has the highest average approval rating (70.1%) since the Gallup Poll was created in 1935. The high mark was 83%, while he bottomed out at 56%. Donald Trump, the 45th POTUS, has a high of 46% with a low of 35%, which gives him an average of 39%, the lowest by far of any POTUS. For as much as a POS he’s been, though, he has provided value for many. Which brings me to Ian Kennedy of the Kansas City Royals, who many have sworn off from past experiences, but has been added in 7.9% of ESPN leagues over the past week. How will this Kennedy Administration end?

Please, blog, may I have some more?