Please see our player page for James Karinchak 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.

Early yesterday, I was staring out my window, the rain slowly rolling down the glass, and from the outside it looked like tears were rolling down my cheeks. From the inside, it also looked like I was crying, because I was. I dramatically turned away from the window, put my hand to my forehead and fell into my Giancarlo beanbag. “Cuddle me, Giancarlo Beanbag,” I whispered into the beanbag I had dressed in a Yankees jersey. On the stereo, Rob Thomas scream-sang, “I want to take you for granted,” and I thought about that. Had I taken Eloy Jimenez for granted? Was this…that? As the wait for injury news dragged on, I wandered out onto the road and stopped a car to ask them if they heard anything on Eloy, and they said, “Are you crazy get off the freeway?” Was I crazy? Was that what this was? So, Eloy Jimenez is out for the year with a ruptured left pectoral tendon. Now allow me to return to playing terrible Matchbox Twenty songs and sobbing IT’S 3 AM AND I MUST BE LONELY. Obviously, my top 500 and top 20 outfielders were updated. Who knew I’d prefer Alloy Jimenez who has been blended with sturdier metals to improve wear. I wonder if CVS has condolence cards for fantasy teams. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for 2021 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The people were asking for a closer rankings update and I haves to gives thems what they wants. To recap — here are my preseason rankings from February 3rd: SAGNOF: Preseason Closer Rankings.

TLDR: I ranked the closers in that first article according to three factors: their job security, their pitching ability, and the team they’re on providing them save opportunities (good offenses, good starting pitching, good other relievers.) 

As you’ll see below in only a month and a half there has already been some moving and shaking in my rankings. Only a few hours after my article went live it was out of date because the Twins signed Alex Colome which muddied the Twins closer situation. Some guys have lost/gained in the rankings due to their small sample size spring stats. 

Let’s get into it!

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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. 

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For all my rankings this year, I have gone along with Major League Baseball’s numberwanging insofar as prospect eligibility is concerned. Within these specialized rules, we find a days-on-roster component and a magical August 14, 2020 demarcation line and I suppose the traditional 50-inning barrier matters as well, although a relief pitcher is much more likely to graduate on time served than innings pitched. 

All that is to say: hard pass on MLB’s shizz for the purposes of this list. 

The only way forward is to minimize fuzziness and speculation. Also I believe this list functions as a way for deep leaguers to find MiLB eligible relievers on the wire. 

One caveat: anyone currently on a starting pitcher path is disqualified. Converted starters make up a big portion of the player pool, so we’ll blend them in here if/when that switch happens but not before.

I’ll also set aside a small group who could switch and quickly leap the ranks like Devin Williams and Jonathan Hernandez have here. I suppose JB Bukauskas qualifies for the switch-and-leap bucket, but he’s in the rankings already because Arizona has clarified they want him in the bullpen this spring. Likewise, Genesis Cabrera and Taylor Hearn are out for the moment because the Cardinals and Rangers have them starting this spring. 

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For a two-time World Series Champion with over 40 years of experience in MLB front offices, Dave Dombrowski gets a bad rap. The consensus on the baseball operations veteran seems to be that his only formula for success is to either ink big contracts or swap top prospects for elite talent that comes accompanied with hefty salaries. However, Dombrowski’s maneuvers have largely come as a result of the hands he has been dealt and the relative competitiveness of his various organizations at the time of his hire. He turned the 1997 Florida Marlins, a 1993 expansion team, into a World Series Champion. He built one of the greatest starting rotations in modern history in Detroit. He came to Boston in 2015 with a mandate to take the Red Sox to the top and did just that in 2018. Is he perfect? Far from it. Can he win a championship? Clearly. You should desire the same.

I say this to explain why I frequently refer to my strategy in dynasty leagues as Dombrowski-esque. It is not simply because of Dave’s suave, shiny gray hair to which I look forward to sporting myself in my mid-50s. In these formats, managers are drafting using such polarizing strategies that the key is to seek out excess value by pitting your opposition’s own intelligence (or so it may seem) against them. Seek opportunity where it presents itself, and if that means honing in on proven talent to win now, then do so. There will always be newer, shinier (but not as shiny as Dave’s hair) prospects to target in these leagues down the line. That’s why today I will be reviewing my selections in the 12 team, H2H points dynasty startup mock that fellow Razzballer Dylan Vaughan Skorish and I partook in this past week. Although I will reveal all of my selections, my focus in this piece will be to review my strategy and discuss the prospects I targeted in this mock draft.

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SAGNOF has a new Daddy! Or I guess technically Step-Daddy — this will always be Grey’s baby. That’s right — this year I’ll be slipping into those SAGNOF slippers each week to tell you who will be doing the saving and who will be doing the stealing! 

“So like good guys and bad guys?” asks my wife as I explain to her what I’m writing about this year. 

*Sigh* “Yes…like good guys and bad guys…” I wept.

Let’s get this SAGNOF off to a great jump-off. Lo! Below are my top-30 closer rankings! 

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I’d like to begin with a quick retrospective to count our blessings despite the stark reality that hitting pause on minor league baseball made 2020 anything but a prospector’s dream. 

This decision was not without its own hidden benefits, though I feel kinda funny saying the temporary demolition of a couple thousand young men’s dreams was not without upside for the fantasy baseball player. Wasn’t even without upside for the real-life player if he found positive ways to invest his time like Luisangel Acuña reportedly has, packing pounds of muscle onto his developing frame. When MLB increased the playoffs from 8 to 16 teams, the entire prospect landscape changed. Suddenly, Baltimore, San Francisco, Toronto and more had incentive to push for wins on the margins. One could argue they had even more incentive to rush their prospects up to the majors just to keep them playing games. We saw more players jump AA and AAA in 2020 than any season I can remember. The expanded playoff format is not solely responsible for that, but it has been a crucial element in breathing some aggressiveness and unpredictability back into our game. I’ll be mildly shocked if MLB doesn’t retain both the 16-team playoffs and the universal DH. 

The stage is set in the American League. Tampa Bay, Oakland, Minnesota, Cleveland, New York, Houston, Chicago, and Toronto are all officially playoff teams. 

Tampa Bay OF Randy Arozarena was kind of the inciting incident for this article focused on at least one guy from each team who should be flat-out fun to watch this October.

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The rocky start to our baseball season continues. The Cardinals are fighting outbreaks. Cleveland is grounding pitchers for breaking protocols. Fernando Rodney is preparing to debut. Cats and dogs living together. Mass hysteria. Sorry, I went full Venkman for a second. Let me wipe the ectoplasm off. There. Now to the prognostication.

  • You can write Rafael Montero’s name in pen as the Rangers closer. He’s been the only one they’ve called to close out games since his return. Seems rash I know. Welcome to fantasy baseball in 2020. Raf may have been everyone’s least favorite TMNT but he may be the best reliever to pop in the SAGNOF scene all year if he stays healthy.
  • Please, blog, may I have some more?