Please see our player page for Michael Lorenzen 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.

When it comes to fantasy baseball, there may be no position where player values vary more from shallow league to deep league than that of middle reliever.  Even if your league doesn’t use holds, a middle reliever that wouldn’t be draftable in standard leagues — even if roster size doubled — can provide some nice value in deeper leagues.  Last year, I drafted Hector Neris and Nick Anderson at the end of all of my very deep and NL-only leagues — both were available for a buck or in the free round of even my deepest, 15-team NL-only auction league. Both pitchers ended up helping me immensely, Neris by pitching well (his season was underrated in my opinion:  2.93 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 89 Ks in 67 innings) and ultimately assuming the closer’s role and notching 28 saves.  Anderson, on the other hand, while pitching in many high-leverage situations, never got that closer gig in 2019 that I thought he might, either with the Marlins or after he was traded to the Rays.  He ended up with one measly save — but that didn’t stop him from being a useful part of my NL-only pitching staff; in fact, in at least one league he was one of the only players who was in my active lineup from day one through game 162 last year.  The solid ratios, five wins, and whopping 110 Ks in 65 innings were enough to make a difference of a few points for me across those categories, which ultimately helped lead my team to a money finish.  If I’d been messing around with junk starters in that spot, I may have gotten some wins and Ks, but that progress would have been offset by the damage to my ratios.

With the current corona timeline that baseball is (hopefully) on track for, I’m guessing that middle relievers who are trusted near the end of games may even have a small spike in value — at least if anything close to expanded-roster teams playing 8 games a week and lots of doubleheaders into November becomes a reality.  (Please let it become a reality!)  Here are some true deep leaguers to look at, all outside of the top 500 NFBC ADP (with the exception of my first entry, Hunter Harvey, whose ADP is 475 — and probably only that high because of how many times I’ve drafted him!)

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Maybe the real-life baseball season has stopped, but that doesn’t mean fantasy baseball has to. It’s all we have these days, really. Fantasy sports while we fantasize about real sports coming back. I feel bad for my fellow fantasy hockey folks – I get the feeling it ain’t coming back, even if regular hockey does. I’m not about that fantasy basketball life (I dabbled in my younger years – Tracy McGrady anyone? Had to have him on all my teams), but I fear it’s the same fate. Only fantasy football is unscathed…so far. Wild stuff happening on that front, too. Brady to the Bucs? Da BUCS?! DAFUQ! Gurley and Newton RELEASED?! Hopkins TRADED?! Maybe Watson, too?! Madness, I say!

Anyway. This is a fantasy baseball article. Almost forgot. It’s an important year for the fine ladies and gents here at Razzball: the inaugural season of RazzSlam! Big shoutout to the NFBC peeps for hosting it. Give ’em a follow on the Twitter at @TheNFBC. I had the honor of being accepted into League 2 (of 18). Some scrub ass writer for CBS is in it. Big deal. I’m kidding, he’ll probably whoop my ass.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The thing about now is that writing about anything feels like writing about nothing. Thus is the nature of fantasy sports in a global crisis. The nature of sports themselves, we’re seeing. 

I’m supposed to be on Spring Break, man.

Or my students are. I never do much with it, if I’m honest. Just baseball stuff, really. I’ll watch last year all winter and try to see as much as I can in Spring, which is typically a lot over Spring Break. Used to play some video games. These days it’s just Fifa 16 because it only takes about ten minutes to pop in and finish a game. Think I just won the 2022 World Cup with Portugal. Just a fluke they offered me the job all those years ago.

Still had time for a draft with CBS around noon Friday. 15-team roto. First one post-shutdown for me, and though it was just a mock, it felt like pretty serious. I’m not sure why. I think it’s the fourth mock I’ve done with them this off-season, and I’m very thankful to Scott White and the crew for inviting me, but the previous ones were very clearly mocks while I was in the room, if you know what I mean. Maybe it was just me feeling like everything is serious. My wife can’t stop coughing and can’t get tested. Our daughter is around her a lot. It’s hard to avoid. 

Anyway here’s the team: (overall pick number in parenthesis)

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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?

After Reynaldo Lopez‘s last start of 2/3 IP, 6 ER, I wrote him off for this year and next year.  Now, I will begin a backpedal not seen since the bear at the circus who can ride a bicycle. “Beaux-Bo, you can’t pedal so close to that family of three eating a turkey leg. Beaux-Bo, stop it! Beaux-Bo, no! Beaux-Bo, no! Beaux-Bo, put down that torso!” And that’s the final written transcription of Beaux-Bo, the bicycle riding bear. Actually, I’m going to backpedal my backpedal, so, eat a D, Beaux-Bo, the bicycle-riding bear! I was serious last week when I said I’m outlawing pitchers who start a game, give up 5+ runs and can’t get out of the 1st. They’re completely untrustworthy, so it’s not surprising Lopez would have a start of 9 IP, 1 ER, 1 hit, 3 walks, 11 Ks, ERA at 5.17. That’s the problem!  What are we getting next time out?  3 IP, 6 ER? 7 IP, 2 ER? No one has any idea. Listen, I know there’s uncertainty in this crazy thing called fantasy (worst Queen song ever), but I’m not inviting more risk. I’m still out on Lopez. Sorry, gotta put my foot down, even if I’m writing this from an anti-gravity chamber where I can eat turkey legs without fear of a bicycle bear attack.  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?

Coming into last night the Baltimore Orioles were the fourth lowest scoring team in the league with 321 runs scored. They are still the fourth lowest scoring team today, but they did manage to score a season high 13 runs against Mike Clevinger and the Clevinger Indians. I mean Cleveland Indians. To be fair to Clevinger he was only responsible for seven of those runs over one and two thirds innings. Not exactly what his owners were hoping to see in his return from the IL. Am I the only one that thinks he looks like 2017 deGrom? And which one of them played Mitch in Dazed and Confused? But enough about that. After raking in Triple A and being called up to Baltimore back on June 3, Sisco has done very little. On Friday night he exploded with a homer, a double, a single, three runs and five RBIs! For my points readers, he had 18 points before this game in which he totaled 15 more nearly doubling his season total. While it was a great performance, Trey Mancini is the only Baltimore bat I’d consider owning. I say no thanks to Villar, in case you were wondering, but I do have a points league perspective. So I guess if you need saves he’s cool. You cool, man?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Jordan Yamamoto (7 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 7 Ks, ERA at 0.00) is the 1st pitcher to begin a career with back-to-back outings of 7+ scoreless while allowing three or fewer hits in the modern era.  The modern era meaning from 1908, not from 2017 until now when baseballs were filled with helium, which caused Party City stores to close nationwide.  This is exactly what everyone expected when the Marlins called up an 89-MPH fastball that was flame-retardant.  “How fast does he throw?”  A scout recently said to another scout who was holding a speed gun.  “I’ll tell you when the ball passes the plate.”  The scout sticks chew in his mouth, scratches his sweaty armpit, then, finally, “89-ish?  Maybe.  I might’ve just been taking a reading of that bird that flew overhead.”  This goes back to my recently prophesied conspiracy theory that I introduced the other day regarding Zack Greinke.  When everyone is throwing fast, it actually keeps hitters off-balance to throw slow.  The Slow Pitch Theorized Conspiracy for Hardball (SPITCH) is fully realized now that it has an acronym.  If you’re willing to gamble a bit, I could see grabbing Yamamoto in any league to see if he can keep it going. This could also hurt Zac Gallen’s chances of a promotion, and I don’t know who gets bumped for Caleb Smith.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Earlier in the preseason, I delved into the holds tiers for fantasy bullpens.  It exists right here in the Fantasy Relief Pitchers for Holds.  That was more a broad brushstroke of fantasy bullpen goodness that goes on here at Razznation.  Now that we are thumbs deep in draft season and the players being more prominent in roles are starting to show their purpose we can get a better grip on who to won and who to covet for the ugly step sister of saves the hold stat.  In more cases than not, following a “drafting for holds model” holds true, but holds are such a fluid stat… more fluid than the closer role.  So drafting the elite guy every year looks like a great idea, but name the guy who lead the league in holds multiple years in a row or, hell, twice in their career?  It’s a short list, whose names are not that awesome or even around anymore.  So for drafting for holds, whether it be in a straight holds league or a saves+holds league having the edge up on bullpenery is key.  The strategies for each of those leagues is basically the same as the elite holds category earners and they should be drafted after the last “donkeycorn” closer to come off the board.  If you draft an elite closer, always cuff your closer with the top holds candidate on that team. Next, do what I just said twice and grab your second closer’s backup/holds guy.  That will give you two closers, their back-ups for the “just in case” moments and holds.  Then your last pick for your bullpen will be an independent guy that has a K/9 rate over 9.  That is my finite strategy for drafting holds in any league. It gives you five guys that you can bank on every day in a “set it and forget it” type situation.  Don’t fall in love with your options, as like I said, bullpen fluidness is blah and you can find a hot hand on an off day.  So now that strategy is out of the way, let’s look at the more finite tiers of holds!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Alex Cobb woke up in the middle of October and told his significant other that he was happy to be moving on from the Rays.  It was time to get out of the AL East.  Sure, Tropicana Field wasn’t unfriendly to his needs as a pitcher.  Over his career, he had a home ERA of 3.10.  But, ya know what?  It was time to move on.  Then, he woke one day in December, and told his significant other that at the Winter Meetings, NL teams would be ‘chomping on the Cobb.’  Then, off her reaction, he asked if she’d excuse the pun.  Then, one day in January, as he scratched his flip-flopped feet on the deck of his boat in the Gulf, he thought about how maybe the Rays weren’t a bad club to pitch for.  Then, in February, he called the Mariners’ front office with a voice modulator asking them if they needed a veteran starter.  Then, in early March, he bought a Korean language Rosetta Stone as he prepped to play overseas.  So, Alex Cobb signed with the Orioles, and *sighs* starts against the Yankees and Red Sox still, but now in Camden.  His starts are gonna be like this:  pitch is thrown, batter swings bat and screams, “Nailed it!”  This feels like a move that could lead to a 4.05 ERA or a 4.85 ERA.  I’m no longer interested in owning Cobb and have moved him into my top 100 starters and down the ol’ top 500 overall.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for 2018 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?