Please see our player page for Scott Barlow 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.

Welcome Back!  Week 1 is nearly in the books and what a wild ride it has been!  I like to describe Head to Head fantasy baseball as a long race with approximately 25 mini races along the way. The first leg of the race has been interesting, to say the least!  COVID tripped up the Nationals before they could get out of the gate. Yermin Mercedes went from 0-60 in 2 seconds flat!  Nate Lowe got out to a commanding RBI lead and if Fernando Tatis Jr was a racehorse, there would be rumblings about the glue factory.  Please don’t mistake my sense of humor, or lack thereof, for anything short of disappointment for the Padres, and for baseball in general.  I wish Tatis a speedy recovery!  He is just too good of a talent to go to waste.  Let’s turn our attention to Week 2 and which players are going to give you a leg up in your matchups!

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Holds Ain’t Got No Face! 

These poor schlubs. No one’s favorite player is a middle reliever. The middle reliever never gets the girl. The signed middle reliever rookie card never fetches more than a buck-fifty on eBay. 

Yet these working-class heroes continue to go out every day and grind away to bridge the gap between the billion-dollar, sexy starting pitchers and the dark, mysterious closers. 

So here’s to you Graeme Lloyd! Here’s to you Mark Eichhorn! Here’s to you Matt Thornton! And MY personal favorite player of all time — here’s to you Jeff Nelson! 

 

From a fantasy perspective, the middle reliever has been a non-factor since the beginning of roto baseball. In your standard 5×5 leagues there’s just no room for a player who barely contributes in any of the 5 pitching categories. However, after years and years of heart attacks from being forced to draft Fernando Rodney because they missed the closer runs — cardiologists have created a new fantasy category to prevent such cardiac conditions: saves + holds 

Below I’ve ranked the top-40 non-closers for saves + holds leagues. In true Kerry-fashion, I’ve manufactured my own ranking system. I’ve ranked these guys out into three categories: sv/hlds, limiting runs, and K/9 — the three categories that middle relievers can consistently help you in. Limiting runs is a combination of ERA and WHIP — basically, in one inning, a reliever needs to keep guys off the bases — and if there are already guys on the bases — keeping them from scoring runs. You know — like the job of every pitcher! 

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Hello again, students! You’re just in time for Lesson Three in  JKJ’s School of Waiver Wire Wizardry. This weekend has already been tainted by another positive COVID test just as the Cardinals got back in action. The Reds and Pirates game Saturday was cancelled due to a Reds player testing positive Friday. Things were looking up! And then this. Just a reminder that COVID is bigger than baseball, and most especially fantasy baseball. It’s not going away any time soon by the look of it, so please continue to practice safety measures to keep you and others around you safe! This is a class after all, so a teacher has to get on their soapbox every once in a while. Fun fact: I’m a real-life teacher, too. High school English. Not my first go-around getting on a soapbox. Sorry not sorry.

Anyhoodles, let’s dive right in to the hotties you need to pay attention to for Week 4.

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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. 

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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.

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Notoriously unpredictable, pitching prospects are amongst the most difficult of commodities to remain patient with. Our opinions and values, at least on a general consensus level, fluctuate frequently on pitchers, major leagues or minors, based on recent performance. So, what better way to celebrate our recency blinders than to discuss the top breakout hurlers of the first half in the minor leagues. Some of these guys have some pedigree, others came into the year a little more obscure, but all are worthy of our attention, and perhaps an add in the right format. The road to major league stardom is often not a straight line, and while I have no data behind this, it feels like a breakout by a pitcher is a little more telling of long term success. The reason I say this is, more often than not, these breakouts are derived from a tweak or change to mechanics, grips, or other small developments. No two players develop the same, and while Top 100 lists are great, they don’t do a very good job of projecting future value between Lucas Giolito and Jacob Faria. That’s not to say we don’t nail one every so often, but the majors these days are a different ball world. So sit back and enjoy it while I breakout heads, ribs, $100 bills…(3).

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