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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?

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?

Cleveland Indians rookie Shane Bieber was dominant Friday night in just his third career start, pitching seven innings, allowing just four base runners and striking out nine for his second win. Talk about a reason to Love Yourself. The Biebs now holds a 2.45 ERA and 1.36 WHIP through his first three starts (18.1 IP) and his 22/3 K/BB is Despacito–at least I think it’s despacito, not 100% sure I know what that means. I’m saying it’s flames. Shane Bieber is striking out lots of batters. Oh Baby, Baby. Baby sign me up. Wow, you sure do know a lot of Justin Bieber songs. What do you mean? I make it my business to know all about the Beibebers. For example, in the minors this year Shane was 6-1 with a 1.29 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and a 72/6 K/BB. If those numbers make you scream like a teenage girl and and write Shane’s name is cursive flirty letters on your notebook you’re not alone, Beiber’s got the stuff to be a bonafide heart throb. He will likely see the usual rookie pitchers highs and lows, but he’s looking like the favorite to run away with the fifth rotation spot in Cleveland. He’ll get a rougher assignment than Detroit next time out taking on the Cardinals in St. Louis but I’d grab Shane for the upside alone and hope he can make a Belieber out of all of us.

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?