Archive for Middle Relievers

Bullpen Report: April 18, 2018

• Something might be brewing in Milwaukee as Josh Hader recorded another six out save for his second of the year. Since his last two save opportunities came via the two inning variety, it’s still unlikely that he’s used as a traditional closer so consistent saves while Corey Knebel is on the shelf may be unlikely. But, things are still s trending in the right direction, especially if Matt Albers and Jacob Barnes are less than stellar. Regardless of save opportunties, Hader is becoming one of the most valuable relievers and on the season Hader has 25 strikeouts in 11.2 innings supporting a 61% K% and a 0.21 SIERA. Damn.

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Pitcher Injury Finder & Fastball Grades

Fastball velocity changes may be getting beat to death but they are one of the few stats in which stabilize early in the offseason. I’ve created a couple tools which I use during the season to help find which pitchers to evaluate further using velocity. I have one which grades fastballs and a new pitcher injury finder.

Fastball Grades

This tool simply gives an ERA and 20-80 grade to a fastball based on its projected results from its velocity and spin. The velocity component is simple to understand. It’s hard to hit fast flying small objects. It’s even harder to hit faster flying small objects. Understanding the spin component is a little tougher.

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Bullpen Report: April 10, 2018

Alex Colome has had some struggles of late and although he allowed the first two batters to reach base last night, he didn’t allow one to score and held onto the one run lead for his second save of the year. On the year Colome has allowed four runs in 3.1 innings, which can happen early on for a reliever after a rough outing but what’s troublesome is his 4.8% K% and 14.3% BB%. For his career, Colome has a 11.6% SwStr% and this year it’s only at 8.6%.

Colome displayed fantastic swing and miss stuff in 2016 paired with a better walk rate, but both of those went in the wrong direction last year and that trend has continued this year. There seems to be no real concerns with his velocity and he will have a long leash in Tampa Bay but it’s worth noting his appearances here on out. If he continues to slip look for Sergio Romo, Jose Alvarado, and Chaz Roe to be next in line. Roe and Alvarado shared the 6th and 7th innings last night with Romo getting four outs and three strikeouts to set up Colome with the save.

• Rough start to the Greg Holland era in St. Louis. Holland came on in the 10th inning last night and walked four batters while only getting one out. Bud Norris finished the inning but the damage was done as Holland received the loss. The Cardinals didn’t pay Holland to give him just one save opportunity but it might take a few appearances in non-closing situations before he’s given the role. I’d expect Bud Norris to see the next save opportunity with Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons, and Jordan Hicks setting up along with Holland.

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Bullpen Report: April 3, 2018

While the closer grid might start green it doesn’t take too long for some different colors to emerge.

• The current situation in Anaheim has been interesting to say the least. Blake Parker‘s hold on the job was never seen as particularly strong and he hasn’t done himself any favors early on this year, needing to be bailed out by Keynan Middleton as Al Melchior mentioned last night. I’ve changed this situation to yellow and added Middleton to the grid. It might be anyone’s guess who gets the next save opportunity but I’m keeping Parker in the lead for now. If Mike Scioscia wants to go with the hot hand he could turn to Middleton again and there’s also Bedrosian who’s been deployed a setup man thus far as well as Jim Johnson who does have that trademarked closer experience. At some point this situation might settle but for now there are a few guys who are worthy of speculative adds but also not provide any saves. Helpful, I know.

• As far as other colors go, we’re sticking with Baltimore at yellow before moving to a code red. Brad Brach obviously has not looked effective so far but until we see O’Day pitching in a save situation or Buck Showalter address the situation, we’re going to keep Brach in the lead. Darren O’Day did get some action on Monday but he entered in the 8th inning in a 6-1 game. It’s possible he’s was getting some work in as he had only pitched on Thursday so far this season. O’Day did look effective, striking out a pair in a perfect inning. If he’s still on the wire I would definitely look to grab him over Mychal Givens.

• We had Pedro Baez as the next-in-line in LA but it looks like Josh Fields is the man of the eighth for now. Baez looked good getting four perfect outs but he entered the game in the fourth inning. Josh Fields meanwhile took the ball in the eighth and pitched around a hit, striking out two batters. If something were to happen to Kenley Jansen I would keep an eye on Baez, but Fields would be the man to own. Speaking of Jansen, after taking the loss in his first appearance this year he doubled down with a blown save tonight, allowing three earned in the ninth. Jansen’s velocity has been down a few ticks this year and consider me worried. We don’t know if something is going on yet but I would look to grab Fields if I was in need of saves. If one is willing to chase saves in Miami, they should be willing to use a speculative add on Fields. Jansen certainly has a laughably tighter grasp on the role than Brad Ziegler but the payoff on getting the Dodgers closer is much greater than one in Miami. I’m a little hesitant to jump the gun here and make this situation yellow, but better safe than sorry with a big payoff if Jansen is to miss anytime.

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Ottoneu 201: Roster Management Strategies

Last week I wrote about a few lesser known opportunities within Ottoneu to maximize salary cap space, which is important to understand before your fantasy season begins.  However, by the time you read this post the fantasy season will have already begun, so I want to focus your attention today on strategies that will help you in-season as you attempt to squeeze every bit of value out of your team during what is sure to be a long but very fun Ottoneu season.

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Utilizing Changes in Pitch Mix

Changing a pitcher’s pitch mix seems to be the newest path to success. Having a pitcher utilize his two to four best pitches can help him focus his arsenal for peak results. Finding these pitchers can be a huge advantage and the great and wonderful Eno Sarris used the original work to find Carlos Carrasco. I’m going to step an owner through the procedure using a few examples from the news so they can find their own diamond in the rough.

The basic idea behind changing a pitcher’s pitch mix is to have them throw as many effective pitches as possible. The original studies focused on above-average pitches. This is a simple method and one I use when examining a pitcher. The pitcher’s pitch results can be found by going to their page at FanGraphs, clicking o the Splits tab, then the Pitch Type Splits tab (example).

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Middle Reliever ADP Tiers

The lights-out middle reliever is making a huge inroad as being a valuable fantasy asset. Some are throwing nearly 100 innings and with 10 K/9 or better. Along with their great rate stats, they are a cheap option instead of many back-of-the-rotation arms. Al Melchior did a great job highlighting some of these arms this past week. I’m going to take his list and find out when they are going in NFBC drafts and compare them to the starters going around them to find any possible values.

One note to remember is that NFBC drafts are 15-team leagues with 9 pitchers per team with a decent number of pitchers on the bench for streaming. My plan is to acquire one of these non-closing studs and use him as a “streamer” when one of my pitchers has a tough matchup (e.g. road game at Colorado).

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Valuing Rookie Pitchers for 2018

It’s tough to get excited about this year’s batch of rookie pitchers. One reason is that most of the top arms (Reyes, Gohara, Buehler, Flaherty) have already debuted in the majors. Many of the other top-ranked arms have not pitched in double-A yet.

With this year’s class looking down, there always seems to be a few pitchers who come out of nowhere like Luis Castillo did last season. He wasn’t picked among the top 600 players in NFBC and now he near a top-100 pick. Jake Faria and Dinelson Lamet were a couple other arms who were off owner’s radars. It just takes a pitcher gaining a couple ticks on his fastball or developing a new pitch to shoot up in talent.

I found it best to be aggressive on this these mid-season call-ups. They may be getting promoted because they are ready. Investigate any recent scouting reports and don’t be afraid to roster them if they’re talented.

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Alex Reyes: Undervalued

Alex Reyes was considered to be a top-5 prospect coming into the 2017 season. Then his elbow gave out and he eventually needed Tommy John surgery. He’s nearing completion of his recovery and the Cardinals are considering when he’ll return and his role.

Wanting to protect their top prospect as much as possible, the Cardinals have set a soft target of May 1 as a likely return date for Reyes. What hasn’t been so explicitly defined, though, is what role he’ll fill upon that return.

Long term, the Cardinals have every intention of using Reyes to anchor their rotation. MLB Pipeline recently ranked Reyes as the seventh-best right-handed pitching prospect, and he likely would have been higher on that list had he not just missed a full season.

But given the recovery process Reyes has undergone over these last 12 months, the Cardinals intend to be cautious in 2018. Their preference, as stated multiple times this offseason by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, would be to have Reyes first come out of the bullpen.

For fantasy owners, they could take a chance on having an elite arm as a starter or reliever. With so many possible unknown outcomes, the following is a breakdown of 2018 value.

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Elite Middle Relievers

I’m nearly done with a 15-team, 50-player draft-and-hold league. To say the least, the pickings are slim at this point in the draft. Players I like to concentrate at this point are high talent middle relievers who could close. I can either use them for their rate stats or hope one eventually gets some Saves. Here are pitchers whose projections, especially the strikeouts, I find intriguing.

Josh Hader
11.6 K/9
4.2 BB/9
3.74 ERA

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