Does Your Fantasy League Count Holds? Tips for Drafting a Relief Pitcher

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Does Your Fantasy League Count Holds? Tips for Drafting a Relief Pitcher
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For savvy fantasy baseball players, many leagues are extending statistical pitching categories by including “holds” to go along with “saves.” It certainly makes the game more intriguing, and makes relief pitchers more valuable. However, relief pitchers who get "holds" may be the most mercurial position for which to draft. Even more so than the often convoluted closer position. For this reason, I highly suggest you not attempt to do so any time prior to the end of the draft.

Here’s why:

Over the last several seasons no single relief pitcher has stood near the top of the "holds" leaders year after year. Even long-time relief stud Scot Shields fell off the map in 2009.

Last year only two pitchers had 30 or more; Minnesota’s Matt Guerrier and San Francisco’s Jeremy Affeldt each had 33. The same was true in 2008 when only three pitchers hit the 30 mark; the aforementioned Scot Shields, the Cubs’ Carlos Marmol, and the Cardinals’ Kyle McClellan had 31, 30, and 30 respectively.

So the question becomes, who do you target in your draft if your league includes "holds" as a pitching statistic? Rankings are rather a moot point.

The easy answer is the primary set-up reliever for every closer, or the next guy in line to get saves. The reason why is obvious: If there’s a game to save, it has to be held (more often than not) in the seventh or eighth inning, and you might also pick up a stray "save" here and there as well. By that same system, teams who win more games will have more "hold" opportunities. Guys who qualify at starting pitcher hold even more value as they can slip into starter slots when your SPs are on off days.

So let’s go around the league and see who these guys might be.

* Qualify at SP and RP in most leagues; ^ will fight for a rotation spot, the loser becomes set-up man.

Names in Bold are guys I especially like for success in 2010.

  AMERICAN LEAGUE  
TEAM PRIMARY SET UP MAN KEEP AN EYE ON
Baltimore Orioles Jim Johnson Cla Meredith
Boston Red Sox Hideki Okijama Daniel Bard
Chicago White Sox Matt Thornton J.J.  Putz  and Tony Pena
Cleveland Indians Joe Smith Chris Perez
Detroit Tigers Joel Zumaya Bobby Seay
Kansas City Royals Kyle Farnsworth Juan Cruz
Los Angeles Angels Scot Shields Fernando Rodney
Minnesota Twins Matt Guerrier Jose Mijares
New York Yankees Phil Hughes* Joba Chamberlain*
Oakland Athletics Brad Zeigler Joey Devine & Michael Wurtz
Seattle Mariners Mark Lowe Brandon League
Tampa Bay Rays J.P. Howell Dan Wheeler
Texas Rangers Neftali Perez^ Chris Ray and C.J. Wilson^
Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Gregg Scott Downs
     
  NATIONAL LEAGUE  
Arizona Diamondbacks Juan Gutierrez Bob Howry and Aaron Hielman
Atlanta Braves Takashi Saito Peter Moylan
Chicago Cubs Angel Guzman John Grabow
Cincinnati Reds Nick Massett Arthur Rhodes
Colorado Rockies Manny Corpas Franklin Morales
Florida Marlins Dan Meyer Renyal Pinto
Houston Astros Brandon Lyon  
Los Angeles Dodgers Ramon Trancosco George Sherrill
Milwaukee Brewers Todd Coffey LaTroy Hawkins
New York Mets Kelvim Escobar Pedro Feliciano
Philadelphia Phillies Ryan Madson J.C. Romero
Pittsburgh Pirates John Hanrahan  
San Diego Padres Edward Mujica* Luke Gregerson
San Francisco Giants Jeremy Affeldt Sergio Romo
St. Louis Cardinals Kyle McClellan Jason Motte
Washington Nationals Brian Bruney Jason Bergmann

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