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

Fantasy KnuckleheadsCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2010

SAN DIEGO - APRIL 06:  Pitcher Edward Mujica #45 of the San Diego Padres throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 6, 2009 at Petco Park in San Diego, California.  The Dodgers won 4-1.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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 
TEAMPRIMARY SET UP MANKEEP AN EYE ON
Baltimore OriolesJim JohnsonCla Meredith
Boston Red SoxHideki OkijamaDaniel Bard
Chicago White SoxMatt ThorntonJ.J.  Putz  and Tony Pena
Cleveland IndiansJoe SmithChris Perez
Detroit TigersJoel ZumayaBobby Seay
Kansas City RoyalsKyle FarnsworthJuan Cruz
Los Angeles AngelsScot ShieldsFernando Rodney
Minnesota TwinsMatt GuerrierJose Mijares
New York YankeesPhil Hughes*Joba Chamberlain*
Oakland AthleticsBrad ZeiglerJoey Devine & Michael Wurtz
Seattle MarinersMark LoweBrandon League
Tampa Bay RaysJ.P. HowellDan Wheeler
Texas RangersNeftali Perez^Chris Ray and C.J. Wilson^
Toronto Blue JaysKevin GreggScott Downs
   
 NATIONAL LEAGUE 
Arizona DiamondbacksJuan GutierrezBob Howry and Aaron Hielman
Atlanta BravesTakashi SaitoPeter Moylan
Chicago CubsAngel GuzmanJohn Grabow
Cincinnati RedsNick MassettArthur Rhodes
Colorado RockiesManny CorpasFranklin Morales
Florida MarlinsDan MeyerRenyal Pinto
Houston AstrosBrandon Lyon 
Los Angeles DodgersRamon TrancoscoGeorge Sherrill
Milwaukee BrewersTodd CoffeyLaTroy Hawkins
New York MetsKelvim EscobarPedro Feliciano
Philadelphia PhilliesRyan MadsonJ.C. Romero
Pittsburgh PiratesJohn Hanrahan 
San Diego PadresEdward Mujica*Luke Gregerson
San Francisco GiantsJeremy AffeldtSergio Romo
St. Louis CardinalsKyle McClellanJason Motte
Washington NationalsBrian BruneyJason Bergmann

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