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.
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.
|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|
|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|