This column always attempts to give advice for all major league styles, the Saves and the non-Saves. A large problem with writing this column however is that “non-Saves” can constitute any number of league settings. Every week, the latter half of this column attempts to find either a new way to look at non-Save options, or simply tries to find the most intriguing non-Closers on the market.
For this week, I have specifically targeted the “Holds” stat. I’ll be targeting Holds and those who are leading in holds and trying to see who from that list might be off to a strong and potentially sustainable start. Next week, I am hoping to do the same with Inherited Runners Stranded. But first, the Closer Review.
Weekly Closer Review
No-Drama Closers (Closers in Closer Roles who were more-or-less Flawless)
Shane Greene (Detroit Tigers), Sergio Romo (Miami Marlins), Raisel Iglesias (Cincinnati Reds), Greg Holland (Arizona Diamondbacks), Will Smith (San Francisco Giants), Sean Doolittle (Washington Nationals), Kirby Yates (San Diego Padres), Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs), Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees), Wade Davis (Colorado Rockies), Brad Hand (Cleveland Indians), Blake Parker (Minnesota Twins), Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies), Edwin Diaz (New York Mets)
Jobs Worth Discussing
Tampa Bay Rays — It’s hard to define a bullpen that is both highly talented and managed by modern opinions about the lack of importance in the “Save.” Last week or two weeks ago, I wrote that I didn’t see Emilio Pagan continuing to make his presence known on this team. This wasn’t an attack on Pagan, but rather a believe in Castillo and Alvarado. At this point, it seems that belief might be misplaced. As a whole, it’s a job that’s only worth going after in deep leagues or if you have one person you really believe the talent of.
Los Angeles Angels — Although Cody Allen hit the IL this week, it was really not an injury that removed Allen from his position as Closer. It was announced before the injury that he had lost that role. I thought he had a good chance to retain it moving forward, but at this point it’s time to forget about Allen at least in most Redraft leagues for now, and focus who can get saves moving forward for the Angels. Ty Buttrey is a fan favorite and for good reason. He’s managed a K/9 over 12 so far this year and has also managed to suppress runs. But I think a lot of the “faith” that Buttrey built with the organization last year was not actually with this current manager. And going by the same rules of team control, it seem that Robles makes the most sense to get the first crack at the closing role. Regardless, this is a situation worth monitoring.
Seattle Mariners — This one might be one of the hardest for me. Roenis Elias continues to prove himself able to do the most important thing: get outs. But he does it in such unsexy ways. And while meanwhile Swarzak hasn’t been awful, he botched a save this week and isn’t exactly coming off a great year in New York. Swarzak’s still my year-long pick personally, because of the overall skills, but it continues to be a hard job to predict between mediocre options.
Atlanta Braves — The Job was complicated enough to begin the season when it was just Viz and Minter. The loss of Viz and the fact that Minter isn’t exactly Prime Chapman has lead to any number of random Relievers getting opportunities for saves. Despite the numbers this week in terms of Save #, I would prefer AJ Minter moving forward in all leagues. I think he’ll find match-up saves and has as good a shot as anyone right now at being the everyday closer.
Holds League Leaders (Top 15)
Adam Kolarek / Craig Stammen
According to my recent Fangraphs leaderboard, 8 Holds is the highest number of anyone in the sport of baseball. Two players have 8: Adam Kolarek of the Tampa Bay Rays and Craig Stammen of the San Diego Padres. Neither of these players sticks out to me as a particularly interesting add in Holds leagues however. Kolarek is a lefty, and it makes sense that he will continue to get opportunities in “specialist” opportunities. However he doesn’t have a particularly strong K/9, and there’s no skills change that I see that supports that he’s any better than his more modest career ERAs. Stammen is a veteran and 35 Years Old, so it makes sense that his usage is what it is. But his K/9 is fairly low, and his Whiff% is the lowest it has been since he moved to the bullpen fulltime in 2010. He’ll be used, but in most IRS+H and SV+HLD league the point is that you have MORE options. Stammen may get those SV+HLDs but his overall value is likely to be mediocre this year even in these leagues.
Adam Morgan / John Brebbia / Lou Trivino / Diego Castillo / Alex Claudio / Tony Watson
Three times as many players have 7 Holds. Of that list, I see Lou Trivino of the Oakland Athletics as having the greatest opportunity for season long value. So far this year he’s maintained a strong combination of K/9 and Whiff% while sustaining low rates of both Walks and HRs. The combinations of Ks and HRs have always been in the profile for Trivino, but what has been a marked improvement this year is that Walk Rate. If he can continue to keep the walks as far down as they’ve been so far this year, he has some sneaky upside in these non-Saves formats. Adam Morgan (Philadelphia Phillies) also has a pretty strong argument for the top, if it weren’t for the fact that his numbers this year are so far from his career normals. His 18.0% Whiff% I believe is the strongest so far this season on this entire list, and he’s done an excellent job getting hitters to chase outside the zone. Diego Castillo (Tampa Bay Rays) appears on this list but has also gotten a few saves, so there’s a fair argument that he deserves to sit the top of the list. The real knock on Castillo so far is that he has given up a fair number of HRs so far to start the season. Probably just a bit of luck, but hopefully it isn’t signs of a anomalous HR season.
Of the remaining three players who have 7 Holds, John Brebbia (St. Louis Cardinals) is probably my favorite target just for upside alone. But it depends on league setting, as the other two are far safer. He has a high K/9 and high BB/9 and profiles as one of the many who could be “filthy” one day and “a mess” the next. But his 100% Strand% and incredibly low BABIP suggests that he’s obviously been a bit fortunate to start this season. I could see some ugly outings. Alex Claudio (Milwaukee Brewers) and Tony Watson (San Francisco Giants) are worth owning in these types of leagues because you know what they are. They’ll be consistent, even if that consistency floats closer to a 4.00 ERA than you’re comfortable with.
Ty Buttrey / Taylor Rogers / Reyes Moronta / Trey Wingenter / Joe Biagini / Chaz Roe / Andrew Miller
There are plenty of intriguing names to discuss in the 6-Holds list. One of them (Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins) has been discussed in great detail in this column. I’ll be short– I’m a big fan. He’s a lefty that I think could be used a lot of different ways with a good number of innings, Ks, and good ratios. Joe Biagini (Toronto Blue Jays) has also been discussed quite a bit, but for him it is worth pointing out that recently he has been prone to giving up a fair number of HRs. It’s worth monitoring as he is one of the more clear cut 8th-Inning relievers in Baseball. If performance, personal, injury, or anything else plagues Ken Giles, Joe Biagini will be likely to receive the Closer role.
From the other names, Ty Buttrey (Los Angeles Angels) and Trey Wingenter (San Diego Padres) are currently the most interesting. Wingenter was used as the closer when Yates had pitched too many consecutive times, and locked up the save. Most likely, he’s the #2 in role in this bullpen right now. He has some K-upside, though his BB/9 is a bit concerning. Ty Buttrey was discussed in detail with the Angels pen. Reyes Montoya (San Francisco Giants) has compiled Ks and Holds with the Giants so far, but I’m not willing to buy into the BB/9 quite yet. But I might be underselling what he has already done in 2018. He’s worth monitoring.
Chaz Roe (Tampa Bay Rays) and Andrew Miller (St. Louis Cardinals) are the names on this list probably because of positions they had coming into the season. Miller in particular has been bad. Some strikeouts, but an egregious K/9 and ERA. With his lack of value in SVs leagues and the amount of options in SV+HLDs types, I’m not holding out much hope at least in terms of using a roster spot. Roe similarly has not performed to expectations with a BB per inning so far (9 BB/9). With how many dangerous arms there are in the Rays pen (Alvarado, Castillo, Pagan, and Kolarek+Roe on this list), I don’t know how many high quality innings he sees in the short future.
Final Priority List:
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday April 28th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #155 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is John Gozzi. John is a writer and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday May 2nd, 2019 from 7:30-9pm EST for episode #156 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Cole and Kyle will discuss the latest happenings in the world of MLB and fantasy. They will take a look back on the previous few days and a preview of the coming weekend. Including spot starts, bullpens, offense, and minor league players.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.