Fantasy Baseball: A.L. East Holds Targets Heading into 2017

Sep 9, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (68) celebrates after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (68) celebrates after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

The shift in MLB to a reliever based game has altered the fantasy landscape as well. For those leagues that now reward relievers by adding Holds as a tallied category, who should owners target in 2017?

More and more fantasy leagues are rewarding relievers that are being relied on more than ever. Instead of just awarding Saves to closers, Holds have become a popularized fantasy stat. While Holds are one of the more fickle stats in the game, it does not change the fact that it is a category being rewarded.

Here are the Holds target fantasy owners should be targeting on each team.

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AL East

New York Yankees

Aroldis Chapman is unquestionably the most valuable RP on the Yanks, but the cream of the crop Holds wise continues to be Dellin Betances. He is the only player to rank among the top-six Holds producers the last two seasons. There is a lot of turnover in terms of Holds leaders each year.

But, Betances is as steady as they come and is one of the few non-closer RP that is worth targeting before the late rounds.

Tyler Clippard is also in the fold as the 7th inning guy, he had 25 Holds in 2016, so he could also emerge as a waiver wire add during the season.

Baltimore Orioles:

Like the Chapman, Zach Britton is not being supplanted as the team’s closer. Darren O’Day had been one of the best Holds options heading into 2016 but struggled last season. Yet, Brad Brach had a career-best 24 Holds and 92 K last season. He looks to be one of the best Holds options for owners that miss out on the bigger names.

Toronto Blue Jays

Roberto Osuna has a firm grasp on the closing gig. Jason Grilli stepped in and did well as his setup man posting 23 Holds and 81 K. Grilli is not a guy that owners need to target on draft day, but could prove to be a quality add off the waiver wire if he can get off to fast start.

Joe Smith is with the club and has a track record of being a quality producer, he had 32 HLDS in 2015. But, fantasy owners should see how the bullpen shakes out once the season begins before looking at anyone else.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox bullpen is a relative weak spot. Craig Kimbrel is still as solid as they come. But, Tyler Thornburg is going through a dead arm phase, Joe Kelly is hardly someone to rely on even though he has the arm to be an elite RP. In terms of a Holds option, Matt Barnes is the most intriguing due to his pure stuff and use, but he can be had off the waiver wire once the season starts

One player that owners need to remember, though, is Carson Smith. He was tremendous in 2015 for the Mariners and could be a great option once he returns midseason.

Tampa Bay Rays 

Alex Colome emphatically locked down the closer role for the Rays last season, but the rest of the bullpen lacks a clear-cut HLDS option. The hope is that former closer Brad Boxberger can be the primary setup man, but he is currently battling through a lat injury. He had seven HLDS last season with a 4.81 ERA, so he should not be targeted.

Xavier Cedeno quietly has back to back seasons of at least 19 HLDS but lacks the K numbers to be a weekly difference maker.

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For the most part, fantasy owners are not aggressively targeting non-closers unless they provide substantial value elsewhere. Typically those in Holds leagues are targeting set-up men hoping that are the next in line if the team’s closer goes down or is shaky. But, the game continues to offer plenty of options that can prove to be the weekly difference.