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?
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 in the A.L. West.
The Rangers will have one of the deeper back ends of the bullpen now with Sam Dyson, Matt Bush, Jeremy Jeffress and the return of Keone Kela. Dyson is a top-10 closer and has that job locked down.
In terms of HLDS, both Jeffress and Bush are solid options. Bush had 22 HLDS last season and a healthy 61 K. Jeffress had 27 SV with the Brewers and six HLDS after coming to the Rangers.
Bush is the one that fantasy owners should target though due to the K upside. Jeffress should be a quick add off the waiver wire as his stuff will play as usual. Keep an eye on Kela as well, who if healthy, has the stuff to be a huge factor in the bridge to Dyson.
Edwin Diaz’s meteoric rise certainly has entitled him to closing duties. Diaz has the potential to be a top-5 closer this season based on stuff alone. Behind Diaz though, there are no validated HLDS options.
Steve Cishek will start the year on the DL after offseason hip surgery. He had 25 SV and 9 HLDS last season, and when healthy, is a solid option for fantasy owners.
The wildcard in the Mariners’ bullpen, is Dan Altavilla. The youngster showed flashes of his raw stuff last season, reaching triple digits and has a nasty slider, so he is one name to write down. If he gets out to a hot start, owners should pounce all over him thanks to his arsenal being very similar to that which propelled Diaz to stardom.
Ken Giles had a rough start to the season, but turned things around in the second half and will more than likely carry the closing title into the season. Behind him are two of the more dependable HLDS options in the game.
For anyone that has been playing in HLDS for awhile now, Luke Gregerson is one of the most recognizable names. He has notched more SV with the Astros than in years prior, but he was a rock-solid HLDS contributor with the Padres and A’s.
Will Harris does not get the love he deserves as one of the better set-up men in baseball the last two seasons. He has posted no higher than a 2.25 ERA since joining the Astros in 2015 while striking out at least 68 per season.
Both should be drafted.
The A’s bullpen is a tough one to figure out from a fantasy standpoint. Ryan Madson was serviceable last season with a 3.62 ERA and 32 SV but had his ups and downs. Sean Doolittle finally looked like his vintage self and it was not too long ago where he was one of the more electric relievers in baseball.
The team also brought in Santiago Casilla, who blew his fair share of SV with the Giants but has shown the ability to be a solid fantasy RP over the last handful of seasons.
The best bet is to avoid the bullpen as a whole besides taking Madson as the presumed closer. Owners should allow the season to play out some before jumping over Doolittle or Casilla.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels bullpen is rough to say the least. The best reliever they have is Cam Bedrosian, who tweaked his groin early in camp but was great last season. He is the only draftable RP for the Halos heading into the season.
Bedrosian posted a 1.12 ERA and had 51 K in 2016, so even with Huston Street’s predictable injury already, he should be the closer regardless. Street can not stay healthy and the stuff has diminished greatly, fantasy owners should avoid him.
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 they are the next in line if the team’s closer goes down or struggle. But, the game continues to offer plenty of options that can prove to be the weekly difference.