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 N.L. West.
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Los Angeles Dodgers
Kenley Jansen is arguably the best closer in baseball and he will surely be one of the first relievers off the board. Behind him, the Dodgers have created a decent amount of depth to form a solid bridge. The team will rely on Pedro Baez, Grant Dayton, and newcomer Sergio Romo in the latter innings.
Baez is coming off back-to-back solid seasons out the bullpen. He is battling a thumb issue right now, but will once again be a fixture late in games. The presence of Dayton and Romo may limit his use some, but owners should feel safe in targeting him in the draft.
Romo is a fantasy mainstay, he will be solid this season but lacks the K upside to be drafted. Dayton is intriguing thanks to his K upside, he had 39 K over only 26 innings last season. For those owners that want to take a flier with their last pick in HLD leagues, Dayton is the one to gamble on.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants number one goal in the offseason was the bring a solidified closer and they did just that with Mark Melancon. The team seemed to be set with Hunter Strickland and Will Smith in the seventh and eight, but Smith’s elbow injury now puts that in question.
Strickland as his the raw stuff to be dominant, but does have his blowups here and there. He had 18 HLD, 57 K, and a 3.10 ERA last season, so he is worth a late-round pick as the Giants will lean on him once again.
Somehow, Fernando Rodney is once again entering the season as a team’s closer. The enigmatic righty looked to be done in Miami but turned things around immensely for the Padres notching 17 SV and sterling 0.31 ERA. He will be drafted by those owners who wait to take their closer in drafts as the volatility is too hard to invest in early.
Outside of Rodney, there is not one D’Backs reliever worth picking. Randall Delgado, Tom Wilhelmsen, J.J. Hoover and Andrew Chafin are not options worth exploring.
San Diego Padres
The Padres will have one of the worst starting rotations in baseball this season, making their bullpen pieces lose some value. Brandon Maurer had 13 SV, 13 HLD, and a 4.52 ERA last season, and will presumably enter the season as the team’s closer.
There are some interesting names behind him. Ryan Buchter had 20 HLD, 78 K, and a 2.86 ERA last season, Brad Hand had 21 HLD, 111 K, and a 2.92 ERA. Both of these are lefties, so they both seem bound to find the field a lot in 2017. It is hard not to take a gamble on Hand and the K numbers.
Then there is also the case of Carter Capps. Capps was one of the best RP in baseball before blowing out his elbow but will rejoin the team early this season. If the velocity is there, he is a must-add off the waiver wire.
The Rockies’ bullpen looks to be one of the more interesting ones. They have some depth, Jake McGee, Mike Dunn and Jason Motte, but there is some notable competition for the closing job. Greg Holland and Adam Ottavino are battling it out, but there are some rumblings that Holland will be anointed the gig soon.
Holland has looked solid and healthy this spring, so it would make sense for the Rockies to roll with him. Ottavino did well is in return from injury last season, posting a 2.67 ERA over 27 innings.
Fantasy owners should look elsewhere for HLD in Colorado until the picture gets a little clearer once the season starts.
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.