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. Central.
The Indians will sport one of the best and deepest bullpens in the game next season. The team looks to head into the season with Cody Allen manning closing duties, even with Andrew Miller in the fold. Miller was ridiculous last season and should be the first non-closing RP taken in drafts.
Fantasy owners should not sleep on Bryan Shaw nor Boone Logan in HLD leagues, as both have 20+ HLD over the last two seasons.
Francisco Rodriguez was great for the Tigers last season, notching 44 SV and a 3.24 ERA. The rest of the Tigers’ bullpen will once again be a question mark.
Justin Wilson led the team in HLD but was shaky for most of the season. The real wildcard for the Tigers will once again be, Bruce Rondon. The fireballer had a solid season in 2016, 6 HLD/45 K/2.97 ERA over 36 innings, so the potential is still there. He is a gamble but is not a terrible upside gamble with the last pick of an owners draft.
Kansas City Royals
Kelvin Herrera will be the team’s closer in 2017, taking one of the best HLD producers over the last few seasons off the market. The Royals bullpen does not look as dominant as years past, as the team will rely on Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm to form a bridge.
Soria posted 21 HLD last season but paired it with a 4.05 ERA and 68 K. The name to watch will be Strahm. The young lefty was thought to get a look in the rotation this spring but looks ticketed to the backend of the bullpen. He had 6 HLD/30 K/1.23 ERA over 22 innings last season, so he does not exactly have an extensive track record. But, he makes for an intriguing option to monitor.
Chicago White Sox
Somehow, David Robertson is still on the squad even though he was presumed to be gone by now. He will be the team’s closer for the beginning of the season at least.
We covered the interesting value that setup man Nate Jones brings to the table this season early this offseason and he remains the only other option that should be drafted out the ChiSox bullpen.
Brandon Kintzler stepped into the closer role nicely for the Twins last season, 17 SV/35 K/3.15 ERA, and will carry that title heading into the season.
Behind him though, things get shaky. Glen Perkins is battling another injury, leaving Ryan Pressly as the next in line to be the eight inning guy. Pressly had 14 HLD and 67 K last season, but he just does not have the upside worth taking in the draft.
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.