Holds! I mean, seriously ...
HOLDS! Am I right?
Here's a question to all those who manage a team in a league that counts Holds as a stat, "Is there a stat in this universe we inhabit that drives you any more insane than Holds?" "No." That's the answer. The answer is "no." Next question. Actually. That's the only question.
Holds are a nice addition to a league in that they add value to a group of players generally ignored in most Fantasy Baseball formats, but, Holds will keep an owner up at night. Holds will drive an owner to drink. Holds will leave you questioning all that is holy and good in this world of ours while you curl up in a ball in the corner of your basement. Why? Because they're impossible to predict. Impossible.
There is no strategy for Holds. Well, there is a strategy, but it's rate of success is minimal as that's just the nature of Holds, from what I can tell. To me, this is the best thought process when targeting Holds at your draft or off the wire:
Pitchers to Target:
1) You want a relief pitcher a manager trusts to throw out there in the 8th inning with a 1-3 run lead. Sometimes 7th inning guys are OK, but 8th is ideal as it gives a team one more chance to acquire a lead and is late enough that the starter will be out of the game most of the time. Sometimes, which relief pitcher this will be on a team isn't clear until the first couple of weeks of the season (think Trevor Rosenthal), meaning it might not be the best idea to invest early in setup men at your draft. If at all.
2) You want that relief pitcher to be on a good team, preferably a good National League team (more pitching changes, etc.). This is much easier to predict as there are only so many NL teams and most can guess who the Top 5 or so teams in the league should be. Bonus hint: The St. Louis Cardinals will be a good NL team from now until the end of mankind.
3) You want that pitcher to be on a good NL team but not a good NL team with an excellent pitching staff, just a pitching staff that's good enough to have a lead after the 7th inning of a lot of ball games. Not a staff where the starters routinely pitch into the 7th, 8th and 9th innings of games while setup men twiddle their thumbs in the bullpen. You might not have guessed it to start the year, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have exactly that kind of staff.
4) Target a LHP "Loogy" on a good NL team that has a good-but-not-excellent pitching staff. A Loogy likely will only have to face 1-2 hitters max to earn the Hold (limiting the chance of blowing said Hold) and can be used multiple days in a row due to the limited amount of pitches they throw per appearance (in theory). The only setback here is that the Loogy is unlikely to contribute much in the way of ratios or strike outs to your weekly or season totals.
5) If possible, you want there to be a solid closer on the team so that the odds of the setup man taking over the closer role sometime in the season and therefore no longer acquiring Holds is limited. Injuries and deadline deals make this extremely challenging to predict but someone like Kenley Jansen, despite being the setup man to start the season, probably wasn't a good bet for big Holds totals this year thanks to Brandon League being Brandon League and all.
6) Unless you just so happen to be Miss Cleo, I don't see any way of predicting this, but, should you be aware of a pitcher that either has or is about to have dual SP/RP eligibility and is going to be one of the lead setup men on a team, most definitely acquire that pitcher. The ability to start that pitcher in a SP slot on days when one is available is AWESOME. Despite not pitching in the NL, Drew Smyly, Brett Cecil, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz are nice examples of such pitchers.
That's it. That's my strategy for targeting Holds at the draft and early in the year. Late in the year. Like now. For example. It's whoever just so happens to be the setup man getting the ball in Hold situations the most recently. It's a fluid situation, y'all.
Holds Totals Over the Past 14 Days:
|Pitcher||Team||14 Days||2013 Total|
|Yoervis Medina||Seattle Mariners||5||13|
|Matt Belisle||Colorado Rockies||5||20|
|Tyler Clippard||Washington Nationals||5||26|
|David Robertson||New York Yankees||5||30|
|Ronald Belisario||Los Angeles Dodgers||4||17|
|Donnie Veal||Chicago White Sox||4||7|
|Matt Lindstrom||Chicago White Sox||4||15|
|Manny Parra||Cincinnati Reds||4||12|
|David Carpenter||Atlanta Braves||4||5|
|Joe Smith||Cleveland Indians||4||19|
|Boone Logan||New York Yankees||4||9|
|Scott Rice||New York Mets||4||15|
|Tim Collins||Kansas City Royals||4||20|
|Shawn Kelley||New York Yankees||3||8|
|Tanner Scheppers||Texas Rangers||3||22|
|Kelvin Herrera||Kansas City Royals||3||15|
|Kevin Siegrist||St. Louis Cardinals||3||6|
|Joel Peralta||Tampa Bay Rays||3||31|
|Aaron Crow||Kansas City Royals||3||19|
|Seth Maness||St. Louis Cardinals||3||12|
|Luke Gregerson||San Diego Padres||3||16|
|Nate Jones||Chicago White Sox||3||9|
|A.J. Ramos||Miami Marlins||3||10|
|Jared Burton||Minnesota Twins||3||21|
|Paco Rodriguez||Los Angeles Dodgers||3||17|
New York Yankees / Chicago White Sox
It's been a good two weeks to be a setup man for either the Yankees or the White Sox with 6 of the Top 25 coming from those two teams. So much for my NL strategy.
Kevin Siegrist - St. Louis Cardinals
Siegrist has turned into the "Go to LOOGY" for Mike Matheny and the St. Louis Cardinals with 3 Holds in the last two weeks, and now a total of 6 on the season. In 25.1 IP, Siegrist owns a 0.71 ERA and 0.83 WHIP combined with a dazzling 12.09 K/9. Considering left-handed hitters are batting a combined .098 BAA vs. Seigrest in 2013, I'd expect him to continue facing them with the game on the line as the Red Birds continue their pennant chase.
David Carpenter - Atlanta Braves
It's basically a Holds Factory down in Hotlanta every season with players like Johnny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty in '11 and '12 and now Jordan Walden and David Carpenter in '13. Targeting RP from the Atlanta Braves coincides with #2, #3 and #5 above. Carpenter has nailed down a setup role for the best team in baseball thanks to a sterling 1.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. 57 strike outs in 48.1 IP isn't too shabby either.
JJ Hoover - Cincinnati Reds
Hoover hasn't allowed an earned run since June 6th. Correct. June 6th. That scoreless stretch has earned him the trust of Dusty Baker and the lead setup role behind Aroldis Chapman. Suck up Hoover fast if he's available in your Holds league.
Brian Wilson - LA Dodgers
"Fear the Beard!" I fully anticipate Wilson to be a must-own option in Holds leagues down the stretch. He should see ample opportunities to setup Kenley Jansen thanks to the LA Dodgers being the hottest team in baseball in the second half. Although, feel free to bench him every fifth day when Clayton Kershaw pitches. Clayton Kershaw hates Hold opportunities. It's a fact.
Ronald Belisario - LA Dodgers
Well, it was a nice run, Ronald. Belisario has been excellent for the Dodgers throughout the team's recent hot streak, allowing only 1 ER in his last 10 appearances, but with Wilson now in the fold and Paco Rodriguez and Brandon League as well, it seems like the Hold opportunities could be sparse for him. Keep a close eye on the situation. A close goggled eye.
David Robertson - New York Yankees
David Robertson takes my NL-focused Holds strategy and spits in its face. He has 30 Holds this season and now 94 Holds over the last three seasons combined. If Robertson isn't owned in your Holds league, I have one question for you ... do you know what a Hold is? Unfortunately, his domination in a setup role is nearing its end as it's likely he takes over for Mo in the 9th in 2014. You will be missed, Dave.
Tyler Clippard - Washington Nationals
See "Robertson, David" above. Clippard has been a beast in terms of Holds for most of the past three seasons. Unlike Robertson, Clippard should continue in the role in 2014 with the presence of Rafael Soriano on the 'Nats. Possibly the #1 target for Holds next season.
Questions? Comments? Have a better Holds strategy that works for you? I'd love to hear it. Seriously. I would.
all stats courtesy of Yahoo Sports