2018 Fantasy Baseball Hold Targets: Just As Important

by Tyler Gettmann
2018 Fantasy Baseball Hold Targets

A few years ago, I was in a league that changed the saves category to that of holds/saves. This was much to my delight because I don’t put much high stock into drafting closers early in a draft. Plus, I enjoy keeping everyone on the field an option in fantasy and this includes middle relievers. Good middle relievers are helpful but great middle relievers have just an important job as closers. To keep the game close and get you holds in fantasy.

I will be truthful though - holds, as new as it is to me, is quite new to the fantasy baseball world as well.  While it has been an official stat for some time, it's not as recognized in the fantasy game as it should be.

As a reminder, these are the significant criteria to be given a hold in baseball:

  • The pitcher appears when there is a save situation on the line.
  • He records at least one out.
  • He leaves the game with his team not losing the lead and not recording an actual save.

The all-time leader in holds is a lefty specialist by the name of Arthur Rhodes. All of these players look to emulate what Rhodes has for the middle reliever position.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Hold Targets

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Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies

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I know I am starting off with a Phillies pitcher, but you might have to get over it quickly because I think this 2018 Phillies squad is going to be fun to watch this year.  It could be a good combination of both pitching and hitting that are going to fuel the whole team.

With his unorthodox pitching style, Pat Neshek has been getting the job done for a long time now.  Coming off an All-Star season, he may be the best reliever for the Phillies but is slotted as the setup man to begin 2018. The 37-year-old seems to keep on clicking on the mound. Last season he was acquired by the Phillies in a late-season trade-deadline move. Then in December, the Phillies re-signed him to a two-year deal.

It’s been a long time since Neshek had fantasy relevance. He returned to the game in 2010 after an injury, but really didn’t make a mark in the league until 2014. Since then, he has been one of the best relievers in the game. Neshek is coming off one of his best pitching seasons with career bests in ERA, walks, and strikeout rates. These are all numbers that can help in other categories besides earning you a hold in your league.

Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians

After missing a quarter of the season, Miller still finished in the top seven among relievers. Personally, I think that he is the best reliever and should be the closer for the Indians. For now, we will benefit from him getting holds in the league. He is one of the first that should be off the board after all the higher level relievers and probably will end up still a top-20 reliever in 2018.

I can’t believe this guy isn’t able to stay with the same team for more than three years. Miller is a proven asset to any team that he pitches for. His combined stats for the past three seasons include an ERA of 1.63, a WHIP of 0.79, 318 strikeouts, and 102 saves plus holds. He is worth drafting in your league even if the hold is not a category.

Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels

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In 2017, Parker had an ERA of 2.54, 86 strikeouts, eight saves, 15 holds, and a WHIP of 0.83. He undoubtedly is coming off the best year of his career, but is it too little too late with the amount of youth pitching has to offer in the relieving category? Even with a possible regression, there is still so much that Parker can offer. He has simplified the way he is going about pitching nowadays by sticking with the fastball and split-finger. On his split alone, he was able to get a 25% swinging strike rate and 55% ground ball rate.

Early indication states that the Angels were going to go with a closer by committee approach in 2018, but it seems that Cam Bedrosian has taken over as the lead role placing Blake Parker as the main setup man. Parker did have an overall better season than Bedrosian, but Bedrosian seemed off while posting a 1.12 ERA in 2016. With a better rebuilding offense, Parker should have plenty of shots to pick up holds this season. This being said, I probably would only draft him if holds was a category, but certainly, something to be monitored as the season goes on.

Addison Reed, Minnesota Twins

Which type of Reed are we going to get in 2018? The 2016 New York Mets Reed, where he only gave up four home runs and had an ERA of 1.97 or the 2017 Reed (pitching for both the Mets and Red Sox), where he gave up a total of 11 home runs and had an ERA of 2.84. Some things that did pretty much stay consistent were the number of innings pitched (77.2 to 76) and his WHIP (0.94 to 1.05). It really is a tough question showing that his total career though has been that of inconsistencies.

I think Reed’s only blunder is being able to keep the ball in the ballpark. Out of all the guys I mentioned today, I believe he has the best shot of actually becoming the closer for the Twins by the end of the 2018 season. Before coming to Boston last year, he did end up getting 19 saves with the Mets. He has good enough stuff to keep both lefties and righties at bay. He is only entering this year at the age of 29 and I believe you will see numbers more of the 2016 version of him.

Chris Devenski, Houston Astros

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Coming off a big World Series victory, Devenski was the main set up guy for Giles and looks to repeat his success in 2018. It is amazing the amount of work Devenski used in 2017, but he was certainly reliable in doing so. Out of all the possible relievers last year, he pitched a total of 80.2 innings; which was fourth overall.

Devenski ended up being the highest related reliever with fewer than five saves. I don’t think they are going to use him as much as last year because of his second-half struggles in 2017. He ended up having a 9.00 ERA in 10 postgame appearances too. I believe this workload check will keep his numbers more in check and helpful to fantasy owners.

Outside Looking In

Dellin Betances, New York Yankees

The end of 2017 really didn’t go too well for Betances. He became one of the weaker links of a pretty deep bullpen of the New York Yankees. His walk rate ballooned to 16.9% and by the postseason wasn’t even a trusted target for manager Joe Girardi to go to in pressure situations.

I know it’s early, but supposedly Betances has shown up to spring training in better shape hoping to restore his trustworthiness to the Yankees and you as a fantasy owner. As it is more realistic he will be more of a 60 inning guy instead of an 80 inning guy, I do think he will place up in the holds category quite well. Since 2014, Betances has been the second-best reliever in WAR and the seventh best by WAP. Don’t let last year fool you and make sure he does get drafted later especially if you have holds as a category.

Ryan Madson, Washington Nationals

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At the end of February, Davey Martinez, the Nationals first-year manager, explained that Madson will act as their main eighth-inning guy. The Nationals wanted to bolster their bullpen as they picked up Madson, Kintzler and Doolittle late in the 2017 season. Madson had a total of 25 holds, an ERA of 1.83, and a WHIP of 0.80. His strikeout rate was a career high of 31%.

It’s amazing what Madson has been able to do in the past three years, especially coming off of severely tearing his UCL and having Tommy John surgery. Since 2015, he has an ERA of 2.55, 174 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.02. All of these re-establish himself as a suitable middle reliever. If Doolittle stumbles out of the gate, it could open the door for Madson to get not only holds but saves this year as well.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Position Previews
CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherRelief PItcher

Check out the rest of our great Fantasy Baseball content as the 2018 season approaches.

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