2020 Fantasy Baseball Holds Targets

by Travis Argo
2020 Fantasy Baseball Holds Targets

Welcome to the 2020 Fantasy Baseball Holds Targets article! 

Congratulations on playing in a saves-and-holds, or holds league. I love playing in these types of leagues because I hate wasting draft capital on closers and holds leagues remove that burden from my life.

Enough about my bias, let's dive into the secrets to finding the best holds targets in the 2020 season. Here's the sleeper every owner should target, Holden McGroin (I got you good that time).

For real, here is the actual strategy for finding pitchers who will rack up the holds. The top ten teams in holds were also teams who had offenses in the top half of the league in runs. Six teams had multiple pitchers with 20 or more holds. That's logical that teams who win more will have more opportunities for holds and saves. 

Fantasy owners also need to pay attention to managers' tendencies with their bullpen. Last year, the Astros had three relief pitchers with double-digit holds; that's probably not going to happen this year under Dusty Baker, who loves to over-work his starters.

Now, Aaron Boone's and Craig Counsell's teams had multiple pitchers with 20-plus holds last season; that will continue for the Yankees and Brewers because of their managers' usage of the bullpen. 

The last tip I will give Fantasy owners for finding potential holds targets is to make sure you pay attention to the starting rotations injuries. Teams riddled with starting pitching injuries are forced to rely more on their bullpen to secure wins.

Now that we've discussed strategy, let's get to players you should draft in holds leagues. I have three players from one team, so I'm going to start them.

2020 Fantasy Baseball Hold Targets

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New York Yankees 

Speaking of organizations that have to deal with starting rotation injuries, the Yankees have been walloped again and will have to use their talented deep bullpen to get them through the early part of the season. Here are the pitchers who will hold down the fort. 

Zack Britton

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Britton is the safe and reliable pick out of New York's bullpen. He had a 1.91 ERA, and 29 holds in the 2019 season. He led the majors in groundball rate and was twelfth in left-on-base percentage among relievers. The lefty is Boone's first choice out of the bullpen, especially against right-handed hitters.

Adam Ottavino

Ottavino recorded 28 holds last year and is projected to have 20-plus holds in 2020. Unlike Britton, Ottavino will be a solid contributor for strikeouts, 11.94 K/9 rate last season. Ottavino does walk batters, so he will ding your WHIP, but other than that, he'll be a holds machine again this season.

Tommy Kahnle

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Kahnle is the upside target in the Yankees bullpen. He had the highest K/9 rate (12.91) in New York's bullpen. Plus, he had an incredible 17.9 swing-and-miss percentage, which was sixth among relievers. Kahnle's changeup is the most devastating pitch in his arsenal; batters had a .136 AVG, .179 WOBA, and 27.1 swing-and-miss rate against the pitch last season. Kahnle had 27 holds in 2019, and I can't find enough to suggest he won't have a repeat season.

Pitchers Not In The Yankees' Bullpen

Ryan Pressly,  Houston Astros

When looking for reliable production in the holds category, Fantasy owners cannot go wrong with Pressly. He was one of the few relief pitchers to have over 30 holds last season. He had one of the highest swing-and-miss rates in the majors, 17.7 percent, which also led Houston's bullpen. He had an incredible 2.66 FIP, and a 2.55 SIERA last season. No one is coming to take over his job anytime soon. That's what you need to win, a pitcher with a secure workload and spot.

Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox

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He was overshadowed by Brandon Workman, but Barnes had a solid season as Boston's setup man. He had 110 strikeouts, which makes him tied for third among relievers and recorded 26 holds. Barnes could put Workman on the hot seat if he struggles in the early months.

Yusmeiro Petit, Oakland Athletics 

Petit was just one hold short of joining the 30 hold club and had a 2.71 ERA in a massive workload last year. Petit pitched in 80 games last season and should get that same kind of workload in 2020. He should record 20-plus holds for the A's this year.

Aaron Bummer, Chicago White Sox 

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Bummer is the White Sox version of Zack Britton. He is a groundball pitcher who won't get strikeouts but will have a low ERA and WHIP. Rumors are already circulating that Alex Colome is on the trade block, so make sure you grab his successor.

Sergio Romo, Minnesota Twins

Romo only had 17 holds but had 20 saves last year with the Marlins and Twins. Most of those saves were with Miami, but Romo will get a few save opportunities with his new club as well. The Twins like to give the bullpen plenty of rest, so there will be plenty of mixing and matching based on the hitter. No matter how Minnesota uses Romo, he'll either walk away with a hold or save for his Fantasy owners. 

Ty Buttrey, Los Angeles Angels 

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I had high expectations for Buttrey last season; I thought he would be the next Josh Hader, but he couldn't get the closer job from Hansel Robles. I haven't given up hope yet. Buttrey struck out 84 batters in 72.1 innings last season. Even if Buttrey can't pry the closer role from Robles, he will be a crucial contributor in the Angels' bullpen.

Pedro Baez, Los Angeles Dodgers 

Baez had a 3.10 ERA, and 25 holds in 2019. Baez has recorded 20-plus holds in each season he has reached the 60-inning threshold. He'll have to fight Joe Kelly and Blake Treinen for opportunities, but the Dodgers trust Baez to seal the victory for them. He's not the sexist pick, but he is the right pick.

Pitchers To Watch 

Jairo Diaz, Colorado Rockies 

Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds 

Blake Treinen, Los Angeles Dodgers 

Yoshihisa Hirano, Seattle Mariners 

Whoever becomes the setup man in San Francisco or Milwaukee.

For more preseason Fantasy Baseball, check out our whole series of position previews linked below.

Catchers | First Base | Second Base | Third Base | Shortstop | Outfield | Starting Pitcher | Relief Pitcher

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