2022 Fantasy Baseball Holds Candidates

by Dap Scout
2022 Fantasy baseball Holds Candidates

The 2022 Fantasy Baseball Holds Candidates guide will give an overview of key bullpen situations in an attempt to identify holds candidates for the upcoming season.

Just a quick rant: I hope all of you who are reading this are playing in Saves + Holds leagues. If you happen to be playing in Saves Only or Holds Only leagues, my heart goes out to each of you. While traditional Roto leagues only play with Saves, SV+H leagues provide a nice way to lessen the burden on players when seeking out relief pitchers. (End of rant)

The fact is, there are very few bullpen roles set in stone these days. The elite closers tend to hold their jobs, but otherwise, it can be tough to figure out how the free agent and trade market will still play out. However, this should not stop us from investigating.

2022 Fantasy Baseball Holds Candidates

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Which team creates the most Holds Opportunities

This is pretty simple. If a team is not scoring runs, then the bullpen does not have many holds opportunities. Look at the table below of the top 11 teams with the most Holds in 2021:

TeamTeam RecordRun DifferentialHoldsFinal Regular Season Standings
Braves*88-73+1341121st in NL-East
Giants*107-55+2101081st in NL-West
Cardinals*90-72+341062nd in NL-Wild Card
Dodgers*106-56+2691031st in NL-Wild Card
Mariners90-72-5199Missed Playoffs by 2 games (2nd Place AL-Wild Card)
Red Sox*92-70+42931st in AL-Wild Card
Nationals65-97-9692Last place in NL-East
Twins73-89-10589Last place in AL-Central
White Sox*93-69+160861st in AL-Central
Rays*100-62+206851st in AL-East
Padres79-83+21813rd in NL-West

The first thing that should stick out is 7 of the 11 teams made the playoffs, with one team, the Seattle Mariners, missing a playoff spot by two games. Of those 7 teams, plus the Mariners, they won at least 88 games. The other three teams, the San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, and Washington Nationals had different paths throughout their season to reach this list.

At the All-Star Break in 2021, the Twins were in first place in the AL Central, four games in front of the Cleveland Guardians. The Padres were 55-40 in mid-July then for a multitude of reasons they would nose dive and miss the playoffs. The Nationals? There might be kids reading this so I rather not talk about their season.

This shows us that before we start looking at individual pitchers we want to target teams who are:

  1. Possible playoff contenders
  2. Producing a positive run differential
  3. If I can't get a team that meets the first two criteria then I would look for a team with a forecasted run differential of less than -100
  4. Any team in the AL Central since four of the five teams in the AL Central were in the top 15 for Holds. The only one outside the top 15, the Cleveland Guardians, should have an improved team and bullpen for 2022.

I know what you are thinking: That's great advice but could you at least help us with a few team names who fit these requirements?

Sure thing! I'm here to help! Using these particular criteria, without looking at their bullpen situation I would investigate:

Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Rays, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, and Cleveland Guardians.

Let's investigate these further

Using Fantasy Six Packs' Closer Depth Chart here are some notes on the bullpens I want to target

Atlanta Braves - Setup men: Tyler Matzek (L) and Luke Jackson (R)

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Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson threw almost identical innings last year (63 and 63.2) and provided similar K/9 (11.0 and 9.9) and K% (29.2% and 26.8%). I am happy leaving with my draft with either of them. However at their current price, Tyler Matzek is going at pick 288 and Luke Jackson's ADP is 201, I want to grab as many shares of Matzek as possible.

Sleeper pick: A.J. Minter

A.J. Minter finished with 23 Holds last season which puts him in the top 10 for Holds last season. Minter should continue to reprise his role as a middle reliever in 2022. In 52.1 IP Minter put up a 3.78 ERA with 25.8% K% and 9.8 K/9. His ADP is in the 700's but I am absolutely targeting him in the 500 range.

San Francisco Giants - Setup men: Jake McGee (L) and Tyler Rogers (R)

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Remember when Jake McGee signed for that $27M contract in 2017 with the Colorado Rockies? Two seasons and an ERA over 5.50 later, and the Rockies just released him. A trip to the NL West and a stint with both the Dodgers and the Giants are the fix Jake McGee needed. In 2021, McGee finished with 31 Saves and 8 Holds with a stellar 2.72 ERA, 8.7 K/9, and 24.3% K%. With those statistics, I would be concerned Jake McGee could take over the closer role if Camilo Doval has any issues during the season.

Tyler Rogers is also a former closer, who last year finished with 13 Saves and 30 Holds. Rogers has never been a flamethrower out of the bullpen (6.1 K/9 and 16.9% K%). You cannot expect K's with Tyler Rogers but you can expect a low ERA.

With Camilo Doval being THE trendy closer pick of 2022 (current ADP of 164), a lot of fantasy players are expecting the Giants' closer situation to be fluid hence why Jake McGee is currently being drafted at 283. If you can withstand the hit to your K/9 and strikeout totals, I would focus on Tyler Rogers at ADP 567. However, depending on how the first few months of the season play out the roles of this bullpen could be very fluid.

St. Louis Cardinals - Setup men: Genesis Cabrera (L) and Alex Reyes (R)

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Every year St. Louis seems to find a new hard-throwing bullpen arm. I love watching Genesis Cabrera throw. He is absolutely electric. Cabrera appeared in 70 innings in 2021 and had a 26.0% K% along with 9.9 K/9. I am mildly concerned about the many rumors at the moment that the Cardinals are looking for an additional High Leverage Bullpen arm.  Even if the Cardinals bring in another arm I am drafting Genesis Cabrera with confidence at ADP 726.

Alex Reyes had a roller coaster in 2021. Reyes was having an amazing first half of 2021: 1.54 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 30.7%, and .154 AVG. Jon Heyman even Tweeted the following:

The second half was different. In August Alex Reyes' ERA ballooned to 7.84, and while he was still striking out a lot of players, batters were getting on base with a .261 batting average. He was replaced as a closer in September. This article is about Holds and I absolutely believe Reyes will get Saves next year, and will closer 1B to Gallegos 1A.

Focus on drafting Genesis Cabrera at ADP 727 and avoid the Alex Reyes/Giovanny Gallegos carrousel that I expect will develop in 2022.

Los Angeles Dodgers - Setup men: Alex Vesia (L) and Daniel Hudson (R)

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Daniel Hudson and Alex Vesia are both stud bullpen arms for a team that should win 95+ games in 2022.

Daniel Hudson in 51.2 innings had a 3.31 ERA with 13.1 K/9 and 35.7% K%. Alex Vesia finished last season with 40 innings with a 2.25 ERA, 12.15 K/9, and 4.95 BB/9.

In 2021, Dave Roberts expected to have a bunch of starting pitchers in his bullpen, but injuries caused him to move players around into different roles. I expect things to be a little more settled in the bullpen this season with Hudson and Vesia.

I'm a big fan of both Daniel Hudson (ADP 611) and Alex Vesia (ADP 710). However, I would rather have Vesia at the current ADP.

Seattle Mariners - Setup men: Diego Castillo (R) and Paul Sewald (R)

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At first glance, from a Holds perspective, I would want to avoid this situation. The Mariners are using a closer by committee which means I don't know who is getting the save each game, let alone who is going to grab the hold. Diego Castillo's current ADP is 442 which means fantasy players are expecting him to provide saves.

This would seem like a perfect time to pivot and look at Casey Sadler. In 2021, Sadler pitched 40.1 innings with a 0.67 ERA, 15 Holds, 8.3 K/9, and 25.5% K%. At his current ADP of 747, Casey Sadler is worth a dart throw.

Sleeper pick: Andres Munoz

Andres Munoz is rehabbing from Tommy John but should be ready by Opening Day, whenever that is. Just to make sure I am absolutely clear, ANDRES MUNOZ IS MY FAVORITE BULLPEN ARM! (Ahem...) His ADP is 602 make sure you grab him near the back end of your draft.

Boston Red Sox - Setup men: Matt Barnes (R) and Ryan Brasier (R)

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According to the closer depth chart at Fangraphs, Garrett Whitlock is listed as the Closer. However, Matt Barnes could be easily be listed as the closer on this chart. Again because we are hunting for holds I would avoid Matt Barnes because this is a closer by committee to start the season.

From a Holds perspective, I am completely avoiding the Boston Red Sox bullpen.

I do however want to highlight one bullpen member. Ryan Brasier is someone I am absolutely rooting for in 2022. In case you don't remember, Brasier suffered a concussion in June after being hit in the face with a line drive. He returned in September and appeared in 13 games. Just because I don't want you to draft Brasier doesn't mean I don't think he does not deserve a lot of people cheering for him in 2022.

Minnesota Twins - Setup men: Tyler Duffey (L) and Jorge Alcala (R)

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The Minnesota Twins pitching was not good by almost any metric. Team ERA 4.83 (Rank #26), FIP 4.66 (#24), K/9 8.35 (#23), and BB/9 3.07 (#24). However every year the Twins produce Holds. Don't ask questions just buy a share of the Twins bullpen to reap the Holds benefits.

Tyler Duffey produced 22 Holds last year with a 3.18 ERA, 8.8 K/9, and 24% K%.  My biggest concern from these numbers is the large dip in Duffey's K%. In 2019 he raked up 12.8 K/9, and in 2020 he had 11.6. A drop-off of almost three points concerns me. But I'm nit-picking one of the premier bullpen arms.

Jorge Alcala had 11 Holds with a 3.92 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 26.6%. My biggest concern is Alcala could end up closing games, his stuff is fantastic. At this time he is locked in as a late-inning reliever.

Tyler Duffey (ADP 637) and Jorge Alcala (ADP 433) should both be drafted. Just keep in mind the lower ADP for Alcala is due to speculation about him closing later in the season.

Quick Blurbs on other interesting hold candidates.

Chicago White Sox - Setup men: Aaron Bummer (L) and Craig Kimbrel (R)

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Liam Hendriks is locked in and being paid as the White Sox closer. But La Russa is "old school" which means he likes to destroy anyone's hopes for understanding how he is going to use his bullpen each game. Avoid Kimbrel as a Holds target and target Bummer.

The Kendall Graveman signing is interesting and if Kimbrel is traded, Graveman could slot in as the 8th inning arm. Personally, I like Garrett Crochet (ADP 555) and rather have him than either Aaron Bummer (ADP 676) or Craig Kimbrel (ADP 149).

Tampa Rays - Setup men: Pete Fairbanks (L) and JT Chargois (R)

Every year I guess wrong with how the Rays will utilize their bullpen arms. It is simple, no one knows what the Rays are going to do, or what roles anyone is going to play. Pete Fairbanks (ADP 534) and JT Chargois (ADP 742) both have relatively low ADPs that could allow a speculative pick. However, I am going to avoid them both.

Sleeper pick: Colby White

The 2021 Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year should be up with the major league club by June. He pitched in 4 levels of the minors in 2021 and absolutely dominated. I just wish I knew how the Rays will use him out of their bullpen. Who knows they might convert him to a shortstop.

San Diego Padres - Setup men: Luis Garcia (R) and Emilio Pagan (R)

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The San Diego Padres are expected to bounce back in 2022 and win, at least, a wild card spot. At the moment I don't like either Luis Garcia or Emilio Pagan because I expect the Padres to sign at least one or two bullpen arms when the lockout ends. This could be a fantastic real-life bullpen but one I want to avoid for fantasy purposes at the moment.

Kansas City Royals - Setup men: Josh Staumont (R) and Domingo Tapia (R)

Cleveland Guardians - Setup men: Anthony Gose (L) and James Karinchak (R)

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I'm lumping these two together for one simple reason: AL Central! James Karinchak is the easiest name to highlight. Last season he had 13 Holds but also 11 Saves. Emmanuel Clase will begin the season as the Guardians closer and should negate Karinchak's chances of getting double-digit saves this year.

I really like Josh Staumont but I am worried that he might be used often in the 9th inning. Domingo Tapia is the best Royals bullpen arm to focus on because we want Holds.


Be sure to keep an eye on the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!

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