While the holds statistic is hard to determine who will enter the game in the right situation, the players noticed today feature a couple former closers and stellar setup men. All of these players are capable of being reliable setup men for their respective teams and players worth considering adding if your league counts holds. A couple of these relievers could also be the first in line for the closer job if their fellow teammates cannot cut it at the end of games.
Evan Meek, Baltimore Orioles
1 hold, 7 innings, 0.00 ERA, 3 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Formerly an All-Star in 2010, Evan Meek made his triumphant return to the major leagues as a reliever in the Baltimore Orioles bullpen. While he minimized his repertoire to a fastball in the low 90s and a splitter in the low 80s, he’s still able to generate the ground ball that made him so successful during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was never a pitcher known for putting up a power fastball for high strikeout numbers but he has shown manager Buck Showalter that he is dependable for late innings. He has made all but one appearance in the seventh inning or later and he has shown up in three games with a one-run lead or a tie game.
Ian Krol, Detroit Tigers
2 holds, 4.1 innings, 2.08 ERA, 3 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts
Ian Krol, 22, was traded to the Detroit Tigers along with two other players for starter Doug Fister. Along with veteran Phil Coke, Krol is the go-to lefty out of the Tigers bullpen. With a primarily right-handed starting rotation, even the best starting pitchers in the league may be need help from a lefty in the bullpen. Krol features a low 90s fastball with a curveball in the upper 70s and a changeup in the mid 80s. The single run that Krol has allowed this season was by a right-handed bat but in a majority of his appearances, he’s pitched a full inning, mixing right-handed and left-handed bats.
Luke Gregerson, Oakland Athletics
3 holds, 7.2 innings, 1.17 ERA, 4 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
The ineffectiveness of closer Jim Johnson has created an opportunity for regular setup man Luke Gregerson to step into the closer’s role with a division-contending team. Gregerson, 30, has 135 holds over his six-year career while regularly having 34 or more holds in a season four out of five seasons entering 2014. While his velocity has diminished year-by-year, fastball velocity now at 87 MPH, his effectiveness remains a constant. Whether or not closer Jim Johnson can return to a form of consistency is of no concern to an owner of Luke Gregerson in a deep league with the holds category. Gregerson can be counted on to be a dependable eighth-inning reliever for holds if he isn’t the A’s go-to man for saves.
Kyle Farnsworth, New York Mets
2 holds, 5.2 innings, 1.59 ERA, 4 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
The New York Mets have turned to veterans after Bobby Parnell went down with Tommy John surgery. Along with Jose Valverde, the Mets have turned to the 38-year-old Kyle Farnsworth to anchor a young, developing bullpen. In the latter half of Farnsworth’s career, his velocity is not the mid-to-upper 90s that it used to be. Mix in a slider and a changeup once in a while to his low 90s fastball and the Mets have their setup man in the eighth inning of a developing bullpen. The days of high strikeout numbers are also in Farnsworth’s past. So far this season, Farnsworth has figured out how to make it work. He has generated a balanced spread of outs in the early part of the season but the constant that could benefit him is playing 81 games in the spacious dimensions of Citi Field
Hector Rondon, Chicago Cubs
0 holds, 7 innings, 0.00 ERA, 3 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
When you are on the Cubs, the opportunity to win is hard to come by. By result of that, holds are hard to come by. That doesn’t mean that relievers like Hector Rondon won’t get the opportunity to pitch in high leverage opportunities though. The 26-year-old Rondon has pitched in the seventh inning or later in all six of his appearances this season. He has a strong 11.6 K/9 which is unusual for Rondon who, in his short career, has produced mostly ground outs. Two-thirds of Rondon’s outs this season have come on the ground. If you want a dependable reliever who will be expected to put up some holds for some of the wins by the rebuilding Chicago Cubs (if he doesn't run with the closer gig), Hector Rondon is the man for the role.