While the holds statistic is hard to determine. since we never really know who will enter the game in the right situation, the players noted 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 as sleepers of the waiver wire 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.
5 Holds Guys - Waiver Wire Pickups
Dale Thayer, San Diego Padres
4 holds, 0.53 ERA, 17 innings, 18 strikeouts
The 33-year-old Dale Thayer has become a reliable reliever on the San Diego Padres. Over the last two seasons, Thayer has 40 holds. In his 17 innings, Thayer has shown up in four games with the lead and he successfully held the lead. Most of his appearances have come in losing efforts but he has not let that affect him. He has 14 consecutive scoreless appearances.
He does everything expected of him. He throws a 92 MPH fastball around 83% of the time and an 83 MPH slider 15% of the time. He produces ground balls 43% of the time when the ball is put in play and has a K/9 of 9.6. If the Padres can find themselves in winning opportunities more often, expect Thayer to get the call.
Will Smith, Milwaukee Brewers
1 save, 8 holds, 0.63 ERA, 14.1 innings, 22 strikeouts
Many lefty relievers have only shown effectiveness against just left-handed batters but Will Smith is not one of them. The platoon splits for Smith show he’s effective against everyone (.091 vs. LHP, .185 vs. RHP). Of Smith’s 17 appearances, 16 of them have come with the lead so manager Ron Roenicke trusts Smith to pass along the win towards the final three innings of the game. The pitches that Smith bring are not outstanding, a 92 MPH fastball is his primary pitch with an 82 MPH slider and a 78 MPH curveball that is the last pitch he turns to. The balls that get put in play are on the ground almost 50% of the time (48%) so he keeps the opponent in the ballpark. If the Brewers can maintain their winning ways, expect Will Smith to be turned to for the holds.
Fernando Abad, Oakland Athletics
2 holds, 0.00 ERA, 13.1 innings, 15 strikeouts
Fernando Abad’s workload has been spread out from close games of one-run or blow out wins of four or more runs. He has appeared in seven games of one-run or less and five games with the win well in hand. Featuring a fastball-curveball repertoire, Abad has generated 55.6% ground ball outs on balls put in play. In a bullpen that features Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Luke Gregerson; it’s hard to imagine Abad being first in the pecking order of the Oakland bullpen. Always remember, in the case of holds, the last and more notable names are not the only ones that can notch a hold in a winning effort.
Jean Machi, San Francisco Giants
4 holds, 0.53 ERA, 17 innings, 0.88 WHIP
What do Mark Buehrle, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright and Jean Machi have in common? They all have five wins. Obviously, of the four names, one does not belong. In context of this though, three do not belong. Jean Machi has been the good luck charm when he enters tied games. Each time he has entered, he came away with the win. He has generally come in for the seventh or eighth inning and successfully held the lead four times as well. Machi is not a traditional fastball first pitcher. He uses 50% splitters and the numbers show that it works. He has produced 65% ground balls with 16% in the air and 18% as line drives. He won’t put up great strikeout numbers and I doubt the five wins this early in the season are telling of a future 20-game winner but he gets the job done and will get the holds when called upon.
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
6 holds, 0.93 ERA, 19.1 innings, 14 strikeouts
If there is a discussion of ground ball pitchers in the league, lefty Zach Britton on the Baltimore Orioles is going to be the ideal example of what a ground ball pitcher is. The pitch that Britton relies on for 90% of his pitches is a fastball that sits around 93 MPH. This fastball is the two-seam variety 84.6 % of the time. The two-seam fastball is meant to create a ground ball and 82.7% of the balls put in play against Britton are on the ground. That is an outstanding percentage. The 26-year-old Britton is a starter-turned-reliever and it appears he has found his calling.