The Holds statistic is a very difficult statistic to rely on. Specialist relievers who get one batter out can earn a hold, and so can an eighth inning setup man expected to be the final part of the bridge to a win. There are a lot of different relievers that will earn holds for a team, unlike saves which are earned primarily by one closer. If you play in a fantasy baseball league with holds, you'll want to check out some of the following pitchers. Some are important members of the bullpen and some have been a pleasant surprise to their team and, after you read this, they could be a pleasant surprise for your fantasy team too.
Brett Cecil, TOR
3.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5:2 K:BB, 1 Hold
The 2013 lefty All-Star Brett Cecil is a dependable arm in the Blue Jays bullpen. Like Aaron Loup, Cecil is not the usual lefty as he is capable of getting both left-handed and right-handed bats out.
He’s more effective against left-handed bats, as expected, but manager John Gibbons has shown his confidence in Cecil’s abilities.
He has a 13.5 K/9 through just four games but if he stays within the range of the 10.4 K/9 he put up in his all-star season, this lefty will find himself in numerous situations to help the Blue Jays compete in the very difficult American League East.
Adam Warren, NYY
3.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4:1 K:BB, 3 Holds
The sample size is small but one of the three Yankees pitchers that competed for the fifth spot in the rotation has become a diamond in the rough in the bullpen. Michael Pineda shined in his season debut and Vidal Nuno did well in his first relief appearance. David Phelps has struggled so far and Vidal Nuno was recently put in the mop-up role. While all of this went on, starter-turned-reliever Adam Warren has seized the moment. In 3.1 innings, Adam Warren has not allowed a hit and has struck out four while walking one to a 10.8 K/9. He’s added velocity to his fastball, touching 95 MPH at times, now that he only has an inning or two of work. In addition, all of his appearances have come in winning situations, late in the game. It’s early to slot him in as a guy who'll rack up the holds, but he's certainly someone to have him on your team right now.
Chris Withrow, LAD
6 IP 0.00 ERA, 9:1 K:BB, 2 Holds
In limited work last season, righty Chris Withrow worked to a 2.60 ERA over 26 games and 34.2 innings. He struck out 43 in 2013 for an 11.2 K/9, so entering this season Withrow was setup to take on a bigger role in high leverage situations. In five appearances, he has two holds and has had multiple strikeouts in two appearances on the way to a 13.5 K/9. With “The Beard” Brian Wilson on the disabled list, former Indians closer Chris Perez and young talent Chris Withrow will likely see the primary relief opportunities in wins.
Wade Davis, KC
5.1 IP, 5.06 ERA, 7:4 K:BB, 1 Hold
With the Royals starting rotation filled with seasoned veteran starters and a fireball-throwing rookie, Wade Davis was the odd man out. Davis would join the already strong bullpen of Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera and closer Greg Holland. This will be his first full season as a reliever and manager Ned Yost has shown faith in Davis in the early going. He has entered the game in the eighth inning or later in all five of his appearances this season. The ERA catches your eye but in the early parts of the season, one run creates a mountain to work down from. He may not be worth an immediate pickup in your fantasy league but he is worth watching for when he settles down and becomes a great strength in the division-contending Royals bullpen.
Tommy Kahnle, COL
4.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 3:2 K:BB, 1 Hold
Rule 5 pick off the New York Yankees, righty Tommy Kahnle earned a job and a spot on the Rockies roster with a 0.77 ERA in 11 Spring Training games. While still a rookie, he will likely earn his eventual role with solid appearances in relief in lower leverage roles. He has earned his first career hold and first career win, and while he'll need to continue to put together good innings in relief, before season’s end he could be a very pivotal part of the Colorado Rockies bullpen.