The Hold - Baseball's Unheralded Stat
It is very difficult to rely on one pitcher on your roster as the Holds specialist. Unlike the closer there is no such thing as the holder. Specialist relievers that get one batter out or an eighth inning setup man expected to be the final part of the bridge to a win are all capable of earning a hold. Some of the following pitchers were expected to be important members of the bullpen and some were a pleasant surprise to their team and after you read this, your fantasy team too.
Kevin Siegrist, St. Louis Cardinals
6 holds, 3.24 ERA, 8.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 9 K
While Randy Choate is more of a specialist that comes in to get that one left-handed bat that the Cardinals don’t want to beat them, lefty Kevin Siegrist is called on for a full inning of work and he can get lefties and righties out. Ironically, Siegrist’s statistics this year show he is better against right-handed bats (.059 vs RHB, .308 vs. LHB). Siegrist will see regular playing time out of the Cardinals bullpen as seven of his 11 appearances have come in the eighth inning and eight of the 11 appearances have come in close games or with a game in a tie situation. Manager Mike Matheny clearly counts on him to get important outs in high leverage situations.
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
5 holds, 0.00 ERA, 8.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 13 K
Despite being a right-handed pitcher, Cody Allen has seen success against left-handed bats more than right-handed bats. This could also be the reason he has pitched just 8.2 innings in 11 games. There’s good reason to believe that if closer John Axford struggles, Allen would be one of the first relievers considered for the closer role. His five holds have come in his last seven games and he has a great K/9 of 13.5.
Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals
1 hold, 0.00 ERA, 8.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 11 K
After losing the competition for a role in the Royals starting rotation, Danny Duffy may have found his niche in the bullpen. Using a fastball in the mid 90's, a curveball in the high 70's and a changeup in the mid 80's, Danny Duffy has mixed up his pitches well and is a force to be reckoned with in a strong Royals bullpen. Since he is a former starting pitcher it makes sense for the Royals to use Duffy in long relief situations. He has pitched in at least two innings in all four of his appearances this season. He’s capable of getting lefties and righties out, as he continues to do well, expect him to get holds and be a prominent piece of the Royals success.
Tyler Thornburg, Milwaukee Brewers
3 holds, 0.75 ERA, 12 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 12 K
When your team has the best record in the league, you know the big bats will drive in the runs and you know the big pitchers will notch the wins and saves. But don’t forget the middle men that preserve your win by getting you to your closer. Tyler Thornburg is a reliever that could slip under the radar. He appears to be moving up the pecking order in the Brewers bullpen, getting holds in three of his last four appearances. He allowed one run in his first appearance of the season but has been on an 11-inning scoreless streak over his last 10 appearances. If the Brewers can maintain their winning ways, Thornburg could find himself getting many holds.
Dellin Betances, New York Yankees
2 holds, 0.93 ERA, 9.2 IP, 3 H, 6 BB, 16 K
The big man of the Yankees bullpen is Dellin Betances. A 6’8” right-hander with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s and a spike curve, Betances earned his spot in the Yankees bullpen straight out of spring training. So far this season, he has not seen many high leverage situations, usually entering games leading or trailing by multiple runs. The key to his success is his mechanics. Having such a large frame, it is difficult to consistently have his mechanics in order, evident by his 5.6 BB/9, but his 14.9 K/9 is reason enough to put up with the high walk rate. In the early part of this season, Betances has seen success, striking out multiple batters in six of his eight appearances but he has also struggled at times, walking multiple batters in two of his eight appearances. If the 26-year-old Betances can keep his mechanics in order, expect him to be a huge presence in the backend of the Yankees bullpen.