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While holds are even tougher to predict than saves, the players we’ll highlight today include some elite setup men to target off the waiver wire in Week 20.

One-inning middle relievers are the constant sources for holds and specialists can manage to secure a hold even with one out. However, while specialists can get many holds, their fantasy value is limited to how effective they are in their specific role. Long relievers are not a strong source of holds, they are often used in emergency or mop-up roles; reducing their likelihood to enter a game with the lead. The strongest setup relievers can even be eligible for saves on occasion.

Bottom line: the more likely an MLB team is to win, the more likely these pitchers will be eligible to earn the holds that could be the difference between winning or losing in your fantasy league. Let's get to it.

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Relief Pitcher Waiver Wire - Week 20 Pickups

Collin McHugh, Houston Astros

5 Holds, 1.00 ERA, 54.0 IP, 70 K, 0.72 WHIP

The Houston Astros are searching for the bridge to the bullpen and Collin McHugh has been earning attention. The 31-year-old McHugh is striking out batters at a fantastic rate. McHugh has opponents hitting .143 this year. McHugh has been versatile for the Astros, showing up at any point from the fifth to the ninth inning but his primary appearance this year has been the eighth inning. The 44.6 percent fly ball rate is alarming for the ballpark he calls home. However, strong control has generated above league average swings and misses. In addition, throwing plenty of first-pitch strikes puts him in a pitcher-friendly count. Holds may be infrequent with McHugh due to his versatility but his strong numbers across the board can be a good reason to place a waiver wire claim for the moderate hold opportunities.

Drew Steckenrider, Miami Marlins

1 Save, 18 Holds, 3.42 ERA, 50.0 IP, 56 K, 1.28 WHIP

With the closer situation in flux, the Miami Marlins may hand the upcoming save opportunities to Drew Steckenrider. Moving up the bullpen depth chart, Steckenrider began the season seeing time in the sixth and seventh inning. Of late, Steckenrider pitches in the eighth inning and sees closing opportunities. The 27-year-old reliever is striking out just over a batter per inning while holding opponents to a .231 batting average. He had a rough outing earlier this week but he bounced back and secured a hold. He remains a candidate for save opportunities but is a certainty for opportunities at holds if he is not closing out games.

Kyle Crick, Pittsburgh Pirates

2 Saves, 12 Holds, 2.27 ERA, 43.2 IP, 46 K, 1.17 WHIP

The Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to stay in contention among a highly competitive Wild Card field and Kyle Crick has emerged as a strong part of the bullpen. Primarily entering in the eighth inning, Crick has opponents hitting .200 against him with over a strikeout per inning. The 25-year-old acquired from the Giants is generating above league average swings with below league average contact. His effectiveness has warranted use with the leads for holds and an occasional save when closer Felipe Vazquez needed the day off. Crick is a strong reliever and a worthwhile waiver wire claim.

Will Smith, San Francisco Giants

7 Saves, 5 Holds, 1.98 ERA, 36.1 IP, 50 K, 0.85 WHIP

Will Smith has been a strong stand-in closer for the San Francisco Giants while Hunter Strickland works his way back from his injury. Opponents are hitting a dismal .173 against Smith this year. After spending the first two months as a seventh or eighth inning reliever; Smith's effectiveness elevated him into holds and saves currently. He strikes out well over a batter per inning and is generating a ground ball on 43.6 percent of batted balls. Smith minimizes the walks and gets a lot of swings and misses. Strickland has begun his rehab assignment but Smith may have run away with the closer's role in San Francisco.

Ryan Madson, Washington Nationals

4 Saves, 13 Holds, 4.32 ERA, 41.2 IP, 39 K, 1.39 WHIP

The Washington Nationals are trying to figure out which direction they go in but Ryan Madson will attempt to save games. Familiar with closing, Madson is not striking out a batter per inning but has been moved into higher leverage appearances and save opportunities. Opponents are hitting Madson well, to a .269 batting average this year. Positively, Madson is generating a ground ball on 45.1 percent of batted balls. While the Nationals were performing under expectations, they are still in a competitive division so Madson will receive opportunities with other closers on the shelf.

 

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