Welcome to the start of the 2017 regular season. 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 for Week 1 of the fantasy baseball season.
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.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups for Holds
Heath Hembree, Boston Red Sox
(2016) 6 Holds, 2.65 ERA, 51.0 IP, 47 K, 1.33 WHIP
With Tyler Thornburg starting the season on the disabled list, reliever Heath Hembree will see setup opportunities for Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. In the very early days of the 2017 season, Hembree has reduced his four-pitch repertoire to just a fastball and slider. He will need to reduce his 40.1 percent fly ball rate in the hitter-friendly Fenway Park but the well-built Red Sox team should give Hembree numerous opportunities at holding a lead on the bridge to Kimbrel.
Koda Glover, Washington Nationals
(2016) 2 Holds, 5.03 ERA, 19.2 IP, 16 K, 1.12 WHIP
The soon-to-be 24-year-old Koda Glover was among the last three candidates to be a closer for the Washington Nationals entering this season. After losing the closer duties to Blake Treinen, Glover will maintain his value as a setup reliever in the late innings of the game. Relying on power, his fastball and slider steadily live in the 90 MPH or greater range. Along with getting above league average swings in the zone, Glover is also experiencing less than league average contact in the zone, confirming the overpowering pitches he exhibits. Despite some injury concerns, Glover will see considerable time in high leverage situations in potential Nationals wins.
Luke Gregerson, Houston Astros
(2016) 15 Holds, 15 Saves, 3.28 ERA, 57.2 IP, 67 K, 0.97 WHIP
The Houston Astros entered the 2017 season with three closer-quality relievers. While Ken Giles takes on the closer's role; Luke Gregerson will be situated as the eighth inning reliever. The veteran Gregerson has had significant time in his nine-year career as a setup reliever so his reputation makes him a reliable pickup for holds this year. Last year, Gregerson averaged above league average swings out of zone and below league average swings in the zone so his fastball, slider combination has baffled the opposition. The Astros are bringing a strong team into the season so expect Gregerson to get hold opportunities with the occasional save opportunity if Giles needs a day off.
Joe Biagini, Toronto Blue Jays
(2016) 9 Holds, 1 Save, 3.06 ERA, 67.2 IP, 62 K, 1.30 WHIP
After a successful campaign as a Rule 5 pick; Joe Biagini has established himself as a reliable reliever in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen. Last year, Biagini induced 52.2 percent ground balls on batted balls. Sporting a four-pitch arsenal, Biagini got an above average swing rate on pitches out of the zone last year. He nearly averages a strikeout per inning and he should see a similar rate in his sophomore year with the Blue Jays. With closer Roberto Osuna beginning the season on the disabled list, Biagini will see late-inning roles and potentially even save opportunities early in the season. He will maintain his value as a candidate for holds throughout the season.
Bryan Shaw, Cleveland Indians
(2016) 25 Holds, 1 Save, 3.24 ERA, 66.2 IP, 69 K, 1.26 WHIP
While closer Cody Allen and dominant setup man Andrew Miller get the spotlight, reliever Bryan Shaw goes under the radar with his effectiveness. With a 94.0 MPH cutter and an 87.5 MPH slider last year, Shaw is showing swing-and-miss stuff and averages just over a strikeout per inning. Opponents were batting .230 against Shaw last year and the same can be expected from him in 2017. Expect Shaw to see significant work as a part of the bridge to Allen in an effort to minimize the work for Andrew Miller with postseason aspirations in mind.