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Getting A Grip On Holds: Relief Pitcher Waiver Wire Pickups

While the holds statistic is even harder to predict than saves for closers, the players we highlight today feature some sleeper setup men and some looking to reclaim glory they once had. The more likely an MLB team is to win, the more likely these following relief pitchers will be eligible to become holds sleepers, and can be the difference between winning or losing in your fantasy league.

This week, a few relievers on new teams receive the spotlight as they look to help their new teams succeed. Most of the relievers mentioned today are going to see high leverage situations as they could be critical to their team winning and potentially playing in October.


Waiver Wire Options For Holds

Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a weekly series on relief pitcher targets for holds. You can follow the entire series of holds analysis and sleepers to stay ahead of your competition.

Also be sure to check out our famous fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups list, which is broken down by every position with hot/trending players, and is updated every single day.


Vinnie Pestano, Los Angeles Angels

1 hold, 5.00 ERA, 9.0 innings, 13 strikeouts, 1.56 WHIP

Vinnie Pestano Los Angeles AngelsThe Los Angeles Angels acquired Vinnie Pestano from the Cleveland Indians in the fourth transaction made this season to try and improve the bullpen.

The 29-year-old Pestano will join Joe Thatcher (currently on the disabled list), Jason Grilli and Huston Street as the Angels look to give the Athletics a run for the West division.

His statistics of the season look bad but they are in a small sample size of just nine innings. He is capable of getting in excess of 20 holds and he may have the opportunity to do that with his new team.


Bryan Shaw, Cleveland Indians

14 holds, 2.81 ERA, 51.1 innings, 42 strikeouts, 1.11 WHIP

The presence of a solid relief pitcher like Bryan Shaw made pitcher Vinnie Pestano expendable. Opponents are batting .222 against Shaw but he won’t put up high strikeout numbers. He depends on the movement of his pitches to generate his outs as 70% of the pitches he throws are the cutter and the other 30% are sliders.

Nearly half of his appearances have been with the lead and often enters the game in the seventh inning. The Indians are not necessarily in contention but if they have a lead, expect Shaw to enter the game and get the job done.


Dominic Leone, Seattle Mariners

7 holds, 2.14 ERA, 46.1 innings, 50 strikeouts, 1.23 WHIP

The Seattle Mariners have a few quality arms in their bullpen to support some good starting pitching and Dominic Leone is one of them. His ERA is approaching 2.00 and keeps opponents to a .231 batting average. Leone often enters the game in the sixth or seventh inning.

He averages a little more than a strikeout per inning but throws some high quality pitches as his fastball can reach the mid 90s. The Seattle Mariners are one of many teams that are in contention for one of the two Wild Card spots, if Leone can continue putting together a good rookie campaign, he and the Mariners may see postseason baseball.


Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

11 holds, 1.69 ERA, 48 innings, 40 strikeouts, 1.25 WHIP

Along with Wade Davis and one of the elite closers in Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera is putting together another great season. Opponents are batting just .223 against Herrera. The Royals are close to the Detroit Tigers, who are favorites to win the division. The Royals offense has shown up in flashes but lack the consistency to put the Royals ahead soundly. An average offense will call for high leverage situations in later innings.

Herrera has handled the seventh inning well as he has made 20 of his 48 appearances in that inning. He has pitched in 19 games with the lead and 21 with the Royals trailing. Of the 21 games that he entered with the Royals trailing, 12 have been with just a one-run deficit. Clearly, Herrera is trusted in high leverage situations when they are winning or losing. He is valuable to the Royals and he will bring positives to most fantasy teams.


Matt Thornton, Washington Nationals

12 holds, 2.39 ERA, 26.1 innings, 21 strikeouts, 1.14 WHIP

Once with the New York Yankees, Matt Thornton finds himself on another contending team with the Washington Nationals. The veteran lefty still has velocity on his fastball as it averages around 94 MPH. Despite left-handed batters (.238) hitting slightly better than right-handed batters (.225) are, expect Thornton to continue being a specialist against left-handed batters.

The Nationals have not been playing up to the expectations despite being the division leader. The Nationals bullpen already features some great relievers and they will add one more with the inclusion of Matt Thornton.