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Getting A Grip On Holds: Relief Pitcher Waiver Wire Pickups

By John on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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 relief pitchers 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 earn the holds that could be the difference between winning or losing in your fantasy league.

Some of the relief pitchers I am going to focus on this week will be a part of contenders and some are a part of rebuilding projects. It’s approaching the last month of the season, aces will go the distance but younger talented starting pitchers may be reaching innings they never touched before so middle relief pitchers will need to preserve the lead so that the closer can preserve the win and save the game, so the hold is ripe for the taking for these relievers.


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.


Jumbo Diaz, Cincinnati Reds

6 holds, 24.0 innings, 3.38 ERA, 26 strikeouts, 1.00 WHIP

By John on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsThe large right-hander, Jumbo Diaz, is slowly beginning to establish himself as a reliever in the majors. Primarily using a fastball that reaches 97 on average, Jumbo Diaz appears to be putting his weight behind his pitches. He strikes out just over one batter per inning pitched. With just six holds to this point in the season, his best selling point is as a fireman.

While he has only inherited 13 runners on base, only one has scored so far. The Cincinnati Reds are likely not going to contend for a spot in the postseason but Diaz is getting the chance to prove he belongs on the roster next season with a strong finish to 2014.


Danny Farquhar, Seattle Mariners

11 holds, 58.2 innings, 2.45 ERA, 66 strikeouts, 1.11 WHIP

The Seattle Mariners bring one of the best bullpens in the league to the table. After a good first season with the Mariners in 2013, Danny Farquhar is emerging as a very good reliever in the 2014 season. He boasts a K/9 of 10.1. He got to work as a closer in 2013 but with Fernando Rodney handling the closing duties this season, Farquhar is establishing himself at the back end of the bullpen.

An small decrease in the velocity of his pitches has not hindered his effectiveness. Farquhar is just getting beyond his career-high for innings and has not shown any signs of weakness. He has held opponents to under a .200 batting average for the month of August. The Mariners will need Farquhar and the rest of the bullpen to help them reach the playoffs this season.


Dan Otero, Oakland Athletics

11 holds, 73.2 innings, 2.20 ERA, 35 strikeouts, 1.13 WHIP

With the injury to Sean Doolittle, Dan Otero got recalled back to the majors. His demotion was not for lack of ability. While he will not blow you away and strike you out as his K/9 is hardly there (4.3), what Otero brings to the game is a great (57%) ground ball rate. This is no surprise when you realize that  52.7%  of his pitches are sinkers. He will not throw in excess of 90 MPH so his goal is weak contact.

His numbers are not flashy but he gets the job done. He will likely not step into the closer’s role with players like Eric O’Flaherty and Luke Gregerson.  Otero will be working in a middle relief role and help the team out through the final stretch of the season until Doolittle returns.


Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs

16 holds, 50.2 innings, 2.31 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 1.09 WHIP

Once the closer, Pedro Strop is doing a great job as setup man for the Chicago Cubs. While his K/9 is just under 10.0, he also has a 2.31 ERA, his best in a full season in the majors. He is currently generating a ground ball rate of 54.3% that is likely due to his two-seam fastball.

Opponents are hitting .183 against Strop and in 118 plate appearances right-handed batters have just 15 hits, and a .144 batting average. Since June, Strop has pitched to a sub 2.00 ERA in each month. The Cubs will not contend but it will not stop Strop from being an effective reliever.


Jean Machi, San Francisco Giants

15 holds, 57.1 innings, 1.57 ERA, 42 strikeouts, 0.89 WHIP

Despite losing the division lead to the rival Dodgers, the Giants bullpen, and Jean Machi in particular, is having an outstanding season. Along with his sub 2.00 ERA, Machi also holds opponents to a batting average under .200. After a difficult June, Machi posted an ERA around 2.00 in July and an ERA around 1.60 for August. He will be in a lot of tight contests as the Giants look to make postseason baseball.