Well we are almost a week in to the MLB season now but early point to a lot of unrest in most bullpen’s. Finding holds each and every will be a very fluid situation outside of these top 2, possibly 3 tiers. Expect this list to change a lot over the first month or so, with players moving up and down, on and off the list until things become more clear.
TIER 1: Good Vibrations
So far, so good for these two in the early stages of the season. Miller has thrown 2 innings, earning a hold as well as a win while striking out 2. Betances has only seen action in one game, picking up a K in 2/3 of an inning pitched.
TIER 2: I’ll Be There For You
3. Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)
10. Arodys Vizcaino (Atlanta Braves)
14. Derek Law (San Francisco Giants)
Brad Brach being the goto 8th inning option in front of Zach Britton makes him a top option in hold leagues. Pedro Strop has pitched the 8th inning in both games the Cubs have been up by less than 3 runs and seems like the safest option in that bullpen at the moment. Brett Cecil seems like the top set up guy in St. Louis but he was shelled Thursday. He should continue to see hold opportunities though.
TIER 3: Torn
24. Sammy Solis (Washington Nationals)
25. Hector Rondon (Chicago Cubs)
31. Drew Storen (Cincinnati Reds)
33. Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)
35. Cory Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)
The Rockies also may have a different look in the 8th innings than expected. Mike Dunn seems to be the primary set up man, as he has pitched the 8th inning in close ball games three times, whereas Adam Ottavino has pitched the 7th each time. There’s definitely room for both to be productive, with Hollands potential health concerns making them solid owns in holds leagues. With all of the Nationals bullpen talk surrounding Blake Treinen, Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley, people seemed to forget about Sammy Solis. Except for Dusty Baker that is, as he has used him in two high leverage situations so far. He earned the hold on Monday, pitching a scoreless 8th inning and was even brought in and given a save opportunity Thursday night, even with Treinen available. It seems like Baker will use Solis late in games with the lead against any and all lefties, so that certainly puts Solis on the radar in holds leagues. Joe Blanton seems to be the 8th inning option for right handed hitters, leaving Kelley’s role a bit of a mystery for now. 3 pitchers have pitched the 9th inning for the Athletics so far this season when leading by 4 or less. Ryan Madson, the favorite to close the majority of games this season, was not one of them. He pitched the 8th with the lead, and the reasoning here could be that Bob Melvin just wanted to make sure he faced Mike Trout late in the games. Either way, even if he does pitch the majority of the time in the 8th inning, he’ll still be a usable source for holds. Andrew Bailey and Drew Storen work their way up the list as both should not only be their respective teams primary set-up man, but both should earn a few save chances here and there.
TIER 4: You Get What You Give
40. Joaquin Benoit (Philadelphia Phillies)
47. Michael Lorenzen (Cincinnati Reds)
Ryan Dull was given a save opportunity on Tuesday and proceeded to give up a 3 run HR to Danny Espinosa. His slider just wasn’t on, but he should bounce back get some more hold/save opportunists. Similar for Matt Strahm who has struggled early on but should still be a big part of that Royals bullpen. I think Dan Altavilla will run with the primary set-up role even when Steve Cishek returns. He has some nasty stuff, touching 98 with his fastball and featuring a hard slider with good bite. Alex Wood, Chris Devenski and David Phelps can still help out in deep leagues, even if they are not contributing holds. They should see a lot of innings and contribute K’s, along with good ratios and the occasional win or hold. All 3 should probably be in a starting rotation somewhere but for no make for luxury long relievers. Fernando Salas seems to have worked his way back to fantasy relevance, working after Hansel Robles in games so far this season and could be in line for some holds even when Jeurys Familia comes back from suspension.
TIER 5: There She Goes
55. Xavier Cedeno (Tampa Bay Rays)
65. JP Howell (Toronto Blue Jays)
HM. Miguel Diaz (San Diego Padres)
Joe Smith seems likely to be in a battle with Joe Biagini for that secondary set-up role once Roberto Osuna returns. Heath Hembree has been setting up Craig Kimbrel and will continue to do so until Tyler Thornburg is healthy. Matt Belisle has 2 holds on the year so far, and has apparently locked up set-up duties for Brandon Kintzler. Tony Barnette is an interesting name to watch with Sam Dyson struggling and Keone Kela being demoted. I really don’t need to say anything about Miguel Diaz other than you need to see this (if you haven’t already)…
Anyone who has that in their arm can certainly find a spot at the back end of ball games. He has 3 potentially plus pitches in his fastball, slider and changeup and just needs to be more consistent commanding them. While the Padres do need some right-handed talent in their bullpen, he’s just an interesting name to watch in San Diego and has a ways to go before being fantasy relevant.
Houston Street (Los Angeles Angels)
Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Glenn Perkins (Minnesota Twins)