Following up on our saves and holds preview articles, today we finish our look at relievers by combining the two to get our Saves + Holds (SV+HD) list. While the opportunity for these counting stats is certainly taken into consideration, it’s typically hard to gauge with bullpen usage being so fluid throughout the season for most teams. The bulk of the rankings are derived from swing-and-miss ability, expected outcome stats, and a little bit of HOTEL mixed in. Also, keep in mind that holds are much more volatile and harder to predict. We’ve only seen 11 seasons from a pitcher with more than 30 holds since 2016, while 49 closers have gone over 30 saves in that same time frame.
- After discussing all the closers and plenty of other holds options yesterday, I’ll focus today’s notes on pitchers currently in the hunt for rotation spots as there are a lot of them…
- It looks like Josh James is the frontrunner for the 5th starter spot in Houston, however, if he loses out there he’d immediately jump into tier 6. Two other names working as starters right now that need to be watched closely are Bryan Abreu and Christian Javier. Abreau impressed in his spring debut, striking out 4 batters of the 6 batters he faced and would likely be in that 6th tier mix. Javier may start the year in the minors but if he gets called up would probably make it on to tier 7. We shouldn’t forget about Brad Peacock also, who when healthy has been a weapon for the Astros out of the pen.
- As of now, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta are projected to miss out on rotation spots in Milwaukee, and if they do they will likely make the next iteration of this list. Burnes impressed in his 31.1 innings as a reliever last year with a 3.01 xFIP, 3.17 SIERA, and gaudy 19.1% SwStr rate while dealing with a .420 BABIP. Peralta posted a 30.1% K rate last year with basically one pitch and is now working on a slider making him someone to monitor closely this spring.
- The Cardinals have about a dozen pitchers vying for 2 rotation spots right now despite it being no secret that Carlos Martinez and Kwang-Hyun Kim are the heavy favorites to claim those. While both are working as starters for now, Alex Reyes and Ryan Helsley each have a ton of upside if they can claim bullpen spots.
- Sean Newcomb is slated to start the year in the Braves rotation but I’d expect him to have a short leash once Cole Hamels returns. While he’s struggled as a starter in his career, Newcomb was mostly effective as a reliever for the Braves last season and could be a tier 6/7 holds leagues option. Touki Toussaint is another guy I’d love to see in this bullpen at some point early on as his stuff should play well in shorter stints (assuming he can cut the walk rate).
- The Dodgers are working up Ross Stripling to start games, but there’s no opening for him right now in that rotation at the moment. Assuming no starters get hurt between now and opening day, expect Stripling to open the year in the bullpen and towards the bottom of tier 6.
- Vince Velasquez has the inside track to the Phillies 5th starter spot, but if Nick Pivetta is somehow able to steal the job from him, I’d be intrigued by Velazquez as a reliever.
- Shaun Anderson could either win a rotation spot or be the Giants closer entering the season, either way, I’m not too interested in chasing. In a depleted Giants bullpen though, his role should be big enough to warrant tier 7 consideration.