Holds rankings are fickle. On any given week, the Brewers could have three guys get three holds each. You could also find yourself picking up the holdenest setup man in the game only to see him log no holds over the course of two weeks despite pitching well.
One of the biggest determining factors for relievers of any type is appearances. If they’re trotting out there almost every game, they will be in position for holds, saves or, really, any contributing fantasy performance.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 setup men through the first two weeks of the season — with an obvious focus on holds and appearances — and five more players to watch. Because I know you want it, I’ve included Yahoo ownership rates and key statistics:
Top 10 setup men (so far)*
*As in, you want to own these guys if you don’t already
1. Carlos Villanueva (MIL RP,SP) — Owned in 6%. Villanueva can be slotted in as a starter or reliever, giving you valuable roster flexibility. He also has three holds, two off league leader Brendan Donnelly, who can’t come close to matching Villanueva’s decimals. The Brewers setup man has a 0.00 ERA, a 0.43 WHIP and a 14.14 K/9 in six appearances.
2. Burke Badenhop (FLA RP) — Owned in 5%. Badenhop has thrown 9.2 innings in his five appearances, but still has a 0.93 ERA, 0.41 WHIP and a 7.45 K/9. He has three holds
3. Peter Moylan (ATL RP) — Owned in 22%. Has a higher spot than the majors’ four-hold guys because of his 0.00 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. His 6.35 K/9 isn’t the most impressive on this list.
4. Dennys Reyes (STL RP) — Owned in 1%. He’s a holds machine and has three already. Surprised Reyes is as available as he is in Yahoo leagues. He’s got a 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, a 9.82 K/9 and is tied with the leaders on this list with seven appearances.
5. Matt Guerrier (MIN RP) — Owned in 25%. One of the more well-known setup men is making good on the early part of the 2010 season. Guerrier has four holds, putting him in a tie for second. He’s got a 0.00 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP. He’s got an abominable 1.23 K/9, but he’ll continue to be used a lot and give you the holds you need.
6. Sean Marshall (CHIC RP, SP) — Owned in 14%. Marshall has a sizzling 13.40 K/9, second only to Villanueva’s in the top 10. He cannot match Villanueva’s zilch ERA, but is still dominating with a 2.25/0.63.
7. Rafael Betancourt (COL RP) — Owned in 10%. A high K/9 (10.50) is bolstered by 1.50 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He’s tied with six others for second place in holds with four.
8. Chad Durbin (PHI RP) — Owned in 5%. He has four holds, but his 5.68 K/9 is not nearly as saucy as some of the others on this list. He does have a nada ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. Also, his four holds come in only five appearances.
9. Matt Daley (COL RP) — Owned in 1%. Developed at Bucknell University, right in the Chinstrap Ninjas’ backyard, Daley has been impressive in the early going. He’s got three holds, a 0 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He’s struck out 7.71 per nine in six appearances.
10. Scott Downs (TOR RP) — Owned in 26%. There’s no way Downs should be owned 16% more than Betancourt or 20% more than Villanueva based on what we’ve seen so far this season. Downs has four holds in six appearances, but his K/9 is only 3.38, his ERA is 1.69 and his WHIP is 0.75.
Because we’re big on bonus content, let’s talk about league-leader Brendan Donnelly.
Donnelly has five holds pitching for the Pirates. With Pittsburgh he should have several opportunities to pitch in close games, that means holds should rain down from the sky onto him. His ERA is an unimpressive 3.00 and he’s allowing too many baserunners (1.67 WHIP) right now to crack the top 10.
However, he is the league leader in holds and is owned in just 2% of Yahoo leagues.
Another player worth mentioning is LaTroy Hawkins, one of the top NL setup men entering the season. He has four holds but has also had an unfortunate start to 2010.
Hawkins’ ERA is 11.81 and his WHIP (1.88) isn’t much better. He’s still striking out 13.50/9, but it’s not enough. In his last two appearances, he had blown saves and losses, giving up four runs and then three runs.
Own with caution at this point. The Brewers have a lot of capable setup pitchers — Todd Coffey, Villanueva and Chris Narveson — who could benefit if Hawkins moves out of his late innings role.
Now, five quick hits on relievers/setup men I expect will make their way into the top 10 soon:
- Chris Sampson (HOU RP) — 0%: 3 Holds, 1.17 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9.35 K/9, 7 App
- Takashi Saito (ATL RP) — 7%: 1 Hold, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP, 14.40 K/9, 5 App
- Joel Zumaya (DET RP) — 9%: 1 Hold, 0.00 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 5.68 K/9, 5 App
- Jensen Lewis (CLE RP) — 1%: 1 Hold, 1.59 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 9.53 K/9, 5 App
- Tyler Clippard (WAS RP) — 29%: 1 Hold, 1.04 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9.35 K/9, 5 App
Who’s in your setup slot? How many setup men do you roster? Let us know in the comments.