No relief pitcher has seen more upward growth in ESPN average live drafts during the past week than Colorado Rockies right-hander Greg Holland, and it’s pretty easy to understand why. The Rockies signed the former Kansas City Royals closer with the likely intent of him inheriting their ninth-inning role, even though veteran right-hander Adam Ottavino is certainly capable of handling things. Holland, however, is more proven in the role, and since his fastball velocity appears to be back closer to the level is was prior to Tommy John surgery, well, managers don’t need much else, apparently.
That’s not to say that Ottavino, who is more capable of a multi-inning role even though he’s not so far removed from the exact same surgery, would have saved 35 games. He still might. We don’t know. We also don’t know if Holland will be able to hold up physically and be effective pitching half the time at Denver’s elevated Coors Field. It seems like a dangerous mix, after all. Holland missed all of 2016, and he’s on a nifty prove-it, one-year contract which not only serves as great motivation, but makes him a tradable asset should the Rockies not contend this season.
Ultimately, it’s still tough to call Holland or Ottavino, whoever is announced as closer, a coveted selection in a standard ESPN mixed draft, because there’s risk. They’re not alone. Closer situations for the Diamondbacks, Reds, Angels, Twins, Athletics, Phillies and Nationals either fail to inspire or remain to some degree problematic, and some simply might not want to deal with them even after the 20th round. My hand is raised. I’d prefer to leave a 10-team draft with a few upside selections -- Byron Buxton, Blake Snell, even Yoan Moncada -- than a “closer” like Ryan Madson, who might not even be a closer next week. Plenty of saves will be available during the season. They always are. Regardless, here’s a stock watch for the relief pitcher set: