The Hold Up 3/28: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Ranking baseball's top setup options for the 2024 season.

Welcome to Opening Day! We finally made it, and while there will be plenty of big movers on these lists in the early goings, it also needs to be mentioned that we do not want to overreact too much without any sort of real sample size. In drafts and early in the season though, that’s where I want to chase upside, especially in holds leagues where there are typically a lot of reliever options available on the wire. Hold opportunities aren’t always predictable, but we can get a jump on which relievers are talented enough to win those roles. The Marlins for example have (finally) a trio of right-handed relievers, all of which I can see being significant factors in holds leagues this year. Anthony Bender is back healthy after missing the 2023 season, George Soriano impressed down the stretch for Miami last year, and Sixto Sánchez has had a dominant spring and, if healthy, could be a difference maker in that bullpen. Maybe only one of them has consistent year-long value for fantasy purposes, but for now, they are each worthy of a speculative add to see how things shake out.




  • Jordan Leasure officially made the White Sox roster for opening day, a pleasant surprise, but now we wait and see what his usage looks like. I’d imagine (I hope) his inclusion on the opening day roster indicates he will see high-leverage work early on, maybe not as the closer, but in some sort of setup role. In holds leagues, the upside is too big to let him sit on the wire. Michael Kopech also joins the bullpen here, and while there are some suggesting he may be their best bullpen option and potentially close right away, I’d want to actually see something promising from him out of the bullpen first because he was terrible last year. Now if he is sitting at 97 mph this weekend, then he will shoot up these ranks in no time.


  • I’m giving the edge in close closer battles to the veterans to start the year, so that’s why James McArthur is on this list for now. He’s more than earned the closer role with an outstanding spring that backed up his September dominance from last year, but I do wonder if the Royals at least give the veteran Will Smith a chance to close out games. Either way, McArthur looks like he’s for real. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff but he has great command and his 6’7 frame helps him get extension so his mid-90s fastball plays up even more.


  • It may not be surprising, but Yuki Matsui is clearly going to be a high-leverage factor for the Padres and might have more upside than I previously believed as he finished spring training with eight strikeouts over three innings. We will see how the strikeout rate pans out over a full season, but at the very least he should be the heavy favorite to lead this team in holds.


  • With Jonathan Loáisiga slowed by injury (again) this spring and just not looking great when he has pitched, I think Ian Hamilton is the clear top setup option for the Yankees entering the year. It’s not just the great spring for Hamilton either; he was great last season with a 2.64 ERA and 29% K rate.


  • About two weeks ago Fernando Cruz wasn’t even projected to make the Reds roster opening day, which would have been crazy to think that he wouldn’t make the roster in lieu of someone like Buck Farmer. I don’t know if Cruz will get high-leverage work right away, but he is an absolute strikeout machine. After being recalled by the Reds in late May last year, he went on to post a 34.5% K rate (ninth best amongst relievers over that span) over his final 49.1 IP to go along with a 1.11 WHIP and 3.01 SIERA. He followed that up with a successful spring with 15 Ks over 10 IP and a 0.90 WHIP. There’s a case to be made he is the Reds’ best reliever. I just don’t know how the Reds view him.


  • Gregory Soto has had a rough spring while Seranthony Domínguez has looked pretty good for the most part, and these two may begin the year much closer in value than previously expected. Dominguez was a huge disappointment last year, but we know the stuff is there for him to be a high-quality setup option at least. Soto on the other hand made some big improvements last year, similar to how the Phillies unlocked Alvarado in 2022.


  • I’m still high on Alex Lange and I want to believe he can get that walk rate closer to 10% this year and be one of the best closers in baseball. Until we see that, it will be awfully hard to trust him. Jason Foley is throwing 99 mph sinkers and is a very capable setup option, but the wild card remains Shelby Miller who I guess I’m starting to come around on. His 1.71 ERA and 0.90 WHIP last year with the Dodgers had tons of red flags under the surface, but this spring has helped lessen those concerns a bit and we’ve even seen an uptick in swing-and-miss stuff.


  • I thought Aaron Bummer was locked in as Atlanta’s top left-handed reliever back in February, but both Tyler Matzek and Dylan Lee have been fantastic this spring while Bummer has been, not so great. I had high hopes for the Braves being able to turn Bummer around, but at this point, I feel like Bummer may be behind both Matzek and Lee to start the year.


If you would like more daily reliever updates, please check out our Reliever Ranks series.

SP Eligible Relievers


Rank Pitcher Change
1Bryan AbreuT1-
2Ryan Pressly-
3A.J. Minter-
4Josh Sborz-
5Julian Merryweather-
6Aroldis Chapman-
7Jason Adam+1
8Jeff Hoffman+1
9Brock Stewart+1
10Andrew Nardi-3
11Hunter Harvey-
12Jason Foley+22
13Scott Barlow+9
14James McArthur+24
15Ian Hamilton+21
16Joe Kelly
17Yennier Cano+4
18Jordan Leasure+15
19Chris Martin+1
20Abner Uribe+5
21Joe Jiménez-9
22Alex Vesia-9
23Matt Strahm-8
24Yuki Matsui+11
25Héctor Neris-2
26Giovanny Gallegos+6
27Danny Coulombe-10
28Phil Maton-2
29JoJo Romero-11
30Joel Payamps-2
31José Soriano
32Gregory Soto-16
33Taylor Rogers-9
34Colin Poche-15
35Pierce Johnson-4
36Fernando Cruz+20
37Brooks Raley-7
38Emilio Pagán-1
39Lucas Sims-
40Tyler Rogers+1
41John Schreiber+16
42Anthony Bender+26
43Steven Okert+15
44Seranthony Domínguez+25
45George Soriano+26
46Shelby Miller+32
47Sixto Sánchez+36
48Michael Kopech+32
49Tyler Matzek+49
50Dylan Lee+37
51Gabe Speier
52Steven Wilson-10
53Aaron Bummer-26
54Jonathan Loáisiga-11
55Trevor Richards-10
56Chad Green-10
57Ryan Brasier-9
58Andrew Kittredge+19
59Caleb Ferguson-10
60Shawn Armstrong-10
61Rafael Montero-10
62Tim Mayza-10
63Matt Moore-10
64David Robertson-10
65Hoby Milner-10
66Daniel Hudson-7
67Ryan Borucki-7
68Nick Sandlin-7
69Adam Ottavino-5
70Ryne Stanek+4
71Will Vest
72Garrett Cleavinger-25
73Tyler Holton-10
74Tanner Rainey-9
75Nick Anderson-9
76Miguel Castro-9
77Kirby Yates-7
78Nate Pearson+6
79Jorge Alcala+6
80Tejay Antone-1
81Josh Winckowski+12
82Kyle Hurt+UR
83Justin Slaten-1
84Kody Funderburk+2
85Lucas Erceg-10
86Dillon Tate-10
87Enyel De Los Santos-15
88Hunter Gaddis-
89Tim Herrin-
90Bryan Hudson+1
91Nick Burdi+1
92Génesis Cabrera+2
93Dany Jiménez+2
94Scott McGough+2
95Kyle Nelson+4
96Elvis Peguero+4
97Isaiah Campbell+UR
98Andrew Chafin+UR
99Mark Leiter Jr.+UR
100Ryan Walker+UR

Rick Graham

Rick resides in the Boston area and has experience as a player and coach at the collegiate level. He has been covering relievers for Pitcher List since 2017.

2 responses to “The Hold Up 3/28: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Mike Honcho says:

    Do you see a healthy is R.Stephenson as a season long H’s guy or an inevitable SV’s guy?
    Do you see Alvarado’s health an opportunity for Hoffmann to slide into the closer role ahead of the Soto and Seranthony?

    • Rick Graham says:

      I think Stephenson is probably looking at like a 10-15 holds/10-15 saves type season if he can come back healthy in May.
      Not too concerned wth Alvarado’s health (yet), I think Hoffman is the top handcuff for now with Soto struggling in the spring and Seranthony being terrible last year.

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