The Hold Up 4/22: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham ranks baseball's top setup options for the 2021 season.

Tyler Rogers currently leads all relievers in holds plus all relievers in SV+HLDs’ by a margin of two at this point in the season. It’s great to see the Giants bullpen working so well and having set roles under Gabe Kapler, for now at least. That said, Rogers may have peaked on this list given the lack of strikeout upside. “Lack of” is actually generous considering his current 14.3% Whiff rate and 17.4% K rate. I also don’t imagine that every single Giants game will be a four-run game or less. Literally, all 18 of their games have been decided by four runs or less and ten of their eleven wins were save situations. Water will seek its level but Rogers is still the top setup option for the Giants, and that has value in and of itself. All in all, it’s been a good week for the submarine relievers, as Darren O’Day moved up the list four spots and Ryan Thompson is back on the list at 55. These guys have value even if they don’t have crazy high strikeout rates.




  • Victor Gonzalez had more holds than any other reliever this past week so why did he drop a few spots on the list? I didn’t actually drop him (I moved others up) but after looking at his xStats a little closer, I am a little worried about his slider. His slider is what got him whiffs last year and this year it just hasn’t been the same. He’s using it less, possibly because it’s been ineffective when he has thrown the pitch. He still is a groundball machine who limits hard contact, but the overall upside may not be as high as had hoped.
  • Joely Rodriguez returned to the Rangers bullpen last week and immediately slots in as their top setup option. He had a rough first outing, but his second time out was very impressive as he struck out Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout before getting Justin Upton to ground out.
  • It’s been a solid start for Kevin Ginkel following his rough 2020 campaign, and as long as he isn’t allowing free baserunners he should be a great reliever. His walk rate is currently down 10% from last season to 6.5% while his strikeout rate is up almost 10% to 32.3%. It’s early, but hopefully, he keeps this up and eventually holds down the closer role in Arizona.
  • The Brewers continue to do a great job finding and developing relievers, with the newest case study being J.P. Feyereisen who they basically got for free from the Yankees. Feyereisen is throwing his slider more this year, making it his primary offering, and has led him to a 36.9% Whiff rate to begin the year. The walks are a bit of an issue, but that seems like the only thing holding him back right now.
  • I hate to drop anyone this much over one bad outing, but one outing like Connor Brogdon’s last might keep the rookie out of high leverage work for the foreseeable future. I still believe in the skills long-term, but with Sam Coonrod pitching well and Archie Bradley possibly back in two weeks, I don’t think I want to chase Brogdon right now.
  • Apparently, Felix Pena was ready to be activated about a week ago, yet the team has yet to make a move to put him on the active roster. So either he has suffered some sort of setback or maybe the team doesn’t quite value him as a key contributor to their bullpen. Either way, it’s probably not helpful for Pena’s value.
  • With four key members (five if you count Colin Poche) of the Rays bullpen on the injured list, it only makes sense that they, once again, have been able to find some relievers you’ve never heard of who are more than capable of working in a setup role. Both Ryan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge were a big part of the Rays 2020 season, but neither one was exactly used in high leverage situations. Now both are working in setup roles and excelling, for the most part.
  • Nick Wittgren has been fine this season, but I just can’t recommend him outside of the deepest leagues given his poor xStats. I really wish Cleveland would use Phil Maton in that secondary setup role over Wittgren, but Terry Francona loves his veterans so expect Bryan Shaw to be the next in line.


Rank Pitcher Change
1James KarinchakT1+1
2Drew Pomeranz-1
3Giovanny Gallegos-
4Devin Williams-
5Lucas Sims
6Chad Green-1
7Trevor May-1
8Jake Diekman+10
9Taylor Rogers+5
10Blake Treinen
11José Alvarado+6
12Corey Knebel+11
13Kendall Graveman+18
14Scott Barlow-3
15Tyler Duffey-7
16Tanner Rainey-7
17Emilio Pagán+4
18Victor González-3
19Aaron Bummer-9
21Codi Heuer-5
23Adam Ottavino-3
24Tejay Antone+8
25Michael Kopech+8
26Jordan Hicks+9
27Hansel Robles-3
28Joely Rodríguez+UR
29Miguel Castro-7
30Tanner Scott-5
31Garrett Crochet-5
33Josh Staumont-5
34Daniel Hudson+2
35Kevin Ginkel
36Andrew Chafin+8
37Darren O’Day+4
38Tyler Matzek+10
39J.P. Feyereisen+19
40Mychal Givens-3
41Keone Kela-2
42A.J. Minter+1
43Sean Doolittle+3
44Austin Adams+5
45Ryne Stanek+7
46Dylan Floro+5
47Sean Newcomb+7
49Pierce Johnson+10
50Justin Wilson-12
51Brent Suter
52Jason Adam+8
53Connor Brogdon-24
54Félix Peña-14
55Ryan Thompson+UR
56Andrew Kittredge+14
57Anthony Misiewicz+UR
58Kyle Crick+32
59Yoan López+29
60Wandy Peralta+5
61Aaron Slegers+12
62Sam Coonrod+25
63David Price+UR
64Jonathan Loáisiga+10
65Garrett Whitlock+3
66Darwinzon Hernández-11
67Brusdar Graterol-10
68JB Bukauskas+UR
69Camilo Doval+UR
70Chris Rodriguez+UR
71Kyle Zimmer
72Robert Stephenson-10
73Rex Brothers+12
74Hirokazu Sawamura-18
75Caleb Thielbar+9
76Nick Wittgren-34
77Junior Guerra+1
78Yusmeiro Petit+UR
79Anthony Bass-10
80Duane Underwood Jr.-14
81Matt Andriese-4
82Wade Davis-10
83Sam Howard-19
84Paul Fry+UR
85Matt Wisler+UR
86John Curtiss+3
87Brad Boxberger+UR
88Hunter Strickland+UR
89Bryan Shaw+UR
90Kyle Finnegan+UR


Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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.

7 responses to “The Hold Up 4/22: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Jack says:

    Think Romano returns to closer duties (and not a holds guy)
    Also, what are the chances Sims takes over the closer role in Cincy?

    • Rick Graham says:

      Yea Romano should be the closer there, but they may go the committee route.

      They should be 100% re: Sims, but you never know so I’ll say 99%.

  2. Chuck says:

    Gallegos has had a few poor outings in the last couple weeks, surprised no movement here. You see this as an aberration?

    • Rick Graham says:

      Yea he had really bad control issues the last time out but giving his track record, I’m not overly concerned yet.

  3. Wes says:

    I have Gallegos and Green in a 10 team, daily lineup h2h league that has holds as a category. Is that enough or should I go to one bench bat and add Lucas Sims. I have Garrett, so it would be insurance plus the holds. I just don’t know if two guys are enough, even if they’re both elite. TIA

  4. Russ says:

    Would you drop Daniel Bard for Sims with the assumption Sims gets the closer job?

  5. Brett says:

    Where would Fairbanks be on the list? Sounds like he should return soon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login