The Hold Up 4/29: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

Jonathan Loaisiga is doing his best Chad Green impersonation for the Yankees, and is currently tied with Green for second on the team with three SV+HLD’s on the season. Three seems like a low number, but keep in mind the Yankees have been struggling out of the gate (that won’t last) but all three have also come in the past week. Loaisiga’s changeup and curveball have combined for a near 50% Whiff rate on the year, while he’s been running his sinker up to 100 MPH, which is a combination for a lights-out high leverage reliever. Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson are good relievers, but the future of the Yankees bullpen behind Aroldis Chapman is with Green and Loaisiga (plus Zack Britton when he returns).




  • J.P. Feyereisen (also a former Yankee, as is Garrett Whitlock) continues to do his thing, and currently leads all Brewers in SV+HLD’s with six on the season. He’s yet to allow an earned run on the year and, despite a shaky walk rate, still holds a WHIP under one (.917). Devin Williams is beginning to look more like himself and has regained his setup role, so that leaves Feyereisen and Brent Suter as the 6th/7th inning setup options. Both should continue to have some value, but Feyereisen’s ability to miss bats (39% Whiff rate) sets him apart.
  • While I’ve been back and forth on who should be the Braves top setup option, the Braves have been pretty consistent in using A.J. Minter in the role, so I guess he’s the guy until Chris Martin returns next week. Minter has been more consistent than Tyler Matzek, and while he likes to work himself into trouble, Minter has only blown two saves on the year and has been pretty good in his other ten appearances.
  • Sean Doolittle wound up picking up a save on Tuesday night for the Reds, but I can’t quite see him just being the guy now. It’s more likely to be Lucas Sims or possibly Tejay Antone, with Doolittle or possibly Amir Garrett mixing in if the lineup is particularly lefthanded heavy or if Sims/Antone has the day off (like Tuesday). It’s a messy situation, but I still feel like Doolittle is the last of the bunch I’d want to roster right now.
  • Ryne Stanek has been a great free-agent addition by the Astros and has worked himself firmly into being Ryan Pressly’s top setup man. Leave it to the Astros to unlock a pitcher’s talents, but they’ve been getting the most out of Stanek, who is now throwing his splitter more often, basically swapping usage with his slider from years past. Both offspeed offerings have produced high whiff rates in the past, but his splitter has always been the more effective pitch in terms of xwOBA and PutAway%.
  • Daniel Hudson hadn’t pitched for a whole week before yesterday, and he looked fairly rusty in the outing to boot. I couldn’t find a reason given as to why he hadn’t pitched for a whole week, but it seems like something worth monitoring.
  • With Greg Holland losing the closer role to Josh Staumont, it could perhaps open up more opportunities for someone like Kyle Zimmer or even Jake Brentz to earn more hold chances. Holland is currently operating in that setup role, but Zimmer and Brentz have much higher upsides.
  • I’m sure there will be some rough outings from Sam Howard, but it looks like he actually may be locked into a setup role finally, and so begins his rise in the ranks. He currently holds 47.6% Whiff and 19.2% SwStr rates, which put him in elite territory. His slider is legit, and he backs it up with a mid 90’s fastball as well.
  • I’ll admit, I continue to underate Yusmeiro Petit but the man just continues to provide holds and low ratios even at this stage in his career so ignore the low K rate and enjoy the three category boost he can bring you.


Rank Pitcher Change
1James KarinchakT1-
2Drew Pomeranz-
3Giovanny Gallegos-
4Devin Williams-
5Lucas Sims
6Chad Green-
7Trevor May-
8Jake Diekman-
9Jordan Romano+UR
10Blake Treinen
11José Alvarado-
12Kendall Graveman+1
13Scott Barlow+1
14Tyler Duffey+1
15Tanner Rainey+1
16Tejay Antone+8
17Michael Kopech+8
19Victor González-1
20Emilio Pagán
21Aaron Bummer-2
22Codi Heuer-1
24Adam Ottavino-1
25Miguel Castro+4
26Joely Rodríguez+2
27Garrett Crochet+4
28Jonathan Loáisiga+36
29J.P. Feyereisen+10
30Jordan Hicks
31Hansel Robles-4
32Tanner Scott-2
33A.J. Minter+9
34Ryne Stanek+11
35Mychal Givens+5
36Sean Doolittle+7
37Kevin Ginkel-2
38Austin Adams+6
39Sam Howard+44
40Daniel Hudson
41Andrew Chafin-5
42Tyler Matzek-4
43Garrett Whitlock+22
44Dylan Floro+2
45Camilo Doval+24
46Darren O’Day-9
48Brent Suter+3
50Connor Brogdon
51Pierce Johnson-2
52Justin Wilson-2
53Kyle Zimmer+18
54Yusmeiro Petit+24
55Ryan Thompson-
56Andrew Kittredge-
58Chris Rodriguez+12
59Anthony Misiewicz-2
60Félix Peña-6
61Darwinzon Hernández+5
62Brusdar Graterol+5
63Duane Underwood Jr.+17
64Caleb Thielbar+11
65Brooks Raley+UR
66Sam Coonrod-4
67Jeffrey Springs+UR
68David Phelps+UR
69Rex Brothers+4
70Paul Fry+14
72JB Bukauskas-4
73Robert Stephenson
74Anthony Bass+5
75Hirokazu Sawamura-1
76Kyle Crick-18
77Aaron Slegers-16
78Matt Andriese+3
79Génesis Cabrera+UR
80Jake Brentz+UR
81Luis Cessa+UR
82John Curtiss+4
83Ryan Borucki+UR
84Hunter Strickland+4
85Bryan Shaw+4
86Brad Boxberger+1
87Ross Detwiler+UR
88Tyler Chatwood+UR
89Deolis Guerra+UR
90Wade Davis-8



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.

5 responses to “The Hold Up 4/29: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. DrankIn Ma Cup says:

    Great stuff! I think we could see Stanek up as high as Tier 3 pretty soon. Joe smith is the only real threat I see to him for the set up job

    • Rick Graham says:

      Yea I can see that. Not too worried about Smith at this point, Baez was the only true competition Stanek would have had. Maybe a healthy Paredes.

  2. Greg says:

    I loved the potential of Howard. One of my strategies in this weird year is identifying SP/RP who could become dominate SP. For Howard, they sent him down to already transition him into the rotation it seems.

    • Rick Graham says:

      I think you are talking about Spencer Howard for the Phillies. Sam Howard, for the Pirates, is who I talked about here.

  3. Greg says:

    Hah realized that after I hit send. Strategy is still a good one vs. stashing minor league SP. If you could highlight the SP/RP eligibility guys that would be awesome.

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