The Hold Up 5/12: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Ranking baseball's top set-up options for the 2022 season.

Imagine a year ago saying that in one year the Yankees best reliever would be some low leverage reliever on the Pirates named Clay Holmes but here we are. It’s certainly up for debate as to who the best reliever is in this bullpen as they have quite a few high quality arms, but Holmes has been the most consistent since coming over to New York last season. Just take a look at this chart of the top Yankees relievers since July 28 2021.

Clay Holmes 44.1 27% 68.9% 33.4% 1.76 2.13 1.5
Aroldis Chapman 32 19.7% 42.6% 33.4% 3.41 3.71 0.5
Chad Green 44 25.7% 25.9% 29.1% 2.82 3.41 0.6
Jonathan Loáisiga 34.1 14.4% 52.2% 30.6% 3.61 3.61 0.5
Michael King 35 27.2% 39.8% 36.5% 2.30 2.56 1.3
Lucas Luetge 34 21.6% 41.9 26.3% 3.06 3.48 0.8

Holmes ranks first or second in each of the categories, and the combination of his high ground ball rate, low walk rate/strike zone command, and above-average swing and miss ability make him the perfect high leverage reliever for the Yankees to trust in key spots moving forward. Unlike a lot of other relievers I’ve talked about who have upped their slider usage, Holmes has actually gone the other way, throwing his sinker more (up 20.4%). Why it works for him though, is A.) he just gets a ton of ground balls with it, and B.) it’s leading to more whiffs on his slider as it’s now more of an out pitch for him. Ideally, I’d still like to see a little higher slider usage but I won’t complain about the current results.




  • It’s been a rough start to the season for Diego Castillobut it may be a good opportunity to buy low. The same stuff that Castillo has had in the past is still there, with nothing changing in his repertoire at all. I’d chalk up these past two games, in which he’s allowed 8 earned runs while getting just 2 outs, to bad luck and not executing locations. I think, for now, Castillo’s track record should keep him in the Mariners’ late inning plans, but another bad outing or two could change things.


  • We know the Rays tend to be all over the place with how they use their relievers, with the past two weeks and Brooks Raley being a prime example. It can be hard to do, but I think when it comes to ranking or rostering a Rays reliever, you have to be patient and take the good weeks with the bad. Raley for his part should remain in a high leverage role for the most part, and as I’ve mentioned with other relievers early in the season, you love to see the changes he’s made when it comes to pitch usage (slider up 18.6%, changeup up 13.3%).


  • Tyler Matzek is struggling with his command again but still seems like a big part of the Braves’ bullpen despite Will Smith and A.J. Minter outpitching him so far. Matzek is always going to have a high walk rate, but obviously his current 19.1% rate will need to come down for him to continue seeing high leverage work.


  • Rafael Montero continues to confound as I can’t pinpoint what has led to his fastball being so dominant to begin the season (outside of locating it more on the other side of the plate?), but as long as it’s working the Astros will continue to rely on him in big spots.


  • Tommy Kahnle recently returned after missing all of last season following TJS, and while the results have been hit or miss, his stuff has looked good, at least in his first two outings. Yesterday his velo dropped 2.5 MPH so hopefully, that is just him shaking off some rust. If Kahnle is healthy, he can be a difference maker as he was great back in 2017 and 2019.


  • Joe Kelly also made his return to the mound and looked sharp despite allowing two hits. The White Sox bullpen is a bit thin after the top two options, so Kelly should be in line for some high leverage work right away, especially with Aaron Bummer out. Kelly’s track record and contract suggest he would be the favorite for that secondary setup role over the likes of Matt Foster and José Ruiz.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Devin WilliamsT1-
2Héctor Neris-
3Ryan Helsley-
4Ryan Tepera-
5Clay Holmes+2
6Kendall Graveman-
7Jonathan Loáisiga+3
8Chad Green+1
9Josh Staumont+2
10Diego Castillo-5
11Michael Fulmer
13Daniel Hudson+1
14Seth Lugo+1
15Michael King+2
16Andrés Muñoz+6
17Trevor Stephan+7
18Drew Smith+7
19Steven Wilson+4
20Brooks Raley+18
21Aaron Loup
22Tim Mayza-3
23Andrew Chafin-3
24Seranthony Domínguez+2
25Will Smith-4
26Tyler Matzek-10
27Collin McHugh-
28Mychal Givens-
29Luis García+1
30Griffin Jax+3
31A.J. Minter+3
32Rafael Montero+12
33Emilio Pagán-2
34Erik Swanson+24
35Anthony Bender
36Tyler Duffey+7
37J.P. Feyereisen+3
38Alex Vesia-6
39Phil Maton-
40Brad Boxberger+10
41Jake Diekman-12
42Tommy Kahnle+UR
43Joe Kelly+UR
44José Ruiz+7
45Brusdar Graterol-
46Joely Rodríguez+1
47Scott Effross+7
48Cole Sulser-13
49Tyler Kinley+7
50Génesis Cabrera
51Tanner Scott-9
52Matt Wisler-11
53José Alvarado+14
54Colin Poche+14
55Robert Suarez+31
56Matt Foster+UR
57Anthony Bass+24
58Trevor Gott+UR
59Brock Burke+3
60Alexis Díaz+UR
61Félix Bautista+UR
62Sam Hentges-9
63Rowan Wick+UR
64Joe Smith+10
65Nick Sandlin-10
66Alex Lange-9
67Ryne Stanek-1
68A.J. Puk-3
69Matt Strahm+UR
70Wil Crowe-7
71Yimi García
72Jason Adam+12
73Ian Kennedy+7
74Anthony Gose-14
75Lou Trivino-14
76Víctor Arano-1
77Adam Cimber-31
78Ryan Thompson-8
79Ryan Brasier+UR
81Adam Ottavino-10
83Jeurys Familia+5
84Brad Hand-12
85Dylan Coleman-8
86Drew Steckenrider-13
87Trevor Richards+10
88Matt Bush+1
89Chris Martin-11
90Dillon Tate+8
91Dennis Santana+UR
92Jalen Beeks-7
93Miguel Castro-3
94Noé Ramirez-2
95Taylor Clarke-
96Blake Taylor+3
97John Schreiber+UR
98Zach Jackson+UR
99Bennett Sousa+UR


Photo by Steven King/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.

2 responses to “The Hold Up 5/12: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. BB says:

    R.I.P. Art Warren

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