The Hold Up 5/20: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

Chris Martin has really returned to the Braves at the perfect time, as multiple members of that bullpen have struggled as of late, not the least of which is closer Will Smith. Martin doesn’t overpower anyone and he won’t rack up huge strikeout numbers, but he doesn’t walk anyone, which is a very underappreciated skill these days. His return does hurt the values of Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter, and Luke Jackson, although there should still be room for at least one of them to have value in a secondary setup role. My money would be on Matzek who has pitched better than Minter lately and all year long, however, the team does seem to prefer Minter for whatever reason but that may change soon. Anyway, this is (probably) your last reminder that Martin is as close to a must roster player in holds leagues as there is and someone to consider in points leagues as well because he almost never gets negative points.




  • A pair of lefties dropped a spot in the top tier this week, with Drew Pomeranz dealing with a minor injury and Jake Diekman struggling to keep the ball in the yard this past weekend. Pomeranz looks to be on track to return this weekend or early next week, so there’s no need to remove him from the list for a limited IL stay. Despite the two blown saves this weekend, I still like Diekman more than anyone else in that Athletics bullpen at the moment and imagine he’ll still be splitting save chances with Lou Trivino.
  • There are four ex-closer additions to the holds list this week, and we’ll start with the most prominent one in Emmanuel Clase. I can’t remember ever seeing a closer lose their job with an ERA of under one but James Karinchak is certainly the better option of the two so I guess the move makes sense. Clase has been battling some command issues as of late while also failing to get swings and misses (6/7 BB/K rate in May), concerns I had about him entering the season. Given the lack of quality setup options right now and his potential upside (what we saw in April), Clase is still a top 10-20 option for holds leagues despite the promotion.
  • It’s been a rough week or so for J.P. Feyereisen and Ryne Stanektwo guys I may have flown up this list a bit too early. Feyereisen’s last four outings have resulted in 3.1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, and 2 HR’s. Despite this, I’d imagine he’s still in the mix to set up Josh Hader, but he’ll need to put together a quality week or two to keep that role. Stanek has been dealing with some command issues as of late, walking six over his past two innings. It’s a worrisome trend but hopefully, he can right the ship here this weekend.
  • With others in the bullpen dealing with injuries, Daniel Hudson is locked in as Brad Hand’s top set up man and pitching well this season. He gives up the occasional barrel but he’s been getting a ton of Whiffs with his slider (52.2%), a pitch he is throwing harder than ever now as well (88.7 MPH).
  • Archie Bradley is back from the IL and re-enters a bit of a crowded Phillies bullpen at the moment. There should still be room for him, Sam Coonrod, and José Alvarado to all have value in holds leagues assuming they continue to pitch well. I have my concerns about Bradley, but I think he’d fit well working in that 5th/6th inning fireman role while Coonrod and Alvarado work the 7th and 8th innings.
  • I mentioned earlier that there were four ex-closers joining the holds list this week, so let’s get to the other three. I think Jake McGee, Amir Garrett, and Gregory Soto are all in a similar boat here and it’s probably too early to write off any one of them from seeing save chances still. Especially with Soto who pitched the 9th last night while Michael Fulmer worked the 8th. We started the season with only one or two closer committees but we may be looking at five to six by the end of the month.
  • Alex Colomé continues to do his part to work his way back into the closer mix in Minnesota, and while I’ll never fully trust Colomé he should be back on your radar for fantasy purposes. The walk rate needs to come down first, as he’s just not good enough to get away with a walk rate over 12%,
  • With all the other talent the Padres have added over the past two seasons to their bullpen, it’s the veteran Craig Stammen who has been the most consistent and effective non-closer reliever to begin the year. He’s embracing his offspeed stuff more this year, throwing them 55% of the time which is 22% more than last season and 27% more compared to 2019.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Giovanny GallegosT1+1
2Jordan Romano+UR
3Devin Williams+1
4Drew Pomeranz-1
5Trevor May-
6Chad Green-
7Blake Treinen+2
8Jake Diekman-1
9Lucas Sims
10Pete Fairbanks+2
11Michael Kopech+6
12Emmanuel Clase+UR
13José Alvarado-
14Aaron Bummer-
15Victor González+1
16Scott Barlow+2
18Chris Martin+8
19J.P. Feyereisen
20Jonathan Loáisiga+2
21Emilio Pagán+4
22Adam Ottavino+5
23Joely Rodríguez-
24Austin Adams+5
25Tanner Scott+5
26Ryne Stanek-7
27Sam Coonrod+4
28Tyler Chatwood+4
29Daniel Hudson+17
30Codi Heuer
31Miguel Castro-3
32Garrett Whitlock+1
33Yusmeiro Petit+1
34Andrew Chafin+1
35Archie Bradley+UR
36Jake McGee+UR
37Garrett Crochet-1
38Hansel Robles+6
40Tyler Duffey-3
41Sam Howard-2
42Tyler Matzek-2
43Gregory Soto+UR
44A.J. Minter
45Dylan Floro-3
46Pierce Johnson-3
47Alex Colomé+21
48Wander Suero-3
49Ryan Tepera+6
50Andrew Kittredge+3
51Ryan Borucki-1
52Josh Sborz+4
53Génesis Cabrera+4
54Paul Fry-6
55Jeffrey Springs+4
56David Bednar+10
57Craig Stammen+17
58Will Harris-11
59Rex Brothers
60Sean Doolittle-9
61Mychal Givens-9
62Ryan Thompson-8
63Brent Suter-5
64Brooks Raley-
65Darwinzon Hernández-5
66Anthony Misiewicz-4
67Caleb Thielbar-6
68Tim Hill-5
69Hirokazu Sawamura-
70Enoli Paredes+UR
71Bryan Shaw+7
72Joakim Soria+1
73Anthony Bass+16
74Jimmy Nelson
75Justin Steele+UR
76Anthony Bender+UR
77Jeurys Familia-2
78Wandy Peralta+5
79Cole Sulser+6
80John Curtiss-9
81Luke Jackson+5
82Aaron Loup+5
83Matt Foster+UR
84Bryan Abreu+UR
85Drew Steckenrider+UR
86Collin McHugh+UR
87David Price+UR
88Matt Wisler-6
89Dan Winkler+UR
90Robert Stephenson-18


Photo by John Adams/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.

3 responses to “The Hold Up 5/20: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Boom says:

    I was expecting Chatwood to drastically rise this week. He’s been outperforming at least 15 guys above him. Why the hesitation? Tx

    • Rick Graham says:

      small sample size, track record and he’s probably behind Dolis as well as Romano in the pecking order. He could go to the top of this tier though and be top 20, but I think there will be some regression with his sinker/fastball eventually.

      • MilkMan says:

        Relievers are small sample. At what point do you trust the xstats? Hard to have Chatwood, Austin Adams, and Bummer outside of the top 10.

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