The Hold Up 5/25: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Ranking baseball's top setup options for the 2023 season.

Rafael Montero currently has a 15.26 ERA and 2.48 WHIP in the month of May, which is obviously concerning as Montero was supposed to be a top holds option entering the season and is now someone we just can’t trust to roster at this point. It looks like some of the concerns from last season’s fantastic (but a bit fluky) season are rearing their head, while there’s also been a bit of bad luck. I don’t think he should be removed from the list entirely yet, as this is probably the highest his ERA and WHIP will be all season, but as I mentioned a while back, this Astros bullpen has plenty of options to choose from in high leverage spots, so I wouldn’t expect Montero to pick up and holds anytime soon.



  • Brusdar Graterol continues to factor into the late-inning mix and even continues to vulture saves from Evan Phillips. There isn’t a ton of upside here as we know he doesn’t get Whiffs (8.2% SwStr rate), but his floor is incredibly high and he should continue to be a solid source of SV+HLDs while not inflating your ratios much.
  • Miguel Castro continues to overachieve for the Diamondbacks, and while I’m concerned about some things in the profile (13.5% K-BB rate) at least he is now one of the top two relief options in this bullpen. While the stuff may not get the types of swings and misses we like to see, he has done a great job of limiting hard contact so far, so as long as that continues, he should be just fine.


  • Matt Moore may not be able to miss bats anymore, but he’s found a way to get outs and is currently one of the safer, more consistent holds options out there. Will it last? Probably not as there are a LOT of concerning metrics here, 26.9% CSW rate and 4.90 xFIP to name a few, but for the time being we can trust Moore to be a steady relief option in holds leagues on a week-to-week basis.
  • It’s almost June now and this trio of relievers haven’t exactly turned things around as we had hoped. That trio would be Griffin Jax, A.J. Minter and Seranthony Domínguez. The three have been a burden on your ratios so far this season, but there’s still hope for them to turn things around as the stuff still remains intact. But at this point, I do understand losing patience and opting to go with someone like Matt Moore.


  • Brooks Raley picked up a save this past week and could remain in the mix with David Robertson and Adam Ottavino moving forward. It’s worth noting, Ottavino hasn’t closed out a game since May 5th, and in fact, has allowed 5 earned runs over his past 3 outings. I still think all three relievers should be owned in SV+HLD leagues (and maybe Drew Smith too), as this Mets team is surely better than how they’ve been playing, right?
  • Justin Topa came back down to earth this past week, allowing 4 ER on 5 hits over 2.1 innings. The groundball rate is nice, but he just doesn’t produce enough swings and misses to be a must-roster reliever right now. The difference between him and Graterol is Graterols pure stuff is just better and he also has a lower walk rate.


  • I talked about Joel Payamps last week and he continues to rise in the ranks, but someone who hasn’t been getting a ton of love recently is Joe Kelly who is having a phenomenal year under the radar. Kelly currently ranks third amongst all relievers in K-BB rate (34.6%) and xFIP (1.96) and second in CSW (40.4%). His player page is a whole lot of red right now, and while he’s only thrown 14 innings so far this season, things are certainly trending up for him and he should be Liam Hendriks’s top setup option once Hendriks returns.
  • Jeremiah Estrada is back with the Cubs again and finally might be a factor in late-inning, high-leverage spots as he picked up his first hold of the season this past week. From a pure stuff standpoint, he has the most upside of anyone in this bullpen, and for all the mixing and matching and just trying to find a consistent closer here, I wonder if they finally turn to Estrada sooner rather than later. The 15.6% walk rate is a concern, but the pure stuff is so good as his 5.63 PLV is the second highest right now, and his 138 Stuff+ is top 8 amongst relievers as well.


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


Rank Pitcher Change
1Yennier CanoT1-
2Bryan Abreu-
3Giovanny Gallegos+1
4Erik Swanson-1
5Jason Adam-
6Aroldis Chapman
7Michael King+UR
8Gregory Soto+1
9Héctor Neris+1
10Matt Brash+1
11Brusdar Graterol
12James Karinchak+3
13Adbert Alzolay+1
14Nick Anderson+4
15Trevor Stephan+4
16Caleb Ferguson+4
17Adam Ottavino-1
18Hunter Harvey+3
19Miguel Castro+5
20Matt Moore+7
21Griffin Jax
22A.J. Minter-9
23Seranthony Domínguez-16
24Chris Martin+1
25Steven Wilson+3
26Brooks Raley+8
27Drew Smith-5
28Sam Hentges-2
29Nick Martinez+1
30Jorge López-1
31Colin Holderman
32Taylor Rogers-1
33Tanner Scott+2
35Jason Foley-3
36Lucas Sims+2
37Joe Kelly+20
38Bryan Baker-2
39Brandon Hughes-2
40Joel Payamps+24
41Justin Lawrence
42Josh Winckowski-
43Joe Jiménez-4
44Carlos Hernández-1
45Wandy Peralta+4
46Peter Strzelecki-1
48Phil Maton+6
49Eli Morgan+6
50Jeremiah Estrada+22
51Luis Garcia-5
52Jordan Hicks+6
53Collin McHugh-6
54Steven Okert+9
55Brock Burke-2
56Carl Edwards Jr.+11
57Huascar Brazoban-13
58Reynaldo López+3
59Connor Brogdon+7
60Scott McGough+13
61Michael Fulmer
62Ron Marinaccio+9
63Austin Adams+UR
64Trevor Gott+5
65Danny Coulombe+9
66Alex Young-6
67John Brebbia+11
68Tim Mayza+2
69Josh Staumont+6
71Jovani Moran+26
72Dauri Moreta+9
73Yimi García-8
74Génesis Cabrera-6
75Tim Hill+11
76Chris Devenski+12
77Kyle Nelson+12
78Rafael Montero-38
79Jonathan Hernández-28
80Robert Stephenson-21
81Victor González
82Aaron Bummer+11
83Garrett Crochet-35
85Will Vest-2
86Colin Poche-6
87Nate Pearson-5
88Taylor Clarke+8
89Jake Bird+6
90Josh Sborz-11
91Gregory Santos-
92José Leclerc-
93Brock Stewart+5
94Daniel Bard-4
95Ryne Stanek+5
96Albert Abreu+UR
97Mychal Givens+UR
98Scott Alexander+UR
99Yency Almonte+UR
100Ryan Weber+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.

One response to “The Hold Up 5/25: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Trey says:

    Why isn’t Matt Brash dropping on this list? He only has 1 hold in May and continues to allow a ton of base runners. Do the k’s outweigh all the negatives?

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