The Hold Up 5/27: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

I, unfortunately, couldn’t come up with any good hat jokes, but I think it’s a good time for a Giovanny Gallegos appreciation day. The old sunscreen on the hat thing has been going on for decades (look at any hat Craig Kimbrel has ever worn) and should be one of the lesser concerns for Major League Baseball. Even without the hat, Gallegos went on to strike out three batters during a perfect 1.2 inning outing. There truly is no more consistent setup man in baseball than Gallegos, who is the only reliever to have ten holds and 30+ strikeouts this season. His ERA and WHIP ain’t too shabby either at 1.86 and 0.66 respectively. He is one of the only non-closer relievers worthy of being rostered in standard leagues and should make his first-ever All-Star team this season. In summary, Giovanny is the best and we can all move on from this hat debacle.




  • It’s weird to see someone move up the list after such a poor week, but given the lack of alternatives right now, I feel comfortable in Tyler Chatwood as a top 20 non-closer relief option. His command has seemed to leave him in his two most recent outings (four walks in two innings) but that seems to be the only real concern with him.
  • Daniel Hudson continues to just dominate the month of May, allowing just two hits and one walk over nine innings this month all while striking out twelve. With Will Harris down and Tanner Rainey still trying to figure things out, Hudson and Wander Suero should be the Nationals’ top two setup options moving forward.
  • I don’t think anyone predicted the Cubs’ bullpen to be as effective as it has been, especially lately, but they’ve been getting a ton of help from Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera. Chafin leads the leagues in holds with 12, and his slider remains a super-effective whiff pitch (53.8%). While his slider has always been great, it’s his fastball/sinker I worry a bit about, but he seems to be locating it better this season.
  • As for Tepera, he was one of my favorite dark horse relievers heading into the season, although I got a bit worried that he hadn’t signed until the last day of February. His cutter isn’t quite as dominant as last season, but his go-to offering is still getting plenty of whiffs (45.3%) and has complemented his fastball and changeup nicely. I have my doubts about this run of dominance lasting, but enjoy the ride for now.
  • Hansel Robles, continues to see save chances for the Twins as he converted one last night, but I believe that was due to Taylor Rogers getting the night off. For as shaky as Robles is, he continues to see high leverage work due to the Twins’ lack of options so continue to roll him out if you are looking for SV+HLD’s. I do like that he is using his changeup more this season, and it’s led to a large uptick in GB rate, but there’s still sure to be some regression coming (.192 BABIP, 4.54 xFIP).
  • As with Robles, Gregory Soto finds himself in some sort of closer committee, with Soto also picking up a save last night. Soto is a rollercoaster, but he’s been mostly good the past three weeks, outside of the walk rate which will likely always be an issue. He’s super volatile, but there’s some upside there that you won’t see out of most relievers past 35 on the list.
  • With César Valdez getting hit around as of late, the Orioles may give Paul Fry some save opportunities, when/if one should arise (the Orioles last save was 17 days ago). With Valdez being supper hittable and Tanner Scott struggling mightily with his command, Fry really is the only reliever that can be trusted in this bullpen at the moment. This is not to say Fry is perfect, as he too has been allowing some loud contact (91.7 MPH Avg. Exit Velocity) and his walk rate sits a less than impressive 11.3%. He’s still worth a look in most leagues, just don’t invest too heavily.
  • My concern with Joely Rodríguez heading into the season was that he didn’t have a true plus pitch, as his changeup is close but not a plus pitch from a reliever standpoint. He has three average pitches essentially that get hit hard when in the zone, and aren’t chased when out of the zone. It’s possible to survive like this, but I don’t think he’ll ever be able to be a top 20 reliever with his current arsenal.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Giovanny GallegosT1-
2Devin Williams+1
3Tejay Antone
4Chad Green+2
5Trevor May-
6Blake Treinen+1
7Jake Diekman+1
8Pete Fairbanks+2
9Michael Kopech
10Emmanuel Clase+2
11José Alvarado+2
12Victor González+3
13Aaron Bummer+1
14Scott Barlow+2
15Chris Martin+3
16J.P. Feyereisen+3
17Tyler Chatwood
18Daniel Hudson+11
20Emilio Pagán+1
21Adam Ottavino+1
22Austin Adams+2
23Andrew Chafin+11
24Jonathan Loáisiga-4
25Ryne Stanek+1
26Miguel Castro+5
27Ryan Tepera+22
28Wander Suero+20
29Garrett Whitlock+3
30Sam Coonrod-3
31Jake McGee
32Hansel Robles+6
33Codi Heuer-3
35Tyler Duffey+5
36Gregory Soto+7
37Tyler Matzek+5
38Dylan Floro+7
39Paul Fry+15
40Joely Rodríguez-17
41Tanner Scott-16
42A.J. Minter+2
43Andrew Kittredge+7
44Génesis Cabrera+9
45Jeffrey Springs+10
46Rafael Dolis+UR
47Pierce Johnson-1
48David Bednar+8
49Craig Stammen+8
50Garrett Crochet-13
51Yusmeiro Petit
52Alex Colomé-5
53Ryan Borucki-2
54Darwinzon Hernández+11
55Kyle Zimmer+UR
56Carlos Estévez+UR
57Archie Bradley-22
58Josh Sborz-6
59Caleb Thielbar+8
60Anthony Bass+13
61Kyle Crick+UR
62Sam Howard-21
63Rex Brothers-4
64Brooks Raley-
65Tim Hill+3
66Brent Suter-3
67Bryan Shaw+4
68Chris Rodriguez+UR
69Tanner Rainey+UR
70Anthony Bender+6
71Ryan Thompson
72Sean Doolittle-12
74Joakim Soria-2
75Hirokazu Sawamura-6
76Mychal Givens-15
77Matt Wisler+11
78Demarcus Evans+UR
79Brad Boxberger+UR
80Jeurys Familia-3
81Cole Sulser-2
82Luke Jackson-1
83Aaron Loup-1
84David Price+3
85Dan Winkler+4
86Jake Brentz+UR
87Erik Swanson+UR
88Burch Smith+UR
89José Cisnero+UR
90Tommy Nance+UR


Photo by David J. Griffin/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.

4 responses to “The Hold Up 5/27: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. BB says:

    Surprised to see Bummer holding his ground, much less moving up a spot – two BS and two L in his last five appearances, shutdown/meltdown ratio has slipped to 4-7. What’s the thinking there?

    • Rick Graham says:

      Still the top set up option on the best team in the AL Central with an ERA of 3.20 and still getting tons of whiffs on his slider/cutter. His BABIP is inflated at .340 when it’s been below .263 the past two seasons. xFIP of 2.51 and SIERA of 2.55 are promising. He’ll be fine.

  2. Brett says:

    Trevor may why is he so high? He has gotten very few holds.

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