The Hold Up 5/30: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham ranks the top pitchers to own for holds.

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  • In what was a mostly trying week for relievers around the league, there were a few veterans whose success stood out among the crowd. Will Harris had another solid week, delivering 2.1 scoreless and baserunner-less innings while also adding two strikeouts and two holds. Harris has both his ERA and WHIP under 1 now and is up to seven holds for the season, so there’s value to be had here. The one downside with Harris is his overall usage, as he’s only worked 19 innings this year, which figures out to be about two innings per week, limiting his upside with this past week being his ceiling. 

  • Outside of maybe the Nationals, no bullpen has been as shaky as the Royals this year, with Jake Diekman being the one steady contributor all year for them. By now, he should have worked himself into the closer conversation as he’s looked the part, especially over the past month with his 2.45 ERA, .727 WHIP and 21:4 K/BB ratio over 11 innings. He’s throwing his slider at an all-time high rate (49% compared with his 29% career average) and it’s led to a career-high 16% swinging-strike rate, good for 21st among all relievers.

  • Ryne Harper has been a pleasant surprise for a Twins bullpen that’s had its ups and downs this season. The 30-year-old rookie now has a 1.61 ERA, .851 WHIP and 20:5 K/BB ratio over his first 21.1 innings at the MLB level. His numbers over the past month have been even more impressive, with all four of his SV+HDs coming in that time frame. He is not overpowering at all, featuring a sub-90s fastball that he throws just over 40% of the time, with his 73 mph curveball being his go-to pitch. It’s tough to imagine this success lasting, but it could be worth riding while he’s hot.
  • Others moving up the ranks include Chaz Roe, who is starting to work his way back into being a steady contributor as well despite being stuck in a loaded bullpen. The walks are still a concern, as is his usage a la Harris, but he hasn’t allowed an earned run in over a month now to go with 11 total holds on the year. Jeurys Familia hasn’t been good this year, but the same can be said about a lot of relievers lately so Familia’s track record and (somewhat) positive strides this week get him back in the top 40. Ryan Buchter has settled down after a rough start to the year and is starting to pick up holds again as of late. His 1.00 ERA and .889 WHIP over the past month are much more indicative of his talent than his April numbers.

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.

8 responses to “The Hold Up 5/30: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Greg says:

    Looks like Seth Lugo is back. Top 10?

  2. Frankie says:

    Thanks, Rick!
    A few quick hits:
    Pagan rises but has 2 Holds over the past month. TB pen is always a surprise. What do you see?
    A Garrett has been stellar for the Reds. His K/9 is insane, but he drops despite 4 Holds last month.
    Stammen stays at the top, but low K rate and prone to giving up runs.
    Crick keeps chugging along but can’t seem to rise your ranks. He has more HLD (8) than any of the above mentioned but is ranked the lowest. Any reason?
    Keep up the good work!

    • Rick Graham says:

      I know Pagan’s usage is shaky, but he’s been one of the best relievers in baseball this year, probably the second best non-closer behind Pressly. He should be getting more SV+HD chances.

      Slight downtick for Garret after a bit of a rough week. He doesn’t get a ton of hold chances as well but the K’s are nice.

      Stammens frustrating but the 13 holds are tied for 2nd in baseball and at least he isn’t walking anybody.

      Cricks been getting lucky (4.71 xFIP, 4.55 SIERA) and has an uninspiring 10% K/BB% rate. I know he hasn’t pitched well this year but Keone Kela is close to returning and could wind up right back in that top set up role soon.

      • Frankie says:

        Thank you for the breakdown. I owned Stammen but dropped him during a bad stretch. I’ve been rolling with Garrett in a K/9 league. But Will keep Pagan on the radar.

  3. John says:

    Those top 3 have been nails all year. I think it might be time to consider a cut off around their and starting tier two a little higher up on the list since it seems like there’s a lot of movement week to week after them. What are your thoughts?

  4. Brandon says:

    Brebbia, has not recorded a hold in the past month. With Gant, CMart, and Miller, does he need one of these guys removed to start returning more value in holds leagues

  5. Pretender says:

    Where would Betances rank when he returns next week? You had him ranked #2 before the injury. Does he return in top 5? Top 10? Inquiring minds want to know.

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