The Hold Up 5/4: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

Many believed the Mariners had come away the clear-cut winners in this offseason’s trade for Teoscar Hernández, and while there’s still time for things to turn around, it looks like the Blue Jays in fact did a great job here, acquiring one of the best set up men in baseball in Erik Swanson. While Hernández is sporting a .666 OPS and 84 wRC+ (and cringeworthy 44/2 K/BB ratio), Swanson has been stellar with 37.7% K, 19.6% SwStr, and 37.8% CSW rates. He’s been throwing his splitter more this season (up 20%) and so far so good as the pitch has a 52.7% Whiff rate.



  • The Orioles continue to develop great bullpen arms (possibly the best in the league now) with Bryan Baker becoming another name to keep an eye on. Baker currently holds a 38.6% K rate and a 12.3% Hard Contact rate and his new and improved changeup has been most impressive with a 62.5% Whiff rate. His 1.68 xERA and .216 xwOBA have me optimistic these early ratios can stick, and while there’s not a ton of room in Baltimore for holds, Baker should be able to help you in at least 3 categories.
  • Caleb Ferguson has emerged as the Dodgers’ top left-handed reliever, and it feels like each year it’s been a different talented Dodger lefty in this role. Two years ago it was Victor González (who has looked good himself this season in a short stint), last year was Alex Vesia (recently demoted) but we are back to Ferguson who was also great in 2020 before needing Tommy John surgery. Ferguson may only hold a 22.4% K rate, but that does come with just a 4.1% BB rate and an encouraging 16.2% SwStr rate, so expect that K rate to improve over time.


  • With injuries mounting in the Red Sox bullpen, Josh Winckowski has taken advantage of his opportunities and worked himself into the holds mix. Nothing exactly sticks out as being a plus for Winckowski, but there also aren’t any glaring negatives, so perhaps he could settle into being a reliever Toby. With Chris Martin back though, it will be interesting to see what kind of value he’ll have in holds leagues.
  • Nick Martinez has shifted to the bullpen for the Padres, and while he’d have liked to stick in the rotation, this team desperately needs bullpen help in front of Josh Hader. His stuff plays up better out of the bullpen and at least he’s already signed a three-year extension with the team, so role won’t play a factor into his earnings.


  • Carl Edwards Jr. has gotten off to a great start this season, but diving a little deeper, I don’t see it lasting, unfortunately. Edwards Jr. currently grades out as one of the worst relievers in baseball in multiple categories, including K-BB rate (3.8%), CSW (23.8%), and PLV (4,76%) while his 5.38 SIERA suggests bad times are ahead. The changeup can be a good pitch, but the fastball is way too hittable.
  • Coming off an injury, I didn’t really know what to expect for Aaron Bummer this season, but so far he has definitely been disappointing. Sure he’s still getting ground balls, but he continues to give up way too much hard contact, and his K-BB ratio of 4.1% is just brutal as he’s had a hard time missing bats (9.7% SwStr) as the sinker is just too hittable.


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


Rank Pitcher Change
1Aroldis ChapmanT1+1
2Giovanny Gallegos-1
3Erik Swanson-
4Bryan Abreu-
5Michael King+4
6Griffin Jax
7Seranthony Domínguez+3
8Yennier Cano+6
9Matt Brash+8
10Brusdar Graterol+3
11Trevor Stephan
12James Karinchak-4
13Adam Ottavino-2
14John Schreiber-2
15Héctor Neris-
16Rafael Montero-
17Nick Anderson+3
18Hunter Harvey+12
19Matt Moore+12
20Miguel Castro+8
21Gregory Soto
22Chris Martin+UR
23Taylor Rogers+2
24Joe Jiménez-2
25Caleb Thielbar+7
26Joe Mantiply+10
27Drew Smith+10
28Bryan Baker+17
29Caleb Ferguson+37
31Steven Wilson
32Jorge López-9
33Craig Kimbrel-7
34Collin McHugh-5
35Michael Fulmer+UR
36Peter Strzelecki+5
37Mark Leiter Jr.+13
38Jason Foley+5
39Lucas Sims+8
40Colin Holderman-7
41Adbert Alzolay
42Jonathan Hernández+6
43Josh Winckowski+UR
44Luis Garcia+7
45Tanner Scott+7
46Dylan Lee+7
47Nick Martinez+UR
48Scott McGough-2
49Eli Morgan-9
50Yimi García+15
51Robert Stephenson
52Justin Lawrence+4
53Carl Edwards Jr.-18
54Danny Coulombe+4
55Brock Burke-1
56Dylan Floro+6
57Pierce Johnson+3
58Carlos Hernández+9
59Ron Marinaccio+4
60Génesis Cabrera+11
61Phil Maton+9
62Connor Brogdon+17
63Alex Young-2
64Tim Mayza+14
66Huascar Brazoban+9
67Jordan Hicks+18
68Reynaldo López+UR
69Nate Pearson+21
70Tim Hill+17
71Duane Underwood Jr.
72Victor González+UR
73Penn Murfee+18
74Wandy Peralta-5
75Aaron Bummer-26
76Will Vest+UR
78Josh Staumont+UR
79José Leclerc+UR
80Trevor Gott-25
81Shintaro Fujinami+UR
82Gabe Speier+6
83Mason Thompson-10
84Keegan Thompson-12
85Zack Thompson+4
86Gregory Santos+UR
87John Brebbia-10
88Kevin Kelly+UR
89Joe Kelly+UR
90Garrett Cleavinger-14
91Dauri Moreta+7
92Kevin Ginkel+3
93Aaron Loup+7
94Trevor Richards+UR
95Keegan Akin+2
96Casey Legumina+UR
97Josh Taylor+UR
98Josh Sborz+UR
99Tyler Holton+UR
100Chris Devenski+UR


Photo by John Cordes/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.

7 responses to “The Hold Up 5/4: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Bobbo says:

    Great work as always Rick. 6×6 roto with Saves and Holds as separate categories. Have Clase, Fairbanks, and Hendricks sitting on the IL. Time to move on from early season speculations in Reynaldo Lopez, Floro, and Kimbrel and move on to better ratio holds guys? Available arms are: Graterol, Jax, Stephan, Nick Anderson

    • Rick Graham says:

      Thanks Bobbo! I think Jax is the best option available, but Nick Anderson continues to rise. I’m just not sure what his role will look like once Iglesias returns.

  2. Jean Jacket says:

    Alvarado unranked? lol not sure what purpose this list serves

    • Obvious Andy says:

      Not to speak for Rick, but I think *this* particular list serves the purpose of ranking relief pitchers for HOLDS. Seeing as tho Alvarado is likely the closer, he would be valuable for SAVES… you can check the closer list from Tuesday, or wait until tomorrow when he’ll likely rank highly in the SV+HLD value list.

  3. Jim says:

    Give me Y Cano over most of the guys listed in Tier 1.

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