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

Ranking baseball's top setup options for the 2022 season.

I’ve been talking about and raising Ryan Helsley up the list for a couple of weeks now, but I did not foresee this ranking for him this fast. Obviously, this current rate can’t continue, but being the top holds option on a team that can win their division gives him a pretty solid floor. The ceiling, well we are seeing it right now and as you can tell by the rest of the list, there aren’t a ton of true “must roster” set-up men in baseball right now. It all leads to an aggressive ranking this week but I think Helsley has put himself in that “must roster” category for holds leagues and even deeper standard formats.




  • Despite losing the closer role following the signing of Kenley Jansen, Will Smith has pitched well for Atlanta so far this season — despite a bit of a downtick in strikeouts. That said, for whatever reason he just isn’t factoring into decisions at all as he has just one hold on the year compared to Tyler Matzek’s 6 and A.J. Minter’s 3. We’re still in the first month of the season but the usage here is not what we are looking for, especially with the other two lefties in the bullpen pitching well.


  • We talked about Trevor Stephan on the Pod this week, and after diving a bit deeper into the changes he has made, I feel comfortable moving him up into this secondary holds tier despite coming off a not-so-great week. Stephan’s best pitch last year was arguably his splitter but he only threw it against lefties, leading to an 8.1% usage rate. This year however, he’s been using it as his primary offspeed offering against both sides, as it’s now up to 32.1% usage. Love to see these kinds of changes and it shows in his beautiful savant profile.


  • We also talked about Drew Smith and how he should be in line for an increased role with Trevor May sidelined. Smith has quietly put together a nice career so far, and perhaps can take another step forward this season as one of the Mets’ top set-up options. Like with Stephan, Smith has made some changes this year, as instead of throwing a harder cutter, he’s throwing more of a traditional slider, taking 2 MPH off the pitch while his fastball has been almost a MPH harder. The Whiffs aren’t there yet for the pitch, but we can’t argue with a .166 xwOBA.


  • While it may be due to a bunch of injuries, Luis García is back in a set up role and someone to keep an eye on once again. His fastball may get hit around a bit, but he has two plus secondaries in his slider and splitter. For now, I’d prefer Steven Wilson in this pen, at least until we get a sense of what his ceiling can be, but you certainly can’t go wrong with García either.


  • Despite having a fantastic 2021, the Dodgers have been reluctant to use Alex Vesia in high leverage spots up until this past week. He belongs at the back end of that bullpen and it appears that will be the case moving forward. Expect more holds from Vesia, especially once the team starts playing against more left-handed heavy lineups.


  • The Twins bullpen still seems like a work in progress, but Griffin Jax is certainly a name to keep an eye on here as a potential breakout candidate. As I talked about before, we love to see pitchers make repertoire/usage changes in an effort to improve output, and Jax definitely falls into that category now that he’s throwing his slider 51.5% of the time compared to 31.1% last season. His fastball is up 1.5 MPH moving into a bullpen role this year as well, but still remains a pitch he needs to be careful with. The good news is he’s only throwing it 22% of the time this year as compared to 46% in 2021.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Devin WilliamsT1-
2Héctor Neris+UR
3Ryan Helsley+14
4Ryan Tepera+1
5Diego Castillo
6Kendall Graveman+2
7Clay Holmes+3
8Aaron Bummer+1
9Chad Green+2
10Jonathan Loáisiga+2
11Josh Staumont-7
12Michael Fulmer+1
14Daniel Hudson+1
15Seth Lugo+4
16Tyler Matzek+2
17Michael King+4
18Aaron Loup+6
19Tim Mayza+6
20Andrew Chafin+10
21Will Smith
22Andrés Muñoz-6
23Steven Wilson-3
24Trevor Stephan+33
25Drew Smith+28
26Seranthony Domínguez-4
27Collin McHugh+7
28Mychal Givens-1
29Jake Diekman-
30Luis García+15
31Emilio Pagán+UR
32Alex Vesia+18
33Griffin Jax+UR
34A.J. Minter+9
35Cole Sulser-
36Art Warren
37Génesis Cabrera-5
38Brooks Raley-15
39Phil Maton-8
40J.P. Feyereisen-4
41Matt Wisler-4
42Tanner Scott-4
43Tyler Duffey-1
44Rafael Montero-
45Brusdar Graterol-5
46Adam Cimber+2
47Joely Rodríguez+2
48Dylan Floro-2
49Yimi García-8
50Brad Boxberger-17
51José Ruiz
52Spencer Strider+11
53Sam Hentges+7
54Scott Effross+7
55Nick Sandlin+13
56Tyler Kinley-
57Alex Lange+1
58Erik Swanson+1
59Jake McGee-33
60Anthony Gose-8
61Lou Trivino-14
62Brock Burke+4
63Wil Crowe+2
64Keegan Thompson+3
65A.J. Puk+12
66Ryne Stanek+20
67José Alvarado+9
68Colin Poche+11
69Matt Barnes+UR
70Ryan Thompson+19
71Adam Ottavino
72Brad Hand-2
73Drew Steckenrider-2
74Joe Smith-1
75Víctor Arano-20
77Dylan Coleman-13
78Chris Martin-6
80Ian Kennedy+15
81Anthony Bass+12
82Jeffrey Springs-2
83Matt Festa-1
84Jason Adam-1
85Jalen Beeks-4
86Robert Suarez-2
87Dinelson Lamet-13
88Jeurys Familia-1
89Matt Bush+1
90Miguel Castro+1
91Richard Bleier+1
92Noé Ramirez+2
93Chris Stratton+3
94Alex Colomé+4
95Taylor Clarke+UR
96Julian Merryweather-11
97Trevor Richards-19
98Dillon Tate+2
99Blake Taylor+UR
100Joe Mantiply+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 5/5: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. bobbo says:

    What’s been up with Diego Castillo so far? Really isn’t getting worked into a lot of games, and when he does it’s hit or miss on whether he gets rocked. Is that more a factor of SEA not having small leads thus far, or should we be worried this is a long term usage issue… Graveman and Loasiga sitting on my waivers in a SV/HLD league for some reason

    • JR says:

      Go get Graveman now, bud.

    • Rick Graham says:

      It’s just how the Mariners have been this season, only one pitcher on that team has more than 2 SV+HLD’s so far this season (Steckenrider). I think we need to be patient with this bullpen and team but swapping out Graveman for Castillo isn’t a crazy idea.

      • bobbo says:

        Thanks Rick/JR, really appreciate the advice. I have Sewald as well and was hoping between the two that I had a solid source of both SV+HLD (didn’t really care who got what role). Also have Lucas Sims who seems intent on wrecking my ratios at the moment (although I know he’s still working back up post injury). Hold tight on those 3 or switch out any for the Grave man? Sometimes I feel like I’m way to move happy in the RP department

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