The Hold Up 6/17: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

Jimmy Nelson is the latest success story in the starter turner reliever ranks and is now suddenly a part of the Dodgers late inning high leverage crew. I know he has Blake Treinen and Victor Gonzalez ahead of him still, but a team like the Dodgers can afford three-four valuable relievers in fantasy leagues that count holds. Walk rate aside, Nelson’s Baseball Savant page illuminates just how dominant he has been this season. He ranks in the top ten amongst all relievers with a minimum of 20 innings pitched in K%, Whiff%, and xwOBA. There is one fair concern at this point and it relates to the latest MLB rule change on what pitchers can use on the mound. Nelson’s spin rates this season are considerably higher compared to what we’ve seen from him in the past, so it’s worth keeping an eye on those numbers in the coming days and weeks. That also applies to a lot of pitchers in the league and is certainly not limited to Nelson.




  • Devin Williams has put together a solid past 30 days worth of work, with a 2.38 ERA, six holds, and 21 K’s over 11.1 IP. The caveat being his WHIP is still very high at 1.41 as he continues to walk too many hitters and is allowing almost a hit per inning. It’s far from the dominance we saw from him last season, but it still looks like he can still help out in three categories.
  • After a rocky start to the season, Adam Ottavino has settled in nicely as the Red Sox top setup man. Since his brutal outing on May 2nd, Ottavino has a 1.50 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 21 K’s over his past 18 innings. His command can get wonky at times and he doesn’t miss as many bats as he used to, but he is still a valuable holds league option.
  • Jake McGee has also put together a nice string of outings lately and looks like the Giants favorite for saves moving forward. I’m going to wait a week before switching him and Tyler Rogers (the same goes for Emmanuel Clase and Taylor Rogers) just to make sure, but McGee seems to be the best reliever again that bullpen. Over the past 30 days, McGee has a .84 ERA, .38 WHIP, nine SV+HLD’s, and nine K’s over 10.2 innings pitched.
  • José Alvarado continues to be the most enigmatic reliever perhaps in all of baseball, as one day he is walking three batters and the next he is striking out four. This certainly makes him a headache to roster in daily head-to-head leagues, but I suppose the good days make up for the bad days in the long run. The walk rate is still a disaster and there’s no sign that he may improve in that department anytime soon.
  • Chris Martin has never been known for his great stuff, rather his ability to not walk anyone and keep hitters off balance. So far this season, he has yet to walk anyone, but his stuff has been hit around pretty hard as he’s just not good enough to miss bats. I’m not overly worried yet but his lack of upside bumps him down this week as he works through his issues.
  • When the Mets let Justin Wilson walk this offseason, there was an outcry amongst Mets fans that they need to go add some stud lefty reliever to their bullpen, even after the team signed Aaron Loup. Little did they, or anyone, know that Loup would be that guy they were looking for. Loup currently holds a 1.93 ERA, .96 WHIP, and a 27% K-BB rate over 18.2 innings, whereas Wilson has a 6.08 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 9.8% K-BB rate over 13.1 innings for the Yankees.
  • The general consensus with the Marlins is that if/once Yimi García is traded, Dylan Floro will take over as the team’s closer. That’s still likely, but I’d love to see Miami hand the role to Anthony Bender as he certainly has the late-inning stuff you want your closer to have. I kind of get Ken Giles vibes from Bender based on his fastball/slider combo and he has truly become one of the better free agent finds of the 2021 season.
  • Rafael Dolis exited yesterday’s game with a hand injury (numbness) which will almost assuredly land him on the IL, and despite how poorly he had been pitching as of late, this Jays team has no one else to turn to in front of Jordan Romano at the moment. For now, it looks like a combination of Anthony Castro and Tyler Chatwood could set things up for Romano, but Chatwood’s likely on a short leash and Castro is unproven. There’s a chance Julian Merryweather (remember him?) is back by late June, but add Toronto to a long list of teams in desperate need for bullpen help.
Rank Pitcher Change
1Giovanny GallegosT1-
2Tejay Antone-
3Scott Barlow
4Chad Green-
5Blake Treinen-
6Emmanuel Clase-
7Pete Fairbanks-
8J.P. Feyereisen+1
9Devin Williams+5
10Seth Lugo+1
11Jake Diekman-3
12Victor González
13Ryan Tepera-1
14Taylor Rogers-1
15Aaron Bummer+3
16Austin Adams-1
17Adam Ottavino+5
18Andrew Chafin+1
19Jake McGee+9
20Jimmy Nelson+37
21Jonathan Loáisiga+4
22José Alvarado
23Zack Britton-
24Emilio Pagán-4
25Chris Martin-8
26Gregory Soto+4
27Tanner Scott+4
28Trevor May-4
29Brad Boxberger-3
31Garrett Crochet+4
32Miguel Castro
33Ryne Stanek-
34Tyler Duffey-
35Garrett Whitlock+1
36Kyle Zimmer+1
37Pierce Johnson+2
38Josh Sborz+3
39Dylan Floro+4
40Aaron Loup+20
41Anthony Bender+21
42Jeffrey Springs
43Sam Coonrod+1
44Yusmeiro Petit+3
45Wander Suero+1
46Tyler Matzek+2
47Jake Brentz+8
48Collin McHugh+8
49David Bednar-9
50A.J. Minter-12
51Anthony Castro+UR
52Sam Howard-2
54Tanner Rainey+23
55Codi Heuer
56Rex Brothers-7
57Andrew Kittredge+11
58Craig Stammen+3
59Nick Sandlin+15
60Matt Wisler+19
61Tyler Chatwood+3
62Joely Rodríguez+7
63Génesis Cabrera-11
64Bryan Shaw-11
65Cole Sulser-11
66Brent Suter-7
67Tim Hill-9
68Darwinzon Hernández-17
69Ryan Thompson-3
70Brooks Raley+2
71Chris Rodriguez-8
72Hirokazu Sawamura
74Caleb Thielbar+UR
75Connor Brogdon+12
76Josh Taylor+UR
77JT Chargois+8
78Jarlín García+10
79Tommy Nance-4
80Ranger Suárez+1
81Dan Winkler+2
82Wandy Peralta-4
84Mychal Givens+UR
85Luke Jackson+UR
86Heath Hembree+UR
87Drew Steckenrider+UR
88Richard Bleier+UR
89Sean Doolittle+UR
90Archie Bradley+UR


Photo by John McCoy/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by JustParaDesigns (@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.

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