The Hold Up 6/3: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

Seth Lugo is finally back in the Mets bullpen, as the team finally gets some good news on the injury front. Lugo made his debut yesterday, allowing three hits and an earned run over two innings of work. He struck out two and overall looked like his normal self flashing his five-pitch arsenal, although his fastball velocity was down a bit, which is to be expected after the long layoff. I’d expect his role to be similar to the past, and how he was used yesterday, as someone who can work multiple innings of relief earlier on in games and essentially put out any potential fires. This role may not lead to a ton of holds, but it does lead to some extra wins and gives you more strikeout upside. Right now with the way the other Mets relievers are throwing, I’d take a chance on Lugo over the likes of Trevor May or Miguel Castro, especially given Lugo’s career numbers as a reliever.




  • Scott Barlow has worked himself into one of the more consistent setup men in the game and brings strikeout upside as an added bonus. While closers, in general, have been very good this season and trustworthy, the same can’t be said about non-closer relievers with a few exceptions, Barlow being one of them. There are currently only five relievers with 10+ SV+HLD’s and 40+ strikeouts, Alex Reyes, James Karinchak, Aroldis Chapman, Matt Barnes, and Barlow. Pretty good company.
  • Diego Castillo seems to be out of the closer role for the moment, but that’s not to say he won’t have any value in holds leagues. He’s been as advertised this season, with plenty of whiffs (35.5%) and a .262 xwOBA (again). While Andrew Kittredge and Jeffrey Springs have been pitching well this season, I think it’s Castillo, J.P. Feyereisen, and Pete Fairbanks that return the most value for fantasy purposes, unless one of the aforementioned names were to spend significant time on the IL.
  • Devin Williams continues to take two steps forward, and one back as every time it looks like he’s turned a corner, we get a poor outing from him. He wasn’t available to pitch on Monday, as the team said he “just wasn’t feeling good” and it’s fair to wonder how much that shoulder injury late last year is still bothering him. Perhaps a short IL stint and break from pitching could do him and his velocity some good, but don’t give up just yet. The swing and miss stuff is still very much there as seen by his 40.4% Whiff rate on the year.
  • Another reliever struggling at the moment that I wouldn’t totally give up on just yet is Trevor May. He’s had some minor command (not control) issues this past month that have gotten him into trouble and he’s also dealt with some really bad luck. He’s still holding a respectable 30% Whiff rate while his xFIP (3.09) and SIERA (2.93) suggest better times are ahead.
  • Ryan Tepera continues to form one of the more surprising reliever trio’s in baseball this season with Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrelwith Tepera proving he deserved that MVP vote from last season. His cutter is just so so good, and while the sinker/four-seamer aren’t too shabby either, you love to see the success he’s had with his changeup that he is using more often this season. He’s been so dominant against lefties thanks to the pitch that I wonder if he’d consider showing it a bit more to righties.
  • The Blue Jays may be moving back to Rafael Dolis as their top setup man, as he and Tyler Chatwood continue to flip flop roles. While Chatwood has allowed nine walks (while striking out no one) and six earned runs in his past three outings, Dolis hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past three outings, while only walking one. Both are volatile and carry subpar walk rates but for the time being, I’m leaning towards Dolis as the best option.
  • In typical White Sox/TLR fashion, a day after the team said they would limit Garrett Crochet’s innings and won’t use him more than an inning an outing, Crochet of course went out and threw two scoreless innings. It’s been an up and down year for Crochet, and it is probably best for him to be limited as he has dealt with some injuries, but as long as he is healthy and pitching, he will be able to help you out in multiple categories.
  • Staying with the White Sox, Evan Marshall has started to turn his season around and may be back in the high leverage mix as he picked up two holds this past week. He’s allowed just one hit over his past four innings while also striking out five and walking none. He was one of the better relievers in baseball during the shortened 2020 season, so don’t be surprised if his recent run of successful outings lasts.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Giovanny GallegosT1-
2Tejay Antone+1
3Chad Green+1
4Scott Barlow+10
5Blake Treinen+1
6Jake Diekman+1
7Pete Fairbanks+1
8Diego Castillo+UR
9Emmanuel Clase+1
10Victor González+2
11Devin Williams
12Seth Lugo+UR
13José Alvarado-2
14Aaron Bummer-1
15Trevor May-10
16Chris Martin-1
17Ryan Tepera+10
19Emilio Pagán+1
20Austin Adams+2
21Andrew Chafin+2
22Adam Ottavino-1
23Daniel Hudson-5
24Jonathan Loáisiga
25Ryne Stanek-
26Wander Suero+2
27Miguel Castro-1
28Jake McGee+3
29Hansel Robles+3
30Codi Heuer+3
31Tyler Duffey+4
32Rafael Dolis+14
33Gregory Soto+3
34Garrett Whitlock-5
35Dylan Floro+3
36Sam Coonrod-6
37Joely Rodríguez+3
38Tanner Scott+3
39Jeffrey Springs+6
40Garrett Crochet+10
41Andrew Kittredge+2
42A.J. Minter-
43Tyler Chatwood-26
44Pierce Johnson
45David Bednar+3
46Kyle Zimmer+9
48Yusmeiro Petit+3
49Josh Sborz+9
50Génesis Cabrera-6
51Tyler Matzek-14
52Darwinzon Hernández+2
53Caleb Thielbar+6
54Rex Brothers+9
55Anthony Bass+5
56Bryan Shaw+11
57Brent Suter+9
58Sam Howard+4
59Carlos Estévez-3
61Cole Sulser+20
62Jeurys Familia+18
63Jake Brentz+23
64Tim Hill+1
65Ryan Thompson+6
66Kyle Crick
67Aaron Loup+16
68Brad Boxberger+11
69Mychal Givens+7
70Tanner Rainey-1
71Craig Stammen-22
72Matt Wisler+5
73Wandy Peralta+UR
74Alex Colomé-22
75César Valdez+UR
76Archie Bradley-19
78Brooks Raley-14
79Sean Doolittle-7
80Chris Rodriguez-12
81Tommy Nance+9
82Demarcus Evans-4
83Anthony Bender-13
84Collin McHugh+UR
85Luke Jackson-3
86Dan Winkler-1
88JT Chargois+UR
89Nick Wittgren+UR
90Anthony Misiewicz+UR


Photo by Dustin Bradford/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 6/3: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Mario says:

    Chafin has been great out of nowhere… is he legit?

    • Rick Graham says:

      Yea I think it’s sustainable. He’s been a super under-the-radar RP going back to his early days in Arizona back in 2015 and has only really had two bad seasons (2016 and 2020). Outside of those two years, he’s been a staple in the holds/setup ranks.

  2. BB says:

    Just FWIW, Castillo has the last two saves for the Rays (Saturday/Tuesday), though nothing obviously is ever clear-cut in Tampa Bay.

    • BB says:

      Oops – wasn’t paying attention and thought at first this was the 6/10 column, since it was the one linked off today’s email newsletter. My bad.

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