The Hold-Up 6/16: Ranking The Top 60 Relievers For Holds Every Thursday

It just so happens to be Thursday, and that means its time to check out what has been going on in the hectic world of setup men and holds.  The...

It just so happens to be Thursday, and that means its time to check out what has been going on in the hectic world of setup men and holds. 

The following rankings are meant to give you some help on how to evaluate relief pitchers that do not finish games for their team. The beauty and craziness of a holds league is that a hold can be just as important as the save, but everyone knows who the closer is. With holds you can find an unowned and solid reliever who can really help your squad win a matchup.

Holds can be difficult to predict, so these rankings focus mostly on the raw potential seen in a relief pitcher to get a hold opportunity along with their ability to not leave you with a blown save or a loss based on what has been happening thus far this year. Some things to always consider are strikeout/groundball/flyball ratios, as you do not want to mess with the BABIP gods if you do not have to, but also your specific team needs based on your league.

Feel free to leave your questions and angry remarks in the comments section below. Let me know if you feel someone should be lower or higher on the list, I’ll be sure to take what you say into consideration. Give me a follow on twitter @Just_In_Relief for all things concerning bullpens and who knows what else fantasy baseball related. Now, let’s see what the rankings look like this week. 

Tier 1

1. Andrew Miller (New York Yankees)

2. Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)

3. Seung Hwan Oh (St. Louis Cardinals)

4. Jake Diekman (Texas Rangers)

5. Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals)

6. Tony Watson (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Tier 2

7. David Phelps (Miami Marlins)  

8. Tyler Thornburg (Milwaukee Brewers)

9. Nate Jones (Chicago White Sox

10. Xavier Cedeño (Tampa Bay Rays)

11. Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs)  

12. Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals)

13. Neftali Feliz (Pittsburgh Pirates)

14. Will Smith (Milwaukee Brewers

15. Addison Reed (New York Mets)

16. Brad Brach (Baltimore Orioles

17. Daniel Hudson (Arizona Diamondbacks)

18. Ryan Buchter (San Diego Padres)

19. Joe Blanton (Los Angeles Dodgers)

20. Matt Bush (Texas Rangers)

21. Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)

22. Boone Logan (Colorado Rockies)

23. Kevin Siegrist (St. Louis Cardinals)

Tier 3

24. David Hernandez (Philadelphia Phillies)

25. Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics)

26. Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers)

27. Hunter Strickland (San Francisco Giants)

28. Tony Sipp (Houston Astros)

29. Justin Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

30. Koji Uehara (Boston Red Sox)

31. Junichi Tazawa (Boston Red Sox)

32. Kyle Barraclough (Miami Marlins

33. Nick Vincent (Seattle Mariners)

34. Luke Hochevar (Kansas City Royals)

35. Felipe Rivero (Washington Nationals)

Tier 4

36. Cory Gearrin (San Francisco Giants)

37. Josh Osich (San Francisco Giants)

38. Javier Lopez (San Francisco Giants)

39. Jason Motte (Colorado Rockies)

40. Joaquin Benoit (Seattle Mariners)

41. Jim Johnson (Atlanta Braves)  

42. Bryan Shaw (Cleveland Indians)

43. Ken Giles (Houston Astros)

44. Brandon Maurer (San Diego Padres)

45. Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)

46. Tyler Clippard (Arizona Diamondbacks)

47. Fernando Salas (Los Angeles Angels)

48. Francisco Abad (Minnesota Twins

49. Brandon Kintzler (Minnesota Twins

Tier 5

50. Tony Barnette (Texas Rangers)

51. Mychal Givens (Baltimore Orioles)

52. Jason Grilli (Toronto Blue Jays)

53. Jesse Chavez (Toronto Blue Jays)

54. Pat Neshek (Houston Astros)

55. Adam Liberatore (Los Angeles Dodgers)

56. Louis Coleman (Los Angeles Dodgers)

57. Shawn Kelley (Washington Nationals

58. Kirby Yates (New York Yankees)

59. Vidal Nuno (Seattle Mariners)

60. Zach Duke (Chicago White Sox)

61. Hunter Cervenka (Atlanta Braves)

62. Oliver Perez (Washington Nationals)

63. Ryan Pressly (Minnesota Twins)

Tier 6

64. Andrew Bailey (Philadelphia Phillies)

65. Jared Hughes (Pittsburgh Pirates)

66. Adam Warren (Chicago Cubs)

67. Justin Grimm (Chicago Cubs)

68. Jim Henderson (New York Mets)

69. Fernando Rodriguez (Oakland Athletics)

70. Erasmo Ramirez (Tampa Bay Rays)

71. Jonathan Broxton (St. Louis Cardinals)

72. Gavin Floyd (Toronto Blue Jays)

73. Blake Treinen (Washington Nationals)

74. John Axford (Oakland Athletics)

75. Enny Romero (Tampa Bay Rays)

76. Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox)

77. Drew Storen (Toronto Blue Jays)

78. Jerry Blevins (New York Mets)

79. Hansel Robles (New York Mets)

Tier 7

80. Jose Alvarez (Los Angeles Angels)

81. Antonio Bastardo (New York Mets)

82. Tony Sipp (Houston Astros)

83. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)

84. Zach McAllister (Cleveland Indians)

85. Marc Rzepczynski (Oakland Athletics)

86. Derek Law (San Francisco Giants)

87. Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox)

88. Greg Mahle (Los Angeles Angels)

89. Alex Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

90. Miguel Castro (Colorado Rockies)

91. Mike Dunn (Miami Marlins)


– Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)

Trevor May (Minnesota Twins)  

Sergio Romo (San Francisco Giants)

– Yimi Garcia (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Tony Zych (Seattle Mariners)

Michael Blazek (Milwaukee Brewers)

Bryan Morris (Miami Marlins)

Keone Kela (Texas Rangers)

Brett Cecil (Toronto Blue Jays)

Carson Smith (Boston Red Sox)

Joe Smith (Los Angeles Angels)


– At the top this week I moved Seung-Hwan Oh to number 3 above Jake Diekman, and it is deserved. Oh has a 23:1 K:BB ratio over his last 14.2 innings and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 10 appearances since giving up three to the Cubs on May 25th. Picking up five holds and a win in that span. 

Kelvin Herrera has been a little lackluster in the couple of weeks, tripling his earned run total since May 30th from 2 to 6. He is still a great holds option in the Royals’ bullpen, though, and stays in the top tier with his solid strikeout numbers and the fact that all but one of his last nine appearances have been in a hold situation. That’s what we like to see, Lord Kelvin.

– Falling from grace is Felipe Rivero, his June numbers are just gross. No holds, seven earned runs in five appearances leaving him with a 15.75ERA and a 2.00WHIP since the month began. Tier three till he figures it out. 

– Also leaving the first tier is Neftali Feliz, but he only falls to 15th because he’s still going to get holds in the Pirates pen, I just have to wonder why I doubted that Tony Watson was the better option. Watson has bounced back nicely from his previous errors in early June. Maybe Feliz will too, but he’s solidly in the second tier for the time being. 

– Leading the second tier is David Phelps, you know he’s not going to be perfect but the Marlins lead the league in SvO and he’s been converting holds a decent rate for the fish. He issued nine free passes in his first 24 innings this year and has only two in his last twelve. I like that, David. I like that. 

– I’m a fan of Tyler Thornberg, said it last week, will say it next week if he keeps it up. He makes the top ten with a 10:0 K:BB in his last ten appearances with only one hit and five holds in that span. Only disclaimer is that these appearances have been against the Mets, Braves, A’s, Reds and Phillies. I want to see him be tested by a good offense before I move him any further up.

– Moved up Nate Jones a bit, it was a bit ugly for Jones in late May but he got a week off and has a 0.48WHIP since. He’s a good set-up man for the White Sox and should be rostered.

– Big bump for Xavier Cedeno into the top of the second tier, only one longball allowed on the season and a 13:2 K:BB ratio in the last month. He’s been getting the job done recently, eight appearances in June for five holds. 

Darren O’Day is injured and dropped to 21 because he won’t be returning tomorrow as expected, Buck says he needs some rehab innings. However, I leave him in the second tier and that should show you how much respect I have for him. Immediate top tier upon his return. O’Day is a premier set-up man when healthy. 

Kevin Siegrist falls, his strikeout numbers have been bad recently, 22Ks in his first 15.2 innings and only 8Ks in the last 10.1 and until he finds the Ks he will continue to allow teams to beat him the way Rizzo took him yard last night to hand him his second loss in four outings.

– I moved up Boone Logan, Joe Blanton and Matt Bush into the second tier.  Boone has allowed one baserunner since returning to action from the DL and has four holds in that span – I do have to add the ‘plays at Coors’ disclaimer here but 4 straight hitless appearances there maybe deserves even more attention? Rockies pitchers are a personal call. Blanton doesn’t get the strikeouts that make an elite reliever but he has five holds in june and a 0.70 WHIP on the season, though he may get a day or two off right now after pitching four of five days. Bush has been solid for the Rangers and his 1.17 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and frequent usage qualify him for his spot. 

David Hernandez and Sean Doolittle make it to the top of tier three, would both be tier two if that had actually recorded a hold since May but these are holds rankings, plain and simple. They’ll get their chances infrequently due to the team they’re on, but both are solid relievers. 

– The setup men for the Red Sox, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, find themselves together in tier three having been not so great recently, the team also seems to be putting up 10+ runs more than they let their bullpen get holds. The two have combined for a measly four holds over the last 30 days of play. 

– I moved up Justin Wilson in part to the analysis of Mikey Jarrell, he leads the Tigers with 12 holds this year and all though the hold opportunities have slowed over the recent weeks his stuff is good: 1.56 FIP and 34:5 K:BB ratio and should be a serviceable option going forward, especially saying his BABIP is at .355 and should only fall.

– If you follow me on twitter you know I’m intrigued by whatever the heck Bruce Bochy is doing with his bullpen. There’s a chance that five different relievers can grab a hold in a single game with this team and it’s crazy. I still like Hunter Strickland the best, so he’s in tier three. The others find themselves leading off tier four.

– Yes, Bryan Shaw is the 8th inning guy for the Indians, and yes he will get holds at an okay rate. Not that 11 on the year is anything special. But hey, if you want to watch his 1.46 WHIP – 2.08 over the last two weeks – take down your numbers, be my guest. There are much better options out there, which is why he is at 42. Nobody in that bullpen who has a hold this season has a WHIP better than Shaw’s right now, that just speaks volumes to me.

– The dual closers for the Twins, Francisco Abad and Brandon Kintzler find themselves at the bottom of tier four because in theory one may get the hold on the night the other closes. With the injury to Trevor May, Ryan Pressly works his way in to hold consideration but it is the twins so I don’t like any of them to actually get you what you want. Also the Twins gave a chance to JT Chargois and he flat out stunk, and they sent him down. So much for my theory on this week’s Closing Time, whoops.

Be warned that after tier five the options are not prime, they do not get holds chances frequently and can not be trusted to keep your ERA and WHIP safe. The tiers at this late point are more of a grouping and just because someone is ranked above someone else in either of the last two tiers does not mean they are certainly better. Honestly, it would be wise to stay in the top 60, proceed at your own risk down there. Even tier five can be pretty risky. 

Again, leave me a comment if you think someone deserves to be in a different spot, if I missed an injury, or just want to dive into the discussion. Always feel free to ask any questions during the week on Twitter @Just_In_Relief.

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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