The Hold-Up 6/23: Ranking The Top 60 Relievers For Holds Every Thursday

It’s Thursday and here at The Pitcher List that means ranking the best setup men in the league. The following rankings are meant to give you some help on how...

It’s Thursday and here at The Pitcher List that means ranking the best setup men in the league. 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. Nate Jones (Chicago White Sox

9. Xavier Cedeño (Tampa Bay Rays)

10. Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs)  

11. Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals)

12. Daniel Hudson (Arizona Diamondbacks)

13. Tyler Thornburg (Milwaukee Brewers)

14. Boone Logan (Colorado Rockies)

15. Brad Brach (Baltimore Orioles

16. Matt Bush (Texas Rangers)

17. Ryan Buchter (San Diego Padres)

18. Joe Blanton (Los Angeles Dodgers)

19. Kevin Siegrist (St. Louis Cardinals)

20. Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)

21. Neftali Feliz (Pittsburgh Pirates)

22. Addison Reed (New York Mets)

23. Will Smith (Milwaukee Brewers

24. Kyle Barraclough (Miami Marlins

Tier 3

25. Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics)

26. Hunter Strickland (San Francisco Giants)

27. Cory Gearrin (San Francisco Giants)

28. Justin Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

29. Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers)

30. Junichi Tazawa (Boston Red Sox)

31. Jason Motte (Colorado Rockies)

32. Luke Hochevar (Kansas City Royals)

33. Felipe Rivero (Washington Nationals)

34. Josh Osich (San Francisco Giants)

35. Joaquin Benoit (Seattle Mariners)

Tier 4

36. Tyler Clippard (Arizona Diamondbacks)

37. Koji Uehara (Boston Red Sox)

38. Javier Lopez (San Francisco Giants)

39. Jim Johnson (Atlanta Braves)  

40. Bryan Shaw (Cleveland Indians)

41. David Hernandez (Philadelphia Phillies)

42. Ken Giles (Houston Astros)

43. Luke Gregerson (Houston Astros)

44. Brandon Maurer (San Diego Padres)

45. Nick Vincent (Seattle Mariners)

46. Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)

47. Fernando Salas (Los Angeles Angels)

48. Tony Sipp (Houston Astros)

49. Francisco Abad (Minnesota Twins

50. Brandon Kintzler (Minnesota Twins

Tier 5

51. Tony Barnette (Texas Rangers)

52. Mychal Givens (Baltimore Orioles)

53. Jason Grilli (Toronto Blue Jays)

54. Jesse Chavez (Toronto Blue Jays)

55. Pat Neshek (Houston Astros)

56. Michael Feliz (Houston Astros)

57. Ryan Pressly (Minnesota Twins)

58. Adam Liberatore (Los Angeles Dodgers)

59. Louis Coleman (Los Angeles Dodgers)

60. Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)

61. Kirby Yates (New York Yankees)

62. Gavin Floyd (Toronto Blue Jays)

63. Vidal Nuno (Seattle Mariners)

64. Zach Duke (Chicago White Sox)

65. Hunter Cervenka (Atlanta Braves)

66. Oliver Perez (Washington Nationals)

Tier 6

67. Andrew Bailey (Philadelphia Phillies)

68. Jared Hughes (Pittsburgh Pirates)

69. Adam Warren (Chicago Cubs)

70. Justin Grimm (Chicago Cubs)

71. Jim Henderson (New York Mets)

72. Fernando Rodriguez (Oakland Athletics)

73. Erasmo Ramirez (Tampa Bay Rays)

74. Jonathan Broxton (St. Louis Cardinals)

75. Blake Treinen (Washington Nationals)

76. John Axford (Oakland Athletics)

77. Enny Romero (Tampa Bay Rays)

78. Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox)

79. Drew Storen (Toronto Blue Jays)

80. Jerry Blevins (New York Mets)

81. Hansel Robles (New York Mets)

Tier 7

82. Jose Alvarez (Los Angeles Angels)

83. Antonio Bastardo (New York Mets)

84. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)

85. Zach McAllister (Cleveland Indians)

86. Marc Rzepczynski (Oakland Athletics)

87. Derek Law (San Francisco Giants)

88. Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox)

89. Greg Mahle (Los Angeles Angels)

90. Alex Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

91. Miguel Castro (Colorado Rockies)

92. 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 Andrew Miller keeps his firm grasp on the number one spot, of the last 15 outs he has gotten, four haven’t been strikeouts. That’s nuts, and good for a 19.8 K/9, as well as a 0.60 WHIP and 2 Holds in that span. I’d like to see some more holds, but they’ll come for the stud.

Jake Diekman got hit for three runs last night against the Reds, a little surprising from such a stellar reliever but it just goes to show that even the best have rough outings. The Rangers current winning ways along with Diekman’s usage keep him in the top tier.

– Lord Kelvin Herrera had a good week even though he didn’t get holds, stuck out the side twice. I like seeing that, and he certainly is a top tier option.

– The Rockies have been producing holds at a good rate as of late, which is a little weird to say. However both Boone Logan and Jason Motte are locked into a hold focused role in this pen. Each of the two has picked up 5 holds in their last 8 appearances. I like Boone over Motte as of now.

– After a comment related to him last week, I thought I would bring up Joe Blanton. He’s been alarmingly good for the Dodgers, and I know you’re scared. I know you remember the Joe Blanton who would start for the Phillies with a juicy matchup and still allow six earned runs in three innings. Not anymore for Joey B, out of all the relievers who have picked up 5 or more holds in the last month, Joe has the best WHIP in that span of 0.53. What is line in that time? 15 IP, 7 H, 1BB, 14 Ks, 2ER, 7 Holds. Blanton is a top 20 option right now. He also seems to be rendering Pedro Baez ineffective; Baez hasn’t had a hold in two weeks so he falls a bit.

– Like Blanton, Cory Gearrin has been killing it out in California for the SF Giants. He has allowed only one earned run in the last month and has been racking up a good number of holds as well. I still like Hunter Strickland more, but only by a hair because Gearrin gets more strikeouts and more innings right now. Strickland still has one more holds and will probably continue to get more chances, but both are good hold options at the time, especially with Cueto and Madison leading that staff.

David Hernandez takes a very well deserved fall in the ranks, four straight outings with a run, and nine total earned runs in that short span. It’s a rough patch, as the reliever has been good this season, but he leaves the top 40 till he figures it out. He probably deserves to hit the pine on your roster until he proves himself. I wouldn’t drop in a deep holds league just yet.

– This week I’m giving Tyler Clippard some credit, as his numbers haven’t been great but he’s locked in as the 7th inning guy for the DBacks and a bump to the top of tier four is appropriate. Solid holds option going forward but he can’t get you the K’s or ratios that he used to in years past. Daniel Hudson is the guy you probably would prefer here, they’ll probably get holds on the same days but Hudson is performing better and thus is much higher in the rankings.

– Over in Seattle, Joaquin Benoit has taken the reigns for getting holds. He’s recorded four of the seven holds the team has in the last month while three other relievers picked up one. Benoit has some improvement to do in the WHIP category, but he strikes out batters at a decent clip. So he gets a small bump to the bottom of tier three while Nick Vincent falls a little lower into the fourth tier.

– Staying in the AL West, the Houston Astros have a crowded bullpen. Ken Giles, Michael Feliz, Luke Gregerson, Tony Sipp, and Pat Neshek all vie for hold chances. I like Giles, Gregerson and Sipp over the other two for now. Though this is a cloudy situation and it seems like none of these guys is promised the hold like you’ll find in many other bullpens. That fact alone diminishes their value in these rankings.

Edwin Diaz, the prospect for the Mariners, makes the list. He’s got electric strikeout potential, 12 K over 8 IP so far this year, and has started to see a hold chance or two. Still young and raw, he has the potential to be a great addition to your bullpen, especially if he starts seeing more high leverage work and cuts the walks. I felt like he deserved to get placed in the fifth tier for now. 

Be warned that after tier five the options are not prime, and 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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