The Hold-Up 6/9: Ranking The Top 60 Relievers For Holds Every Thursday

Editor’s Note: This week brings a slight change with our Holds and Closer articles as the great @HisDudenessOfNY is moving on to bigger and better things. It’s been fantastic having him as...

Editor’s Note: This week brings a slight change with our Holds and Closer articles as the great @HisDudenessOfNY is moving on to bigger and better things. It’s been fantastic having him as a member of the Pitcher List team, and we all wish him the very best.

Taking over in his stead for both The Hold-Up and Closing Time is the reliever obsessed Justin Perri. We’re excited to bring him on board and we’re looking forward to having him as a part of the crew through the season.

Hey all, Justin here, ready to take on ranking relievers here at Pitcher List. It just so happens to be Thursday, and that means it’s time to check out what has been going on in the wonderful world of 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 of a holds league is that a hold carries just as much weight as the treasured save but with almost twice the abundance and the likelihood is that if you’re reading these rankings you have a leg up on your competition.

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 elements to 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. So, enough talk – 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.  Jake Diekman (Texas Rangers)

4.  Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals)

5.  Felipe Rivero (Washington Nationals)

6.  Neftali Feliz (Pittsburgh Pirates)

7.  Tony Watson (Pittsburgh Pirates)

8.  Seung Hwan Oh (St. Louis Cardinals)

Tier 2

9.   Luke Hochevar (Kansas City Royals)

10.  David Phelps (Miami Marlins)  

11.  Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)

12.  Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs)  

13.  Nate Jones (Chicago White Sox)

14.  Brad Brach (Baltimore Orioles)

15.  Kevin Siegrist (St. Louis Cardinals)

16.  Ryan Butcher (San Diego Padres)

17.  Will Smith (Milwaukee Brewers)

18.  Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals)

19.  Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)

20.  Tyler Thornburg (Milwaukee Brewers)

21.  Daniel Hudson (Arizona Diamondbacks)

22.  Nick Vincent (Seattle Mariners)

23.  Addison Reed (New York Mets)

Tier 3

24.  Bryan Shaw (Cleveland Indians)

25.  Junichi Tazawa (Boston Red Sox)

26.  Pat Neshek (Houston Astros)

27.  Joe Blanton (Los Angeles Dodgers)

28.  David Hernandez (Philadelphia Phillies)

29.  Matt Bush (Texas Rangers)

30.  Xavier Cedeño (Tampa Bay Rays)

31.  Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics)

32.  Joaquin Benoit (Seattle Mariners)

33.  Carlos Estevez (Colorado Rockies)

34.  Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers)

35.  Koji Uehara (Boston Red Sox)

36.  Mychal Givens (Baltimore Orioles)

37.  Cory Gearrin (San Francisco Giants)

38.  Boone Logan (Colorado Rockies)

39.  Brandon Maurer (San Diego Padres)

40.  Josh Osich (San Francisco Giants)

41.  Kyle Barraclough (Miami Marlins)

Tier 4

42.  Fernando Salas (Los Angeles Angels)

43.  Tony Barnette (Texas Rangers)

44.  Trevor May (Minnesota Twins)  

45.  Jason Grilli (Toronto Blue Jays)

46.  Tyler Clippard (Arizona Diamondbacks)

47.  Tony Sipp (Houston Astros)

48.  Justin Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

49.  Jim Johnson (Atlanta Braves)  

50.  Adam Liberatore (Los Angeles Dodgers)

51.  Fernando Rodriguez (Oakland Athletics)

52.  Fernando Abad (Minnesota Twins)

53.  Louis Coleman (Los Angeles Dodgers)

54.  Shawn Kelley (Washington Nationals)

55.  Hunter Strickland (San Francisco Giants)

56.  Kirby Yates (New York Yankees)

57.  Vidal Nuno (Seattle Mariners)

Tier 5

58.  Andrew Bailey (Philadelphia Phillies)

59.  Ken Giles (Houston Astros)

60.  Jared Hughes (Pittsburgh Pirates)

61.  Zach Duke (Chicago White Sox)

62.  Adam Warren (Chicago Cubs)

63.  Joel Peralta (Seattle Mariners)

64.  Jim Henderson (New York Mets)

65.  Hunter Cervenka (Atlanta Braves)

66.  Justin Grimm (Chicago Cubs)

67.  Erasmo Ramirez (Tampa Bay Rays)

68.  Jonathan Broxton (St. Louis Cardinals)

69.  Gavin Floyd (Toronto Blue Jays)

70.  Blake Treinen (Washington Nationals)

71.  John Axford (Oakland Athletics)

72.  Enny Romero (Tampa Bay Rays)

73.  Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox)

74.  Jerry Blevins (New York Mets)

75.  Hansel Robels (New York Mets)

Tier 6

76.  Drew Storen (Toronto Blue Jays)

77.  Jose Alvarez (Los Angeles Angels)

78.  Antonio Bastardo (New York Mets)

79.  Tony Sipp (Houston Astros)

80.  Zach McAllister (Cleveland Indians)

81.  Marc Rzepczynski (Oakland Athletics)

82.  Derek Law (San Francisco Giants)

83.  Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox)

84.  Oliver Perez (Washington Nationals)

85.  Greg Mahle (Los Angeles Angels)

86.  Alex Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

87.  Miguel Castro (Colorado Rockies)

88.  Jason Motte (Colorado Rockies)

89.  Mike Dunn (Miami Marlins)

90.  Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)


– Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)

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)


– The battle for who is the best setup man in Pittsburgh has intensified, Tony Watson might have been drafted in your league for holds but I have him neck and neck with Neftali Feliz in the top tier… The bottom line is that both are top tier hold candidates on a team with plenty of opportunities.

– You might think I have Seung Hwan Oh too high on this list, especially over Kevin Siegrist, but I will fight anyone on this one. In the last week he has recorded three holds, has 8K in 4IP with only 2H and no walks. Gotta love it.

David Phelps has that juicy SP eligibility, if you’re trying to overload on relief pitching he is a great target. His buddy Kyle Barraclough is also a decent set-up man, love the strikeout numbers from this kid but he is bit more volatile than Phelps with that scary walk % – both do get to cruise in the NL Easy, however.

– I like Pedro Strop, but just like his closing counterpart Rondon, their fantasy potential is limited by the fact that the Cubs win big often and do not provide enough opportunities for me to put him in the first tier – I bet you won’t hear Joe Maddon complain, though.

– I’m a big fan of Tyler Thornburg. He’s clearly the guy on the Brewers to own for holds. He has no walks, no hits and 7Ks in his last 6 appearances to go along with four holds. Get him if you can.

– Where has Nate Jones been the last few weeks? No holds last week, only one the week before. Suffered in the series versus the defending champs but still a top option going forward on a team that is clearly trying to make some noise this year.

– With Darren O’Day hurt, Brad Brach becomes the guy in the eighth inning for the birds, I like this guy even when O’Day returns, he’s a great low % owned target for holds. Make sure to notice that even though O’Day is hurt he is still in my second tier, he is one of the best and just because he misses a week or two does not diminish his value.

– The Twins bullpen is a little rough but I am a fan of Trevor May, especially since Abad and Kintzler will be sharing the closing role, thus May seems like he’s the most solid source of holds on this team.

Boone Logan returned to action for the Rockies this week, he’s the top lefty out of their pen and his 1.72/0.96 and 5 holds in his 5 outings before injury, as well as one yesterday (June 8th) do provide something to think about. I’m on board for now, but still would think twice about deploying anyone at Coors.

– Another return to action, Jim Johnson is back for the Braves, and should start seeing hold opportunities if and when the Braves can win games

– We are also seeing Motte, Dunn and Knebel return but they have not pitched yet and thus sit at the bottom of our list for now.

That about does it for this week, feel free to reach out and let me know what you think about the rankings. I’m a fantasy baseball nut just like you guys so throw numbers at me, show me interesting things about relievers and if you color my opinion I’ll be sure to give credit where credit is due.

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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