The Hold Up 7/15: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

With the trade deadline nearing and the Cubs falling out of contention, a lot has been made about them being massive sellers this season. Names like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Craig Kimbrel, Kyle Hendricks, etc. have been thrown around as potential trade assets. However, two of their biggest pieces at the deadline that people continue to sleep on are Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera, both of which came back to the Cubs this offseason on team-friendly one-year deals (Chafin has a $5.25m mutual option next year with a $500k buyout). The pair of veteran relievers should be on every contending team’s wish list, and they should come cheaper in terms of money owed as well as prospect capital than someone like Kimbrel. The Cubs farm system currently ranks in the bottom third of the league, but that could all change come August 1st.




  • It’s been hard to find injury updates for a lot of players this week as media coverage has been focused on the All-Star game. That said, there are plenty of pitchers on the IL currently who *could* be back within the next week, so until we get more clarity I’ve added them back onto the list (or kept them on the list). Aaron Bummer should be close to a return from his back injury although there hasn’t been an update in a while. Drew Pomeranz is eligible to return from the IL on Saturday, and the team thinks that’s a possibility. Jimmy Nelson is expected to return for the Giants series that starts on Monday. Victor Gonzalez could return this weekend or early next week as well.
  • I guess this Paul Sewald revolution is really happening, and he may be an even better bet for the rest of the season than Kendall Graveman. It’ll be interesting to see how the Mariners proceed at the deadline, as they are above .500 but if they struggle over the next two weeks, can Jerry Dipoto resist moving some of their older relievers for prospects?


  • Jake Diekman picked up just his second save in two months this past week, and while he’s not competing with Lou Trivino with saves anymore, he has been working as the team’s top setup man. That said, the reason why Diekman is missing out on save chances is that he has not pitched well over the past two months with an ERA of 4.50 (7.33 FIP), a 1.56 WHIP, and an 11.3% K-BB rate while allowing six HR over 18 innings. It looks like last year may have been more of a fluke than a revelation.
  • Andrew Kittredge *All-Star Andrew Kittredge has been fantastic this year, performing as both a traditional reliever and as an opener for the Rays. The reason he hasn’t been higher up on the list is that he only has four holds on the year, as the Rays bullpen is just loaded at the moment. I’ve reshuffled the list for the second half based on first-half xStats and other factors so the Rays relievers get a boost for now, but if the holds aren’t trickling in and the ratio’s don’t stay elite, they (Kittredge, Matt Wisler, Jeffrey Springs, etc.) will fall down the list quickly.


  • Despite solid xStats and leading the league in holds, I’ve been down on A.J. Minter recently, especially once Chris Martin returned to that bullpen. That may have been a bit unfair, and while I don’t expect him to lead the league in holds when the season is all said and done, he’s still a respectable secondary setup option.
  • Tier 4 starts off with three of the more disappointing setup men in baseball this season, as the trio of Ryne Stanek, Mike Mayers, and Jose Alvarado had the potential to be tier 2 mainstays. Stanek continues to find barrels at a far too high clip, while also walking too many hitters, a dangerous combination. Mayers mmm. Alvarado’s issues are obviously related to walks as his 18.6% walk rate is the worst in baseball.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Giovanny GallegosT1-
2Blake Treinen+1
3Chad Green-1
4Seth Lugo-
5Emmanuel Clase
6Devin Williams-
7Andrew Chafin+2
8Ryan Tepera+2
9Aaron Bummer+UR
10Adam Ottavino+3
11Michael Kopech-
12Anthony Bender+2
13Drew Pomeranz-6
14Jimmy Nelson-2
15Daniel Hudson+3
16Paul Sewald+10
17Austin Adams+2
18Collin McHugh-3
19Jonathan Loáisiga+1
20Aaron Loup+4
21Trevor May-5
22J.P. Feyereisen-5
24Chris Martin-1
25Jake Diekman
26Pete Fairbanks+7
27Victor González+UR
28Garrett Whitlock-6
29Emilio Pagán-4
30Zack Britton-2
31Tanner Scott-2
32Gregory Soto-2
33Richard Bleier-1
34Brad Boxberger+2
35Josh Taylor-8
36Jeffrey Springs+2
37Garrett Crochet+8
38Matt Wisler+8
39David Bednar+8
40Connor Brogdon+9
41Jake Cousins+7
42Andrew Kittredge+10
43A.J. Minter+16
44Yusmeiro Petit-
45Ryne Stanek
47José Alvarado-16
48Joely Rodríguez-7
49Dylan Floro-12
50Cristian Javier-8
51Pierce Johnson-12
52Craig Stammen-9
53Codi Heuer-3
54Michael Lorenzen+UR
55Bryan Shaw+13
56Josh Sborz+10
57Brooks Raley+6
58Sam Howard-1
59Héctor Neris+3
60Tyler Duffey-7
61Paul Fry-7
62Kyle Zimmer-22
63Josh Staumont-5
64Miguel Castro-4
65Joe Kelly-
66Drew Steckenrider+3
67Dominic Leone+22
68Josh Osich+25
69Nick Sandlin-5
70Rex Brothers
71Tim Mayza-15
72Ryan Borucki+UR
73Tim Hill-3
74JT Chargois-2
75Steve Cishek+2
77Darwinzon Hernández+4
78Brent Suter-2
79Jake Brentz-4
80Génesis Cabrera-7
81Tyler Matzek+1
82Phil Maton+9
83Hirokazu Sawamura-12
84Wander Suero-5
86Brett Martin-1
88Deolis Guerra+UR
89Tyler Wells+1
90Hansel Robles-29
91Archie Bradley-8
92Mychal Givens-5
94Jarlín García-
95Caleb Thielbar-17
96Austin Voth-22
97Phil Bickford+2
99Sergio Romo+UR
100Ryne Harper+UR


Photo by Peter Joneleit/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.

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