The Hold Up 7/22: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

Aaron Bummer’s 2021 season has been, for lack of a better word, a bummer, as a lot was expected from the White Sox setup man heading into the year. That said, we can really chalk up his high ERA to just three really poor outings this season (7/16 vs HOU, 6/9 vs TOR, 5/18 vs MIN) that, if you took them away, would give him a 1.50 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 30 innings of work. It’s not fair to just take away three games and pretend they didn’t happen, but I think it shows that while he may have one blow-up a month, the rest of the month should go relatively smoothly. His latest brutal outing also happened to be the day he came off the IL, and his velocity was down as he hadn’t pitched in a few weeks. I think there are enough positive takeaways in Bummer’s profile to not be worried about him for the last two months of the year so ignore the poor ratios for now and continue to trust his stuff.




  • Pete Fairbanks has bounced back from a dreadful June to have one of the best months of July for any reliever in the league. Fairbanks posted an 11/8 K/BB ratio in June while allowing 14 hits in eleven innings but in July, he has allowed just one hit and walked none while striking out ten. He’s become Kevin Cash’s go-to reliever as of late, and with J.P. Feyereisen dealing with a shoulder injury, should continue to see regular high leverage work.
  • Gregory Soto for all intents and purposes is the Tigers closer right now, a change I’ll likely make next week, and despite walking a tightrope in a lot of these outings, he’s been able to convert saves successfully. Despite his notorious command issues, Soto has only walked eight batters over his last 23 innings of work, and if it weren’t for a home run allowed to Jose Abreu back on July 4, he’d be in the middle of his most impressive streak to date.


  • Anthony Bender has hit his first rough patch at the MLB level, as he’s had some issues over the past two weeks to get hitters out. Over that span (5.1 IP) he’s allowed six earned runs on ten hits (two HR) while walking just one. I appreciate the low walk rate, but let’s make sure we are missing bats and barrels too. Paul Sewald has run into a similar problem, allowing two home runs and four earned runs over his past two innings of work. The home runs will happen, as Sewald does not get a lot of groundballs, but I think both he and Bender will bounce back and be just fine for the rest of the season.
  • It must be nice as an organization to trade away someone like J.P. Feyereisen and call up someone like Jake Cousins who gives you the same results, if not better. It’s only been 12.1 innings, but Cousins has an absurd 54.1% CSW while also supporting a 52% GB rate. If he continues to see consistent hold opportunities, he could land in the top ten by the beginning of next month. Another rookie to keep an eye on is David Bednar, the likely candidate to take over for Richard Rodríguez once he is moved. Bednar had some hype entering the season and he’s lived up to it so far, and looks to be the Pirates closer of the future.


  • Bryan Shaw continues to impress and has improved on his command issues this month (just three walks) while seemingly securing a secondary setup role behind Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak. That said, Phil Maton has come on strong here as of late, and certainly has the higher ceiling of the two. Maton picked up a hold last night, and hopefully can carve out a role as a secondary setup option in Cleveland as his swing and miss upside is elite.
  • It’s been a rough year for two lefties who I had high expectations for at the beginning of the year. Victor González has been a mess since the new stick stuff rule came to light, and while it’s going to take some pitcher longer than others to adjust, it’s tough to tell just when or even if González will get back to his 2020/early 2021 self. I’m not sure if the stick stuff rules have affected Zack Britton as well, but he’s certainly not right and I’d expect another IL stint soon for him at this point. His sinker averaged 91.8 mph last night, down 3 mph from 2018-2020 and down close to 5 mph from 2015-2017. Plus his 19.7% walk rate is currently a career-high. Something’s not right here still.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Giovanny GallegosT1-
2Blake Treinen-
3Chad Green-
4Seth Lugo
5Andrew Chafin+2
6Ryan Tepera+2
7Emmanuel Clase-2
8Devin Williams-2
9Adam Ottavino+1
10Michael Kopech+1
11Collin McHugh+7
12Pete Fairbanks+14
13Aaron Bummer-4
14Drew Pomeranz-1
15Daniel Hudson-
16Austin Adams+1
17Jimmy Nelson-3
18Aaron Loup+2
19Trevor May+2
21Gregory Soto
22Anthony Bender-10
23Paul Sewald-7
24Jake Cousins+17
25David Bednar+14
26Jonathan Loáisiga-7
27Jake Diekman-2
28Garrett Whitlock-
29Chris Martin-5
30Tanner Scott+1
31Richard Bleier+2
32Brad Boxberger+2
33Josh Taylor+2
34Jeffrey Springs+2
35Matt Wisler+3
36Andrew Kittredge+6
37Emilio Pagán-8
38Yusmeiro Petit+6
39Bryan Shaw+16
40Connor Brogdon-
41Victor González
42Ryne Stanek+3
44José Alvarado+3
45Garrett Crochet-8
46Cristian Javier+4
47Paul Fry+14
48Kyle Zimmer+14
49Dylan Floro-
50Héctor Neris+9
51Joely Rodríguez-3
52Zack Britton-22
53Pierce Johnson-2
54Craig Stammen-2
55Josh Sborz+1
56Brooks Raley+1
57Josh Staumont+6
58Drew Steckenrider+8
59Phil Maton+23
60Kyle Funkhouser+UR
61Tyler Duffey
62Miguel Castro+2
63Joe Kelly+2
64JT Chargois+10
65Jake Brentz+14
66Génesis Cabrera+14
68Codi Heuer-15
69Rex Brothers+1
70Ryan Borucki+2
71Hansel Robles+19
72Archie Bradley+19
73Jarlín García+21
74Tim Hill-1
75Tim Mayza-4
76Nick Sandlin-7
77Tyler Matzek+4
78Sergio Romo+21
79Dominic Leone-12
80Mychal Givens+12
81Deolis Guerra
82Tyler Wells+7
83Brent Suter-5
84Josh Osich-16
86Steve Cishek-11
87Hirokazu Sawamura-4
89Chris Stratton+UR
90Noé Ramirez+UR
91Brad Brach+UR
92Lucas Luetge+UR
94Ryan Helsley+UR
95Nick Wittgren+UR
96Caleb Thielbar-1
97Wander Suero-13
98Rafael Dolis+UR
99Carlos Estévez+UR
100Dillon Tate+UR


Photo by Quinn Harris/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.

2 responses to “The Hold Up 7/22: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Peter guigli says:

    Save and hold league Do you think Micheal Kopech will get more holds than Jordan Romano get save.( R.O.S.) I see your from the Boston area I’m from Framingham moved to Weymouth. Play in a 30 year metrowest fantasy league? Are you north, south or west of Boston?

    • Rick Graham says:

      Tough call, I think Romano gets more SV+HLD’s than Kopech, but Kopech is more of a help with the other categories. I’m south of Boston, closer to RI actually.

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