The Hold Up 7/29: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

As we move closer to the trade deadline, this could be the last time we see Ryan Tepera in a Cubs uniform, as the Cubs are expected to move a bunch of their veterans in the next day. No matter where he lands, Tepera should figure into a high leverage role, and could potentially even get a boost if he lands in a spot desperate for late-inning help. If Tepera and closer Craig Kimbrel are both moved, that leaves the Cubs bullpen very thin, with just Rex Brothers and Rowan Wick (rehab assignment) left as logical closer options. Daniel Hudson was the other prominent setup man who could be on the move, but after he was placed on the Covid-IL, that becomes more unlikely I would imagine.




  • Despite being one game out of a playoff spot, the Mariners decided to ship closer Kendall Graveman to the divisional rival Astros on Tuesday, a team desperate to retool its bullpen. While it hurts Gravemans value in save-only leagues, this shouldn’t affect him much in SV+HLD leagues as he should slide into a setup role, even with the team acquiring another reliever (see below) yesterday. In Seattle, Paul Sewald should step in as the team’s closer with Drew Steckenrider moving up to the top setup spot.
  • The Athletics have been one of the more aggressive teams so far at the deadline, and the first to make a big splash for a reliever by acquiring Andrew Chaffin. I talked above about the Cubs bullpen situation moving forward, but as far as how Chafin fits into Oakland’s bullpen, I’d imagine he takes away some holds from Jake Diekman and Yusmeiro Petit, but it shouldn’t affect those two all that much.


  • The Reds have also been very active in looking to strengthen their bullpen, going out and adding Luis Cessa, Justin Wilson, and Mychal Givens. Givens is the big get here, as he should slide right into a high leverage role (possible closer?) and finally gets to escape Coors Field. The Reds bullpen will be crowded in two weeks once they get their injured reliever back, but it should turn this bullpen into a strength.
  • The Astros also added reliever Yimi García from the Marlins as the Astros continue to bolster their bullpen. It’s not a great fit for García however, as I have concerns about him moving to that ballpark with his flyball tendencies and the amount of hard contact he allows. His presence still bumps Ryne Stanek and Brooks Raley down. In Miami, it remains to be seen who slides into the closer role, but Anthony Bender provides the most upside there, but Dylan Floro had settled into the eighth inning role there and Anthony Bass was originally brought in to close out games.


  • With Daniel Hudson landing on the IL and Brad Hand struggling and potentially on the move, I suppose we should speculate on the future of the Nationals bullpen. Tanner Rainey returns from the IL today, and while things have not been going well for Rainey this season, perhaps the extended time off helps refresh him and his arm for the final two months. Remember that he was one of the best relievers in baseball last season. If Rainey continues to struggle, Kyle Finnegan is likely the next man up in that bullpen and while he does have an above-average slider, there’s not a whole lot to really get excited about here.
  • The Diamondbacks decided to go with Tyler Clippard to close out the Rangers yesterday, opting to use Joakim Soria in the eighth where he picked up a hold. Arizona is in sell mode this deadline and it’s possible we see both of these relievers moved by tomorrow afternoon. Clippard has been limited to just three innings this season, but he’s coming off a solid 2020 and could be an asset down the stretch depending on how things shake out for him and the team.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Giovanny GallegosT1-
2Blake Treinen-
3Chad Green
4Seth Lugo-
5Michael Kopech+5
6Emmanuel Clase+1
7Andrew Chafin-2
8Ryan Tepera-2
9Devin Williams-1
10Kendall Graveman+UR
11Drew Pomeranz+3
12Jimmy Nelson+5
13Aaron Bummer-
14Trevor May+5
15Anthony Bender+7
16David Bednar+9
17Adam Ottavino-8
18Jake Cousins+6
19Aaron Loup-1
21Austin Adams
22Jonathan Loáisiga+4
23Garrett Whitlock+5
24Jake Diekman+3
25Chris Martin+4
26Tanner Scott+4
27Brad Boxberger+5
28Richard Bleier+3
29Josh Taylor+4
30Andrew Kittredge+6
31Jeffrey Springs+3
32Matt Wisler+3
33Emilio Pagán+4
34Michael Fulmer+UR
35Dylan Floro+14
36Drew Steckenrider+22
37Paul Fry+10
38Yusmeiro Petit
39Connor Brogdon+1
40Pierce Johnson+13
41Josh Staumont+16
42Victor González-1
43Garrett Crochet+2
44Cristian Javier+2
46Bryan Shaw-7
47Zack Britton+5
48Joely Rodríguez+3
49Héctor Neris+1
50José Alvarado-6
51Craig Stammen+3
52Kyle Zimmer-4
53Ryne Stanek-11
54Mychal Givens+26
55Joe Kelly+8
56Tyler Duffey+5
57Tanner Rainey+UR
58Génesis Cabrera
59Jake Brentz+6
60Josh Sborz-5
61Brooks Raley-5
62JT Chargois+2
64Kyle Funkhouser-4
65Kyle Finnegan+UR
66Rex Brothers+3
67Archie Bradley+5
68Jarlín García+5
69Nick Sandlin+7
70Tim Mayza+5
71Tyler Matzek+6
72Yimi García+UR
73Spencer Patton+UR
74Tyler Clippard+UR
75Noé Ramirez+15
76Jeurys Familia+UR
77Steve Cishek+9
78Miguel Castro
79Codi Heuer-11
80Sergio Romo-2
81Ryan Borucki-11
82Phil Maton-23
83Tim Hill-9
85Sean Doolittle+UR
86Carlos Estévez+13
87Blake Taylor+UR
88Brent Suter-5
89Deolis Guerra-8
90Dominic Leone-11
91Hirokazu Sawamura-4
93Chris Stratton-4
94Cole Sulser+UR
95Lucas Luetge-3
96Caleb Thielbar-
97Rafael Dolis+1
98Wander Suero-1
99Darwinzon Hernández+UR
100John Curtiss+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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