The Hold Up 7/30: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham ranks baseball's top setup men for the 2020 season.

After being the team leader in saves and recording the team’s only save in the World Series last year, it is definitely a little surprising to see that Daniel Hudson has passed Sean Doolittle in the pecking order this early in the season. Doolittle had an up-and-down 2019, but he was able to put things together and seemed to have regained Dave Martinez’s confidence by the end of their playoff run.

But after seeing what Doolittle is bringing to the table right now, it’s hard to blame Martinez for making a switch. Doolittle’s fastball (which he uses more than 80% of the time) has seen a sharp decline in velocity, down three mph from last year to an underwhelming 90.8 mph. It’s still early and plenty of pitchers are seeing velocity decreases to start the season, but it’s hard to see someone with Doolittle’s repertoire survive that type of velocity drop very long.



  • Corey Knebel takes a minor fall for now, as I’m a bit concerned on his velocity at the moment and his command has not been great either. In a normal season, he’d have plenty of time to figure things out, but Knebel we may have to wait til next season.
  • Most of the names that fell in Tier 4 only fell because of usage concerns. Andrew Miller hasn’t pitched in a game with the lead so far, and he too is dealing with some low-velocity concerns. Pedro Baez seems to be on the odd man out for consistent hold opportunities with Blake Treinen and Caleb Ferguson working in front of Kenley Jansen the past two days. Trevor May is behind Tyler Duffey, Sergio Romo, and perhaps Tyler Clippard for holds in Minnesota at the moment. Jose Alvarado has yet to see a high leverage spot as well, despite pitching well (for the most part)
  • Nick Wittgren is still the primary setup option to Brad Hand, and for good reason, but it’s easy to see that rookie James Karinchak is the much more electric pitcher between the two. I still think Karinchak will bring more to the table in terms of Ks and possibly even lower ratios than Wittgren, but that eighth vs. seventh inning role could actually become a usage issue, especially with how deep Cleveland starting pitchers tend to go.
  • The Braves situation in front of closer Mark Melancon became a bit more clear last night, with Chris Martin working the eighth inning and AJ Minter the seventh. With Will Smith returning early next week, that may really put a damper on whatever value Luke Jackson and Shane Greene still had in holds leagues.
  • Jairo Diaz has become Wade Davis’s top handcuff, and even with Scott Oberg nearing a return, should be able to retain value as one of the team’s top relievers. While he’s been lights out so far, the team has yet to play home game so keep that in mind.
  • The Cubs bullpen could be in for a shakeup soon, so Kyle Ryan and Jeremy Jeffress get significant boosts. If Craig Kimbrel has trouble in his next outing, I’d expect these two plus Rowan Wick to receive the bulk of high leverage late-inning work.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Drew PomeranzT1+1
2Nick Anderson+UR
3Seth Lugo-
4Ryan Pressly-3
5Tommy Kahnle
6Tyler Duffey-
7Will Smith-
8Giovanny Gallegos+4
9Emilio Pagán-5
10Matt Barnes-2
11Will Harris
12Dellin Betances-1
13Adam Ottavino-3
14Diego Castillo-1
15Aaron Bummer+1
16Ty Buttrey-2
17Sergio Romo+3
18Bryan Abreu-
19Blake Treinen+4
20James Karinchak+5
21Corey Knebel-6
23Michael Lorenzen-6
24Ryan Helsley+2
25Andrew Miller
26Ian Kennedy+UR
27Yusmeiro Petit+8
28Joakim Soria+8
29Chaz Roe+8
30Sean Doolittle+UR
31Pedro Báez-10
32José Alvarado-8
33Scott Barlow-4
34Trevor May-7
35John Gant-4
36Nick Wittgren+13
37Caleb Ferguson+UR
38Jairo Díaz+25
39Jordan Romano+UR
40Chris Martin+1
41Justin Wilson+1
42Andrew Chafin-4
43Matt Strahm-4
44Kevin Ginkel-16
45Chad Green
46Luke Jackson-14
48Joe Kelly-4
49Rowan Wick+4
50Tanner Rainey+1
51Jake Diekman+6
52Trevor Rosenthal+6
53Shane Greene-10
54Craig Stammen-6
55Carlos Estévez-3
56Buck Farmer+21
57Tyler Clippard+33
58Adam Morgan-12
59Brett Martin+9
60Jeremy Jeffress+27
61Richard Rodríguez-5
62Kyle Ryan+17
63Nick Goody+UR
64Rafael Dolis+UR
65Oliver Pérez-18
67Junior Guerra+15
68Steve Cishek+17
69A.J. Minter+UR
70Scott Oberg
71Rafael Montero-21
72Yimi García-10
73Yoshi Hirano+UR
74Darwinzon Hernández-8
75Austin Adams-10
76Wander Suero-15
77Josh Taylor-10
78Hunter Harvey-9
79Robert Stephenson-46
81Cody Stashak+2
82Adam Cimber+UR
83Cam Bedrosian-13
84Noé Ramirez-13
86Brent Suter-5
87José Alvarez-12
88Tommy Hunter-
89Pedro Strop-
90Daniel Bard+UR


Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm 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 7/30: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. scott says:

    What do you think bout Gregory Soto DET? Real nice K/9 so far.

    • Rick Graham says:

      Literally was 91 on the list and I was trying to find a spot for him. But at the end of the day its the Tigers and it’s unlikely there will be 3 fantasy relevant relievers to come out of that situation.

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