The Hold-Up 7/7: Ranking The Top 60 Relievers For Holds Every Thursday

It’s Thursday and here at The Pitcher List that means ranking the best setup men in the league. The following rankings are meant to give you some help on how...

It’s Thursday and here at The Pitcher List that means ranking the best setup men in the league. 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 and craziness of a holds league is that a hold can be just as important as the save, but everyone knows who the closer is. With holds you can find an unowned and solid reliever who can really help your squad win a matchup.

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 things to always 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.

Feel free to leave your questions and angry remarks in the comments section below. Let me know if you feel someone should be lower or higher on the list, I’ll be sure to take what you say into consideration. Give me a follow on twitter @Just_In_Relief for all things concerning bullpens and who knows what else fantasy baseball related. Now, 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. Brad Brach (Baltimore Orioles

4. Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals)

5. Fernando Rodney (Miami Marlins)

6. Jake Diekman (Texas Rangers)

Tier 2

7. Tony Watson (Pittsburgh Pirates)

8. Nate Jones (Chicago White Sox

9. Matt Bush (Texas Rangers

10. Ryan Buchter (San Diego Padres)

11. Joe Blanton (Los Angeles Dodgers

12. Tyler Thornburg (Milwaukee Brewers)

13. Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)

14. Will Smith (Milwaukee Brewers

15. Neftali Feliz (Pittsburgh Pirates

16. Xavier Cedeño (Tampa Bay Rays)

17. David Phelps (Miami Marlins)  

18. Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)

19. Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs)  

20. Sergio Romo (San Francisco Giants)

21. Joe Smith (Los Angeles Angels)

22. Daniel Hudson (Arizona Diamondbacks)

23. Ryan Dull (Oakland Athletics)

Tier 3

24. Hunter Strickland (San Francisco Giants)

25. Jonathan Broxton (St. Louis Cardinals)

26. Addison Reed (New York Mets)

27. Bryan Shaw (Cleveland Indians)

28. Justin Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

29. Jake McGee (Colorado Rockies)

30. Tyler Clippard (Arizona Diamondbacks)

31. Brett Cecil (Toronto Blue Jays)

32. Luke Hochevar (Kansas City Royals)

33. Felipe Rivero (Washington Nationals)

34. Zach Duke (Chicago White Sox)

35. Josh Osich (San Francisco Giants)

36. Edubray Ramos (Philadelphia Phillies)

37. Junichi Tazawa (Boston Red Sox)

38. Jason Grilli (Toronto Blue Jays

39. Trevor May (Minnesota Twins)

40. Adam Liberatore (Los Angeles Dodgers)

41. Joaquin Benoit (Seattle Mariners)

Tier 4

42. Brad Hand (San Diego Padres)

43. Koji Uehara (Boston Red Sox)

44. Javier Lopez (San Francisco Giants)

45. Matt Bowman (St. Louis Cardinals)

46. Oliver Perez (Washington Nationals)

47. Jim Johnson (Atlanta Braves)  

48. Jason Motte (Colorado Rockies)

49. Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers)

50. David Hernandez (Philadelphia Phillies)

51. Ken Giles (Houston Astros

52. Travis Wood (Chicago Cubs)

53. Luke Gregerson (Houston Astros)

54. Kyle Barraclough (Miami Marlins

55. Boone Logan (Colorado Rockies

56. Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis Cardinals)

57. Francisco Abad (Minnesota Twins

58. Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)

59. Tony Barnette (Texas Rangers)

60. Fernando Salas (Los Angeles Angels)

61. Matt Andriese (Tampa Bay Rays)

62. Tony Sipp (Houston Astros)

Tier 5

63. Mychal Givens (Baltimore Orioles

64. Blake Treinen (Washington Nationals)

65. Jesse Chavez (Toronto Blue Jays)

66. Erasmo Ramirez (Tampa Bay Rays)

67. Pat Neshek (Houston Astros)

68. Michael Feliz (Houston Astros)

69. Adam Ottavino (Colorado Rockies)

70. Ryan Pressly (Minnesota Twins)

71. Louis Coleman (Los Angeles Dodgers)

72. Kirby Yates (New York Yankees)

73. Vidal Nuno (Seattle Mariners)

74. Hunter Cervenka (Atlanta Braves)

Tier 6

75. Andrew Bailey (Philadelphia Phillies)

76. Jared Hughes (Pittsburgh Pirates)

77. Justin Grimm (Chicago Cubs)

78. Jim Henderson (New York Mets)

79. Fernando Rodriguez (Oakland Athletics)

80. John Axford (Oakland Athletics)

81. Zach McAllister (Cleveland Indians)

82. Enny Romero (Tampa Bay Rays)

83. Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox)

84. Drew Storen (Toronto Blue Jays)

85. Jerry Blevins (New York Mets)

86. Hansel Robles (New York Mets)

Tier 7

87. Jose Alvarez (Los Angeles Angels)

88. Derek Law (San Francisco Giants)

89. Antonio Bastardo (New York Mets)

90. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)

91. Marc Rzepczynski (Oakland Athletics)

92. Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox)

93. Greg Mahle (Los Angeles Angels)

94. Alex Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

95. Miguel Castro (Colorado Rockies)

96. Mike Dunn (Miami Marlins)


– Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)

Gavin Floyd (Toronto Blue Jays)

Nick Vincent (Seattle Mariners)

– Yimi Garcia (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Tony Zych (Seattle Mariners)

Michael Blazek (Milwaukee Brewers)

Bryan Morris (Miami Marlins)

Keone Kela (Texas Rangers)

Carson Smith (Boston Red Sox)

Cory Gearrin (San Francisco Giants)

Kevin Siegrist (St. Louis Cardinals)

Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics


– The shakeup in St. Louis has me deleting Seung Hwan Oh from the ranks of the best setup men. It seems like the final boss will be getting save chances for the Cardinals and with Kevin Siegrist hitting the DL, it will be up to Jonathan Broxton and maybe the shamed Trevor Rosenthal to try to collect the holds. I could see Matt Bowman getting the work in the 7th over Rosenthal. Bowman has two holds in back to back games for the cards.

– With Kelvin Herrera struggling last night, it seems as though he may stay as the setup man in Kansas City with Joakim Soria taking the closing duties with Wade Davis sidelined. So Soria is off the list and Herrera stays at the top tier. This should also push Luke Hochevar in a position to collect holds in the 7th.

Fernando Rodney has to be considered to be one of the best hold options in the game now that he has been traded to Miami. The Marlins have been getting plenty of holds for David Phelps and Kyle Barraclough already this season and Rodney should do just as well. Phelps shouldn’t see too much of a drop in holds but its safe to say that Barraclough is not a go to holds option anymore.

– The Rodney trade leaves a wake in San Diego, Brandon Maurer is getting the first shot at closing and so has been removed from these rankings, but it would not surprise me if Ryan Buchter gets a chance to close at some point, he’s just been the better reliever. Brad Hand figures to see more hold chances with the shake up for the Padres.

– In Oakland, Sean Doolittle was placed on the DL and Ryan Dull has stepped in to the setup role for the Athletics. He is worth a look, 0.73 WHIP on the season to go with a 45:8 K:BB ratio.

Cory Gearrin, too, was placed on the DL and Sergio Romo was activated for the Giants. Romo is going to be eased back in to high leverage situations before he assumes control of the 8th inning role. His ranking will rise as this happens.

– Also coming off the DL is Joe Smith for the Angels, he immediately assumes the 8th inning role for the halos and bumps Fernando Salas to a more forgettable rank.

– Speaking of forgettable, Trevor May is probably going to resume having something to do with the setup role for the Twins since he was activated from the DL but there probably won’t be much to write home about.

Brett Cecil is also coming off the DL, lots of injury related stuff this week, and he will be the primary setup man against lefties. He should see some holds but Toronto hasn’t been overflowing with hold chances for their bullpen this season. I would advise making sure he’s really figured out the issues he had before grabbing him.

– A closer before his injury, Jake McGee is going to be the setup man for the Rockies for the time being. Adam Ottavino was just activated off the DL for Colorado and there is some speculation he may see work in high leverage situations eventually. Reports are that he will likely be eased back in as he is returning from Tommy John. 

– With Alex Colome returning from the DL and slotting back in to the closer role for the Rays, we can expect Xavier Cedeno to return to seeing hold chances. The Rays just have not been winning much recently and they’ve been getting even less chances for their bullpen to get holds or saves. So I am not very confident that Cedeno will get you many holds in the coming weeks. It is also interesting to note that Matt Andriese has picked up two holds in the last two weeks; he’s probably a better option than Erasmo Ramirez.

Adam Liberatore picked up three holds since the last rankings; he’s tied for third on the Dodgers with 7 holds. It seems like he is the guy to have other than Joe Blanton for this bullpen. Adam owns a stellar 0.65 ERA and 0.90 WHIP with 29 K in 27.2 innings. It makes sense that he’s been given the ball over Pedro Baez recently.

Be warned that after tier five the options are not prime, they do not get holds chances frequently and can not be trusted to keep your ERA and WHIP safe. The tiers at this late point are more of a grouping and just because someone is ranked above someone else in either of the last two tiers does not mean they are certainly better. Honestly, it would be wise to stay in the top 60, proceed at your own risk down there. Even tier five can be pretty risky. 

Again, leave me a comment if you think someone deserves to be in a different spot, if I missed an injury, or just want to dive into the discussion. Always feel free to ask any questions during the week on Twitter @Just_In_Relief. 

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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