The Hold Up 8/19: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

Collin McHugh may be the hardest person to rank on these lists because he’s truly unique in that he doesn’t have a defined late-inning role but what he does offer are innings, strikeouts, and immaculate ratios. Despite being a reliever on this list, he almost needs to be compared to starters at this point, as he can give you five or six innings each week with a chance at a win. Where he’s better than most starters however is, well he’s better almost in every category. McHugh hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 24th. His stats since the start of May are almost comedic, as he has a .22 ERA, .67 WHIP, and 60 strikeouts over his last 41.1 innings pitched. Now, this only comes with three SV+HLD’s and four wins but he’s still helping you out in a big way with three categories. This makes him an option in all leagues, no matter what your scoring settings are.




  • It’s crazy to think about but 33-year-old Brad Boxberger is having his best season since 2014, and one more hold will give him a career-high for holds in a season. Sure he had 41 saves in 2015, but only combined for six SV+HLD’s over the 2019-2020 season so this is truly a spectacular comeback. Boxberger did run into some issues with walks after the sticky stuff crackdown as 11 of his 22 walks this season came in a seven-inning span between 6/22 and 7/11. Since the All-Star break, Boxberger has walked just three batters over 13.1 innings to go along with eight SV+HLD’s, 16 K’s, a 1.35 ERA, and .75 WHIP.
  • Tyler Matzek has had a similar fate as he struggled with his command and saw his spin rates plummet but has made the proper adjustments since the All-Star break and has been arguably the best holds option in baseball since. Matzek’s teammate Luke Jackson has also been great despite being kind of forgotten about in that bullpen, as his nine SV+HLD’s since the break are tied for the third most. The Braves have plenty of late-inning options to choose from now, so it will be interesting to see if Matzek and Jackson can keep up this pace.


  • Also tied for third in SV+HLD’s since the All-Star break is Cardinal reliever Génesis Cabrera who has also reeled in his command issues to put together a spectacular month of August so far. Cabrera had a 10/10 K/BB rate in July over 8.2 innings but in August has a 7/0 K/BB rate over 7.2 IP while allowing just one hit. Walks have been an issue for Cabrera his whole career, but his worth rostering while he’s this locked into the strike zone.
  • Despite the great ratio’s and/or strikeout help they bring, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, and Austin Adams just have not been able to help with holds since the All-Star break and since they don’t give you the innings as a McHugh does, it really hurts their overall value. Tepera and Chafin have just one SV+HLD a piece while Adams has two but just one over the past four weeks while his walk issues continue to plague him.


  • While Héctor Neris has been dominant since the break, especially in the month of August (9 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 13 K, 4 HLD), Archie Bradley deserves some love for being a steady dependable bullpen option. He doesn’t have swing and miss stuff anymore (16% Whiff rate, 13.8% K rate) but he’s allowed just two earned runs over his past 20+ innings dating back to late June.
  • Codi Heuer has had an up and down season no matter what Chicago uniform he’s been wearing, but he’s been dependable so far in the month of August and maybe the favorite for saves moving forward. Dating back to the end of June, Heuer has a 2.29 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over his last 19.2 innings of work, but that does come with a less than ideal 15/10 K/BB rate. Maybe the breakout doesn’t happen this season, but Heuer should be on everyone’s radar for 2022.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Craig KimbrelT1-
2Blake Treinen
3Devin Williams-
4Diego Castillo+UR
5Kendall Graveman-1
6Paul Sewald+1
7Giovanny Gallegos-2
8Chad Green-
9James Karinchak-3
10Anthony Bender-1
11Aaron Bummer
12Jonathan Loáisiga-1
13Michael Kopech-
14Corey Knebel+7
15Collin McHugh-3
16Seth Lugo-1
17Daniel Hudson+1
18Brad Boxberger+10
20Trevor May
21Adam Ottavino-4
22Tyler Matzek+9
23Lucas Sims-3
24Jake Cousins-1
25Michael Lorenzen+5
26Michael Fulmer-1
27Génesis Cabrera+31
28Garrett Whitlock+4
29Aaron Loup+5
30Jake Diekman
31Ryan Tepera-9
32Andrew Chafin-8
33Andrew Kittredge-4
34Austin Adams-8
35Pierce Johnson+4
36Emilio Pagán+1
37Richard Rodríguez+3
38Chris Martin-2
39Garrett Crochet+6
40Héctor Neris+10
41Codi Heuer+19
42Tanner Scott
43Josh Taylor-8
44Brent Suter+2
45Sergio Romo-2
46Dominic Leone+1
47Archie Bradley+9
48Jarlín García+5
49Luke Jackson+17
50Ryne Stanek-2
51Yusmeiro Petit+1
53Joe Kelly-2
54José Cisnero+1
55Jake Brentz+9
56Carlos Estévez+13
57Ryan Helsley+18
58A.J. Puk+5
59Brad Hand-15
60Josh Staumont-1
61Paul Fry
62Craig Stammen-1
64Phil Bickford+18
65Alex Vesia+16
66Wandy Peralta+UR
67Zack Littell+21
68Tim Mayza+UR
70Tim Hill-3
71Adam Cimber-6
72Juan Minaya+4
73Bryan Shaw+4
74Kyle Funkhouser+4
75Tyler Duffey-5
76Connor Brogdon-4
77Noé Ramirez-9
78A.J. Minter+UR
79Casey Sadler-5
80Richard Bleier-9
81Brooks Raley
82Caleb Thielbar+5
83Steve Cishek+1
84Ryne Harper-11
85Anthony Misiewicz-2
86Spencer Patton+UR
87Jeff Hoffman+7
88Yimi García-9
89Jhoulys Chacín+UR
90Joely Rodríguez+3
91Manuel Rodríguez+UR
92Mason Thompson-2
93Hirokazu Sawamura+2
94Anthony Bass+UR
95Albert Abreu+UR
96Lucas Luetge-4
97Andrés Machado+UR
98Adam Morgan+UR
99Zack Britton+UR
100Miguel Castro+UR


Photo by Joe Robbins/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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