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The Hold Up 8/24: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Ranking baseball's top setup options for the 2023 season.

Josh Sborz is coming off a week in which he allowed four hits and four earned runs over 1.1 IP, and has not pitched in five days. Excluding those two games, Sborz has been great since returning from the IL in late July, but he has just 1 hold over the past three weeks and has been pretty inconsistent for much of the season.

When he’s pitching well, he’s in elite category (see April, June), but he can tank ratios as well when he’s not going well (see May, July) and the extreme volatility pushes him down a tier for me. The upside is here for Sborz to be a steady tier 2, maybe even tier 1 option, but I want to see more consistency first.

 

Notes

 

  • José Alvarado returned this week after missing over six weeks with an elbow injury and looked … a bit different. It’s only one outing so I wouldn’t panic yet, but Alvarado’s velo was down almost 2 MPH and it was interesting to see him throw more cutters than sinkers in the outing. Again, it’s just one outing, but after dealing with arm issues much of the year (at least since April), perhaps we will see a new look Alvarado down the stretch, one that focuses more on that cutter instead of overpowering hitters with his fastball.
  • Hunter Harvey may be a good example for Alvarado as his velocity has been down since returning from the IL as well, but he’s still been effective in utilizing his offspeed offerings more. If he could get either the slider (preferably a sweeper?) or curve to be an effective swing-and-miss offering (and stay healthy), there could be huge upside here still.

 

  • A.J. Puk continues to pitch well this month but the Marlins seem to have completely moved on from him as a potential setup man, which feels a bit unfair as A.) Puk was historically unlucky in July and B.) has been dominant in August (17/1 K/BB rate over 9.1 IP). Tanner Scott and Andrew Nardi continue to rack up holds, and both lefties have been great as well, but another name that I’m surprised has not factored into many holds chances here is George Soriano. He’s been the Marlins’ best right-handed reliever with a 32% K rate (32% CSW) and 0.88 WHIP since being recalled July 1st (24 IP). Despite how great he’s been and the fact the Marlins are lacking right-handed relievers, Soriano still has ZERO Wins/Saves/Holds on the season.
  • Former All-Star Andrew Kittredge is back in the Rays’ bullpen after undergoing Tommy John surgery early last season and has looked good so far, showing a more off-speed approach in his first three outings compared to years past. Kittredge’s slider is his best offering, so this trend is positive from a fantasy perspective, although I wonder how his elbow will hold up if this becomes the new norm for him. For now, there’s certainly an opening for holds in this Rays bullpen as behind Pete Fairbanks and Jason Adam there remain a lot of question marks.

 

  • Ian Gibaut may not have flashy stuff but he has been a savior in that Reds bullpen this season, especially since the start of July. Gibaut has a 23.2% K-BB rate, and 2.18 ERA over those 20.2 IP, while his ten holds over that span are the most on the roster. He’s having success without having one pitch garner a whiff rate over 30%, but he does feature four different offerings, so there’s a little bit of Seth Lugo here.
  • Luke Jackson has been able to get plenty of strikeouts since returning from the IL in July, and while walks have been a bit of an issue, he has now gone three straight outings without allowing a walk (4/5 outings as well) and also picked up a hold in each of those three outings. Despite the walk issues, Jackson has allowed just 9 hits over 13 IP while striking out 19 since his July return and is tied with Taylor Rogers for the team lead in holds for the month of August (4).

 

If you would like more daily reliever updates, please check out our Reliever Ranks series.

 

Rank Pitcher Change
1Erik SwansonT1-
2Aroldis Chapman-
3Bryan Abreu-
4Mark Leiter Jr.-
5José Alvarado+UR
6A.J. Minter
T2
+1
7Joel Payamps-1
8Jason Adam-3
9Tanner Scott-1
10Hector Neris-1
11Griffin Jax+2
12Matt Brash+2
13Yennier Cano+2
14Chris Martin-4
15Giovanny Gallegos-4
16Tommy Kahnle
T3
-
17Jordan Hicks-
18Josh Sborz-6
19Trevor Stephan-1
20Brooks Raley-1
21Taylor Rogers-
22Reynaldo López+1
23Kevin Ginkel+1
24Andrew Nardi+3
25Hunter Harvey+5
26Robert Stephenson+7
27Colin Holderman-5
28Danny Coulombe+UR
29Alex Lange-1
30A.J. Puk-10
31Matt Moore
T4
-5
32-
33Lucas Sims-2
34Michael King-9
35Brusdar Graterol-6
36Robert Suarez-2
37Tim Mayza-1
38Julian Merryweather+5
39Abner Uribe+5
40Joe Jiménez+6
41Steven Wilson+4
42Jonathan Loáisiga-3
43Seranthony Domínguez-3
44John Schreiber-9
45Caleb Thielbar-8
46
T5
+6
47Steven Okert-9
48Gregory Soto-7
49José Soriano-2
50Andrew Kittredge+21
51Kendall Graveman-2
52Elvis Peguero+1
53Ian Gibaut+10
54-4
55Kirby Yates-4
56Aaron Bummer-
57Pierce Johnson-2
58Eli Morgan-1
59Matt Strahm-
60Garrett Whitlock+2
61Scott McGough+5
62Emilio Pagán+7
63Luke Jackson+16
64Ryan Brasier+6
65Jeff Hoffman-1
66Wandy Peralta
T6
-6
67+10
68Tristan Beck+UR
69Tyler Holton+UR
70Trent Thornton+UR
71Chris Stratton+2
72Michael Fulmer-7
73George Soriano+21
74James Karinchak+UR
75Caleb Ferguson-21
76Colin Poche-18
77Ian Hamilton+7
78Nick Martinez-17
79Trevor Richards+UR
80Gabe Speier+9
81Kyle Nelson+10
82Drew Smith-1
83Jordan Weems+3
84Sam Hentges-9
85Fernando Cruz-2
86Austin Cox
T7
+2
87Tom Cosgrove-13
88John King
T8
+9
89José Leclerc-2
90Andrew Chafin-48
91Yimi García-23
92Jake Diekman-10
93José Cisnero-15
94Phil Bickford-2
95Miguel Castro-15
96Joe Mantiply-6
97Cionel Pérez-4
98Drew VerHagen-2
99Justin Martinez-1
100Josh Winckowski-28

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.

3 responses to “The Hold Up 8/24: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Steve says:

    That Sborz graphic up top is clean!

  2. Nick says:

    Why is Jason Adam ranked so high when he hasn’t had a single hold for over a month?

  3. Nick says:

    Of course, Adam goes right out and gets two straight holds. Lol

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