The Hold Up 8/31: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

Tommy Kahnle has taken a bit of a step back since the All-Star break with a 5.74 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. He’s still missing bats at a high rate (18.5% SwStr and 33.8% CSW rates) and he still has seven holds over that span, but the walk rate has been high (12.5% BB) as well.

A few miles away, Brooks Raley has been struggling since the break as well, with a 5.54 ERA and 1.92 WHIP but unlike Kahnle, Raley has really struggled to miss bats recently with 18.5% K and 8.7% SwStr rates, while also posting a putrid 16.9% BB rate and a 6.22 xFIP.

Neither veteran is trending in the right direction right now, nor are their respective teams, making both relievers far from must-hold options at this point.




  • I talked about how dominant Robert Stephenson has been since joining the Rays last week (40.6% K, 28% SwStr, and 41.2% CSW rates since the trade!), but the one thing missing was hold chances. After having just two holds with the team over two months, Stephenson racked up three just this past week and I’m not going to lie, there was some temptation to bump him up all the way to the top spot in the ranks this week. I’ll be a little conservative for now, but Stephenson is someone who could make it into that top spot by the end of the year.
  • Trevor Stephan has really turned things around in August, as he now has a 1.38 ERA and 0.85 WHIP over 13 innings this month to go with a cool 17/2 K-BB ratio. The bullpen has gotten more crowded in recent weeks with James Karinchak returning from AAA and others have pitched well here, but Stephan continues to see the most hold chances,


  • Andrew Nardi took a line drive off his hand but X-rays came back negative so expect to see him available at some point in the next two series. Nardi has worked his way into the top setup role for the Marlins with Tanner Scott taking over as closer and has been fantastic since returning from the IL in early August, as he has a 1.86 ERA and 0.72 WHIP this month along with a 14/3 K/BB ratio over 9.2 IP.
  • With the Orioles losing Félix Bautista for the foreseeable future, expect to see everyone in this bullpen move up a spot in the pecking order, meaning Danny Coulombe will be the team’s top setup option. He has yet to allow a hit since returning from the IL last week (2.2 IP) and could be a difference-maker down the stretch for those in need of holds help.


  • Julian Merryweather could be considered an unsung hero for the Cubs this season, and has been lights out in August with a 1.93 ERA and 0.86 WHIP and 21 K’s over 14 IP plus his six holds are second most on the team. There’s even an argument to be made here that Merryweather has been the team’s best reliever since his Opening Day meltdown.
  • Since joining the Dodgers (28.1 IP), Ryan Brasier has a 0.95 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 26.2% K rate which is exactly the same as closer Evan Phillips over that timespan. Now he has been lucky with a .176 BABIP (3.60 xFIP) and he only has six holds with his new team, however, four have come in the past two weeks, so his role is trending in the right direction.


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


Rank Pitcher Change
1José AlvaradoT1+4
2Mark Leiter Jr.+2
3Bryan Abreu-
4Jason Adam+4
5Aroldis Chapman-3
6A.J. Minter
7Robert Stephenson+19
8Joel Payamps-1
9Hector Neris+1
10Matt Brash+2
11Trevor Stephan+8
12Chris Martin+2
13Andrew Nardi+11
14Danny Coulombe+14
15Griffin Jax-4
16Jordan Hicks
17Taylor Rogers+4
18Kevin Ginkel+5
19Hunter Harvey+6
20Colin Holderman+7
21Giovanny Gallegos-6
22Alex Lange+7
23Josh Sborz-5
24Tommy Kahnle-8
25A.J. Puk+5
26Julian Merryweather+12
27Lucas Sims+6
28Brusdar Graterol+7
29Brooks Raley-9
31Joe Jiménez
32Reynaldo López-10
33Matt Moore-2
34Abner Uribe+5
35Jonathan Loáisiga+7
37Seranthony Domínguez+6
38Ryan Brasier+26
39Caleb Thielbar+6
40Tim Mayza-3
41John Schreiber+3
42Gregory Soto+6
43José Soriano+6
44Elvis Peguero+8
45Andrew Kittredge+5
47Pierce Johnson+10
48Will Smith+UR
49Kirby Yates+6
50Eli Morgan+8
51Steven Okert-4
52Jeff Hoffman+13
53Robert Suarez-17
54Wandy Peralta+12
55Ian Gibaut-2
56Chris Stratton+15
57Matt Strahm+2
58Trevor Richards+21
60Sam Hentges+24
61Luke Jackson
62Emilio Pagán-
63Scott McGough-2
64Garrett Whitlock-4
65Caleb Ferguson+10
66Fernando Cruz+19
67Yimi García+24
68Trent Thornton+2
69Colin Poche+7
70David Robertson+UR
71Scott Barlow+UR
72James Karinchak+2
73Tom Cosgrove+14
74DL Hall+UR
75Aaron Bummer-19
76Tristan Beck-8
77Ian Hamilton-
78Drew Smith+4
79Génesis Cabrera+UR
80Gabe Speier-
81Tyler Holton
82Kyle Nelson-1
83George Soriano-10
84Jordan Weems-1
85Nick Martinez-7
86Enyel De Los Santos+UR
87Austin Cox-1
88Nick Sandlin+UR
89John King-1
90Phil Bickford+4
91Phil Maton+UR
92Jake Diekman-
93Joe Mantiply+3
94Cionel Pérez+3
95Drew VerHagen+3
96Josh Winckowski+4
97Dany Jiménez+UR
98Alex Vesia+UR
99Rafael Montero+UR
100Sean Reid-Foley+UR

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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