The Hold Up 8/10: Ranking the Top 70 Relievers for Holds Every Week

The state of the MLB set up man is in a precarious spot right now. Whether due to injuries, ineffectiveness, lack of usage or adjusting to new teams, relievers have had...

The state of the MLB set up man is in a precarious spot right now. Whether due to injuries, ineffectiveness, lack of usage or adjusting to new teams, relievers have had a tough go at it in the past few weeks, which has resulted in predicting reliable holds options very volatile. Even in SV+HD leagues, contending teams should be looking to add some lower tier closers to replace most set-up guys. For example, I’d rather own Blake Treinen or Alex Claudio at this point than anyone ranked outside the top 10 on the list this week.

TIER 1: Good Vibrations

1. Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)

2. Ryan Madson (Washington Nationals)

  • Ryan Madson sticks around for another week and has officially become the model of consistency at the position. I can see why he prefers to strictly pitch the 8th inning of games, as it’s essentially like clockwork when he enters a game this season.

TIER 2: I’ll Be There For You

3. Mychal Givens (Baltimore Orioles)

4. Addison Reed (Boston Red Sox)

5. Anthony Swarzak (Milwaukee Brewers)

6. Nick Vincent (Seattle Mariners)

7. Justin Wilson (Chicago Cubs)

8. David Robertson (New York Yankees)

9. Archie Bradley (Arizona Diamondbacks

10. Chris Devenski (Houston Astros

11. Pat Neshek (Colorado Rockies)

12. Carl Edwards Jr. (Chicago Cubs)  

13. Kirby Yates (San Diego Padres)

14. Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox

15. Juan Nicasio (Pittsburgh Pirates)

16. Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs)

  • Nick Vincent isn’t far behind Ryan Madson in terms of consistency, but his role has changed throughout the year a bit more than Madson’s. No matter when or where he’s pitched, he continues to find himself with ample hold chances and has converted at a high level. The K’s lag behind some of the others in this tier, but the constant opportunities, as well as the David Phelps injury, keep him this high up on the list.
  • Anthony Swarzak is now finally locked into a primary set up role for the first time this season, and the promotion is long over due. He was already becoming a fantasy stud before seeing plenty of hold chances, but the added holds certainly should make him a top 5-10 non-closer RP the rest of the season.

TIER 3: Torn

17.Brandon Morrow (Los Angeles Dodgers)  

18. David Hernandez (Arizona Diamondbacks

19. Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers

20. Brad Brach (Baltimore Orioles)

21. Tommy Kahnle (New York Yankees)

22. Brandon Kintzler (Washington Nationals

23. Tommy Hunter (Tampa Bay Rays

24. Taylor Rogers (Minnesota Twins)

25. Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals)

26.  Ryan Tepera (Toronto Blue Jays

27. Yusmeiro Petit (Los Angeles Angels

28. Koji Uehara (Chicago Cubs)

29. Mike Dunn (Colorado Rockies

30. Luke Gregerson (Houston Astros)

  • The Diamondbacks bullpen right now looks surprisingly deadly, featuring 3 guys that most had written off at the beginning of the season. One of the more underrated moves at the deadline was the D’Backs acquiring David Hernandez, who was pitching very well for the Angels before the move and has picked up where he left off now in Arizona. He should see more hold chances in Arizona, so that obviously gives his fantasy value a nice boost.
  • One of the beneficiaries of Hernandez leaving could be Yusmeiro Petit, who figures to be used in more high leverage situations moving forward. The Angels continue to lack consistency in their bullpen, with performance as well as having set roles. Kenyan Middleton was used as the teams closer on Tuesday, essentially leaping over 4 other quality relievers on the roster. Still, I’d imagine the team would want get Petit more looks to hold the lead in the 7th, maybe 8th inning of ballgames.

TIER 4: You Get What You Give

31. Dominic Leone (Toronto Blue Jays)

32. Cam Bedrosian (Los Angeles Angels

33. Wandy Peralta (Cincinnati Reds)  

34. Jacob Barnes (Milwaukee Brewers

35. Mike Minor (Kansas City Royals)

36. George Kontos (Pittsburgh Pirates

37. Hector Rondon (Chicago Cubs)

38. Blake Parker (Los Angeles Angels)

39. Chad Green (New York Yankees)  

40. Steve Cishek (Tampa Bay Rays

41. Phil Maton (San Diego Padres)

42. Seung Hwan-Oh (St. Louis Cardinals)

43. Jose Ramirez (Atlanta Braves

44. Paul Sewald (New York Mets

45. Joe Smith (Cleveland Indians

46. Brett Cecil (St. Louis Cardinals) 

47. Jose Leclerc (Texas Rangers)

48. Tony Zych (Seattle Mariners)

49. Michael Lorenzen (Cincinnati Reds)

50. Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)

  • Two names in this tier that could rise up the board quickly are two guys who began the season as their respective teams closers, only to find themselves disposed due to injury of lack of effectiveness. Cam Bedrosian has seemed to shake off a rough July, and just finished off his best week since returning from the DL. His role going forward is questionable, but there’s opportunity to snag a high leverage role in that Angels bullpen.
  • Seung Hwan Oh has settled in to a set up role and pitched very well since losing his job to Trevor Rosenthal. He’s looked like the reliever the team turned to last season down the stretch to save games and perhaps could wind up back in that spot if Rosenthal falters at any point.

TIER 5: There She Goes 

51. Tyler Lyons (St. Louis Cardinals)

52. Ryan Dull (Oakland Athletics)

53. Cody Gearrin (San Francisco Giants)

54. Daniel Hudson (Pittsburgh Pirates)

55. Luis Avilan (Los Angeles Dodgers)

56. Brad Boxberger (Tampa Bay Rays)

57. Brandon Maurer (Kansas City Royals

58. Matt Bowman (St. Louis Cardinals)

59. Ryan Buchter (Kansas City Royals)

60. Joe Kelly (Boston Red Sox)

61. Jake Barrett (Arizona Diamondbacks)

62. Hunter Strickland (San Francisco Giants

63. Santiago Casilla (Oakland Athletics)

64. Jerry Blevins (New York Mets)

65. Bruce Rondon (Detroit Tigers)

66. Neftali Feliz (Kansas City Royals

67. Edubray Ramos (Philadelphia Phillies)

68. Chris Rusin (Colorado Rockies)

69. Jorge De La Rosa (Arizona Diamondbacks)

70. Joe Musgrove (Houston Astros)

  • Speaking of former closers, the Royals currently have two on their roster, neither of which has been anymore effective in a set-up role with their new teams. Brandon Maurer should still see some chances in the 7th inning with a lead, while Neftali Feliz’s fantasy upside is fading fast. On a more positive note, Santiago Casilla has pitched surprisingly well since ceding the closer gig to Blake Treinen.


Top 50 RP’s for SV+HD Leagues

1. Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)

2. Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox)

3. Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees)

4. Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)

5. Felipe Rivero (Pittsburgh Pirates)

6. Roberto Osuna (Toronto Blue Jays)  

7. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)

8. Ken Giles (Houston Astros

9. Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)

10. Zach Britton (Baltimore Orioles

11. Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis Cardinals)

12. Brad Hand (San Diego Padres)

13. Ryan Madson (Washington Nationals)

14. Wade Davis (Chicago Cubs)

15. Raisel Iglesias (Cincinnati Reds)

16. Mychal Givens (Baltimore Orioles)

17. Addison Reed (Boston Red Sox)

18. Greg Holland (Colorado Rockies)

19. Anthony Swarzak (Milwaukee Brewers

20. Alex Colome (Tampa Bay Rays)

21. Nick Vincent (Seattle Mariners)

22. Sean Doolittle (Washington Nationals)

23. Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals

24. Justin Wilson (Chicago Cubs)

25. David Robertson (New York Yankees)

26. Cody Allen (Cleveland Indians)

27. Arodys Vizcaino (Atlanta Braves)

28. Shane Greene (Detroit Tigers)

29. Fernando Rodney (Arizona Diamondbacks)

30. Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)

31. Archie Bradley (Arizona Diamondbacks)

32. Chris Devenski (Houston Astros

33. Pat Neshek (Colorado Rockies

34. Blake Treinen  (Oakland Athletics)

35. Carl Edwards Jr. (Chicago Cubs)  

36. Kirby Yates (San Diego Padres)

37. Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox

38. Alex Claudio (Texas Rangers)

39. Juan Nicasio (Pittsburgh Pirates)

40. Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs)

41. Matt Belisle (Minnesota Twins)

42. Brandon Morrow (Los Angeles Dodgers)  

43. David Hernandez (Arizona Diamondbacks

44. Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers

45. Brad Brach (Baltimore Orioles)

46. Tommy Kahnle (New York Yankees)

47. Brandon Kintzler (Washington Nationals

48. Tommy Hunter (Tampa Bay Rays

49. Taylor Rogers (Minnesota Twins)

50. Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals)

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 8/10: Ranking the Top 70 Relievers for Holds Every Week”

  1. tiwaniuk says:

    Appreciate all the hard work that you do, but these rankings just confuse me now. I dropped Archie last week to pickup Yates, and now they’re telling me to drop Yates and get Archie again. Why such disparity from week-to-week?

    • Rick Graham says:

      Yates giving up 6 earned runs while recording just 1 out happened. Outside of a few names here, the rest of these options have been very volatile throughout the season. I’m trying to establish a baseline for atleast the top 15-20 options here, but its been tough based on usage, injuries and overall consistency. Bradley and Yates are basically a coin flip at this point. Yates has more weekly upside while Bradley is a bit more consistent.

    • Slothrop says:

      there’s disparity because situational players that may pitch 2-7 innings a week are vulnerable to disparate outputs. a 6:1 ER to Out ratio is almost immeasurably bad.

      Holds are the toughest things to chase because with them can come some of the worst ratios out there. The downside of nearly everyone one of these guys is treacherous. get one out give up one run get a hold. That’s a 27.00 ERA, 3.00 whip minimum, and one hold.

      Like he said in the intro, basically, we can only count on the top 10 guys. Heck, if you’re in a weekly league, this list may shuffle substantially before the weekly lock on Monday.

      Using Tiers is probably the closest anyone can come to ranking these yahoos.

      Holds are a helluva drug.

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