The Hold-Up 8/4: Ranking The Top 60 Relievers For Holds Every Thursday

It’s Thursday and that means Justin Perri is here ranking the best setup men in the league on The Hold Up. The following rankings are meant to give you some...

It’s Thursday and that means Justin Perri is here ranking the best setup men in the league on The Hold Up. 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 after all the moves we saw at the deadline.

Tier 1

1. Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles

2. Hector Rondon (Chicago Cubs)

3. Fernando Rodney (Miami Marlins)

4. Addison Reed (New York Mets)

5. Joe Blanton (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Tier 2

6. Neftali Feliz (Pittsburgh Pirates)

7. Jeremy Jeffress (Texas Rangers)

8. Sergio Romo (San Francisco Giants)

9. Ryan Buchter (San Diego Padres)

10. Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals)

11. Nate Jones (Chicago White Sox

12. Brad Brach (Baltimore Orioles)

13. Kevin Siegrist (St. Louis Cardinals)

14. Pat Neshek (Houston Astros)

15. Cody Allen (Cleveland Indians)

Tier 3

16. Brad Ziegler (Boston Red Sox)

17. Tom Wilhelmsen (Seattle Mariners)

18. Justin Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

19. Xavier Cedeño (Tampa Bay Rays)

20. Raisel Iglesias (Cincinnati Reds)

21. Ryan Dull (Oakland Athletics)

22. Adam Ottavino (Colorado Rockies)

23. Jason Grilli (Toronto Blue Jays)

24. Fernando Salas (Los Angeles Angels)

25. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)

26. Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)

27. Brad Hand (San Diego Padres)

28. Ryan Pressly (Minnesota Twins)

29. Adam Warren (New York Yankees)

30. Fernando Salas (Los Angeles Angels)

31. Mauricio Cabrera (Atlanta Braves)

Tier 4

32. Zach Duke (St. Louis Cardinals)

33. David Phelps (Miami Marlins)  

34. Jake Diekman (Texas Rangers)

35. Junichi Tazawa (Boston Red Sox)

36. Enrique Burgos (Arizona Diamondbacks)

37. Edubray Ramos (Philadelphia Phillies)

38. Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers)

39. Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs)

40. John Axford (Oakland Athletics)

41. Chris Withrow (Atlanta Braves)  

42. Steve Cishek (Seattle Mariners)

43. Boone Logan (Colorado Rockies)

44. Bryan Shaw (Cleveland Indians)

45. Hunter Strickland (San Francisco Giants)

46. Will Smith (San Francisco Giants

47. Erasmo Ramirez (Tampa Bay Rays)

48. Joaquin Benoit (Toronto Blue Jays)

49. Hansel Robles (New York Mets)

50. Jake McGee (Colorado Rockies)

Tier 5

51. Matt Bush (Texas Rangers)

52. Trevor May (Minnesota Twins)

53. Oliver Perez (Washington Nationals)

54. Jonathan Broxton (St. Louis Cardinals)

55. Luke Hochevar (Kansas City Royals)

56. Jason Motte (Colorado Rockies)

57. Josh Osich (San Francisco Giants)

58. Joe Smith (Chicago Cubs)

59. Javier Lopez (San Francisco Giants)

60. Felipe Rivero (Washington Nationals)

61. Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox)

62. Brett Cecil (Toronto Blue Jays)

63. Luke Gregerson (Houston Astros)

64. David Hernandez (Philadelphia Phillies)

65. Travis Wood (Chicago Cubs)

66. Dario Alvarez (Texas Rangers)

67. Kyle Barraclough (Miami Marlins

68. Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis Cardinals)

69. Francisco Abad (Boston Red Sox

70. Matt Bowman (St. Louis Cardinals)

71. Matt Andriese (Tampa Bay Rays)

72. Tony Sipp (Houston Astros)

Tier 6

73. Tony Barnette (Texas Rangers)

74. Blake Treinen (Washington Nationals)

75. Jesse Chavez (Toronto Blue Jays)

76. Michael Feliz (Houston Astros)

77. Louis Coleman (Los Angeles Dodgers)

78. Keone Kela (Texas Rangers)

79. Robbie Ross Jr. (Boston Red Sox)

80. Mychal Givens (Baltimore Orioles)

81. Kirby Yates (New York Yankees)

82. Vidal Nuno (Seattle Mariners)

83. Hunter Cervenka (Atlanta Braves)

Tier 7

84. Andrew Bailey (Philadelphia Phillies)

85. Jared Hughes (Pittsburgh Pirates)

86. Justin Grimm (Chicago Cubs)

87. Jim Henderson (New York Mets)

88. Fernando Rodriguez (Oakland Athletics)

89. Zach McAllister (Cleveland Indians)

90. Alex Wilson (Detroit Tigers)

91. Enny Romero (Tampa Bay Rays)

92. Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox)

93. Derek Law (San Francisco Giants)

94. Drew Storen (Seattle Mariners)

95. Jerry Blevins (New York Mets)

96. Jose Alvarez (Los Angeles Angels)

97. Antonio Bastardo (Pittsburgh Pirates)

98. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)

99. Marc Rzepczynski (Oakland Athletics)

100. Greg Mahle (Los Angeles Angels)

101. Miguel Castro (Colorado Rockies)


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)

Carson Smith (Boston Red Sox)

Cory Gearrin (San Francisco Giants)

Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics)

Adam Liberatore (Los Angeles Dodgers)


– With all the changes resulting from the madness that was the trade deadline, we find our holds rankings featuring new faces and some old faces on new teams. With the Yankees being heavy sellers it is not exactly clear who is going to be getting the first crack at the 8th inning. My money’s on Adam Warren with Tyler Clippard being the guy in the seventh. There’s speculation that Shane Greene or Luis Severino could also work into the mix for the later innings but we’ll get to that if it starts to happen. Nobody on the Yankees has a hold since the deadline.

Kelvin Herrera was again promoted to closing in the wake of the injury to Wade Davis. This slots Joakim Soria into a more prominent holds spot for the next week. Davis is expected back next Friday.

– The Pirates are now using Tony Watson to close. A long time favorite setup man, Watson’s role will now turn over to Neftali Feliz who should be a nice option for a steady rate of holds. Just do not be surprised when he doesn’t provide you with a lockdown ERA. His last month of play has seen 6 holds with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP along with 15 Ks in 9.2 innings.

– The injury to Adam Liberatore keeps the door open for Joe Blanton, who was beginning to be overshadowed. Pedro Baez will also now work the 7th again and may be in line for some holds. The Dodgers have not indicated when Adam will be back.

Zach Duke was traded to the Cardinals from the White Sox, he’s going to have the chance to pick up holds in the 7th as Kevin Siegrist will continue to pitch the 8th.

– The Angels lost their closer to injury, which has bumped Cam Bedrosian to closing. Cam blew a save last night but the only other option for the Angels is Fernando Salas. I think that Salas may take a save or two here and there but he’s going to be the 8th inning guy for LA.

Tyler Thornburg is also now closing after the Jeffress trade to the Rangers. Corey Knebel will set him up, and has already picked up three holds in his last three appearances. He hasn’t had the best season but he is rocking a 13 K/9 on the year.

Jeremy Jeffress will likely supplant Jake Diekman as the man in the 8th and rid Matt Bush of most of his significance in hold leagues.

– The K/9 king, Edwin Diaz, has been promoted to closer pretty much because he is better than Steve Cishek. Glad to see the Mariners get it right. Diaz is filth. Tom Wilhelmsen will be the guy getting the holds; Cishek may work himself into that mix as well if he can earn back some trust.

Ken Giles also inherited the closing role; I expect the holds to go to Pat Neshek. He has 11 on the year and though ex-closer Will Harris may also see some setup work, he probably needs to earn trust back as well after blowing back to back saves.

– In Boston, the return of Craig Kimbrel puts Brad Ziegler back in the 8th inning role and the with Tazawa also coming off the DL he’ll go back to being the 7th inning guy for the Red Sox.

– The Indians upgraded their pen just a bit. You’ll see Cody Allen getting the holds now. He’s a solid option now that Miller will be behind him and this team is clearly making a push and expects to be winning games late in the season. If someone dropped Allen in a holds league, go out and grab him.

– Francisco Abad was traded to the Red Sox, this opens the 8th inning up for Ryan Pressly to see some work in higher leverage situations. Trevor May could also see a few holds. They like him over in Minnesota.


– Lastly, with the acquisition of Mark MelanconJonathan Papelbon is going to be the setup man for the Nationals. He should be able to succeed and should be seen as a top holds option with his pitching pedigree as well as the team he’s playing for. 

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.

Justin Perri (@Just_In_Relief) is a writer for Pitcher List, a New Yorker and a lifelong fan of baseball. He can be found walking around the Bronx looking for the glory that once was the Yankees or obsessively watching The Office. 

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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