The Hold Up 9/28: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

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

The Cubs will be getting Adbert Alzolay back tomorrow, which is certainly great news for them as they continue to battle for the final Wild Card spot in the National League.

Julian Merryweather had been filling in for Alzolay, but has had serious command issues this month, walking 10 batters over 10.1 IP and has managed just two saves in Alzolay’s absence. He should still function as the teams top setup option this weekend, but they do have the difficult task of going against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Fortunately for the Cubs, the Brewers have already clinched a playoff spot and are locked into the #3 seed, so with nothing really to play for, the Cubs may be able to squeak out a couple of wins and clinch their first playoff berth since 2020.




  • Josh Sborz is back in the Rangers bullpen, and could go right back into seeing high leverage work as this team needs to find it’s bullpen identity leading into the postseason. When healthy, Sborz had been one of the best relievers in baseball but has dealt with some injuries since July, so rostering him now is a bit of a risk. The Rangers head into Seattle this weekend needing to win at least one game, and with the Mariners lineup pressing at the moment, I wouldn’t be too concerned with rostering the Rangers bullpen.
  • Brock Stewart has also returned, and while he’s been out since June, Stewart had worked his way into a set up role for the Twins before the injury and was on his way to a career year. His role is up in the air as well, but I think the Twins can afford to take things easy with him this weekend in Colorado or perhaps this weekend will be a test to see where Stewart is at and if he can be counted on for high leverage work in October.


  • Mark Leiter Jr. has had a rough month, and has now allowed 8 ER, 12 hits and 6 walks over his past 7 innings, only striking out 3 over that span as well. Even with Alzolay out, he has just 1 SV+HLD since September 1st as the Cubs have leaned on Jose Cuas in set up situations lately. Cuas has been solid, nothing flashy, for the Cubs but has done a good job of limiting walks this past month, something neither Merryweather or Leiter can say.
  • Louie Varland may have worked his way into a setup role for the Twins just before the team starts its postseason run, as the starter turned reliever has picked up two holds over the past week. Varland has allowed just 2 runs on 6 hits, also posting an impressive 14/1 K/BB rate over 10.1 relief innings this month. The short innings role has allowed Varland to up his velocity, now sitting 98-99 MPH with his fastball and 91-92 MPH with his cutter. With Stewart back now, it remains to be seen if Varland can hang onto this set up role, but it certainly looks like a great potential role for him moving forward.



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


Rank Pitcher Change
1Robert StephensonT1-
2Matt Brash-
3Erik Swanson-
4Bryan Abreu+1
5Craig Kimbrel+UR
6Héctor Neris+3
7Aroldis Chapman+UR
8Andrew Nardi+3
9A.J. Minter-3
10Griffin Jax+2
11Jeff Hoffman+3
12Julian Merryweather+UR
13Kevin Ginkel-3
14Jordan Hicks+7
15Josh Sborz+UR
16Reynaldo López
17Danny Coulombe-1
18Trevor Stephan-5
19Joel Payamps-4
20Brooks Raley-3
21Hunter Harvey-2
22Brusdar Graterol-
23Lucas Sims+4
24Abner Uribe-
25Jason Foley-5
26Ryan Brasier
27A.J. Puk-1
28Ben Joyce+7
29Brock Stewart+UR
30Mark Leiter Jr.-22
31Colin Poche+3
32Taylor Rogers-7
33Robert Suarez-4
34Gregory Soto-3
35Sam Hentges-2
36Joe Kelly+8
37Louie Varland+UR
38Matt Strahm+9
39José Cuas+UR
40Tom Cosgrove+32
41Caleb Thielbar
42Joe Jiménez-6
44Orion Kerkering+UR
45Seranthony Domínguez-8
46John Schreiber-5
48Ian Gibaut-6
49Tim Mayza-11
51Scott Barlow-12
52Pierce Johnson-3
53Emilio Pagán+2
54Fernando Cruz-2
55José Soriano+4
56Tyler Holton-5
57Carmen Mlodzinski+1
58Yimi García+4
59Kendall Graveman-3
60David Robertson+6
61Caleb Ferguson
62Kirby Yates-8
63Ian Hamilton+UR
64Jake Diekman+1
65Garrett Whitlock-17
66Andrew Kittredge-5
67Shawn Armstrong-7
68Ryan Thompson+12
69John King-5
70Matt Moore-7
71Will Smith-2
72Jorge López-4
73Garrett Crochet-3
74Dany Jiménez-7
75Carlos Hernández+11
76Casey Lawrence-2
77Ryan Borucki+1
78Eli Morgan-3
79Gabe Speier-2
80Nick Sandlin-1
81Chris Stratton
82Tucker Davidson+UR
83Drew Smith-7
84Will Vest-13
85Steven Okert-12
86Cionel Pérez-5
87Taylor Clarke+UR
88Josh Winckowski-6
89Aaron Bummer-5
90Trevor Richards-5
91Alex Vesia-4
92Drew VerHagen+UR
93Huascar Brazoban+UR
94Trent Thornton-5
95Kyle Nelson-5
96Phil Maton-5
97Brad Hand-5
98DL Hall-3
99Rafael Montero-6
100Shintaro Fujinami-6

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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