The Hold Up 9/3: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham ranks baseball's top setup men for the 2020 season.

It was a down week for non-closer relievers, as only 9 pitchers were able to pick up more than one hold over the past 7 days. One of the more surprising names on the list was Luis Cessa, who has made some changes to his pitch selection, leading to positive results. He’s throwing his fastball under 25% of the time now, focusing more on his slider (58%) and changeup (15%). It’s resulted in a 16.1% SwStr rate, .260 xWOBA and has actually lowered his walk rate to 3.7%.

Now I’m not saying you should rush out and add Cessa, he still has Zack Britton, Chad Green, and Adam Ottavino in front of him, but he makes for another interesting case study of a pitcher who starts throwing his fastball way less often and having much more success. This seems to be the way the leagues trending now and something to keep an eye on when evaluating pitcher breakouts.


  • There’s a new #1 on the list as Devin Williams continues to dominate on the mound, leading all relievers in multiple categories. What categories you ask? xFIP, SIERA, K%, K-BB%, SwStr%, Z-Contact%, Contact%, and Whiff rate. Not bad for a rookie.
  • After the Red Sox traded away Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree, it was Ryan Brasier turn to be the teams top setup man. Brasier has pitched well lately, but as a Red Sox fan, it’s really hard for me to recommend any pitcher on this team right now so roster at your own risk.
  • Phil Maton is back on the radar as he seems to have regained the stuff that made him an exciting rookie back in 2017. While he’s fastball is at a career-high 93.4 MPH, he’s throwing it less often, upping his slider usage by 11.5% from last season. He is behind James Karinchak and Nick Wittgren when it comes to holds hierarchy, but his 33.3% K-BB and 16.1% SwStr rate make him worth watching. His Savant page also will give you a reason to get excited.
  • Following the Cessa and Maton trends, A.J. Cole has lowered his fastball usage to a career-low 32% and is now enjoying a career year. He still doesn’t have exciting swing and miss stuff, but with Jordan Romano and Ken Giles on the IL, he is in line to earn more hold chances.


Rank Pitcher Change
1Devin WilliamsT1+4
2Nick Anderson+UR
3Drew Pomeranz+UR
4Tyler Duffey-3
5Chad Green-2
6James Karinchak-4
7Tanner Rainey
8Zack Britton+25
9Jonathan Hernández-1
10Scott Barlow-3
11Blake Treinen-1
12Sergio Romo-1
13Joakim Soria-4
14David Phelps-1
17Nick Wittgren+8
18Will Smith-6
19Chris Martin+24
20Shane Greene+17
21Archie Bradley+UR
22Will Harris
23Caleb Ferguson-9
24Adam Ottavino-7
25Justin Wilson-6
26Jake Diekman-6
27Rowan Wick+UR
28Yusmeiro Petit-2
30José Cisnero+11
31Josh Staumont+16
32Emilio Pagán+UR
33Trevor May-11
34Carlos Estévez-13
35Félix Peña+3
36Freddy Peralta-12
37John Gant-10
38Tyler Clippard-9
39Mychal Givens-9
40Héctor Neris+27
41Ryan Brasier+UR
42Phil Maton+46
43Lucas Sims
44Ryan Helsley-
45Tommy Hunter+3
46T.J. McFarland+10
47Rafael Dolis+14
48Blake Taylor+10
50Kyle Ryan+15
51A.J. Cole+34
52Yimi García+UR
53Buck Farmer+UR
54Oliver Pérez+1
55Pedro Báez-10
56Jake McGee-14
57Brusdar Graterol+12
58A.J. Minter+17
59Jesse Hahn+UR
60Luis Cessa+UR
61Andrew Miller-7
62Enoli Paredes+22
63Hunter Harvey
64Craig Kimbrel-30
65Matt Strahm-13
66Craig Stammen-17
67Wander Suero-4
68Brent Suter-2
70Alex Reyes+7
71Codi Heuer+5
72Joely Rodríguez+2
73Matt Foster-
74Luke Jackson-6
75Brad Boxberger-13
77Pierce Johnson+9
78James Hoyt+2
79Miguel Castro+2
80Héctor Rondón+2
81Tim Hill+2
82Ryan Tepera+5
83Chasen Shreve+6
84Aaron Slegers+6
85Sam Coonrod+UR
86Stefan Crichton+UR
87Paul Fry+UR
88Jace Fry+UR
89Bryan Garcia+UR
90Josh Osich+UR


Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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.

One response to “The Hold Up 9/3: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Perfect Game says:

    I’m in a S+H league. My RP are Pomz, Hendriks and Britton. Thinking of adding a fourth. Between Devin Williams and Pressly. Who should I grab that will get the most opportunities and counting stats ROS? I’m thinking I should go with the true closer here to have 2 set-up guys and 2 closers.

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