The Hold Up 4/19: Ranking the Top 80 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham's weekly update of the relievers to own for Holds in 2018.

[holds_list list_id=”17824″ include_stats=”1″ season=”2018″]

Today we will take look at the updated non-closer reliever market as there are some changes to the list since our previous installment. Keep in mind, just because a player is ranked below another player (especially when in the same tier), that doesn’t mean you should rush to drop the higher ranked player. These rankings are mostly to be used on a tier by tier scale and apply towards the pitcher’s value for the rest of the season.

  • Josh Hader has certainly made the case for himself being the best reliever in baseball right now, and who am I to argue against him. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise though, as he flashed this dominance towards the end of last season and has really turned into a supremely talented multi-inning weapon at the end of games. I love Counsell using him for a 2 inning save the other night and while I’d expect a few more of those down the road, he’s still not the teams “closer”. They may have found something good here with Hader, the 1A. and Jacob Barnesthe 1B, rotating as 2 inning save options, but we probably can’t count Matt Albers out of the loop yet. Since Albers was included in Tuesday’s Closing Time rankings and the situation is still muddled, I’ll keep Hader and Barnes on this list for the week and hope we get some more clarity over the weekend.
  • Another situation that is just as perplexing right now would the late-inning depth chart in Houston. Chris Devenski got another save Tuesday night, however from everything AJ Hinch has said so far, it’s tough to just pencil Devenski in as the teams closer. There’s some thought here that Devenski will work the 9th against a left-handed dominant order and Ken Giles against a right-handed dominant group, which I guess makes some sense. It’s obviously a plus for Devenski’s value and diminishes Giles value a ton, and maybe we can get a better feel for this situation over the weekend as well. It’s kind of annoying to see Giles “lose” his job despite not blowing a save yet while there are so many lesser established guys out there than Giles (and Alex Colome) getting save opportunities despite blowing saves already this season. I guess that’s just a luxury the Astros can afford by having a stacked bullpen.
  • Kenley Jansen likely won’t be pulled from his role as the Dodgers closer anytime soon despite his struggles, but in case he does blow another save or two in the near future or wind up on the DL with some injury, it looks as if Pedro Baez would be the next man up. Baez shows flashes of dominance but can be maddeningly inconsistent. He’s still been a solid setup man for Jansen the past 3 years and has shown good ability to miss bats at a high clip (15.53 SwStr% the past 4 seasons). Walks were a big concern last year (4.08 BB/9), but he has typically shown good command with a BB/9 under 2.68 in every other season. His 12/2 K/BB rate to start is obviously a nice trend in the right direction and makes Baez a more viable holds option with evergrowing save potential every time Jansen can’t shut the door.
  • Luke Gregerson was activated off the DL this week, adding to what is now looking like a stacked Cardinals bullpen that can be fine without Greg Holland. Bud Norris is off to a great start and should get some leash as the team’s closer given how well he has pitched. That being said it’s almost inevitable he comes crashing back to earth at some point and the Cardinals will eventually put Holland back into the closer’s role, but for now, Norris is the guy to own. I’d still hold Holland if you can afford to, but by no means is he a must-hold. This all leaves a battle for holds between Tyler Lyons, Dominic Leone, Gregerson, Jordan Hicks and Matt BowmanI like all 5 to a certain degree, and this will be yet another team’s late-inning situation to monitor over the next week to see who is working in front of Norris.
  • I quickly want to also point out that Joe Jimenez is having a pretty nice season for himself thus far and is already working as Shane Greene’s primary set-up man. With Greene a prime trade candidate this year, look for Jimenez to see some save chances later in the year and hopefully end the season as the Tigers closer.

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.

  • Avatar Ken says:

    Perhaps its time to reevaluate Chad Green? Skills still stellar but not being put into postion to accumulate holds.

    • Avatar McNulty says:

      he’s not even being put in many high leverage situations either.

      However, last year he pitched 40 games, 69 innings, and 9 holds.

      Assuming even an increase to 15 holds, he’s on pace for that (when you consider he could easily have 2 holds now, depending on the scores of games).

      I think he’ll get about 1/3 of the holds of the elite relievers, maybe an few extra wins, and one of the best ratios and K rates. That skill set plays up in the 14+ team mixed leagues, but he has to be knocked down a little in the shallower 10 or 12 team mixed leagues.

      • Rick Graham Rick Graham says:

        I’d gladly take 15 holds out of him with everything else he brings to the table, considering the league leader was at 30 last season. With Kahnle down and Betances struggling, he should see some more chances.

  • Avatar Joel says:

    What is your opinion on Betances and his struggles so far? Although a small sample of 7.2 IP, his 7.04 ERA and 1.83 WHIP are concerning, but he does have a solid 1.22 xFIP and 1.78 SIERA. It does appear he is getting unlucky with that .533 BABIP as well.

    What are you thoughts on Betances going forward and being utilized as the primary setup/holds RP for the Yankees?

    • Rick Graham Rick Graham says:

      He should bounce back cause like you said, he has been getting really unlucky but I don’t think he’s going to be the same Betances we saw in 2014-2016 again. The K’s should still be there, but expect diminishing hold numbers and a high WHIP.

      Also of note, he has lost 3 MPH on his fastball to begin the season. I know this has been a popular trend this year, but something to keep in mind as the weather begins to get better.

  • Avatar Alex says:

    Not really a Holds related question as much as it is just about great pitching ratios… if you had to pick just one, would you rather own Chad Green or Carl Edwards? Thanks!

  • Avatar Metsfan says:

    What about Seth Lugo?

  • Avatar Tim says:

    Who would you prefer? McGee or Alvarado? Assuming strictly holds but with ERA/WHIP as a peripheral

    And would you drop Gsellman for either? I’m somehow at 0 holds with Osuna/Strickland/Holland/Albers/Gsellman (added last week)/Hand/Kela

    Too many actual closers?

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