The Hold Up 5/16: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham ranks the top pitchers to own for holds.

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  • It took almost a full year, but Tommy Kahnle has worked his way back into a setup role with the Yankees. He’s always been able to miss bats, but it all comes down to the walk rate with him and as long as he’s under 10% he’s going to be useful. Dellin Betances still doesn’t have a timetable for a return, so for now, Kahnle’s setup role should be safe.

  • Despite expecting this negative regression from Archie Bradley this season, I wasn’t expecting it to happen the way it has. He’s actually improved on a lot of his swing-and-miss numbers, with a 10.4% swinging-strike rate a career high for him. That’s still a well below average number for a reliever, but the real number that plagues him is the 4.91 BB/9. The previous two years, he was at 2.59 and 2.51, which allowed him to get hit around some without any major consequences. His .426 BABIP is sure to come down, but I still think we’re looking at an ERA around 4 and WHIP around 1.25 with just over a strikeout per inning type of pitcher. That can still help when he’s near the league lead in holds, but he’s only managed a measly four thus far.

  • Scott Barlow just might be the Royals’ answer at closer this season if he keeps pitching the way he has. His struggles as a starter at the Triple-A level have hindered his career path, but his stuff seems to play well out of the bullpen. He currently holds a 26.8 K-BB% to go with a 2.9 FIP and xFIP as well as 2.69 SIERA. In what’s been a trainwreck of a bullpen, the Royals may finally have found some type of back end success with Barlow, Jake Diekman and Ian Kennedy.

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 Jim says:

    While his velo is almost back, Jeffress’ deployment is troubling.
    Any reason Workman is so low? He’s getting high leverage innings and more importantly .. HOLDS.

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      BB rate (18.7 BB% is 4th worse among 186 qualified relievers) and extremely lucky BABIP (.100). As a Sox fan, it’s hard to recommend him knowing this likely won’t have a happy ending.

  • Avatar Kevin says:

    Hello… thanks for this list. I read this every single week as I have to play 5 active relievers at all times with saves/holds combined as one of the scoring categories.

    Where is Diego Castillo? Sure he got a save yesterday… but he still is one of the league leaders in holds with 10. Since the start of May he has 2 saves and 3 holds. Shouldn’t he still be on the Holds list as he obviously gets tons of holds still?

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      He’s on the saves list since he’s been getting the bulk of saves there over the past month. He was the best choice to represent the Rays. On this list he’d still be top 5.

  • Avatar Wes says:

    Should Pedro Baez continue to rise as the season goes? With Urias out, I’d think he would be top 15. Who else is there to challenge him for the 8th? I’m tempted to drop my rotational player and ride him for a bit. I only have Ottovino right now.

    I had lost Familia and dropped Biagini. I’m think Otto, Baez and Familia could be the trio I need. I’m hoping Familia is in your top 20 next week. Thoughts on Familia?
    I have Kenley and Diaz as closers, so having their direct replacements is free insurance.

    Thanks!

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