Many believed the Mariners had come away the clear-cut winners in this offseason’s trade for Teoscar Hernández, and while there’s still time for things to turn around, it looks like the Blue Jays in fact did a great job here, acquiring one of the best set up men in baseball in Erik Swanson. While Hernández is sporting a .666 OPS and 84 wRC+ (and cringeworthy 44/2 K/BB ratio), Swanson has been stellar with 37.7% K, 19.6% SwStr, and 37.8% CSW rates. He’s been throwing his splitter more this season (up 20%) and so far so good as the pitch has a 52.7% Whiff rate.
- The Orioles continue to develop great bullpen arms (possibly the best in the league now) with Bryan Baker becoming another name to keep an eye on. Baker currently holds a 38.6% K rate and a 12.3% Hard Contact rate and his new and improved changeup has been most impressive with a 62.5% Whiff rate. His 1.68 xERA and .216 xwOBA have me optimistic these early ratios can stick, and while there’s not a ton of room in Baltimore for holds, Baker should be able to help you in at least 3 categories.
- Caleb Ferguson has emerged as the Dodgers’ top left-handed reliever, and it feels like each year it’s been a different talented Dodger lefty in this role. Two years ago it was Victor González (who has looked good himself this season in a short stint), last year was Alex Vesia (recently demoted) but we are back to Ferguson who was also great in 2020 before needing Tommy John surgery. Ferguson may only hold a 22.4% K rate, but that does come with just a 4.1% BB rate and an encouraging 16.2% SwStr rate, so expect that K rate to improve over time.
- With injuries mounting in the Red Sox bullpen, Josh Winckowski has taken advantage of his opportunities and worked himself into the holds mix. Nothing exactly sticks out as being a plus for Winckowski, but there also aren’t any glaring negatives, so perhaps he could settle into being a reliever Toby. With Chris Martin back though, it will be interesting to see what kind of value he’ll have in holds leagues.
- Nick Martinez has shifted to the bullpen for the Padres, and while he’d have liked to stick in the rotation, this team desperately needs bullpen help in front of Josh Hader. His stuff plays up better out of the bullpen and at least he’s already signed a three-year extension with the team, so role won’t play a factor into his earnings.
- Carl Edwards Jr. has gotten off to a great start this season, but diving a little deeper, I don’t see it lasting, unfortunately. Edwards Jr. currently grades out as one of the worst relievers in baseball in multiple categories, including K-BB rate (3.8%), CSW (23.8%), and PLV (4,76%) while his 5.38 SIERA suggests bad times are ahead. The changeup can be a good pitch, but the fastball is way too hittable.
- Coming off an injury, I didn’t really know what to expect for Aaron Bummer this season, but so far he has definitely been disappointing. Sure he’s still getting ground balls, but he continues to give up way too much hard contact, and his K-BB ratio of 4.1% is just brutal as he’s had a hard time missing bats (9.7% SwStr) as the sinker is just too hittable.
If you would like more daily reliever updates, please check out our Reliever Ranks series.
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)
Great work as always Rick. 6×6 roto with Saves and Holds as separate categories. Have Clase, Fairbanks, and Hendricks sitting on the IL. Time to move on from early season speculations in Reynaldo Lopez, Floro, and Kimbrel and move on to better ratio holds guys? Available arms are: Graterol, Jax, Stephan, Nick Anderson
Thanks Bobbo! I think Jax is the best option available, but Nick Anderson continues to rise. I’m just not sure what his role will look like once Iglesias returns.
Alvarado unranked? lol not sure what purpose this list serves
Not to speak for Rick, but I think *this* particular list serves the purpose of ranking relief pitchers for HOLDS. Seeing as tho Alvarado is likely the closer, he would be valuable for SAVES… you can check the closer list from Tuesday, or wait until tomorrow when he’ll likely rank highly in the SV+HLD value list.
Yea this list is for Holds only, Alvarado is listed as a closer in our ranks.
Give me Y Cano over most of the guys listed in Tier 1.