The Hold Up 6/6: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham ranks the top pitchers to own for holds.

[holds_list_2019 list_id=”32201″ include_stats=”1″]
  • This is probably the last week for Jose Leclerc on this list, as it sounds like his return to the closer role is imminent. Since May 1, Leclerc has posted stellar numbers (15.1 innings, three earned runs, four hits, 28:6 K/BB), and with Shawn Kelley blowing another save last night, it seems like the time is right to make the swap. Leclerc will likely slide into the top 12-15 area on the closer list while Kelley will likely still be a top 50 holds asset following the demotion.

  • Seranthony Dominguez left last night’s game with some mild elbow soreness, and while it’s nice to hear the word mild, it almost surely will result in an IL stint. After all, the Phillies still aren’t close to seeing David Roberston, who was placed on the IL April 15 with mild elbow soreness. Hopefully Seranthony’s MRI comes back clean, but for now, expect to be without him for a while.

  • The big news from last night is obviously the Craig Kimbrel signing by the Cubs. I don’t see it affecting this list much, as Steve Cishek is back on the list with Pedro Strop returning this week. It does mean Strop will be on this list in the next two to three weeks likely, and assuming he continues pitching well, he should find himself inside the top 25. Kimbrel on the other hand figures to be a top 10 closer right off the bat.
  • While I may have jumped the gun some on bumping Jake Diekman up into the top 30 last week (shame on me for trusting any Royals reliever), I do think Oliver Perez makes for a safer option going forward, especially considering the season he is coming off. If you don’t believe me, our own Michael Ajeto wrote a great piece on Perez this winter discussing how yes, Oliver Perez is good now. Things got off to a rocky start for him this season, but he has been lights out since May 1 with a 20:1 K/BB ratio and just six hits and two earned runs allowed over 12.1 innings.

  • The top seven, maybe eight names in Tier 3 would all be what Nick considers Young Guns, I believe. While there’s a ton of upside here, it comes with some risk as they’ve each battled prolonged rough patches early on in their careers. Every time I think one of these guys have turned a corner into elite reliever status, they either go out and walk the yard, give up a bunch of hits, or just inexplicably stop being used in high leverage roles (*cough* John Brebbia *cough*).

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 Bird Law says:

    Hi Rick – would you drop Brebbia for Perez? Having trouble figuring out who holds more value

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      Perez has more value now, but I still like Brebbia long term but his value likely will be determined by what happens with Carlos Martinez. If Martinez stays in the bullpen all year, it will be hard for Brebbia to pick up holds.

  • Avatar Orange WHIPs says:

    Why is Amir Garett so high? He’s been good for Ks this year, but only has 8 holds and has been a very poor pitcher in his brief career.

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      The 8 holds are still good enough to rank him in the top 26 for holds this season. There are actually only 4 relievers with more than 12 holds this season, so even if you don’t have one of those top 4 holds guys (Pressly, Stammen, Ottavino, Britton), you’re only missing out on .4 holds a week at most with Garrett. He showed glimpses of being an elite reliever last season and I think this could be a breakout year for him with a high K rate and low ERA.

  • Avatar High_Changeup says:

    Just an FYI, the list is missing Brandon Workman.

  • Avatar Josh Fathollahi says:

    Brebbia’s usage has frustrated me in my holds league. He has been their 2nd best reliever this year, but never seems to get used in high-leverage spots. My patience is running thin as I battle for the top spot, but he has great stuff and I can’t justify cutting bait quite yet.

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      The Cardinals seem dead set on using Carlos Martinez, Gant, and Miller in front of Hicks so Brebbia isn’t going to see a whole lot of hold chances anytime soon. Not just him but Gallegos has been awesome as well, and both deserve to pitch over Miller and Martinez but I guess the veterans win out in St. Louis.

  • Avatar Jim says:

    Castillo and Pagan are ranked way too high. They cannot be counted on week to week. Sure, they have some weeks with a few Holds but for the most part they have been hard to rely on. 3 Holds between them over the past few weeks. Only 8 over the past month. That’s averaging 1 per week. Is that top 10?

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      Well Pagan has been one of the best relievers in baseball, definitely top 10, so I’m hoping the Rays start rewarding him with more save/hold situations moving forward. It’s been a bit of a draught for the Rays as far as saves/holds go lately, but Castillo still has 17 on the year, good for 9th best in baseball. This early in the year, I’ll take a chance on high-end talent on good teams over most of the mediocre options out there.

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