The Hold Up 7/11: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham ranks the top pitchers to own for holds.

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  • Not too much movement on the list thanks to the short week, but expect to see plenty of change over the next few weeks leading up to the trade deadline. There are plenty of IL stashes right now to monitor as well, with plenty of relievers expected to return sometime between this weekend and the end of July. Those not on the list currently include Seranthony Dominguez, who is expected to begin a throwing program soon, and his teammate David Robertson who is also looking at a late July comeback. Despite multiple setbacks, Brandon Morrow seems to be getting closer to seeing live games, and there’s an outside chance he will be back around July 31. Astros reliever Joe Smith is getting closer to a return from a torn Achilles and should slot into the back end of the team’s bullpen shortly after returning. Former Angels closer Kenyan Middleton started his rehab assignment about a week ago, and if all goes well, he should be returning in late July or early August. Another former closer, Keone Kela, has been getting in bullpen sessions as of late and should head out on a rehab assignment shortly. Despite the early season struggles, he’d still be the Pirates’ best setup option upon activation. Jose Castillo could be nearing a second attempt at a rehab assignment, which would be great news for the Padres bullpen. If everything goes well, he could be looking at an early August return date. Dellin Betances is a little further away then the rest of the pitchers mentioned here, but he is progressing and a return in August seems possible at this point. Likely to return to the closer role upon his return, Hunter Strickland has restarted his rehab program and is tentatively expected back in late July. His return will bump Roenis Elias back into a setup role.
  • Another week, another change in the Red Sox bullpen hierarchy. Brandon Workman is still the best option to own for the time being, at least until Nathan Eovaldi returns. Eovaldi would slot in around the beginning of Tier 2 once that happens. Heath Hembree came off the IL and picked up a save this past Sunday, but I wouldn’t expect many more even as we wait for Eovaldi’s return. He should, however, remain in the holds mix for as long as he is pitching well. Matt Barnes was better this past week and is likely to continue pitching in high leverage situations, at least until Eovaldi returns.

  • Kyle Crick currently leads the Pirates in holds with 12, but there is plenty to be concerned about in his profile moving forward. For starters, his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA are all currently over 5, so some regression is sure to be expected in the second half. His atrocious 18.1% walk rate is worst among all 169 qualified relievers, and it’s not like he is missing a ton of bats to help counteract it (12.5% swinging-strike rate). With Kela back soon and Richard Rodriguez pitching well as of late, it should only be a matter of time before Crick loses his setup role.

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:

    Poche has been better than a lot of guys above him. Being a LOOGY could he get more opps ROS? Last week he was used twice for a total of .2 IP. Result was 1 Win, 1 Hold. His K-rate is wonderful as well.

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      I still expect him to move up the last rather quickly. He’s throwing his fastball 95% of the time, which while deceptive, doesn’t quite have the same velocity as a Josh Hader (about 3 MPH slower). Just want to make sure this can be sustainable.

  • Avatar Greg says:

    You’re far to low on Chad Green. He was opening but with a healthy rotation he’s going to be a 7-8th inning guy. With Briton struggling it only reinforces this.

  • Avatar Mike says:

    Where’s Emilio Pagan?

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