It’s Thursday and that means Justin Perri is here ranking the best setup men in the league on The Hold Up. The following rankings are meant to give you some help on how to evaluate relief pitchers that do not finish games for their team. The beauty and craziness of a holds league is that a hold can be just as important as the save, but everyone knows who the closer is. With holds you can find an unowned and solid reliever who can really help your squad win a matchup.
Holds can be difficult to predict, so these rankings focus mostly on the raw potential seen in a relief pitcher to get a hold opportunity along with their ability to not leave you with a blown save or a loss based on what has been happening thus far this year. Some things to always consider are strikeout/groundball/flyball ratios, as you do not want to mess with the BABIP gods if you do not have to, but also your specific team needs based on your league.
Feel free to leave your questions and angry remarks in the comments section below. Let me know if you feel someone should be lower or higher on the list, I’ll be sure to take what you say into consideration. Give me a follow on twitter @Just_In_Relief for all things concerning bullpens and who knows what else fantasy baseball related. Now, let’s see what the rankings look like this week.
2. Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)
9. Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)
10. Hector Rondon (Chicago Cubs)
31. Xavier Cedeño (Tampa Bay Rays)
35. Bryan Shaw (Cleveland Indians)
45. Felipe Rivero (Washington Nationals)
53. Oliver Perez (Washington Nationals)
56. Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)
62. Francisco Abad (Minnesota Twins)
63. Pedro Baez (Los Angeles Dodgers)
88. Zach McAllister (Cleveland Indians)
95. Jose Alvarez (Los Angeles Angels)
– Andrew Miller reigns no more, like a courier running through the streets after the king has been dethroned, the news is old at this point and you know that Dellin Betances has to become the number one hold option in my eyes, it’s pretty clear that he is exactly that. He leads the league in holds with 27 and his 89 strikeouts in 50.1 innings are essentially unparalleled.
– Hector Rondon becomes one of the better options for holds with his displacement from the closer role. He has one of the best K/BB ratios in the league and should perform admirably as a setup man to Aroldis Chapman. I can’t tell you that he’ll compete with guys like Addison Reed for the number of holds his team hands him, as the Cubs have been tricky in that category this season, but he’s without a doubt worth owning in any holds format.
– The return of Darren O’Day is a pretty big deal in the world of holds. Brad Brach has been performing incredibly in his absence, but the 8th inning in Baltimore got O’Day’s name tattooed on its neck a few seasons back. It’s just that type of relationship. I also happen to be a huge fan of Darren’s who has already picked up a win and struck out five of the seven batters he’s faced since returning. If he’s somehow available in your holds league, stop reading and go make the addition. On the flip side, I’ll leave Brach in the second tier until I see how Buck manages using what is now one of the best bullpens in baseball with Brach – O’Day – Zach Britton.
– Tony Watson is picking up the pace, which is great to see because he is considered to be one of the more reliable guys for holds in the entire league. He has five since the break, one of only four relievers to record that many holds in that span. Best part about Watson is that he is hardly ever used unless it’s a hold situation.
– Raisel Iglesias has emerged as a nice setup man for the reds. What’s the glaring difference between him and most relievers on this list? Iglesias goes two innings with frequency while still picking up the hold. He has four holds in his last two weeks, and has struck out nine over the 8.1 innings he pitched in those five appearances. He also has that nice starting pitcher eligibility.
– It was looking like Dario Alvarez was going to emerge in the Atlanta bullpen, and then they traded him to the Texas Rangers instead. He has Edwin Diaz like strikeout numbers, recording 28 Ks in 15 innings, but now he’s just another guy in the rangers pen. He’s clearly going to slot behind Diekman and may get a few hold of the hold chances in Texas, that may still be more than what he would have seen in Atlanta so who knows.
– Staying in Atlanta are Chris Withrow and Mauricio Cabrera, both will see the occasional hold. Not a huge fan of relying on either here, and you may even see one of them get a chance to close because this bullpen is very sub-par without Vizcaino.
As always, be warned that after tier five the options are not prime, they do not get holds chances frequently and can not be trusted to keep your ERA and WHIP safe. The tiers at this late point are more of a grouping and just because someone is ranked above someone else in either of the last two tiers does not mean they are certainly better. Honestly, it would be wise to stay in the top 60, proceed at your own risk down there. Even tier five can be pretty risky.
Again, leave me a comment if you think someone deserves to be in a different spot, if I missed an injury, or just want to dive into the discussion. Always feel free to ask any questions during the week on Twitter @Just_In_Relief.
Justin Perri (@Just_In_Relief) is a writer for Pitcher List, a New Yorker and a lifelong fan of baseball. He can be found walking around the Bronx looking for the glory that once was the Yankees or obsessively watching The Office.