The Hold Up 8/6: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Rick Graham ranks baseball's top setup men for the 2020 season.

Last week, I was pretty convinced that Drew Pomeranz was the best non-closer reliever in baseball currently, but now Tyler Duffey has me second-guessing. Similarly to Pomeranz, Duffey had a fantastic second half to 2019 and has done more than justify that it was no fluke. His 62.5% K and 23.3% SwStr rate are among the top five of all relievers in baseball. He also has only allowed just one hit (no walks) in five innings. He and Aaron Bummer are currently the only relievers with negative xFIPs.

Duffey is currently just a machine, thanks in large part to his slider that ranks among the best in baseball. The slider is his go-to pitch, throwing it just over 50% of the time and for good reason. Currently, the pitch has a 83.3% Whiff rate on 29 pitches thrown, which is obviously insane. That number will go down, but could still wind up around 50% after it had a 42% Whiff rate in 2019. You get the picture. If you are in any league that counts holds, make sure Duffey is rostered and even if you are in a standard 12-teamer, consider him for the ratios and Ks.

Notes

  • After trying to be stretched out as a starter the past two seasons, Felix Pena may finally have found a home in the back end of the Angels bullpen. Currently operating as the team’s top setup man, Pena has been able to up his fastball velocity two mph from last season while his plus curveball works as a great compliment. His 32% K-BB rate is a career-high and his .3 WAR ranks in the top 15 among all relievers.
  • David Phelps has emerged as the top setup guy in Milwaukee, and while it’s been a few years, let’s not forget he was once considered to be an elite set up man. After missing all of 2018 and struggling to find consistency last season, he seems to have found his stuff again, featuring a career-high 41.2% K and 12.5% SwStr rate. With Corey Knebel still trying to find himself, Phelps should be a great option for holds the rest of the season.
  • Evan Marshall had a strong season in 2019, and, along with Jimmy Corderohad me thinking this White Sox bullpen could actually be a strength this year. While Cordero has been up and down, Marshall has been on fire, mostly due to how he is using his pitches so far. He’s only throwing his fastball 27% of the time, while his curveball usage is up to 29% and his changeup leading the way at 44% usage. The increased offspeed usage has led to a 47.6% K and 21.5% SwStr rate, numbers that are sure to decline, but it’s still a promising start.
  • Cubs new setup man Jeremy Jeffress has yet to allow a run this season. He may not strike out a lot of hitters, but his 13% SwStr rate should get him close to a K per inning. He ditched his old changeup for a new splitter this season that he has been featuring a lot (39%). So far the results are pretty good, as the pitch has a 43% Whiff rate.
  • Rafael Montero is on track to return this weekend, and could end up right in the mix for saves from the get go. I think the team will give Jonathan Hernandez a shot first, but if he struggles anytime in the next week, look for Montero to get a shot, assuming he comes back healthy.
  • Sean Doolittle velocity watch: still sitting at 90 mph as of yesterday. He can safely be dropped in almost all formats. Also dropping way down the list this week was Bryan Abreu. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought into the preseason hype, or maybe he would just be better off as a starter. Either way, there’s not a ton to get excited about right now with a -20% K-BB and 5.53% SwStr rate. He’s more talented than that but it’s just not there yet and the decreased velocity has me worried he is pitching through some injury.

 

RankPitcherChange
1Drew PomeranzT1-
2Nick Anderson-
3Tyler Duffey+3
4Seth Lugo-1
5Will Smith
T2
+2
6James Karinchak+14
7Giovanny Gallegos+1
8Aaron Bummer+7
9Chad Green+36
10Emilio Pagan-1
11Matt Barnes-1
12Sergio Romo+5
13Joakim Soria+15
14Blake Treinen+5
15Diego Castillo-1
16Adam Ottavino
T3
-3
17Pedro Baez+14
18Trevor May+16
19Caleb Ferguson+18
20Jordan Romano+19
21Chris Martin+19
22Tanner Rainey+28
23Felix Pena+UR
24David Phelps+UR
25Evan Marshall+55
26Jeremy Jeffress+34
27Amir Garrett-5
28Carlos Estevez+27
29Justin Wilson+12
30Scott Barlow+3
31Andrew Miller
T4
-6
32Michael Lorenzen-9
33John Gant+2
34Buck Farmer+22
35Corey Knebel-14
36Dellin Betances-24
37Yusmeiro Petit-10
38Jose Alvarado-6
39Ian Kennedy-13
40Chaz Roe-11
41Nick Wittgren-5
42Andrew Chafin-
43Rafael Montero+28
44Kevin Ginkel-
45Blake Taylor+UR
46Shane Greene+7
47Jake Diekman+4
48Craig Stammen+6
49Tyler Clippard+8
50Adam Morgan+8
51Luke Jackson
T5
-5
52Keynan Middleton-5
53Kyle Ryan+9
54Brett Martin+5
55Tyler Rogers+11
56Cody Stashak+25
57Wander Suero+19
58A. J. Minter+11
59Greg Holland+UR
60Joe Kelly-12
61Matt Strahm-18
62Sean Doolittle-32
63Austin Adams+12
64Darwinzon Hernandez+10
65Oliver Perez-
66Junior Guerra+1
67Tony Watson+18
68Josh Taylor+9
69Yoshihisa Hirano+4
70Javy Guerra+UR
71Bryan Abreu
T6
-53
72Josh James+UR
73Alex Reyes+UR
74Luis Patino+UR
75Freddy Peralta+UR
76Mychal Givens+UR
77Jimmy Cordero+UR
78Yency Almonte+UR
79Jose Alvarez+8
80Gregory Soto+UR
81Miguel Castro+UR
82Tyler Kinley+UR
83Nate Jones+UR
84Nick Goody-21
85Tanner Scott+UR
86Daniel Bard+4
87Codi Heuer+UR
88Tommy Hunter-
89Brent Suter-3
90Steve Cishek-22

 

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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.

5 responses to “The Hold Up 8/6: Ranking the Top 90 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday”

  1. Avatar :) says:

    the pitcher in the image is not tyler duffey .. it is trevor may

  2. Avatar Play Ball says:

    What about Duffy’s 67% hard hit rate and 95% exit velocity? That may come back to haunt him.

    I like Anderson, but he won’t get enough appearances to be useful as some others for saves or holds.

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