Tiered List of Top Relievers for Holds Leagues

March 2, 2019

For a variety of reasons, holds are hard to predict. A reliever needs to be good enough to get outs consistently, but not so good that he takes over as the closer. On this list, LOOGYs and great pitchers blocked by superstar closers get a bump, while players with a good chance to take over the ninth fall a bit. Pitchers in committees are heavily downgraded due to uncertainty, but they can grab a lot of holds if the committee evolves to feature someone else at the head.

Tier 1:

Josh Hader
Adam Ottavino
Zach Britton
Dellin Betances
Jeurys Familia
Joe Kelly

The top tier is reserved for elite set-up guys with solid closers. While they are definitely save candidates in case of injury, they’re most likely to rack up holds in high-leverage eighth innings. There are three Yankees in this tier, which may seem excessive, but then again, they have a legendarily good bullpen and a team forecast to win 95+ games.

Tier 2:

Yoshihisa Hirano
Tony Watson
Keone Kela
CJ Edwards
Kyle Barraclough
Jared Hughes
Andrew Miller
Joakim Soria
Jeremy Jeffress

The main difference between the first and second tiers is that these guys have some question marks attached. Many have a chance to win the closer job themselves (Miller, Hirano) or play for a team that won’t win all that much (Hughes, Kela).

Tier 3:

Chaz Roe
Hector Rondon
Seranthony Dominguez
Trevor Rosenthal
Greg Holland
Scott Oberg
Steve Cishek
Will Smith
Anthony Swarzak
Ryan Brasier

Tier three includes some pitchers who are already in a battle to close, so they may wind up getting saves rather than holds. It also includes some guys who don’t put up the best peripherals, but are still likely to get a good share of hold opportunities.

Tier 4:

Ryan Tepera
Adam Cimber
Pedro Baez
Lou Trivino
Taylor Rogers
Ryan Pressly
Joe Jimenez
Heath Hembree
Chris Martin

Tier four is where you find lefty specialists and pitchers on good teams who are a few steps removed from the closers role.  They’ll have plenty of appearances, but may not be quite as consistent in picking up holds.