2011 Holds Rankings Update: June

Two days ago we updated our closer rankings, so now it’s time to turn our attention to the guys setting them up. If you’re reading this site, then chances are you understand that the setup guys often pitch in the biggest spots of the game, only to be rewarded with a silly little hold. Unfortunately those don’t mean much at the negotiating table. A number of these guys have big time value because they throw a lot of innings (more than a typical closer) with elite peripherals and ERA. Here are the May rankings for reference.

Tier One
Jonny Venters
Rafael Betancourt
Mike Adams
Tyler Clippard

Clippard finally jumps into the top tier, mostly because I kept underrating him. The combination of a high-end strikeout rate and tons of innings pitched is a good way to have fantasy value as a non-closing reliever. The other three guys are simply brilliant at what they do and pile up holds, Venters and Betancourt because they’re on good teams, Adams because the Padres play a ton of close games.

Tier Two
Luke Gregerson
Sergio Romo
Daniel Bard
Sean Marshall
Grant Balfour

Gregerson set the single season holds record last year, but that’s not exactly a repeatable skill. Strikeouts are though, and he’s gone from 10+ K/9 in his first two years to just under 5.0 K/9 in 2011. He’s given up more than a hit per inning and his velocity is down a touch, so maybe throwing 50+% sliders over the last few years are taking a physical toll.

Romo has been great but he just never seems to pitch (25 appearances but only 17.1 IP). That has to change at some point, I imagine. Bard’s peripherals are actually better this year than last, but the LOB% dragon is not being nice and his ERA is a touch inflated. Marshall and Balfour have been steady, basically doing what they always do.

Tier Three
Jason Isringhausen
Eric O’Flaherty
Kameron Loe
Tony Sipp
Kerry Wood
Matt Lindstrom
Joaquin Benoit
Jim Johnson
Jesse Crain
David Robertson
Jose Veras

Izzy has come out of nowhere and suddenly leads baseball in holds, though he’s an extreme fly ball guy. Loe and O’Flaherty continue to pitch well enough that they jump up in the rankings, and Crain seems to have settled into a nice setup role among the chaos in the ChiSox bullpen. Wood, Sipp, Lindstrom, and Benoit are solid options with varying levels of job security, and the two new guys at the bottom of the tier are super high strikeout righties with the potential to straight up murder your WHIP with walks. Johnson’s shown that last year’s walk rate was no fluke, so it’s time to bump him up.

Tier Four
Michael Dunn
Joel Peralta
Joba Chamberlain
Eduardo Sanchez
Darren Oliver
Wilton Lopez
Evan Meek
Chris Sale
Scott Downs
David Hernandez
Koji Uehara
Fernando Rodney
Jeremy Affeldt
Jamey Wright

Miscellaneous arms in setup roles around the league. A number of them (specifically Dunn, Sanchez, Meek, Sale, and Hernandez) have the potential to climb the rankings if they cut down on the walks, and Joba needs to stop trading strikeouts for ground balls to have more value. Right now his ranking is based on being the Eighth Inning Guy™ for the team with (by far) the best run differential in baseball. Holds aplenty in that role.

On The DL
Aroldis Chapman
Rafael Soriano
Hong-Chih Kuo
Clay Hensley

Chapman might be back very soon, as in today or tomorrow, but he walked nine of the last dozen big league batters he faced before going on the DL. Hopefully that’s just an injury related fluke and the not the sign of a larger developmental problem. Soriano wasn’t very effective, but the elbow injury could have been the culprit. We won’t find out for another seven weeks or so. Kuo is out indefinitely with anxiety disorder, which just goes to show how unpredictable baseball really is. Hensley’s been having shoulder trouble for some time and sports the dreaded 1.00 K/BB ratio, so I don’t think anyone will be counting down the days until he returns.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

11 Responses to “2011 Holds Rankings Update: June”

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  1. cdg in cleveland says:

    why no love for vinnie pestano? may be the best arm in cleveland’s pen.

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  2. DonChrysler says:

    Ramon Ramirez too…3.17 FIP and 8 holds. Another team that finds itself in close games a lot and likes to gain platoon advantage in the late innings.

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  3. ryan p says:

    I like J.Contreas as a tier 3+ for RoS.
    Would like to add that Gregerson can be dropped in a mixed holds league imo, not even close to tier 2 right now. Holds history means almost nothing. Venters, Adams, Bard, and I guess Romo, are the only guys still doing what we roughly hoped they would be doing, before the season, when it comes to holds.

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  4. Gricomet says:

    I would argue Betancourt doesn’t belong in Tier 1 anymore. He has been very shaky for about a month now , for the last 30 days he has only 4 holds, a 4.66 ERA and a WHIP of 1.45. He actually has 0 holds in the last 14 days. Mike Adams and Tyler Clippard look flat out better. You can make a case for a few of the Tier 2 guys being better two. Based on his track record and place on a good team I think he still is a good fit with Tier 2 but he is not elite right now at holds.

    Gregerson is a difficult case. He has a good track record and all but that big drop in K rate is troubling and Adams seems to have wrested away the top non-closer role on the team and gotten the bulk of the holds in doing so. Of course last year there were more than enough for both of them so perhaps it is the worse record for the Padres cutting down the hold opportunities.

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  5. Ben says:

    Where would Nick Masset be on this list?

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  6. Antonio Bananas says:

    There needs to be better reliever stats. I’d think a simple variance would be useful. Stats that rely on your team’s offense are dumb.

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  7. Morat says:

    Absolutely LOVE this article. Its hard to get info on holds. Many thanks Mr Axisa.

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  8. Kyle Wiltjer says:

    Bastardo on the rise yo

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  9. CB says:

    Now that Joba’s done for the year, who takes his spot as the 8th inning guy?

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  10. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    Clippard- who I call “the big red dog” simply because it makes my 7 year LOL- is one of the top 5 setup pitchers in baseball. nd was before the season started. Underrated, he is finally getting some love!

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