Earlier this week we updated our closer rankings, and now it’s time to focus on the guys often pitching the most important innings, the middle relievers. This update is geared towards holds (here’s the preseason rankings), and frankly this list could go on for forever. I had to cut myself off at some point, so I did so at 30 players. Here’s the current holds leaderboard for reference…
Adams has been otherworldly this year, sporting an undefined K/BB (14/0) and a 0.27 WHIP. Even if he regresses to his performance level of the last two years, he’s still super-elite. Chapman and Soriano have hit some speed bumps, sure, but both are elite arms on good teams that will rack up plenty of the stat du jour. The single-season holds record holder (Gregerson) hasn’t had too many of them this year, but they will come. Venters and Betancourt are just nasty, strikeout heavy arms on really good teams.
Yes, Madson is the temporary closer in Philadelphia, but he figures to slot back into his familiar eighth inning role once Jose Contreras comes off the disabled list. Romo has been just as good as Adams in two-thirds the innings, and Marshall’s right there as well. There’s not much to add about Bard and Balfour, though Clippard continues to be fantastic in the middle innings.
Benoit has struggled quite a bit of late (8 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 1 K in his last 1.1 IP), but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I’m not giving that to Kuo (who I love) because he’s already been on the disabled list and has been getting hit pretty hard when he’s been healthy. That said, if he straights himself out, he’s a Tier One guy. Sipp has started to move past the control issues that plagued his prior big league stints and is currently setting up for the best team in baseball. Go figure.
Hensley’s getting the job done, but his sub-1.00 K/BB and 4.7% swing-and-miss rate scares the crap out of me. Lopez figures to take Mark Melancon‘s spot as the primary setup guy now that the latter is closing. Some names that just missed the cut: Jim Johnson, Mike Dunn, Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Joba Chamberlain, Joel Peralta, Antonio Bastardo, and the immortal Jamey Wright. Some of the holds stalwarts that will be on the shelf for extended periods of time due to injury include Pedro Feliciano, Takashi Saito, Joe Thatcher, Bobby Parnell, and Peter Moylan. Holds are a tricky business, they’re even more volatile than saves.