A disclaimer I must add is that this is possibly the worst time to create holds tiers that I could ever imagine. The injuries to closers such as Joakim Soria and Ryan Madson and attempting to judge who will be their replacements make these rankings difficult. The Royals are supposedly leaning towards Jonathan Broxton, but how long will that last for? The Reds are considering going with a closer by committee, but if Sean Marshall starts locking down saves, will they be willing to move pitchers around late in games?
I did not want to get into a big guessing game in that regard. For sake of these rankings, I assumed Marshall and Broxton would close. Below my personal, not RotoGraphs’, holds tiers for the upcoming season.
This was a pretty easy list for me. While I do think Pestano is a better pitcher than Chris Perez, I expect Perez to get his job back once he returns and hold onto it for most of the season. Of course he could falter, as he is not that good of a pitcher, but a pitcher can get injured at any moment and push one of these first tier guys into ninth inning roles.
This second tier is filled with great arms as well. O’Flaherty posted an ERA under 1.00 last year while Hernandez and Perkins had tremendous breakout seasons. Gregerson and Downs are not too shabby themselves.
This part of the list features many pitchers who could end up closing at some point this season. The White Sox could end up with Crain, Reed, and Matt Thornton all netting similar save totals by season’s end. There is a lot of talent in this group, and I would not be surprised to see any of them end up in the top tier in holds by the end of the season.
There is slightly less potential in these arms, but this is still a pretty quality bunch. Relievers are extremely volatile, so many of these pitchers could move up or down the tiers throughout the season. Chapman may stay in the rotation after a stellar spring, which would obviously take him out of these rankings.
While this group is less talented and seems to be filled with either very young or very old pitchers, there is some respectable talent here as well. Cashner is a guy to eye on, as he could end up being one of the better back end relievers in the game. If you are in a league with holds, waiting on some guys in the fifth tier could certainly be an option worth using.