Scheming For Relief: Middle Reliever Tiers, Last 30-Days

The trade deadline, trips to the disabled list and suspensions significantly altered bullpens across the league in the last thirty days. Subsequently, fantasy baseballers in holds leagues were likely scrambling to find the “next man in” to continue their quest for the playoffs as each respective domino fell. Still looking to make a late-season surge? Here’s a quick look at my top sixty middle relievers over the past month.

Disclaimer: In developing these rankings I looked for pitchers who appeared in at least six games and earned at least two or more holds in the last thirty days. Additionally, the relievers appear in tiers and are listed in no particular order within their respective tier.

Alright RG faithful, here they are. Firing Squad: once again please report directly to the comments section below.

Tier One: Double India Pale Ales

Mark Melancon | Pirates
David Robertson | Yankees
Trevor Rosenthal | Cardinals

For me, the Double IPA is the cream of the crop and the three relievers above are just that.  Melancon is closing for the moment, so I was hesitant to include him on this list, but with Jason Grilli starting to rehab I felt there may be a chance he falls back into his previous role. Robertson has been incredible over the last month. We’re getting a nice glimpse of the future Yankees’ closer during Mariano Rivera’s farewell tour.

Tier Two: India Pale Ales

Rex Brothers | Rockies
Jordan Walden | Braves
J.J. Hoover | Reds
Brandon Kintzler | Brewers
Luis Avilan | Braves
Heath Bell | Diamondbacks
Joel Peralta | Rays
Jared Burton |Twins
Neal Cotts | Rangers

The IPA is elite, but it doesn’t get the job done as consistently or as quickly as the Double does. Like Melancon in the tier above, Rex Brothers is currently holding down the ninth frame with Rafael Betancourt on the shelf. And there could easily be a case for Brothers, Walden and Hoover in the top tier here, but three hurlers in the top tier seemed to be enough.

Tier Three: Saisons

LaTroy Hawkins | Mets
Ryan Cook | Athletics
Tim Collins | Royals
David Hernandez | Diamondbacks
Nate Jones | White Sox
Tyler Clippard | Nationals
Ronald Belisario | Dodgers
Pedro Strop | Cubs
Santiago Casilla | Giants
A.J. Ramos | Marlins
Casey Fien | Twins
Bryan Shaw | Indians
Sam LeCure | Reds

Saisons tend to be refreshing, but pack a little less punch than those listed above. Hawkins is tied for the most holds in the league over the last month and could see some closing opportunities with Bobby Parnell going to the disabled list, but I’d prefer more strikeouts if I can get them. David Hernandez’s name made this tier, his performance over the last thirty days didn’t. Lots of upside in this tier, so don’t skip out on the Saison.

Tier Four: Porters

Charlie Furbush | Mariners
Chad Qualls | Marlins
Kelvin Herrera | Royals
Jake McGee | Rays
Paco Rodriguez | Dodgers
Seth Maness | Cardinals
Sean Doolittle | Athletics
Yoervis Medina | Mariners
Darren O’Day | Orioles
Matt Belisle | Rockies
J.J. Putz | Diamondbacks
John Axford | Brewers
Blake Parker | Cubs
Joe Thatcher | Diamondbacks
J.P. Howell | Dodgers

I’m not the biggest Porter fan, but there are some variations that get the job done. And I’ll always grab a Porter before reaching for the yellow fizzy stuff when the pickins’ in the cooler are slim. A few former closers and potential future closers litter this tier, so keep them in mind.

Tier Five: Yellow Fizzy Beers

Junichi Tazawa | Red Sox
Tony Watson | Pirates
Dale Thayer | Padres
Jason Frasor | Rangers
Mike Dunn | Marlins
Scott Rice | Mets
Justin Wilson | Pirates
Alex Torres | Rays
Donnie Veal | White Sox
Cody Allen | Indians
Nick Vincent | Padres
Matt Thornton | Red Sox
David Carpenter | Braves
Luke Hochevar | Royals
Logan Ondrusek | Reds
Troy Patton | Orioles
Drew Smyly | Tigers
Luis Ayala | Braves
Tanner Scheppers | Rangers
Chris Withrow | Dodgers

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If I need a fix, I’d gladly grab the yellow fizzy stuff rather than subjecting myself to the shakes. Feel free to dip into the leftovers to do the same, especially if you need to make a late-season push in the holds category. Streaming guys in the tiers above are always fun when a team’s closer has pitched a few consecutive days.

And again, here are my top 60 relievers over the last thirty days sorted by holds:

Name Team G W SV HLD ERA WHIP K% WAR playerid
LaTroy Hawkins Mets 12 0 1 7 2.45 1 9.30% 0.1 729
Jordan Walden Braves 12 1 1 7 0.9 1.1 31.70% 0.5 3271
Luis Avilan Braves 11 2 0 7 0 1.11 16.20% 0.2 2882
Joel Peralta Rays 9 0 0 7 2.16 1.08 30.30% 0.4 2332
Tim Collins Royals 12 0 0 6 6 1.56 27.50% 0.4 3164
Tyler Clippard Nationals 12 0 0 6 1.5 0.67 32.60% 0 5640
Heath Bell Diamondbacks 12 0 0 6 0.73 0.73 33.30% 0.6 2080
Trevor Rosenthal Cardinals 11 0 0 6 3.18 1.15 30.40% 0.5 10745
Ronald Belisario Dodgers 15 1 0 5 1.38 1 13.50% -0.1 2203
Pedro Strop Cubs 13 2 0 5 3.86 1.11 34.60% 0.5 4070
Casey Fien Twins 13 1 0 5 0.73 0.89 34.10% 0.5 3926
Sam LeCure Reds 11 0 0 5 5.4 1.4 31.00% 0 4664
Charlie Furbush Mariners 11 0 0 5 3 1.33 30.80% 0 1370
Chad Qualls Marlins 11 0 0 5 0.96 1.39 31.70% 0.4 2170
David Robertson Yankees 11 0 0 5 0 0.84 30.00% 0.5 8241
Kelvin Herrera Royals 10 1 0 5 2.19 0.97 32.70% 0.3 6033
J.J. Hoover Reds 10 0 0 5 0 0.58 27.00% 0.3 9037
Seth Maness Cardinals 13 1 0 4 2.31 1.29 12.50% 0.1 12235
Sean Doolittle Athletics 12 0 0 4 1.59 0.53 22.50% 0.2 1581
Brandon Kintzler Brewers 12 1 0 4 0 0.42 19.20% 0.4 9939
Yoervis Medina Mariners 11 0 0 4 3.14 1.12 22.40% -0.2 10498
Darren O’Day Orioles 10 0 1 4 3.6 0.9 22.20% 0.3 3321
Jake McGee Rays 10 0 1 4 2.79 1.03 30.80% 0.2 7550
Santiago Casilla Giants 10 2 0 4 0 1.29 12.50% 0 2873
Matt Belisle Rockies 9 1 0 4 4 1.44 30.80% 0.3 1837
J.J. Putz Diamondbacks 9 1 0 4 0 1.04 17.90% 0.1 1795
John Axford Brewers 12 2 0 3 7 1.89 18.20% -0.2 9059
Blake Parker Cubs 12 0 0 3 2.61 1.84 24.00% 0 5224
Joe Thatcher – – – 12 0 0 3 1.23 1.09 27.60% 0 4620
Paco Rodriguez Dodgers 12 0 1 3 0.96 0.43 27.30% 0.1 13398
J.P. Howell Dodgers 12 0 0 3 0.84 1.03 17.10% 0.1 8245
Jared Burton Twins 12 0 0 3 0 0.56 32.40% 0.4 8346
Junichi Tazawa Red Sox 11 1 0 3 2.08 1.08 23.50% 0.3 4079
Tony Watson Pirates 11 1 0 3 1.93 1.07 21.10% 0.2 3132
Dale Thayer Padres 11 1 0 3 1.64 1.55 20.80% 0 5032
Neal Cotts Rangers 11 0 0 3 0 0.71 20.90% 0.3 1797
Jason Frasor Rangers 10 2 0 3 3.27 0.82 19.50% 0.2 1906
Mike Dunn Marlins 10 0 1 3 3 1 22.90% 0.1 9948
Scott Rice Mets 10 1 0 3 0 0.39 19.20% 0.2 2743
Ryan Cook Athletics 10 2 1 3 0 0.62 24.40% 0.5 8855
Rex Brothers Rockies 9 0 4 3 3.12 1.04 23.50% 0.2 9794
Justin Wilson Pirates 8 1 0 3 3.38 1.5 19.40% 0.2 4301
Alex Torres Rays 8 1 0 3 2.31 0.94 31.90% 0.2 7038
Donnie Veal White Sox 13 0 0 2 5 1.22 27.80% -0.1 4741
Cody Allen Indians 12 1 1 2 2.53 1.78 30.00% 0.3 12183
A.J. Ramos Marlins 12 0 0 2 1.2 0.93 34.50% 0.4 8350
Nick Vincent Padres 11 0 0 2 3.86 1.03 27.70% 0.1 7555
Matt Thornton – – – 11 0 0 2 1.93 1.5 17.10% 0.2 1918
David Carpenter Braves 11 1 0 2 1.56 0.81 29.70% 0.5 3959
Mark Melancon Pirates 11 0 5 2 0.82 0.82 15.80% 0.2 4264
David Hernandez Diamondbacks 10 0 1 2 8 1.56 26.20% -0.3 4259
Nate Jones White Sox 10 0 0 2 0.71 0.63 42.20% 0.6 4696
Luke Hochevar Royals 10 1 0 2 0 0.77 21.10% 0.2 6943
Logan Ondrusek Reds 9 1 0 2 3.72 1.66 23.40% 0.2 3677
Troy Patton Orioles 9 0 0 2 2.08 0.81 12.10% 0.1 8368
Drew Smyly Tigers 9 0 0 2 2 0.89 30.60% 0.2 11760
Luis Ayala Braves 9 0 0 2 1.93 1.5 15.40% 0.1 1650
Bryan Shaw Indians 9 2 0 2 1.8 1 33.30% 0.4 8110
Tanner Scheppers Rangers 9 0 1 2 0.96 1.07 16.20% 0.2 10267
Chris Withrow Dodgers 7 1 0 2 0.87 0.77 31.60% 0.4 7161



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In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, TheFantasyFix.com and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.


12 Responses to “Scheming For Relief: Middle Reliever Tiers, Last 30-Days”

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  1. yosoyfiesta says:

    Louis Coleman has been nasty over the last 30 days and fits the parameters of your list, 10.47 K/9 on the year and in the last 30 days: 13.5 K/9, 0.0 BB/9 (yes 0 walks) and a 0.65 FIP. Not sure how many holds he’s racked up in the last month, but that man deserves some airtime!

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      He’s been good, but he’s earned just one hold over that time which is also one of the parameters. Sorry if that was unclear.

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  2. Jonathan says:

    I’m playing strop for his ratios and ks and as insurance for Kevin gregg (who I also own). Would you cut him for walden or Hoover? Thanks

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  3. sloanwi says:

    David Carpenter is having a much better season that Luis Avilan. Avilan is probably the most overrated of the Braves’ relievers.

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Avilan has racked up 7 holds and a 0.00 ERA over the last 30 days. K% leaves a little to be desired, so it depends on what you need really.

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  4. Wes says:

    Think it’s time to dump Gregerson in holds leagues?

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  5. Kevin Jones says:

    Javier Lopez and Joe Smith have 5 and 6 holds respectively during the past 30 days. Lopez with a 0.00 ERA and .95 WHIP. Any particular reason they aren’t even on you list?

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      It appears that during my sort, Lopez failed to meet the “qualified” criteria based on only 6.1 IP, but I am to blame for that. He should clearly be on this this list, most likely at the bottom end of tier two/top of tier three.

      At first glance, I believe I left Smith off this list due to the 4+ ERA, 1.50+ WHIP and sub 10% K%. Guys like Veal, LeCure and Hernandez are in similar ERA/WHIP situations, but have a far better whiff rate over the last 30 days. We’re splitting hairs, really.

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  6. jon says:

    Hey Alan – I’m looking to add SP-eligible RPs to slot into SP spots and gather up some holds over the last two months. I have Smyly already and just added Hochevar. I don’t have room to add both Matusz and Tommy Hunter – which guy does your research tell you is the better add for Holds going forward?

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  7. Floppy says:

    Who would you roster among these relievers that have SP eligibility: Smyly, Matusz, Outman, Hochevar, Stauffer, Cecil, Collmenter, Duensing.

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