Top 100 Relievers for Save+Hold Leagues: 60 Game Season Edition

While the opportunity for counting stats is certainly taken into consideration, it’s typically hard to gauge with bullpen usage being so fluid throughout the season for most teams. The bulk of the rankings are derived from swing-and-miss ability, expected outcome stats, and a little bit of HOTEL mixed in. Also, keep in mind that holds are much more volatile and harder to predict. We’ve only seen 11 seasons from a pitcher with more than 30 holds since 2016, while 49 closers have gone over 30 saves in that same time frame.

This was my intro from the original SV+HD list back in March, and while I still generally feel the same way, we have to put more stock into usage and roles for a 60 game season. Health, whether Covid-19 or injury-related, also has a bigger impact this year and it may not be worth holding on to any player who winds up on the IL in such a short season. A positive Covid-19 test may result in half a season lost so be ready to play the waiver wire aggressively this year. And there’s no position to be more aggressive with on the wire than with relievers.




  • Nick Anderson moves down the board slightly; his role is still up in the air and having just half a season of success to his name makes him a bit riskier in the shortened season. That said, he’s still a no doubt top 10-reliever to roster this year.
  • Similarly, how Drew Pomeranz is used in San Diego also brings him down just a bit, as there’s talk of him being used earlier in games then hoped. I’m sure he’ll still get a handful of holds this year and should be plenty helpful with Ks and ratios.
  • With Jordan Hicks beginning the year on the IL, Giovanny Gallegos‘ odds to lock up the closer role increase ever so slightly. Hicks wasn’t expected to open the year in the role anyway, but it’s still one less name to compete with. Even if he winds up in setup role, his stock should hold relatively steady.
  • So Hector Neris is a big wildcard now, as the assumption is that a positive Covid-19 test landed him on the IL. We really have no idea when he will be ready, and Joe Girardi didn’t exactly give much clarity on the situation yesterday. For now, I would still imagine he will be ready to go by the start of the season, considering it’s likely he was one of the positive tests from June 23rd (or earlier). That would give him at least a month after the positive test to be ready for Opening Day, so I’m cautiously optimistic he’ll be ready by then.
  • Originally slated for a May return, Corey Knebel should be at or very close to 100% by Opening Day, and while my ranking may be a bit aggressive coming off Tommy John, he was one of the best relievers in the game before going down. He may not get his closer job back from Josh Hader, but it shouldn’t matter as he’ll likely be ticketed for high leverage innings right off the bat.
  • We shouldn’t forget about or give up on Andrew Miller just yet, as this short season might just be the best thing for him and his body. The veteran lefty has dealt with numerous injuries over the past few years, and a lightened workload thanks to a 60 game scheduled could be just the thing to get him back on track. Despite the obvious injury risk, he still carries great upside this season.
  • This group of closers at the beginning of Tier 5 are somewhat interchangeable to me, all of them having their fair share of question marks. It’s still an interesting group with relatively low risk, and I’d like to have at least one of them on my roster assuming the price is right.
  • James Karinchak has been getting a ton of hype, and rightfully so, but Bryan Abreu may be my favorite rookie reliever this season. Assuming he doesn’t lock up a rotation spot (which is highly unlikely now) Abreu could very well jump into a high leverage role in front of Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly. He was lights out in his first 8.2 innings at the MLB level last year and continued to impress this spring with 13 Ks over 8 IP.
  • I have Wade Davis ahead of Scott Oberg for now because I’ll give the edge to the closer, but this situation could change very quickly early on. Oberg still has his limitations, but I still think he’s the better pitcher at this stage in their careers.
  • With both Neris and Tommy Hunter currently on the IL, it leaves Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez, and perhaps Nick Pivetta as the top options for saves on the active roster. Morgan is the most attractive to me, as he’s flashed some upside in the not-too-distant past, but I can’t rule out Pivetta turning his career around as a reliever just yet.
  • Brandon Kintzler could probably be higher, but he just doesn’t seem destined to finish the year as the team’s closer considering the other talented arms in that organization. Not to mention the Marlins will be facing a brutal schedule this season.
  • Tony Watson may also be in the mix for saves to start the season, but there’s still a ton of uncertainty in that bullpen and he just isn’t a very exciting option at this point. Gabe Kapler will also likely play matchups in the later innings of the few games where the Giants are winning.



Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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