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Nick Mariano's Top 150 Saves+Holds Rankings for Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitchers

Josh Hader - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Well, this article was going to run a bit later but we're shuffling things around because the people demand it. Or maybe just one person. Hi, Jordan, this one is for you! Saves+Holds reliever ranks can be overlooked or left stale from an early offseason article, but I'll be here at least once a month to bring my leaderboard for the season. Allow me, Nick Mariano, to do my namesake proud (my middle name isn't Rivera, sorry) and bring you the breakdown about fantasy baseball bullpens.

While the closer's role is important, an increasing number of managers are moving their best arm into a flexible role while shuffling who gets the ninth. Saves+Holds (or Solds, or SV+HLD) leagues help fantasy leagues reward the best arms regardless of the inning, though it still favors closers in a vacuum. Be sure to also check out our constantly updated fantasy baseball closers and saves depth charts.

Reminder: A hold is recorded when a relief pitcher enters with a lead of three runs or less, or with the tying run on deck, at the plate, or on base, and maintains that lead while recording at least one out. Read on and you'll see where I rank each player, what tier they're in, as well as a smattering of analysis for each of the 10 tiers. And here is the top 150 table in an exportable, able-to-be-copied Google sheet if you like. While I look for pitchers used in high-leverage situations, this is also about how good the arm is and how efficient their K/9 works for many of you.

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*Updated April 3*

 

2022 Saves+Holds Rankings - Mixed Leagues

Be sure to also bookmark our main 2022 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's loaded up with tons of other great rankings including roto mixed leagues, H2H points leagues, AL/NL only leagues, prospect rankings and more.

Rank Tier Player Team Lg
1 1 Josh Hader MIL NL
2 1 Liam Hendriks CWS AL
3 2 Raisel Iglesias LAA AL
4 2 Ryan Pressly HOU AL
5 2 Edwin Diaz NYM NL
6 2 Giovanny Gallegos STL NL
7 2 Emmanuel Clase CLE AL
8 2 Devin Williams MIL NL
9 2 Craig Kimbrel LAD NL
10 2 Aroldis Chapman NYY AL
11 2 Blake Treinen LAD NL
12 3 Jordan Romano TOR AL
13 3 Taylor Rogers MIN AL
14 3 Kenley Jansen ATL NL
15 3 Paul Sewald SEA AL
16 3 Scott Barlow KC AL
17 3 David Bednar PIT NL
18 3 Lucas Sims CIN NL
19 4 Andrew Kittredge TB AL
20 4 Jonathan Loaisiga NYY AL
21 4 Diego Castillo SEA AL
22 4 Matt Barnes BOS AL
23 4 Hector Neris HOU AL
24 4 Jake McGee SF NL
25 4 William Smith ATL NL
26 4 Anthony Bender MIA NL
27 4 Corey Knebel PHI NL
28 4 Camilo Doval SF NL
29 4 Chad Green NYY AL
30 4 Mark Melancon ARI NL
31 5 Aaron Bummer CWS AL
32 5 Gregory Soto DET AL
33 5 Kendall Graveman CWS AL
34 5 Tyler Rogers SF NL
35 5 Ryan Tepera LAA AL
36 5 Art Warren CIN NL
37 5 A.J. Minter ATL NL
38 5 Matt Wisler TB AL
39 5 Daniel Hudson LAD NL
40 5 Garrett Whitlock BOS AL
41 6 Trevor May NYM NL
42 6 Tim Mayza TOR AL
43 6 Andrew Chafin DET AL
44 6 Clay Holmes NYY AL
45 6 Alex Vesia LAD NL
46 6 James Karinchak CLE AL
47 6 Tanner Rainey WAS NL
48 6 Brooks Raley TB AL
49 6 Phil Maton HOU AL
50 6 Lou Trivino OAK AL
51 6 Robert Suarez SD NL
52 6 Tyler Matzek ATL NL
53 6 Collin McHugh ATL NL
54 6 Josh Staumont KC AL
55 6 Jake Cousins MIL NL
56 6 Luis Garcia SD NL
57 6 Joe Barlow TEX AL
58 6 Jake Diekman BOS AL
59 6 Cole Sulser BAL AL
60 6 Dylan Floro MIA NL
61 6 Pierce Johnson SD NL
62 6 Alex Colome COL NL
63 7 Brusdar Graterol LAD NL
64 7 Brad Boxberger MIL NL
65 7 Jorge Alcala MIN AL
66 7 Tanner Scott BAL AL
67 7 Joe Kelly CWS AL
68 7 Austin Adams SD NL
69 7 Michael Fulmer DET AL
70 7 Richard Bleier MIA NL
71 7 Luis Cessa CIN NL
72 7 Drew Steckenrider SEA AL
73 7 Emilio Pagan SD NL
74 7 Mike Mayers LAA AL
75 7 Rowan Wick CHC NL
76 7 Amir Garrett KC AL
77 7 Jordan Hicks STL NL
78 7 Greg Holland TEX AL
79 7 Josh Taylor BOS AL
80 7 Nick Sandlin CLE AL
81 8 Aaron Loup LAA AL
82 8 Seth Lugo NYM NL
83 8 Ian Kennedy ARI NL
84 8 J.P. Feyereisen TB AL
85 8 Phil Bickford LAD NL
86 8 Tyler Duffey MIN AL
87 9 Dinelson Lamet SD NL
88 9 Jose Alvarado PHI NL
89 9 A.J. Puk OAK AL
90 9 Mychal Givens CHC NL
91 9 Robert Stephenson COL NL
92 9 Carlos Estevez COL NL
93 9 Joely Rodriguez NYY AL
94 9 Chris Stratton PIT NL
95 9 Ryne Stanek HOU AL
96 10 Daniel Bard COL NL
97 10 Chris Martin CHC NL
98 10 Adam Ottavino NYM NL
99 10 David Robertson CHC NL
100 10 Anthony Bass MIA NL
101 10 Brad Hand PHI NL
102 10 Yimi Garcia TOR AL
103 10 Genesis Cabrera STL NL
104 10 Nick Wittgren STL NL
105 10 Trevor Richards TOR AL
106 10 Kyle Finnegan WAS NL
107 10 Sam Howard PIT NL
108 10 Spencer Patton TEX AL
109 10 Connor Brogdon PHI NL
110 10 Julian Merryweather TOR AL
111 10 Anthony Gose CLE AL
112 10 Hirokazu Sawamura BOS AL
113 10 Deolis Guerra OAK AL
114 10 Caleb Smith ARI NL
115 10 Scott Effross CHC NL
116 10 Sergio Romo SEA AL
117 10 Ryan Brasier BOS AL
118 10 JT Chargois TB AL
119 10 Brent Suter MIL NL
120 10 Domingo Acevedo OAK AL
121 10 Wandy Peralta NYY AL
122 10 Steve Cishek WAS NL
123 10 Jake Brentz KC AL
124 10 Dylan Coleman KC AL
125 10 Richard Rodriguez FA --
126 10 Anthony Misiewicz SEA AL
127 10 Ryan Helsley STL NL
128 10 Victor Gonzalez LAD NL
129 10 Sean Doolittle WAS NL
130 10 Adam Cimber TOR AL
131 10 Jeurys Familia PHI NL
132 10 Tim Hill SD NL
133 10 Caleb Thielbar MIN AL
134 10 Yusmeiro Petit FA --
135 10 Miguel Castro NYM NL
136 INJ Drew Pomeranz SD NL
137 INJ Ken Giles SEA AL
138 INJ Nick Anderson TB AL
139 INJ Kirby Yates ATL NL
140 INJ Jose Leclerc TEX AL
141 INJ Colin Poche TB AL
142 INJ Tommy Kahnle LAD NL
143 INJ Pete Fairbanks TB AL
144 INJ Andres Munoz SEA AL
145 INJ Alex Reyes STL NL
146 INJ Seranthony Dominguez PHI NL
147 INJ Caleb Ferguson LAD NL
148 INJ Brad Wieck CHC NL
149 INJ Jonathan Hernandez TEX AL
150 INJ Trevor Rosenthal FA --

 

Saves+Holds Tiered Rankings Analysis

Tier One

Not much needs explaining here, as Hader and Hendriks are both masterclass closers with monstrous strikeout rates and strong control. While each of them has another elite reliever behind them, both the Brewers and White Sox have shown a steadfast commitment to both Hader and Hendriks, respectively. Draft with confidence, strut with pride. Maybe just cover the kiddies’ ears when Hendriks is pitching, though.

Tier Two

While saves remain more predictable than holds, you can’t help but bring in the aforementioned elite relievers behind Hader and Hendriks with Devin Williams and Craig Kimbrel. Update: Kimbrel was indeed traded as we hoped for, and to the Dodgers no less! Great for him, as he seems to require the adrenaline of the ninth inning. We'll see how it goes. But Treinen is still a strong play as LAD's fireman. As for Williams, the airbender encountered turbulence in 2021 but from July 1 on, Williams posted a 38/8 K/BB with a 1.52 ERA (1.65 FIP) alongside three wins, three saves, and 10 holds in 23 ⅔ IP of work. That’ll play.

Tier Three

In SV-only leagues, you start sweating around this point. Will they, won’t they? That's the beauty of SV+HLD formats, because these are all still damn good pitchers and you should feel strong in drafting them. Admittedly, it begins to become more about the volume rather than the microscopic ratios or electrifying strikeouts at this juncture, but for the most part, you are still getting healthy K’s and ratios with your SV+HLD volume.

As of late March, Lucas Sims is currently healthy but behind schedule due to earlier injuries delaying his spring training routine. If he were still hurt then I’d dock him further down towards the 30’s, but his upside is immense when healthy. In case you’ve forgotten, he led all relievers with a 42% K-BB rate from August 1 on last season.

Tier Four

Now the murky bullpen pictures start to creep in, but we are prepared to extract all sorts of value from the 7th and 8th innings. Andrew Kittredge never panned out as a starter but has found all sorts of life as a fastball-slider RP that brought his walk rate down to a career-best 5.3% last season. The Rays will use him all over the place and those late-inning leverage spots yielded nine wins and 15 SV+HLD in 71 ⅔ IP. He and Chad Green are capable of 70-80 frames on command with wins, saves, holds, whatever you need.

Tier Five

This is where the fun begins. It is around this point in drafts where you can tell who hasn’t played the format before. I’d like to lean this column towards the relievers who I don’t feel get enough shine in other articles. As a result, one of the better mid-tier targets to chat up is Daniel Hudson.

Did you know he had a beautiful 2.65 SIERA underneath the 3.31 ERA last year? A career-high 35.7% strikeout rate, mixed with his best walk rate in seven years at 7.6%, will do that. He doesn’t need to retain all of those gains for this to be profitable, but it sure would be snazzy. His heater averaged 97 mph last year while his slider zipped up a few ticks to 88 mph, which settles in nicely with Dave Roberts’ plan to use all of his back-end pieces interchangeably in the late frames behind Kimbrel, if Kimbrel can hold on.

*I’m including Garrett Whitlock here in case he doesn’t win a rotation spot, even though I kind of completely expect him to.

Tier Six

Here you’ll find some southpaws who make their way into the conversation in Alex Vesia, Josh Taylor, and Andrew Chafin. It may hold them back from closing consideration, but we’ve unshackled ourselves from that limitation. Free your mind and accept us left-handers into your world.

And while everyone knows the Yankees’ trio of Chapman-Loaisiga-Green, we have to stump for Clay Holmes. The Yanks saw something in Holmes despite a 4.93 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 13.2% walk rate in his fourth year with Pittsburgh. They told him to attack the zone more with his power sinker and his first-strike rate went up four percentage points, his walk rate as a Yankee was only 3.9% over 28 innings! And he didn’t lose whiffs from it, as his K% shot up from 23.3% with PIT to 33% with NYY. I see no reason for him to shed most of these gains.

Tier Seven

Let’s tackle a few more reclamation/comeback stories, shall we? Ken Giles is hitting 95 mph and should be ready for spring action shortly. I’d expect him to be a big part of Seattle’s late-inning committee and recover his above-average whiffs in kind. Update: Giles is shut down with a finger injury, so I've bumped Diego Castillo and Drew Steckenrider up a tad. I’m less sure of Amir Garrett due to his lofty walk rates, but Kauffman Stadium can help with the home run issues compared to Great American Ballpark. Your WHIP may suffer, but hopefully, a high-threes ERA and sizeable strikeouts fall in line as KC’s premier lefty.

Also, I cannot miss a chance to promote Jorge Alcala’s top-tier slider and his posting a 27/3 K/BB with a 1.90 ERA (1.94 FIP) in his final 21 games of 2021.

Tier Eight

So the excitement is starting to wear down and you are starting to decide between SVHLD volume and solid ratios/whiffs. Towards the end of 2021, Seth Lugo said he prefers being a multi-inning fireman after a couple of seasons where injuries have curtailed his usage. If we get back to the 2018-19 Lugo who was pushing 80-plus frames with sub-3.00 ERAs and plenty of holds in the process then we’re cooking. Still only 32 years old, look for Lugo to serve a key role on a hungry Mets squad.

Or just double dip with the frighteningly-deep Braves bullpen through Tyler Matzek. You can run into a problem with these guys all cannibalizing each other for opportunities ahead of Kenley Jansen, but Atlanta is going to win many a ballgame. Don’t feel like stacking is going to bite you in this scenario.

Tier Nine

The intrigue grows the deeper we go, with two names standing out to me in particular. You may still think of A.J. Puk and Dinelson Lamet as starters, but let us recalibrate that. Both Oakland and San Diego are trying to keep them healthy in the bullpen, as the initial 2022 plans mirror the 2021 approach.

While Lamet has at least had some stretches with sustained health, he was bit by the dreaded right forearm tightness last June and only mustered a 19/11 K/BB ratio with a 6.39 ERA (5.06 FIP) in 12.2 IP of relief in September/October upon returning. It wasn’t pretty. But if he can ramp that fastball back up towards 97-98 mph and locate his devastating slider out of the ‘pen, then SD may have a true Weapon X on their hands again. Meanwhile, Puk is stretching out for a chance at a rotation spot but I’m skeptical enough where a later flier here on his being a relief ace instead is worthwhile.

Tier 10+

Let the “if” parade commence. If Julian Merryweather can stay healthy, if Adam Ottavino can consistently locate his breaking pitches, if Drew Pomeranz comes back to vintage form, you get the picture. Another layer of “if” lies in your IL stash capabilities. I try to avoid actively-hurt arms because other injuries will find you, but if you can hold Nick Anderson, Kirby Yates, and Jose Leclerc then you may be paid off handsomely down the stretch. Here's hoping Tommy Kahnle's changeup is still an assassin.



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