Closing Time 4/20: Ranking the Top 30 Closers every Tuesday

Rick Graham ranks baseball's closers for the 2021 season.

Jake McGee and Mark Melancon currently have two more saves than the top six closers on this list combined. While the aforementioned duo have six saves apiece, none of the top six on the list here have more than two saves at the moment. This year is a marathon, not a sprint to the finish like last year so these save chances will eventually start to even out. It’s probably not the start you were looking for when you invested an early pick on them, but with it just now being the start of week 3, we have to be patient. And you know this, but I felt like reiterating it because I need to hear it too sometimes this early in the season.




  • Entering the season, I think we were all expecting a bunch of closer timeshares/committees and so far it seems like that is not the case. The Rays have treated Diego Castillo as their closer all season…except for Sunday where he worked the 7th and 8th before Jeffrey Springs earned the save. Castillo has still been dominant this season and will get the bulk of the save opportunities. The team desperately needs to get Pete Fairbanks back or find some reliever to work in front of him, however.
  • Rostering Héctor Neris is typically not for the faint of heart, but so far this season there hasn’t been a whole lot to complain about. The issue right now is his velocity being down, which you could say the same thing about Castillo about as well so why did they switch places? Castillo can still live in the mid 90’s with his slider just fine, while Neris in the low 90’s hasn’t been able to get the same amount of whiffs as he used to. It’ll likely be a bumpy ride, but don’t go giving up on Neris just yet.


  • After using his curveball almost 50% of the time the past two season, I love to see Matt Barnes really attack hitters with his fastball at a higher clip this year and the results have followed suit. Throwing his fastball 65% of the time, Barnes has been able to live up in the zone with the pitch and get ahead of hitters and getting hitters to then chase that curveball down and out of the zone. It’s the perfect recipe for success for Barnes and it’s encouraging to see him make this change this season.
  • Lou Trivino will be the Athletics closer for the foreseeable future, which gives him more value than a lot of the names in the back half of this list. The A’s are playing well as of late and Trivino and his three fastballs are a big reason why. That three fastball mix however has induced a paltry 15.4% Whiff rate, a number that really needs to improve and should based off past seasons.


  • As well as he’s pitched so far, I’m still not sold on Yimi García being the closer for the Marlins the rest of the season. He misses too often in the middle of the zone and winds up allowing a ton of hard contact as a result. His off-speed stuff is just very vanilla as well and fails to garner the number of whiffs you’d like to see from a closer. It’s worth riding him while he’s pitching well, just be aware of the impending regression that could hit at any time.
  • Although nothing has been announced or set in stone, I think there may have been a change at the closer position in Cincinnati. I’m still sticking with Amir Garrett this week, but it could be the last week after Lucas Sims picked up the team’s last save and in their last outing, pitched the 9th with Garrett in for the 8th. Unless a team has two or three lefties due up in the 9th inning, I think Sims makes the most sense as the Reds closer. Both should be rostered in standard leagues until we get some more clarity on the situation.


  • Tier 5 is the old-timers club plus Gregory Soto, who seems locked into the only closer committee going right now as his usage has been all over the place. Soto has yet to earn a save since Opening Day as Bryan Garcia still continues to see save chances. I don’t want any part of Garcia, but I still have some hope for Soto moving forward. Rafael Dolis will be the Blue Jays closer this week and possibly this week only but is still worth a speculative add in most formats.
  • Also in this tier, to my surprise when I woke up, is Rafael Montero who picked up the save against the Dodgers last night, not Kendall Graveman. Montero was awfully shaky though, walking a batter and hitting Mookie Betts before getting Corey Seager to ground into an inning-ending double play. On the other hand, Graveman worked 1.2 innings allowing zero hits or walks and striking out two. Gravemans clearly the best reliever in that bullpen, but he may just be the team’s fireman, given his ability to pitch multiple innings.



Rank Pitcher Change
1Edwin DíazT1-
2Liam Hendriks-
3Aroldis Chapman-
4Josh Hader-
5Raisel Iglesias
6Ryan Pressly-
7Kenley Jansen-
8Brad Hand-
9Will Smith+1
10Craig Kimbrel+1
11Diego Castillo
12Héctor Neris-3
13Mark Melancon-
14Emmanuel Clase-
15Matt Barnes+3
16Jake McGee-
17Alex Reyes-
18Lou Trivino
19Richard Rodríguez+1
20Daniel Bard+1
21Yimi García+4
22Alex Colomé+1
24Ian Kennedy
25César Valdez+2
27Rafael Dolis+UR
28Gregory Soto-4
29Rafael Montero-7
30Stefan Crichton-


Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Rick Graham

Rick resides in the Boston area and has experience as a player and coach at the collegiate level. He has been covering relievers for Pitcher List since 2017.

One response to “Closing Time 4/20: Ranking the Top 30 Closers every Tuesday”

  1. ArmadilloFury says:

    You could make a case for Clase in T2. He’s like a perfect high leverage reliever designed in a lab. Throws 100 mph -check, gets whiffs – check, doesn’t walk guys – check, gets groundballs – check.

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