Closing Time 4/19: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Each Week

Another week, and again we have a few changes in the closer community. Zach Britton was placed on the 10-day DL, which seemed inevitable as he really hasn’t looked right....

Another week, and again we have a few changes in the closer community. Zach Britton was placed on the 10-day DL, which seemed inevitable as he really hasn’t looked right. Still, he shouldn’t be out much longer than those 10 days and will be back in that top tier discussion upon returning. The Rangers also finally decided to do something about Sam Dyson, placing him on the 10-day with a “right hand contusion”. It definitely possibly Matt Bush struggles as Dyson’s replacement and Dyson gets a second chance at the role, but I’m not feeling optimistic about that. Dyson can be dropped in most leagues as Bush is more than capable of running with the job. Jeurys Familia makes his debut this week also and should prove to be a steal for most owners at that 120 ADP. The Nationals also seem likely to announce a closer change today, most likely turning from Blake Treinen to Shawn Kelley. But it is Dusty Baker, so who knows, maybe Sammy Solis will get the next 2 save opps.

TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U

1. Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)—Pedro Baez, Sergio Romo

2. Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees)—Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard

3. Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)—Dan Altavilla, Nick Vincent

  • The injury to Zach Britton brings this group down to just 3. Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman have been their typical selves thus far. Jansen’s one bad outing (in a non-save situation at Coors) is nothing to be concerned about and Chapman has been lights out.
  • Edwin Diaz has one bad outing this year. Yes, he let up a HR the other day, but Nomar Mazara is arguably the hottest hitter in baseball through 2 weeks. I’m sticking with him for now in this tier and think he makes for a good buy low candidate potentially, if his owner deems his early struggle(’s) could be permanent.

TIER 2: Save Tonight

4. Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox)—Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree

5. Mark Melancon (San Francisco Giants)—Derek Law, Hunter Strickland

6. Wade Davis (Chicago Cubs)—Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr.

7. Ken Giles (Houston Astros)—Luke Gregerson, Will Harris

8. Jeurys Familia (New York Mets)—Addison Reed, Fernando Salas

9. Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals)—Joakim Soria, Peter Moylan?

10. Cody Allen (Cleveland Indians)—Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw

11. Roberto Osuna (Toronto Blue Jays)—Jason Grilli, Joe Biagini

12. Alex Colome (Tampa Bay Rays)—Danny Farquhar, Tommy Hunter

  • Craig Kimbrel has been one of if not the best closer so far this season. That being said, 6 of his 7 outings have come against Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, 2 offenses that are far from imposing. His lone other outing was against Detroit, where he walked 2 and let up a run. He still has that Braves era stuff and his command has been good outside of that Detroit game, so a top 5 RP season is certainly possible here.
  • Ken Giles finally pitched a clean inning on Monday. The good news here is there still hasn’t been any doubt about his role as the Astros closer, and he continues to pile up K’s.
  • Jeurys Familia makes his return tomorrow, and in finds himself in the top 10 here. I am not worried at all about the Mets talking about easing him into the role, as it’s not like he has been on the DL and hasn’t been able to throw. He should take over all the save opportunities he can handle from Wednesday forward.
  • Roberto Osuna blew his first and so far only save opportunity this past weekend. It was a tough one though, as he wasn’t hit hard and the only hit was an infield single. Still, I see him being more of a top 12-15 option all year as compared to a top 10 reliever.

TIER 3: Bound for the Floor

13. Greg Holland (Colorado Rockies)—Adam Ottavino, Jake McGee

14. A.J. Ramos (Miami Marlins)—Kyle Barraclough, Brad Ziegler

15. Neftali Feliz (Milwaukee Brewers)—Corey Knebel, Jacob Barnes 

16. David Robertson (Chicago White Sox)—Nate Jones, Dan Jennings

17. Matt Bush (Texas Rangers)—Tony Barnette, Jeremy Jeffress 

18. Cam Bedrosian (Los Angeles Angels)—Blake Parker, Yusmeiro Petit

19. Seung Hwan Oh (St. Louis Cardinals)—Trevor Rosenthal, Brett Cecil

20. Fransisco Rodriguez (Detroit Tigers)—Justin WilsonAlex Wilson

21. Tony Watson (Pittsburgh Pirates)—Felipe Rivero, Daniel Hudson

22. Raisel Iglesias (Cincinnati Reds)—Drew Storen, Michael Lorenzen

  • I should probably start being less harsh on David Robertson now. He has not only been almost flawless but he has been insanely consistent in his 5 outings. In all 5 games, he has pitched 1 inning, allowed 0 walks and has struck out 2, allowing only one hit combined. The White Sox have to be loving it, especially with teams like Texas and Washington already having bullpen problems.
  • For some reason, Sam Dyson received another save opportunity the other day before finally being placed on the DL with a phantom injury. I’ll give props to the Rangers however, for making the right decision on who his replacement will be, as some teams seem to believe closer experience is more important than overall talent (looking at you Phillies). I have high hopes for Matt Bush, and I think the injury that sidelined him for a few days is not anything to worry about at all as he was touching 98 on Sunday. He should keep the job for the rest of the season as long as he can handle it mentally.
  • At least Seung Hwan Oh probably still has his closer job, right? Oh has definitely been one of if not the biggest disappointment among all closers, having only two appearances so far where he hasn’t allowed a run. The second being last night where he somehow allowed 3 hits but pitched his way out of it to get a save. He has only struck out 2 batters so far too, both coming on opening night age against the Cubs where he worked 1.2 innings. Trevor Rosenthal may get another shot at the 9th inning soon.
  • I’m not a fan at all of how the Reds are using Raisel Iglesias, but I do really like Iglesias as a pitcher so I am moving him up a tier in the hopes the Red’s can go back to a more conventional approach here. Saturdays game for instance, why not use Michael Lorenzen in the 5th and 6th innings, and Iglesias in the 9th (maybe even the 8th too). It really is a strange way to use your favorite closing option and I don’t see it working out all to well in the long run. Just pitch him in the 8th and 9th innings only, please Price? Either way, Iglesias could very well lead all “closers” in IP, so that could lead to great value in other categories outside of saves.

TIER 4: Better Days (and the Bottom and Out)

23. Jim Johnson (Atlanta Braves)—Arodys Vizcaino, Ian Krol

24. Brad Brach (Baltimore Orioles)—Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens

25. Brandon Kintzler (Minnesota Twins)—Ryan Pressly, Matt Belisle

26. Fernando Rodney (Arizona Diamondbacks)—Archie Bradley, Tom Wilhelmsen

27. Joaquin Benoit (Philadelphia Phillies)—Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos

28. Shawn Kelley (Washington Nationals)—Koda GloverBlake Treinen

29. Brandon Maurer (San Diego Padres)—Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter

30. Santiago Casilla/Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics)—Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull

  • Brad Brach will split closer duties with Darren O’Day while Zach Britton is out for 2 weeks or so, and should have some value during that span, at least more than O’Day. Brach should get the majority of chances but is hardly a must add.
  • Joaquin Benoit blew a save in epic fashion over the weekend, allowing a 3 run HR to Bryce Harper on a 3-2 count with 2 outs and a 2 run lead. Bryce Harper hitting a HR against someone is hardly reason for concern, but Benoit is just so blah on a blah team. Give me Hector Neris in the 9th inning soon Pete Mackanin/Andy MacPhail/Matt Klentak, please and thank you.
  • Blake Treinen, along with much of the Nationals bullpen, has struggled early on and I just get the feeling the Nationals closing situation will be a full-blown nightmare all season long, with 3-4 guys (maybe more) moving in and out of the role. Treinen went on to load the bases last night in a save chance, only to be bailed out by Shawn Kelley. Dusty said after the game that “this isn’t working” in regards to their closer situation, so I’ll assume that means Kelley is the closer, for now. Kelley is probably the best reliever on the roster right now, but I’ve just about given up hope on the whole situation.
  • In other comical bullpen related news, the A’s new closer timeshare is already off to a rough start. Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla combined to allow 4 ER’s on Saturday in blowing a 3 run lead heading into the 7th inning. They were both better last night with Doolittle picking up a hold and Casilla a save, but this situation is still best to avoid in all but the deepest of leagues.

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.

5 responses to “Closing Time 4/19: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Each Week”

  1. DEAN WHITE says:

    Hope you’re right on Giles, but I’m wondering what you think of the fact that he was brought in in the 8th the other day, with what’s-his-name coming in for the ninth. Houston ended up scoring so it wasn’t a save any more, but nonetheless that game, which preceded his last save, indicated a potential change. Any thoughts?

    • Rick Graham says:

      I would have been more worried had he not received that last save chance. He probably doesn’t have as much wiggle room anymore and needs to be nails for the next few weeks or so.

  2. Quick says:

    Worth holding onto Joe Jimenez? Not sure how long it’ll take to be called back up

    • Rick Graham says:

      Depends on how deep your league is. I’d still prefer Neris, N Jones, Glover, Rosenthal, Capps and maybe Jeffress as stashes over him. It’s no guarantee Jimenez gets a shot to close this year, and if he does, it probably won’t happen till the second half of the season.

  3. Fallakin says:

    The story with the Reds isn’t about having a set closer, it’s about using your best available option in the highest leverage situation. There is a pretty good article on it over at FanGraphs (…

    That said, it’s an interesting and non-conventional approach that has been working out pretty well for them thus far.

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