Closing Time 5/8: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Tuesday

Rick Graham's weekly Closers update is live for 5/8, ranking all 30 closer situations.

[closing_time list_id=”19257″ season=”2018″ include_stats=”1″]


With Corey Knebel progressing well in his rehab and due to return this week, it will likely mark the end of Josh Hader closing out games this year. He may get occasional save when Knebel needs a break, but for now he should be treated similarly to Andrew Miller from years past. He’s still very much a useful asset in most leagues so don’t think you need to drop him with Knebel back. For those who had picked up Jeremy Jeffress for the time being, he can safely be dropped in leagues that don’t count holds. And for those waiting to get Knebel back, I expect him to eventually pick up where he left off last season.

  • Bud Norris was just given back his role as the Cardinals closer, but he just can’t seem to stay healthy. Granted, it’s just been some soreness that has kept him out a few games, but tricep tightness is never something you want to see from a pitcher, as it can be a precursor for a serious elbow problem. Despite Holland pitching well this year, the injury concerns and the fact that Greg Holland is still likely to get another chance to close make it hard to place Norris any higher.
  • Keynan Middleton should also return this week and luckily for him, no one on the Angels has been able to successfully close out a game. Both Cam Bedrosian and Jim Johnson have failed, so Mike Scioscia has no chance but to roll with Middleton in the 9th once he returns. I’m a little surprised that Blake Parker is still in the doghouse (he’s been better the past 2 weeks), but that could change as soon as tonight for all we know. Either way, the job is Middletons when he returns, which hopefully is early in the week, but elbow injuries are never a good thing so they could play it safe and hold him out until the weekend.
  • Also on the injury front, both Hunter Strickland and Darren O’Day are filling in for their respective team’s closers, both of which may return within a month. Strickland has filled in admirably for Mark Melancon and remains the better man to own right now despite Melancon’s expected return date to come earlier. Zach Britton’s rehab has gone smoothly so far and while he probably won’t be ready by the start of June, it’s seeming more and more likely he’ll be back sometime in the middle of the month. Despite the Orioles being arguably the worse team in baseball right now, Britton can make a difference for fantasy owners and will be worth adding as a top 12-15 closing option.

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.

23 responses to “Closing Time 5/8: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Tuesday”

  1. Oister says:

    Hi Rick, nice stuff! Any words about the Giles situation? Agree that he deserves -11 in the list, but do you spect him to stick with the closer job? If so where could he rank in the list? Thanks!

    • Rick Graham says:

      He should see the next save chance as he has yet to blow a save and really has just the one letdown. He hasn’t pitched in a week though and after the whole punching himself incident, it’s tough to tell where the team stands with him.

  2. AC says:

    Given the Orioles’ overall performance, how likely is it that Britton, once healthy, gets a chance to re-establish himself for 4-6 weeks and then gets dealt to a contender? And if so, which contenders could you see making the deal to bring him in as a closer, vs. as a set-up?

    • Rick Graham says:

      Definitely can see them selling Britton. The Dodgers, Astros, Cubs and Angels are teams I could see being in the mix. At least two of those teams he could still potential close for.

  3. Justin Nichols says:

    Guess you’ll be moving Osuna down…

    • Rick Graham says:

      Or off completely. This is different than the Chapman and Familia caes since those two incidents happened early in the offseason so I’m not exactly sure how the Jays or MLB will handle this. It’s still probably safe to assume he won’t pitch for a while.

  4. Pat Flynn says:

    Which Blue Jay to pick up?

    • Rick Graham says:

      Likely going to see a committee. I’d say Tepera and Oh are 1a/1b to start. Clippard could be in the mix too and we may even see John Axford get a shot.

  5. Nick says:

    Hey what are your thought on Osuna being placed on Administrative leave due to the assault allegations against him?

  6. Alex says:

    Osuna droppable in H2H 8-team redraft league?

  7. Aayushd says:

    once Britton comes back, which tier will he be in? Also, do you expect his injury to cause some regression?

  8. Brent Covington says:

    Love your column. It was so much fun watching Hader rise up the ranks. Alas not everything lasts forever. I was able to pick up Knebel last night and move Hader for Nelson Cruz. Keep up the great work.

  9. John says:

    Hi! I got myself in a situation where my only closer is Wade Davis. I’ve been trying to either trade him straight up or package him for an upgraded SP or position player. Having a hard time gauging his value though when comparing to a SP. What would be a good range of SP to target in a one-for-one deal? I’m in a 10 team h2h league with wins. Thanks for your awesome insight every day!

  10. Play Ball says:

    Has Jansen’s velo picked up lately? Also, why do you have him ranked as high considering his performance to date? Do you see improvement coming his way?

    • Rick Graham says:

      It has, but it is still a tick lower than the norm for him. He’s still been able to figure out how to pitch without it and has been much better as of late.

      • Play Ball says:

        I’m considering a deal to acquire him, because I’m concerned about Knebel fully regaining his closer duties. Knebel was really shaky prior to the injury and his first appearance back he serves up another HR. Your prognosis of Jansen ROS for a standard season-long roto (SV/ERA/WHIP/K) compared to Knebel?

        • Rick Graham says:

          I have more faith in Kenley in all of those categories, so if you can swing a deal for him using Knebel I’d go for it.

  11. Willy says:

    It was Clippard last night

  12. Play Ball says:

    I just did a deal for Jansen. My closers are now Jansen, Vasquez, Allen, Doolittle and Knebel. I will be dealing one along with a SP for a top tier SP. For ROS production in a standard, season-long roto league (SV/K/ERA/WHIP) in what order would you keep these five? Same as your current rankings?

  13. Play Ball says:

    Brooks shows Jansen’s velocity in March as 89.83, April 92.57 and May 93.52 on his cutter…same velocity as most of last year now. Not familiar with Brooks stats or how accurate they are. What say you? If it’s accurate, are we looking at the Jansen we’re used to seeing or something less? I have a deal in place if I want it…my Jansen and Corbin for Strasburg. I currently have Jansen, Rivero, Allen, Knebel and Doolittle as my closers. My SP are Kluber, Sev, Thor, Bauer, Pax, Corbin. Do the deal?

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