Closing Time 5/24: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Wednesday

For the first time all season, we have no new names on Closing Time, which is crazy considering we are almost 2 months into the season. With injuries up roughly...

For the first time all season, we have no new names on Closing Time, which is crazy considering we are almost 2 months into the season. With injuries up roughly 50% this year, it’s been rough finding consistency, especially in the pitching department. These should be the same names week in and week out for a while, outside of the absence of Edwin Diaz, who I’d expect to be back in the closers role by the end of the week or early next week at the latest.

TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U

1. Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)—Pedro Baez, Josh Fields

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

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

4. Wade Davis (Chicago Cubs)—Hector Rondon, Carl Edwards Jr.

  • Two new addition to the tier, as both Greg Holland and Wade Davis have really pulled away from the rest of the crowd. Holland is on pace for an insane amount of saves this season and at this point shows no signs of slowing down. His 16.7% SwStr rate is 5th among active closers, while his GB% (52.8%) ranks 3rd. As long as he can remain durable all season, which is questionable, there’s nothing that indicates he will hit any rough patches anytime soon.
  • Wade Davis’s numbers seem to indicate he probably will cool off at some point. He is letting up a lot of fly balls, while franking only in the middle of the pack in SwStr%. Ride him while he’s hot, or maybe it’s better to sell high on him.

TIER 2: Save Tonight

5. Ken Giles (Houston Astros)—Chris DevenskiWill Harris, Luke Gregerson

6. Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)—Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren

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

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

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

10. Roberto Osuna (Toronto Blue Jays)—Joe Smith, Jason Grilli  

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

12. Alex Colome (Tampa Bay Rays)—Danny FarquharJumbo Diaz

13. Justin Wilson (Detroit Tigers)—Alex Wilson, Shane Green

14. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)—Jacob BarnesNeftali Feliz 

15. Addison Reed (New York Mets)—Hansel Robles, Fernando Salas

  • I’m buying on Justin Wilson and Corey Knebel being top 15 closers for the rest of the season. Wilson ranks in the top 10 among closers in FIP and SwStr%, while his 1.86 xFIP trails only Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel. His K/BB is very nice at 6 also. Oh, and his 1.46 SIERA (ranked 3rd), ain’t too shabby either.
  • Corey Knebel is in a similar position, with a better FIP but he’s not missing bats at the same rate. However, he (and Wilson as well) both rank in the top 10 for fastball velocity here, which might not mean anything, outside of the fact both guys clearly posses plus stuff potential. I don’t see either team using another closer this season, unless an injury occurs.

TIER 3: Bound for the Floor

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

17. Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals)—Joakim SoriaMatt Strahm

18. Jim Johnson (Atlanta Braves)—Arodys Vizcaino, Jose Ramirez  

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

20. David Robertson (Chicago White Sox)—Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak

21. Koda Glover (Washington Nationals)— Matt Albers, Shawn Kelley 

22. Brandon Kintzler (Minnesota Twins)—Taylor Rogers, Matt Belisle 

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

24. Bud Norris (Los Angeles Angels)—Blake Parker, David Hernandez 

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

26. Tony Watson (Pittsburgh Pirates)—Felipe Rivero, Juan Nicasio 

  • Jim Johnson has sneakily put together a very solid year so far. He’s getting ground balls at the highest rate (57.1%), which is very important given he ranks 27th in SwStr%. The fact that he’s not allowing free passes also give’s him a nice edge. As long as he is keeping the ball out of the air and the Braves continue to stay in ballgames, he should be a solid RP 2 all season.
  • Koda Glover is now finally, officially in the closers seat in Washington although for how long remains to be seen. It sounds like they will roll with him and while there isn’t really any crazy upside here, he should see plenty of save opportunities for a dominant Nationals team.

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

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

28. Fernando Rodney (Arizona Diamondbacks)—JJ Hoover, Archie Bradley

29. Santiago Casilla (Oakland Athletics)—Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull  

30. Maybe James Pazos? (Seattle Mariners)

  • Brandon Maurer once again is an interesting case to look at. His xFIP ranks him 5th among all closers, so it’s safe to say his 6+ ERA isn’t exactly fair. He’s also got decent numbers across the board, unfortunately for him though, the Padres won’t be in a position to win too many games this season.
  • Once again, as far as the Mariners situation goes, Edwin Diaz is the only name worth owning. It sounds like he could very much be back in the 9th inning as soon as this weekend, but the more realistic estimate would be early next week. I still have him as a top 15 option the rest of the way.

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.

2 responses to “Closing Time 5/24: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Wednesday”

  1. Joe says:

    How is S.H. Oh panning out? Do you foresee him to climb back into the top 10-15 closers here? Also, what do you think the chances are that D. Robertson gets traded this season, and how could that impact his value as closer? Thanks!

    • Rick Graham says:

      Oh is starting to concern me, especially with how well Rosenthal has pitched. Durability concerns with Rosenthal give Oh hope to keep the job but it’s a tricky situation.

      Robertson will get a boost if he gets moved to a team like the Nationals, which is certainly possible, but I wouldn’t consider it probable. There should be plenty of good relievers available at the deadline this year, so a team like Washington should have some options to choose from.

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