Closing Time 6/28: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Wednesday

Just when you thought the Nationals closer situation couldn’t get any worse, GM Mike Rizzo decided to sign Francisco Rodriguez on Monday. It’s laughable to think that he could fix their...

Just when you thought the Nationals closer situation couldn’t get any worse, GM Mike Rizzo decided to sign Francisco Rodriguez on Monday. It’s laughable to think that he could fix their 9th inning problem, as he has been downright terrible this season and has been trending that way for over a year now. He will spend 2 weeks in AAA and while it essentially is a zero risk move, the team has to be willing to deal something of value in their farm system for a legitimate, proven closer outside the organization. As Mike Ehrmentraut might say, “no more half measures“.

TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U

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

2. Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox)—Matt BarnesJoe Kelly

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

  • 30 games and 52 strikeouts later, Kenley Jansen finally walked his first batter of the season. It was an impressive run to say the least, and there’s no reason to think he can’t best that streak the rest of the season. Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman had minor hiccups this past week, but nothing major.

TIER 2: Save Tonight

4. Roberto Osuna (Toronto Blue Jays)—Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes

5. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)—Jacob BarnesCarlos Torres  

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

7. Wade Davis (Chicago Cubs)—Carl Edwards Jr., Koji Uehara

8. Ken Giles (Houston Astros)—Will HarrisChris Devenski

9. Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)—Nick Vincent, Tony Zych

10. Felipe Rivero (Pittsburgh Pirates)—Juan Nicasio, Daniel Hudson  

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

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

13. Kelvin Herrera (Kansas City Royals)—Joakim Soria, Mike Minor

14. Alex Colome (Tampa Bay Rays)—Danny FarquharTommy Hunter

  • Corey Knebel has just been so good all year, whether closing or not, he definitely belongs to be in the top 5 closer discussion. The top 3 closers over the past 30 days (in order) have been Kenley Jansen, Knebel and Roberto Osuna. The best RP over the last 2 months? Corey Knebel. He leads all active closers in K’s despite ranking just 16th in SwStr%, so I don’t expect his 15.53 K/9 number to get any higher. His FIP, xFIP and SIERA numbers all sit in the top 5, further proving Knebel’s dominance is the real thing.
  • Kelvin Herrera finds himself back in tier 2 after back to back solid weeks, earning 5 saves over that span. He has been a bit lucky through that stretch, but still seems to be turning a corner potentially. He hasn’t been missing as many bats over the past few weeks, but has seen a dip in his hard/medium contact %.

TIER 3: Bound for the Floor

15. Mark Melancon (San Francisco Giants)—Hunter Strickland, George Kontos

16. Addison Reed (New York Mets)—Fernando Salas, Paul Sewald

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

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

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

20. Matt Bush (Texas Rangers)—Keone Kela, Jose Leclerc

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

22. A.J. Ramos (Miami Marlins)—Kyle BarracloughDavid Phelps

23. Fernando Rodney (Arizona Diamondbacks)—Archie Bradley, Andrew Chafin

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

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

  • This tier is beginning to flatten out, with none of this options being ideal options going forward, at least until August 1st. The setup options turned closer (Addison Reed, Justin Wilson, Matt Bush) have mostly struggled in their new roles and/or have lacked much opportunity. While closers with promise heading into the season (Mark Melancon, Seung Hwan Oh, AJ Ramos) have struggled to find any consistency. Then there are the 3 veteran’s (David Robertson, Fernando Rodney, Jim Johnson) who go through stretches of borderline dominance, usually to be followed by a nasty rough patch. I still have a hard time buying Brandon Kintzler given the peripherals (bottom 5 in SIERA, bottom 10 in FIP, xFIP), lack of swing and miss stuff (dead last with a horrid 6.7% SwStr %) and the fact his GB% continues to dip. The time to sell high would be now.
  • With Zach Britton scheduled to come of the DL next Wednesday, this should be the last week of Brad Brach on the list. Despite the Orioles recent struggles limiting Brach to only 4 saves over the past month, he pitched very well since Brittons latest DL stint and will go back to being a top set-up man who could still have some standard league value going forward.

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

26. Hector Neris (Philadelphia Phillies)—Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek

27. David Hernandez (Los Angeles Angels)—Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian, Huston Street

28. Santiago Casilla/Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics)—Ryan Madson

29. Brandon Maurer (San Diego Padres)—Brad HandPhil Maton

30. Enny Romero/Matt Albers (Washington Nationals)—Blake Treinen, Joe Blanton

  • Just like with the Nationals situation, the Angels closer debacle continues to be a mysteryThe good news, for Bud Norris owners anyway, is that it seems like Norris will keep his job when he returns from his minor knee injury, which could be as early as the weekend. I’m speculating here, but if the Angels have a rough July and begin to slip away from the AL Wild Card race, it could be wise to sell high and move Norris (signed to a 1 year deal) to a contender at the deadline and work Cam Bedrosian back into the closers role. Anyone desperate for saves should still consider stashing Bedrosian and possibly Huston Street.

Disabled List

Zach Britton (Baltimore Orioles)

Jeurys Familia (New York Mets)

Bud Norris (Los Angeles Angels)

Koda Glover (Washington Nationals)

Nate Jones (Chicago White Sox)

Joe Smith (Toronto Blue Jays)

Glen Perkins (Minnesota Twins

Brad Ziegler (Miami Marlins)

Kevin Siegrist (St. Louis Cardinals)

Shawn Kelley (Washington Nationals)

Carson Smith (Boston Red Sox)

Brad Boxberger (Tampa Bay Rays)

Jake Diekman (Texas Rangers)

Ryan Dull (Oakland Athletics)

Sammy Solis (Washington Nationals)

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.

9 responses to “Closing Time 6/28: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Wednesday”

  1. Ollie says:

    The Phillies have been so bad they don’t even get to be on the list lol

    • Rick Graham says:

      Ha! Probably should have kept them off it, but yea its fixed now. Neris comes in at #26.

      • Ollie says:

        Sounds about right. Unfortunately for me, I’ve got Casilla and Neris in one league. Thankfully the bullpen is anchored by Jansen and Wilson. You feel a bit more confident in Wilson after the past couple nights? I’m guessing his ranking is due more to the lack of opportunities?

        • Rick Graham says:

          Yea he looked good last night and I’d say another solid week or 2 would give me enough confidence to place him back in tier 2. With Shane Greene struggling recently, Wilson should remain the closer for the rest of the year, barring injury.

  2. Josh Bass says:

    Is it worth it to target Doolittle or Neshek hoping that they get traded into closer roles?

    • Rick Graham says:

      I like Doolittle a little bit more, as he should closing in Oakland right now. I don’t see Neshek traded to become another teams closer. I know the Nats are interested but I’d have to think they’d prefer to use him in a setup role, while adding an experienced closer as well.

  3. tiwaniuk says:

    What are your thoughts on Diaz’s recent blow ups in his last two games? Contemplating dropping him for Justin Wilson, as I think that there’s a very reasonable possibility that’s he’s removed from the closer role for good.

    • Rick Graham says:

      Its certainly concerning, but Servais said after the game Diaz would stay in the role going forward. I’d hold on to him for now, but definitely a situation to follow closely.

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