Closing Time Pre-Opening Day Edition: Ranking All MLB Closers Every Week

Closing time baby. One final rundown of closers and speculative saves before the season starts. Tiers 1-3 are safe and sexy, arms in tier 4 are locks for saves but...

Closing time baby. One final rundown of closers and speculative saves before the season starts. Tiers 1-3 are safe and sexy, arms in tier 4 are locks for saves but contain some flaws, tier 5 is ugly but saves don’t have a face, and tier 6 is speculative.

It’s a big season ahead of us, and check back on Thursdays for adjusted closer rankings through the year. 

Tier 1

1A. Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)

1B. Wade Davis (Kansas City Royals)

3. Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox)

Tier 2

4. Jeurys Familia (New York Mets)

5. Zach Britton (Baltimore Orioles)

6. Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees)

7. Mark Melancon (Pittsburgh Pirates)

8. David Robertson (Chicago White Sox)

9. Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis Cardinals)

Tier 3

The Astros haven’t declared a closer yet and after a rough Spring Giles is no longer a lock. Seems silly to overvalue ST but Gregerson has proven he can get it done and reliever value hinges more on opportunity than skill. Giles is tier 2 once he is officially handed the 9th. Osuna gets the nod in Toronto and has tier 2 upside. 

10. Cody Allen (Cleveland Indians)

11. Hector Rondon (Chicago Cubs)

12. Ken Giles (Houston Astros)

13. Roberto Osuna (Toronto Blue Jays)

14. A.J. Ramos (Miami Marlins)

15. Francisco Rodriguez (Detroit Tigers)

16. Huston Street (Los Angeles Angels)

17. Jonathan Papelbon (Washington Nationals)

Tier 4

Zero faith in Grilli but Vizcaino might not get the job until Grilli is shipped out of town. I actually trust Ziegs but the low strikeouts are a bummer. Can’t shake the feeling that Perkins is half broken and another physical meltdown is coming. McGee still hasn’t gotten the job but it is almost certainly his, however pitching half your games in Colorado is brutal. Already rumblings Texas might spread it around a bit in the 9th. Doolittle has injury risk. I’m worried old man Casilla slows down and he has Strickland/Romo breathing down his neck. Jeffress and Hoover may find their way into tier 3 relatively soon. Colome is the heavy favorite to get saves while Boxberger is out, his numbers out of the pen last season were truly dominant but he has to do serious work to keep the job all season. 

18. Arodys Vizcaino (Atlanta Braves)

19. Brad Ziegler (Arizona Diamondbacks)

20. Glen Perkins (Minnesota Twins)

21. Jake McGee (Colorado Rockies)

22. Shawn Tolleson (Texas Rangers)

23. Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics)

24. Jeremy Jeffress (Milwaukee Brewers)

25. J.J. Hoover (Cincinnati Reds)

26. Santiago Casilla (San Francisco Giants)

27. Alex Colome (Tampa Bay Rays)

Tier 5

Gregerson has tier 3 skill but Giles is the heavy favorite. Andrew Miller/Betances are undeniably valuable in roto leagues with IP limits, but after Miller’s chipped non-pitching wrist it is tough to say who will close until Aroldis is back, and even if you guess right (and pay for both) you’re only getting potential saves out of 30 games. Not that exciting if you are just chasing saves. 

28. Steve Cishek (Seattle Mariners)

29. Fernando Rodney (San Diego Padres)

30. David Hernandez,  Dalier Hinojosa (Philadelphia Phillies)

31. Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)

32. Luke Gregerson (Houston Astros)

33. Jason Grilli (Atlanta Braves)

Tier 6 – Speculative Saves

Jepsen and Madson are vultures waiting for Perkins and Doolittle to get hurt. Strickland and Kela are two of my favorite stashes although Romo and Dyson could also be considered if Casilla and Tolleson crap out. Betting on Cishek losing the job eventually, Benoit is old reliable and Zych is the sexy option after an insane Spring. Quack is likely the guy if/when Rodney falls apart. Could see Geltz get some opps while Boxberger is out. Osuna is a superstud but youngins do have a shorter leash so Storen might get the call up if Roberto hits a rough patch. Knebel is more of a wait and see at this point but he has been called the closer of the future so a terrible Milwaukee may give him a shot down the home stretch.  

34. Kevin Jepsen (Minnesota Twins

35. Hunter Strickland (San Francisco Giants)

36. Keone Kela (Texas Rangers)

37. Ryan Madson (Oakland Athletics)

38/39. Tony Zych/Joaquin Benoit (Seattle Mariners)

40. Kevin Quackenbush (San Diego Padres)

41. Drew Storen (Toronto Blue Jays)

42. Steve Geltz (Tampa Bay Rays)

43. Corey Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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