Is Henry Rodriguez emerging as the closer in Washington? Where do John Axford’s struggles leave him on the rankings? Is Jim Johnson entrenching himself as a must use option? Let’s take a look at how all 30 closers currently stack up (last week’s ranking is in parenthesis):
- Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves (1)
- Jonathon Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies (2)
- Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees (3)
- J.J. Putz – Arizona Diamondbacks (4)
- Jason Motte – St. Louis Cardinals (6)
- Rafael Betancourt – Colorado Rockies (8)
- Jose Valverde – Detroit Tigers (7)
- John Axford – Milwaukee Brewers (5)
- Heath Bell – Miami Marlins (9)
- Huston Street – San Diego Padres (12)
- Joel Hanrahan – Pittsburgh Pirates (13)
- Sean Marshall – Cincinnati Reds (14)
- Javy Guerra – Los Angeles Dodgers (15)
- Jim Johnson – Baltimore Orioles (19)
- Jordan Walden – Los Angeles Angels (10)
- Joe Nathan – Texas Rangers (17)
- Chris Perez – Cleveland Indians (22)
- Hector Santiago – Chicago White Sox (20)
- Brandon League – Seattle Mariners (18)
- Frank Francisco – New York Mets (16)
- Fernando Rodney – Tampa Bay Rays (23)
- Grant Balfour – Oakland Athletics (24)
- Carlos Marmol – Chicago Cubs (21)
- Brett Myers – Houston Astros (25)
- Matt Capps – Minnesota Twins (26)
- Jonathon Broxton – Kansas City Royals (28)
- Henry Rodriguez/Brad Lidge – Washington Nationals (30)
- Francisco Cordero – Toronto Blue Jays (NR)
- Santiago Casilla – San Francisco Giants (27)
- Alfredo Aceves – Boston Red Sox (29)
Closers currently on the DL: Sergio Santos, Drew Santos, Kyle Farnsworth
Closers out for the year: Brian Wilson, Ryan Madson, Joakim Soria
- It will be interesting to see if the Giants fully turn things over to Santiago Casilla or not, but that currently doesn’t appear to be the case (he has three straight appearances without a save, including being pulled after facing just one batter). He’s still the reliever to own, but until he fully entrenches himself in the role he has to be considered one of the lower level options in the league.
- Jim Johnson simply continues to impress and is quickly establishing himself as a solid CL2 in all formats. He has yet to allow a run in 7.2 innings of work, though you can certainly point to his control as a major concern (4 walks). That has never been an issue for him in the past (2.88 BB/9 over 268.2 innings), so I would anticipate him correcting that issue. He isn’t going to remain perfect, especially pitching in the AL East, but at this point he is a borderline Top 15 option. That said, now may be the perfect time to sell high on him if you can.
- John Axford almost felt like he is on the verge of a complete collapse, didn’t he? He at least now has gone four straight outings without issuing a walk, though he also failed to strikeout a batter in three of those four appearances. He also took a loss against the Dodgers on April 20, allowing 1 ER on 3 H. With a 5.40 ERA and 1.95 WHIP, there are plenty of reasons to be worried. I wouldn’t send him spiraling yet, thanks to his upside, but another poor week and he’s going to quickly fall out of the Top 10 (and potentially further). That said, his back-to-back saves in recent days have helped to ease some concerns.
- While Joel Hanrahan missed time this week due to a hamstring injury, he is back on the field so the issue appears to be behind him. You are going to want to keep a close eye on him, just in case, but for now he should maintain his spot on the rankings.
- Huston Street has been pitching well, he just hasn’t been given the opportunity to earn saves. They should come, in time, so don’t downgrade him based on that number alone. With solid peripherals, he should continue to help your team.
- If Henry Rodriguez had the job all alone he would be a Top 20 option, easy. While he continues to share closing duties with Brad Lidge, it appears like we are at least heading in that direction. With that said, the “duo” moves up a few spots, though the ranking is more geared towards Rodriguez. He is the reliever to own in Washington as we wait for Drew Storen.