Closer Rankings (May 31, 2012): Nathan Back As Elite Option, Chapman Top 5 & More

Aroldis Chapman has emerged as one of the top closers in the league.  Heath Bell continues to give fantasy owners fits.  Unsurprisingly Rafael Dolis and Brandon League have lost their respective jobs.  Let’s see how these stories and all the rest impact our closer rankings:

  1. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves (1)
  2. Jonathon Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies (2)
  3. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds (9)
  4. Joe Nathan – Texas Rangers (4)
  5. Jim Johnson – Baltimore Orioles (3)
  6. Joel Hanrahan – Pittsburgh Pirates (5)
  7. John Axford – Milwaukee Brewers (6)
  8. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers (7)
  9. Santiago Casilla – San Francisco Giants (11)
  10. Chris Perez – Cleveland Indians (14)
  11. Rafael Betancourt – Colorado Rockies (10)
  12. Fernando Rodney – Tampa Bay Rays (12)
  13. Jason Motte – St. Louis Cardinals (8)
  14. Brett Myers – Houston Astros (13)
  15. Jonathon Broxton – Kansas City Royals (15)
  16. Frank Francisco – New York Mets (21)
  17. Jose Valverde – Detroit Tigers (20)
  18. J.J. Putz – Arizona Diamondbacks (16)
  19. Rafael Soriano – New York Yankees (22)
  20. Addison Reed – Chicago White Sox (18)
  21. Heath Bell – Miami Marlins (17)
  22. Matt Capps – Minnesota Twins (19)
  23. Tyler Clippard – Washington Nationals (NR)
  24. Scott Downs – Los Angeles Angels (23)
  25. Dale Thayer– San Diego Padres (24)
  26. Tom Wilhelmsen – Seattle Mariners (NR)
  27. Alfredo Aceves – Boston Red Sox (25)
  28. Casey Janssen – Toronto Blue Jays (26)
  29. James Russell – Chicago Cubs (NR)
  30. Brian Fuentes – Oakland Athletics (28)

Closers currently on the DL: Sergio Santos, Drew Stanton, Kyle Farnsworth, Huston Street, David Robertson
Closers out for the year: Brian Wilson, Ryan Madson, Joakim Soria, Mariano Rivera
Closers Removed Over The Past Week: Rafael Dolis, Brandon League


  • Joe Nathan hasn’t just been good as of late, he’s been absolutely dominant.  He allowed 1 hit in his appearance on 5/29, the first time he has allowed a hit or walk since May 13.  In his past 7 appearances he’s allowed 0 ER on 1 H and 0 BB, striking out 10, over 7 innings (notching 4 saves).  He certainly is looking like the Nathan of old, doesn’t he?
  • It has become clear that pitching as the closer has not affected Arolodis Chapman in the least.  In his last 4 outings he has 1 W, 3 SV and 6 K while allowing 0 H and 1 BB.  On the season he has a 0.00 ERA, 0.58 WHIP and 44 K over 26.0 IP.  He could ultimately be the #1 option before long.
  • I had my concerns about Chris Perez entering the season, but right now he is looking like one of the elite closers in the game.  In his past 7 appearances he hasn’t allowed a run, striking out 10 and saving 6 games.  With a 2.66 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 17 saves it is hard not to like him, isn’t it?
  • Who is the closer in Los Angeles?  Is it Scott Downs?  Is it Ernesto Frieri?  Is there a committee?  For now we’re sticking with Downs on the rankings, but stashing Frieri would definitely be a smart move.
  • Heath Bell has picked up saves in three straight appearances, but how many chances is he going to get to blow up only to be handed the job back (he was pulled from back-to-back save chances just days earlier)?  Until he can produce for a long stretch, he has to be held down on these rankings.
  • All we know in Seattle is that Brandon League is out.  While they have yet to get a save opportunity so we can actually see who is going to close, my money is on Tom Wilhelmsen.  Given the way some closers in the league have pitched, he’s got a good chance of being a CL2 almost immediately with his strikeout ability.

Make sure to check out all of our recent rankings:


  1. Tuco says:

    Should I keep holding League? Is he likely to regain the closer role in the near future?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I definitely could see him getting the job back before long. It’s not like the Mariners are handing the job to a surefire replacement, so if Wilhelmsen struggles, League definitely could walk right back into the role once he gets right.

      • joeyt says:

        how do you rank Wilhelmsen above Aceves? Aceves had a couple shaky outings last week, other than that the guy has been nails since his early season debacle vs the yanks.

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          That’s a very fair gripe. I’m not going to say that I love Aceves and, as you said, he was shaky in the past week.

          We do need to see what Wilhelmsen can still do in the role, so flipping those two is fair. At the same time, I wouldn’t consider either more than a CL3 as their overall numbers (outside of the saves) are close.

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