2014 Rankings: Top 15 Closers

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know the strategy of “don’t draft a closer early”, right?  If that’s right or wrong is a conversation for another day (though it isn’t necessarily recommended), but that doesn’t matter today.  Right now let’s take a look at who the best options are for the 2014 season:

  1. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
  2. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
  4. Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox
  5. Joe Nathan – Detroit Tigers
  6. Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals
  7. Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
  8. Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins
  9. Sergio Romo – San Francisco Giants
  10. Addison Reed – Arizona Diamondbacks
  11. David Robertson – New York Yankees
  12. Steve Cishek – Miami Marlins
  13. Casey Janssen – Toronto Blue Jays
  14. Danny Farquhar – Seattle Mariners
  15. Jim Johnson – Oakland Athletics

Thoughts:

  • Right now we are working under the assumption that David Robertson and Danny Farquhar will operate as their respective team’s closer, and they certainly have the ability to thrive in the role.  However, there have been rumblings tying the Yankees and Mariners to free agent closers so their roles should be considered uncertain.  Time will tell, but for now both are viable options until something changes.
  • There’s no questioning that Craig Kimbrel opens the year as the elite closer in the game, but would it be surprising if either Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman outperform him this season?  The three of them are elite and the clear top tier in the league.
  • Koji Uehara has long been among the best relievers, featuring strikeouts (10.45 K/9) and control (1.20 BB/9).  Can anyone realistically replicate a 1.09 ERA and 0.57 WHIP?  A regressed Uehara should still be among the best in the league, but make no mistake that he’s likely going to regress.
  • The Marlins’ Steve Cishek rarely gets respect, but he’s proven capable of generating strikeouts (9.56 K/9 in ’13) and groundballs (53.1% in ’13).  The question was the control, but he posted a 2.84 BB/9 in ’13.  For most of his time in the minors he worked as a starter so maybe there was an adjustment period, but if he’s solved the problem (2.81 in the first half, 2.89 in the second) he should be a CL1.
  • Trevor Rosenthal has a 12.90 K/9 and 2.39 BB/9 in 2013 with a fastball averaging 97.3 mph.  What else do we really need to know?

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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings:

5 comments

  1. Ben says:

    What are your thoughts on trying to lock up 2 elite closers? I feel like closers are becoming a new bread (era under/around 2.00 and 100ks) and there could be 5-6 of those this year! Getting two of them really gives your team quite an advantage, and hopefully piece of mind of not having to chase saves all year.

    This question ties into a keeper dileama I have and just cant make up my mind.
    12 team league-keep 3 pitchers-lose 1 rd from where drafted previous year.
    currently keeping: david price in 16th, greg holland in 19th.
    who to keep as my 3rd?: kenley jansen in 10th, trevor rosenthal in 15th, matt moore in 11th, or andrew cashner in 15th.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      If the value is right, I definitely am not against locking up two closers in your scenario. I definitely wouldn’t pick Matt Moore, so for me it comes to one of the closers or Cashner.

      That could really go either way, as Cashner is just as good of a value (I have him ranked ahead of Rosenthal, so I’d take him over Trevor). Obviously Jansen gives you a bit of an advantage, and Cashner is a bit of a risk, but the 5 round difference is huge.

  2. Nick says:

    Closers are so unpredictable and LA is a BIG time stage. I personally have trouble putting this much stock in the youngster Jansen – even with his fantastic numbers from last year. In fact I was able to trade Jansen based on his “super hype” for 3 young guns (Salazar CLE, Bradley SEA, & Martinez STL) in my keeper league. I then promptly traded Skaggs LAA and got “THE BEARD.” Los Angeles is “showtime” and the Beard is the show. If Jansen begins to falter early with the world watching and the Beard does get the job he will not let it go. I further feel worst case scenario for me is Jansen gets about 25 saves & the Beard gets at least 15 regardless.

    • Andy says:

      @Nick –

      I think you are entirely wrong on Jansen in all aspects. How is he a youngster to start? He’s in the same age bracket as all the dominant closers in today’s game like Kimbrel, Holland, and Chapman with roughly the same experience and innings thrown. His cutter is absolutely filthy so I don’t see him struggling and Wilson taking over. I don’t know what LA was thinking last year bringing in League. I can’t believe they would make the same mistake twice. Now way he only ends up with 25 saves and Wilson takes 15 as his best case scenario.

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