Closer Power Rankings (April 14, 2014): Ranking All 30 Closers In MLB

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The closers role is extremely erratic (though that may be the biggest understatement).  Knowing how closers are faring and who could be on the hot seat is important, so let’s check in with our first closer power rankings of the season:

 

Tier 1 – The Elite
1) Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves (1)

Thoughts: The early season struggles of Kenley Jansen (as well as some of the other top closers in the league) and the injury to Aroldis Chapman leave Kimbrel in a class by himself.

 

Tier 2 – Not elite yet, but they could be…
2) Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox (3)
3) Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers (2)
4) Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals (6)
5) Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals (4)
6) Sergio Romo – San Francisco Giants (8)
7) Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins (7)
8) Joe Nathan – Detroit Tigers (5)

Thoughts: If healthy Koji Uehara is the closest pitcher to the top tier right now, but there has to be at least a little bit of concern right  now…   After Sergio Romo had an awful spring, when the lights came on he has clearly answered the bell.  At this point he’s once again entrenched himself among the better options in the league…  A lot of the better closers have had early season struggled, but is anyone ready to push the panic button yet?  Joe Nathan may be the closest, due to his age, but it’s not enough to send him down the tiers quite yet (but it’s getting close)…

 

Tier 3 – Solid option.  Sure there are questions, but they shouldn’t be going anywhere
9) Steve Cishek – Miami Marlins (9)
10) Addison Reed – Arizona Diamondbacks (11)
11) Fernando Rodney – Seattle Mariners (14)
12) Huston Street – San Diego Padres (12)

Thoughts: Do I believe in Fernando Rodney long-term?  Absolutely not, though you can’t argue with the way he’s currently mowing them down right now (0.00 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 7 K over 3.2 IP)…  Huston Street’s job is safe, as long as he’s healthy.  With the way he’s started the season, it’s easy to push him up a tier for the time being…

 

Tier 4 – The seat is getting warmer
13) Rafael Soriano – Washington Nationals (15)
14) Ernesto Frieri – Los Angeles Angels (13)
15) Grant Balfour – Tampa Bay Rays (16)
16) Tommy Hunter – Baltimore Orioles (22)
17) Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies (17)
18) Jason Grilli – Pittsburgh Pirates (18)
19) Joakim Soria – Texas Rangers (19)
20) John Axford – Cleveland Indians (21)

 

Thoughts: Is Jason Grilli’s job currently in jeopardy?  Not likely, but could it be?  Considering Mark Melancon has proven he can handle the role it’s very possible if his struggles continue…  While Tommy Hunter is far from a sure thing, who is these days.  He’s been pitching well early on and could continue to climb the rankings…  Joakim Soria had a poor outing in a non-save situation, but there’s little competition for his job right now (though Alexi Ogando did show he’s next in line, with a save yesterday after Soria needed a day off).  You never know, but his job should be relatively safe now…  John Axford has earned some saves, but has he really pitched well?  You can say he has, relatively, but he’s walked batters and that could quickly catch up to him (5 BB over 5.1 IP).  With a capable Cody Allen behind him, it may just be a matter of time…

 

Tier 5 – A change could come at any time…
21) Sergio Santos – Toronto Blue Jays (Casey Janssen on DL) (25)
22) Francisco Rodriguez – Milwaukee Brewers (28)
23) Jonathan Broxton – Cincinnati Reds (NR)
24) Jose Valverde – New York Mets (23)
25) LaTroy Hawkins – Colorado Rockies (26)
26) Matt Lindstrom – Chicago White Sox (24)
27) Shawn Kelley – New York Yankees (David Robertson on DL) (NR)
28) Oakland A’s Committee
29) Pedro Strop/Hector Rondon – Chicago Cubs (NR)
30) Houston Astros Committee

Thoughts: Segio Santos is showing why he was one of our favorite setup men entering the season.  It’s not impossible that he holds the job once Casey Janssen returns, and that would send him into Tier 4…  Francisco Rodriguez has pitched well, but we all know that Jim Henderson is going to get the job back before long…  Speaking of changes, how long will the Rockies really stick with LaTroy Hawkins over Rex Brothers…

 

Removed from list:

  • Jim Johnson – Oakland A’s – Demoted, for now, but should return at some point
  • Jose Veras – Chicago Cubs – Demoted and no guarantee to return to role
  • J.J. Hoover – Cincinnati Reds – Demoted/Jonathan Broxton return
  • Josh Fields – Houston Astros – Committee
  • David Robertson – New York Yankees – DL

Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports

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2 comments

  1. Bilbo Baggins says:

    Not for nothing but against 3 playoff teams (plus the Phillies), Franscisco Rodriguez has an ERA of 0.00, 11 Ks in 6 innings, and a .33 WHIP.

    The Brewers are currently in first place. But more importantly, FRod has the skill, has proven experience, and (statistically – albeit over a small sample size) is currently the most reliable closer in baseball after Kimbrel.

    Sure Henderson became the closer last season and throughout at least a few weeks after making the change Roenicke maintained that Axford would be reinstated.

    So from what basis did you reach the conclusion that “we all know” that Henderson is getting the job back soon? Why would Roenicke mess with something that is working so well?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      As long as it’s working, I wouldn’t expect a change. However I also don’t expect to work indefinitely. Opponents don’t matter when it comes to closers and Rodriguez is hardly a lock to continue pitching the way he has been.

      I would extremely surprised if Rodriguez made it through the entire season as closer, though he is among the closest to jumping up a tier.

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