by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Are you someone constantly on the lookout for the next potential closer? That’s what we are trying to pinpoint here, with our Top 5 Closer In Waiting Power Rankings. These rankings look at the pitchers who appear capable of taking over their team’s respective closing duties (though in some cases, will need some help to get there). Keep in mind, if a pitcher is currently part of a committee they will not be included in these rankings despite not currently “holding” the job outright.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at how things stand (all stats are through Saturday):
1) Jeurys Familia – New York Mets (1)
Current Closer – Jenrry Mejia
The Mets continue to allow Mejia to pitch through a hernia, plus he’s now dealing with a back issue that caused him to be unavailable last Wednesday. Why are they continuing to put him at risk of a further, more serious injury (it doesn’t take much for someone to alter their mechanics to compensate for any discomfort)?
He’s already proven that he can handle duties late in games and figures to form a dynamic trio with Familia and the returning Bobby Parnell next season. With the Mets’ season rapidly turning into irrelevance there’s simply no reason to continue running Mejia out there. It’s time that they shut him down and allow him to get healthy, with Familia handling the end of the game.
2) Ken Giles – Philadelphia Phillies (NR)
Current Closer – Jonathan Papelbon
On the surface you would think Papelbon would bristle at the idea of being removed from the closers role. Currently Papelbon, who has said he’d embrace a move to a contender, is virtually untradable.
As Buster Olney recently pointed out (click here for the article) part of the problem is his vesting option for 2016, which automatically vests with 100 games finished on 2014 and 2015, or 55 finished in 2015. By removing him from closing now, the Phillies at least take that first part out of play. Suddenly, when the acquiring team has more control, he could be more desirable of a trade target (at the least, the Phillies open 2015 in a setup role and absolutely take it out of play).
You can easily argue that Giles isn’t as good as he’s shown this season, with previous control issues helping to support that notion (2.56 BB/9 in the Majors). Still, the Phillies have a rebuilding process to consider and now is the time to start evaluating their young players. Papelbon won’t be in Philadelphia when they are ready to compete again, but Giles could easily be the closer. Why not start finding out if he is capable of handling the role?
3) Pat Neshek – St. Louis Cardinals (2)
Current Closer – Trevor Rosenthal
Rosenthal continues to stumble, yet Mike Matheny has stuck by him. Can that really last forever? The Cardinals are fighting for a playoff spot and they simply can’t afford to continually give away winnable ball games. At this point he may be one more blowup away from losing his job.
4) Kevin Quackenbush – San Diego Padres (4)
Current Closer – Joaquin Benoit
We’ve been hyping Quackenbush since around the a Trade Deadline and we certainly aren’t going to stop now. With Benoit unavailable due to a shoulder issue Quackenbush has already started seeing save opportunities, though a recent blowup in a non-save situation may have slowed his ascent into the role.
Still, we have to remember that Benoit is 37-years old and not the future of this team. Quackenbush, meanwhile, could be the closer for the next several seasons at an inexpensive cost. Why not find out if he can do the job now?
5) Joba Chamberlain – Detroit Tigers (3)
Current Closer – Joe Nathan
At this point does anyone believe Nathan is really going to lose closing duties? He appears to have been on the verge for the entire season, yet he just keeps on getting the chances. Maybe it’s lucky for him, but Chamberlain has faltered when given a shot and Joakim Soria is currently on the DL. We are keeping Chamberlain on this list, almost by default, but at this point it’s hard to imagine the team suddenly making a change. Maybe Soria is a better bet to assume the role, once he’s back to health.
Five More We’re Watching:
- Delin Betances – New York Yankees – He’s got closers stuff, but barring an injury to David Robertson he’s going to have to wait until 2015
- Brad Boxberger – Tampa Bay Rays – We can argue that Boxberger has closer makeup, but it’s going to take significant struggles from Jake McGee to unseat him at this point
- Aaron Loup – Toronto Blue Jays – Janssen has lost velocity on his fastball this season and you have to wonder if the Jays will eventually look towards other options
- Adam Ottavino – Colorado Rockies – He’s struggled, but we all know Latroy Hawkins isn’t the long-term solution
- Shawn Tolleson – Texas Rangers – Neftali Feliz continues to struggle, both with home runs and to generate strikeouts, so something could eventually give
Sources – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our Rest of Season Rankings:
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