2016 MLB Closer Rankings (04/06/16): Osuna On The Rise, Concerns For Doolittle & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We are only a few days into the season, but we’ve already seen blown saves and turnover among a few closer spots.  While we don’t want to push the panic button prematurely, there obviously are some situations that necessitate a shakeup in our rankings.  Let’s take a look at how things currently stand (the number in parenthesis is the pitcher’s previous ranking):

1. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers (1)
2. Craig Kimbrel – Boston Red Sox (2)
3. Zach Britton – Baltimore Orioles (3)
4. Jeurys Familia – New York Mets (4)
5. Wade Davis – Kansas City Royals (5)
6. Mark Melancon – Pittsburgh Pirates (6)
7. Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals (7)
8. Andrew Miller – New York Yankees (NR)
9. Roberto Osuna – Toronto Blue Jays (14) (see note)
10. Hector Rondon – Chicago Cubs (10)
11. Jake McGee – Colorado Rockies (11)
12. Shawn Tolleson – Texas Rangers (15) (see note)
13. Cody Allen – Cleveland Indians (12)
14. David Robertson – Chicago White Sox (13)
15. A.J. Ramos – Miami Marlins (17)
16. Jonathan Papelbon – Washington Nationals (18)
17. Luke Gregerson – Houston Astros (NR) (see note)
18. Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins (20)
19. Huston Street – Los Angeles Angels (21)
20. Santiago Casilla – San Francisco Giants (23)
21. Francisco Rodriguez – Detroit Tigers (19)
22. Sean Doolittle – Oakland A’s (16) (see note)
23. Jeremy Jeffress – Milwaukee Brewers (22)
24. Fernando Rodney – San Diego Padres (26)
25. Brad Ziegler – Arizona Diamondbacks (24)
26. Steve Cishek – Seattle Mariners (27)
27. J.J. Hoover – Cincinnati Reds (28)
28. Jason Grilli – Atlanta Braves (25) (see note)
29. Alex Colome – Tampa Bay Rays (NR) (see note)
30. Dalier Hinojosa– Philadelphia Phillies (NR)

Removed from Rankings – Delin Betances (NYY), Ken Giles (HOU), Danny Farquhar (TB), David Hernandez (PHI)


  • You have to start to wonder how long Jason Grilli is going to be able to hold down the job in Atlanta, especially with Arodys Vizcaino waiting in the wings.  Grilli blowing a save in his first appearance of the season, with Vizcaino pitching well in front of him, makes you think that it may not be long (though time will tell).
  • Needless to say it was a surprise when the Astros tabbed Luke Gregerson as the team’s closer to open the season (over Ken Giles).  It’s not to say that Gregerson wasn’t deserving, coming off a strong ’15 (31 saves in 36 chances), but it’s hard to argue that Giles doesn’t possess the better overall skillset.  While Gregerson looked good in his first save chance, and Giles coughed up a run in a setup role, there’s a good chance that there’s a change at some point.  If you are a Giles owner, keep him stashed for the time being.
  • It hasn’t taken Roberto Osuna long to show that he deserved the closers role for the Blue Jays, has it?  He’s opened the season with back-to-back saves and could continue to rise up these rankings quickly.  He has the upside of a Top 5 option.
  • Sure there’s been talk of a committee in Texas, but Shawn Tolleson got the first opportunity and looked dominant in shutting the door.  Until he doesn’t actually get an opportunity, there’s no reason to question his role.
  • It looks like it is going to be Alex Colome getting the first chance to close in Tampa Bay, though it remains to be seen (entering in a tie game in the 8th and then also pitching the 9th with the lead doesn’t really shed too much light on the situation).  Until he settles into the role we have to leave him towards the bottom of the rankings, but he has the potential to quickly rise up the rankings once we know he’s going to be the regular closer.  Danny Farquhar could get an opportunity as well, though at this point that doesn’t appear to be the case.
  • It’s only 1.2 IP, but Doolittle has used his changeup 30.0% of the time this season (3.3% for his career).  It makes you wonder if he simply doesn’t trust his fastball yet, which could lead to poor results.  It’s worth monitoring, though it isn’t a concern as of yet.


  1. bartonrp says:

    From Evant Grant of the Dallas Morning News after today’s blow up by Tolleson:

    — Start your controversies: In his last four regular-season appearances for the Rangers, RHP Shawn Tolleson has allowed nine hits and eight runs and retired just six batters. Presented with a one-run lead, Tolleson allowed five consecutive hits in the ninth, punctuated by Robinson Cano’s two-run homer. During last year’s AL Division Series, manager Jeff Banister turned to Sam Dyson to save games. That possibility will loom over the closer situation every time Tolleson strugg

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I would think that he’ll get a little bit more rope, but one more blown save will certainly lead to a change. That said, the speculation is well justified after today’s disaster

  2. chris says:

    Tolleson looked awful yesterday and there are some whispers about how safe he actually is.

    Also, you have Allen ENTIRELY too low.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      These rankings were published before Tolleson’s implosion. Obviously the concerns are growing about his role.

      As for Allen, he’s a solid option but he’s more of a borderline CL1/tremendous CL2 in my book

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