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 statistics are through Monday unless otherwise noted; previous ranking shown is from column on July 15):
1) Ryan Dull – Oakland A’s (1)
Current Closer – Ryan Madson
It has been a miserable run for Ryan Madson, who last night blew his third save of the month (and sixth of the season). He’s also gotten progressively worse with each passing month (ERA listed):
- April – 1.42
- May – 3.72
- June – 4.22
- July – 6.30
Dull has also been the team’s best reliever this season, with a 2.09 ERA and 0.74 WHIP. Sure you can point to some “luck”, with a .173 BABIP, but he he’s also shown strikeouts (9.23 K/9) and control (1.74 BB/9). It’s hard not to love what we’ve seen and, even without a trade, it’s going to be difficult to keep him out of the ninth inning.
2) Mauricio Cabrera – Atlanta Braves (NR)
Current Closer – Jim Johnson
Does anyone really believe in Jim Johnson as closer? A possible trade candidate, he’s not going to be the long-term answer (and probably shouldn’t be the short-term answer). After seeing the bounty the Yankees got for Aroldis Chapman (and what the Phillies got for Ken Giles in the offseason) the likelihood of Atlanta opting to deal Arodys Vizcaino at some point seems to grow. It would then make sense to see if the flame throwing Cabrera can handle the job moving forward.
Flame thrower may actually be an understatement, as he’s averaged 100.4 mph on his fastball in the Majors. That hasn’t translated to strikeouts, yet, though he is getting swings and misses (10.2% SwStr%). As long as he continues to find the strike zone, something he struggled with at Double-A (5.88 BB/9), he’s got the potential to dominate.
3) Adam Ottavino – Colorado Rockies (2)
Current Closer – Carlos Estevez
Estevez has done nothing to lose his job, but Ottavino is coming on strong since returning from the DL and should force his way into the discussion before long. In 6.2 IP he’s allowed 0 R on just 2 H and 2 BB while striking out 6. For now he’s still operating earlier in the game, but he should soon get pushed into a primary setup role and be ready to take on the role if/when Estevez stumbles.
4) Cam Bedrosian – Los Angeles Angels (NR)
Current Closer – Huston Street
The prevailing thought would’ve been that Bedrosian needed a trade or injury to get a shot at closing, but that may no longer be the case. After striking out all three batters he faced yesterday he now owns a 0.97 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 10.46 K/9 and 2.68 BB/9 over 37.0 IP. Those are dominating numbers, as he’s significantly outperformed both veterans (Street & Joe Smith) in the back of the bullpen. Just to make things even more impressive, Bedrosian also owns a 51.6% groundball rate. That gives him the entire package we look for, assuming he can continue to avoid walks (something he had previously struggled with in the Majors).
It’s quickly becoming a lost season for the Angels, so it would make sense to see if Bedrosian can thrive in the role. Of course Street is signed for next season, so it’s no guarantee that they take that stance. The upside is there, though, and if Bedrosian gets the chance he could develop into a Top 15 option in short order.
5) Jake Barrett – Arizona Diamondbacks (NR)
Current Closer – Tyler Clippard
The Diamondbacks have a pair of veterans (and trade candidates) at the back of their bullpen, but both have struggled of late:
- Tyler Clippard – 5.23 ERA in June, 8.53 in July
- Daniel Hudson – 9.00 ERA in June, 12.00 in July
Barrett, who has long been considered a potential closer of the future, has not yet allowed a run in July (6.2 IP) while posting 8 K vs. 1 BB. The Diamondbacks certainly aren’t going anywhere, so it makes sense for them to see if Barrett can do the job in the Majors. Of course he has 79 saves in the minor leagues, so there really shouldn’t be a question.
Sources – ESPN, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs