Expedition Saves: Identifying Two Under-the-Radar Candidates To Rise Into The Closers Role

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

For those who missed the introduction to Rotoprofessor’s Reliever Reliability Quotient (RRQ) from last season, I recommend that you check it out by clicking here.  As a quick refresher, this was my first attempt at a Rotoprofessor exclusive statistic.  We all know that one bad outing can significantly skew a relief pitcher’s ERA and WHIP while camouflaging what may be an extremely effective reliever.  The goal of RRQ is to move beyond the “traditional” statistics, creating a score to determine the actual skills of a reliever and if they have the stuff to thrive late in games.

Remember ability is only half the battle, and just because someone has the desired skill set doesn’t mean that they are a lock to be successful (or the opposite, just because a pitcher doesn’t have the skill set doesn’t mean that they can’t get the job done).  The skills/metrics used in calculating the RRQ are:

  • Line Drive Rate
  • Groundball Rate
  • Fly Ball Rate
  • Popup Rate
  • Strikeout Rate
  • Walk Rate
  • O-Swing%
  • SwStr%

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few under-the-radar relievers who should hold value and could rise into late game roles:

For those curious, here how the scores translate to a “skill level” for reference:

Skill Level
30-49Above Average
10-29Solid (though worth monitoring)
0-9Questionable makeup
<0High Risk For Struggles


Victor Arano – Philadelphia Phillies
RRQ – 67.10 (3rd best)

When people look at the Phillies’ bullpen the common belief is that Seranthony Dominguez is the best option to assume the closer’s role.  While that may be the case (he didn’t qualify for our rankings, having not yet worked 20.0 IP), Arano’s skill set is among the elite in the game.  He’s shown significant swing and miss stuff, with a 17.1% SwStr%, and that could lead to even more strikeouts than he’s shown thus far (10.18 K/9).  More important is that the swinging strikes are coming from more than one pitch:

  • Fourseam Fastball – 20.48% Whiff%
  • Sliders – 22.88% Whiff%

He’s throwing his slider 52.76% of the time, and he’s also consistently shown great control (2.21 BB/9).  Throw in a 25.0% popup rate and enough groundballs (40.4%) and there’s a lot to like.  Obviously this is a convoluted committee currently, but if given the opportunity Arano could emerge from the field.


Tim Hill – Kansas City Royals
RRQ – 44.10 (17th best)

Kelvin Herrera is currently the man, but there’s a good chance he’s traded ahead of the deadline.  That will open an opportunity for someone to emerge as the closer, and Hill has as good of a shot as anyone to emerge into the role.

He’s not a prototypical closer, in that he uses groundballs (60.40%) and weak contact (15.1% line drive rate) to get the job done.  Throw in enough control (3.60 BB/9) and the potential is there to develop into a Brad Ziegler/Sam Dyson-esque type closer, but with more strikeouts.  That may not seem like a ringing endorsement, but you can’t ignore the value they’ve shown before.

Update – Hill stumbled last night, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 1 H over 0.2 IP, but obviously his defense helped to betray him


For those who are curious, here’s the current Top 100 RRQ (through Tuesday, June 12):

1Adam CimberPadres77.05
2Craig KimbrelRed Sox71.75
3Victor AranoPhillies67.1
4Tony WatsonGiants64.02
5Josh HaderBrewers62.92
6Edwin DiazMariners62.2
7Aroldis ChapmanYankees61.72
8Blake TreinenAthletics55.7
9Will HarrisAstros52.45
10Sean DoolittleNationals52.17
11Ryan TeperaBlue Jays50.7
12Dellin BetancesYankees49.92
13Brad BoxbergerDiamondbacks47.87
14Adam OttavinoRockies44.75
15Kirby YatesPadres44.75
16Tim HillRoyals44.1
17Jeremy JeffressBrewers43.75
18Dan WinklerBraves42.3
19Tony CingraniDodgers41.92
20Matt AndrieseRays41.77
21Sammy SolisNationals40.27
22Joakim SoriaWhite Sox39.8
23Bud NorrisCardinals38.77
24Chaz RoeRays38.7
25Joe KellyRed Sox38.65
26Brad HandPadres36.72
27Heath HembreeRed Sox31.72
28Sam DysonGiants31.67
29Pedro StropCubs31.37
30Archie BradleyDiamondbacks30.12
31Taylor WilliamsBrewers29.9
32Brad BrachOrioles27.87
33Jacob BarnesBrewers26.77
34Reyes MorontaGiants26.27
35Matt BarnesRed Sox25.52
36Steven BraultPirates25.25
37Robert GsellmanMets24
38Trevor HildenbergerTwins23.87
39Jose AlvarezAngels23.82
40Luis GarciaPhillies23.02
41Jared HughesReds21.95
42Robbie ErlinPadres21.92
43Raisel IglesiasReds21.62
44Jose LeclercRangers21.57
45Jeurys FamiliaMets21.47
46Mike MontgomeryCubs21.15
47James PazosMariners21.07
48Chris DevenskiAstros20.65
49Jose AlvaradoRays18.82
50Ryan PresslyTwins18.5
51Dan JenningsBrewers17.82
52David RobertsonYankees16.97
53Brandon MorrowCubs16.9
54Hector RondonAstros16.57
55Alex Colome- - -16.17
56Bruce RondonWhite Sox14.85
57Matt AlbersBrewers14.37
58Noe RamirezAngels14.1
59Amir GarrettReds12.97
60Kenley JansenDodgers12.95
61Dan OteroIndians11.77
62Brad ZieglerMarlins11.37
63Seth LugoMets11.2
64Joe JimenezTigers10.15
65Craig StammenPadres9.9
66Daniel CoulombeAthletics9.9
67Jesse ChavezRangers9.27
68Kevin McCarthyRoyals8.27
69Carl Edwards Jr.Cubs8.15
70Edgar SantanaPirates7.9
71Kyle BarracloughMarlins6.3
72Zach DukeTwins5.92
73Kyle CrickPirates5.9
74Chad GreenYankees5.47
75Austin BriceReds5.37
76Kelvin HerreraRoyals5.17
77Steve CishekCubs4.67
78Daniel HudsonDodgers3.6
79Shane CarleBraves3.47
80Sam FreemanBraves3.12
81T.J. McFarlandDiamondbacks3.02
82Ryan YarbroughRays2.82
83Richard RodriguezPirates2.3
84Alex ClaudioRangers1.75
85Yoshihisa HiranoDiamondbacks1.2
86Sergio RomoRays0.55
87Juan NicasioMariners0.37
88Richard BleierOrioles-0.1
89Matt MagillTwins-1.2
90A.J. MinterBraves-1.2
91Lou TrivinoAthletics-1.8
92Tayron GuerreroMarlins-2.28
93John BrebbiaCardinals-2.35
94Drew SteckenriderMarlins-3.3
95Jesse BiddleBraves-3.53
96Fernando RodneyTwins-4.05
97Collin McHughAstros-4.18
98Keone KelaRangers-4.3
99Miguel CastroOrioles-4.33
100Nate JonesWhite Sox-4.6

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball


  1. NK says:

    Thanks for the read and the continued hard work you do to deliver an original product everyday. I think I speak on behalf of a lot of your daily readers when I say it is a pleasure to be a Rotoprofessor patron.

    • NK says:

      On The baseball side of things, who do you think has more saves come year end between Rondon and Seranthony?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      First off thanks for your support. None of this would be possible without the readers/followers and I truly appreciate it.

      As for the closers, I’d lean towards Rondon. I want to say Dominguez, I’m just not sold the Phillies will annoint any one person the closer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *