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
Without further ado, let’s look at how things stand (all statistics are through Sunday, unless otherwise noted):
1) Jeremy Jeffress – Milwaukee Brewers (NR)
Current Closer – Josh Hader
The assumption all along was that Jeffress would return from the DL and step into a committee with Hader, but that hasn’t happened as planned. For now he’s not even close to getting save opportunities and appears to be behind Junior Guerra in terms of opportunities. That said Jeffress could be getting closer and closer to getting back into the mix.
Two performances isn’t going to convince anyone that he’s “back”, but Jeffress has thrown 3.0 perfect innings of late. Overall he has a 2.35 ERA, though he’s yet to find his strikeout stuff considering his 5.87 K/9 behind an 8.7% SwStr%. His velocity is down (95.3 mph to 92.3) and that’s likely playing a role, though it’s been back as of late (he’s averaged 94.43 mph on his fourseam fastball in each of his past three appearances). That helps to explain the improved performance, and it’s easy to envision it continuing.
2) Amir Garrett – Cincinnati Reds (NR)
Current Closer – Raisel Iglesias
It was originally easy to blame Iglesias’ struggles on his usage, especially when he was thriving in a more conventional role, but he’s now 1-5 with a 4.86 ERA and two of his last three stumbles have come in his first inning of work:
- April 30 – 0.1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K (L)
- May 3 – 1.1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K (BSV)
- May 5 – 0.2 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K (L)
Those are his last three appearances, with HR coming in the last two. Garrett, meanwhile, has been impressive with a 1.84 ERA courtesy of an 11.05 K/9, 3.07 BB/9 and 53.1% groundball rate. That’s a skillset that can continue to thrive, and while it’s hard to envision Iglesias being removed from the role is it impossible? It may not take much more for a change, at least on a temporary basis, and Garrett is proving he could pounce on an opportunity as he’s getting both left-handed hitters (.222 BAA) and right-handed hitters (.130 BAA).
Leclerc – Texas Rangers (NR)
Current Closer – Shawn Kelley
Kelley is getting the first shot to fill the role for the Rangers, but does anyone really believe that Leclerc will be out of it for very long? The Rangers have too much invested in him to keep him working in a setup role, it’s just a matter of getting him right and back to closing games (regardless of how well anyone else performs).
For Leclerc it all comes down to fixing three things:
- Control – 6.94 BB/9
- Home Runs – 1.54 HR/9
- Hard% – 54.8%
How quickly he gets there remains to be seen, but once he does he’ll be back closing games for the Rangers.
Diekman – Kansas City Royals (NR)
Current Closer – Ian Kennedy/Wily Peralta
The Royals are currently using a committee, though Diekman isn’t a part of it. That said he should be primed to grab a hold of at least a part of the role, and may take it for himself outright. Over his past seven outings he’s allowed 0 runs on 1 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, over 7.2 IP. That has helped him to a solid 3.00 ERA, behind a 10.80 K/9 and 3.60 BB/9. Sure you can argue that there’s been some luck (.212 BABIP) and whether or not he can maintain an 18.2% Hard%, but there’s no arguing against the potential to assume the role.
Kennedy had seemed to be establishing himself and does still own a 2.76 ERA, but he took an ugly loss on Sunday (3 ER on 3 H over 0.2 IP) and he’s now allowed runs in two of his past four appearances (over this stretch he’s allowed 4 ER on 10 H over 5.1 IP). That’s not to say that he’s going to be removed from at least a portion of a committee, but another stumble could lead to Diekman moving into the role.
5) Carl Edwards Jr. – Chicago Cubs (NR)
Current Closer – Pedro Strop
Edwards was once viewed as a closer of the future, and with Strop’s epic implosion on Monday night he could be thrust into the mix in short order. He just returned to the Majors, after a Triple-A demotion due to a horrific start, and he looks to have rediscovered his form. Over 8.1 IP at Triple-A he posted a 2.16 ERA and 0.60 WHIP with 7 K and a 2.00 GO/AO. Remember he’s the same pitcher who posted a 2.60 ERA with 67 K over 52.0 IP in the Majors last season and another stumble from Strop could quickly lead to a change. He’s an intriguing name to keep on your radar.
Graduated from Rankings
All of these appear to now have at least a hold of their current closers role
- Shawn Kelley – Texas Rangers (1)
- Luke Jackson – Atlanta Braves (2)
- Matt Barnes – Boston Red Sox (3)
Dropped from Rankings:
- Seranthony Dominguez – Philadelphia Phillies (4)
- Nick Anderson – Miami Marlins (5)
Current Committee/More Information Needed:
- Baltimore Orioles – Mychal Givens/Paul Fry/Michael Wright
- Los Angeles Angels – Ty Buttrey/Hansel Robles
- Minnesota Twins – Blake Parker/Taylor Rogers
- Tampa Bay Rays – Jose Alvarado/Diego Castillo/Emilio Pagan