Closing Time 5/4: Ranking the Top 30 Closers every Tuesday

Rick Graham ranks baseball's closers for the 2021 season.

While April didn’t go exactly as planned for the Yankees, there have been a few bright spots to come out of New York, one being that Aroldis Chapman is still an elite closer. Chapman is such a great example of a power pitcher adapting in his 30’s once he loses some heat on his fastball, with Chapman now utilizing his slider and new splitter 31.5% of the time. That trend starting in 2019, but he was just throwing the slider 31% of the time. Now armed with this devastating splitter, and still able to touch 100 MPH, don’t expect Chapman to leave this tier anytime soon.

Notes

 

  • Brad Hand, despite yet to allow an earned run, took a bit of a dive this week as there are just too many closers right now with higher upside and possibly even less risk. Hand just doesn’t have the swing and miss stuff he used to. Even so, he stays in the same tier technically as I was going to split tier two in half but they all feel like the same guy, to be honest. It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve seen this many competent closers in the top 20.
  • Alex Reyes had a really great week last week, and while his momentum may have been slowed last night with his two walks allowed (although he converted the save), he still belongs in this tier with eight saves and 0.00 ERA. The walk rate is a huge concern though, as he obviously can’t keep his ERA at zero with a walk rate of 20%. Reyes has never been known for great command and control of the strike zone, but he still will need to get that walk rate closer to 10% to move up further on this list.

 

  • The Twins are rolling with Taylor Rogers as their closer, although his first save chance last night didn’t exactly go so well. He held on to secure the save but allowed a two-run home run to Joey Gallo in the process. It shouldn’t be enough to give the Twins second thoughts, but it’s probably important Rogers’s next save chance goes smoothly.
  • Yimi Garcia has looked great on the surface this season, but I still have my concerns with him and would rather chase the other higher upside names listed right above him. He also doesn’t have a save over the past two weeks while allowing four hits and two home runs over his (only) two innings pitched during that span.

 

  • Another week and another blurb on the Reds and the fact we still don’t know who or if they have a closer. After Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims both bombed this past week, I wonder if Amir Garrett is back in the driver’s seat again? He hasn’t allowed a hit in over a week and only walked one while striking out three in that period. I know he has been dropped in a ton of leagues by now, but he might be a sneaky waiver add this week just to stash and see how things play out.
  • It, unfortunately, feels like the Daniel Bard era as Rockies closer is coming to an end, as he has allowed runs in four of his last five outings, with his latest outing being the likely knock-out punch as he allowed four earned runs while only getting one out. It’s not a sure thing, but if Bard is out, expect Mychal Givens to replace him but it would probably be for the best that you don’t chase Colorado closers.

 

Rank Pitcher Change
1Josh HaderT1-
2Aroldis Chapman-
3Liam Hendriks-
4Edwin Díaz-
5Ryan Pressly
T2
-
6Raisel Iglesias-
7Kenley Jansen-
8Will Smith+1
9Craig Kimbrel+1
10Diego Castillo+1
11Emmanuel Clase+3
12Matt Barnes+3
13Mark Melancon-
14Héctor Neris-2
15Brad Hand-7
16Richard Rodríguez+1
17Jake McGee-1
18César Valdez-
19Ian Kennedy+2
20Alex Reyes+4
21Rafael Dolis
T3
+1
22Josh Staumont+1
23Taylor Rogers+UR
24Yimi García-5
25Lou Trivino-
26Gregory Soto-
27Rafael Montero
T4
-
28Amir Garrett+1
29Stefan Crichton-1
30Daniel Bard-10

 

Rick Graham

Rick resides in the Boston area and has experience as a player and coach at the collegiate level. He has been covering relievers for Pitcher List since 2017.

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    Yimi Garcia’s entire body of work is excellent. He is exactly the kind of guy that deserves a shot at closing as opposed to some nobody who is never going to hold down anything… which is way too many high leverage guys.
    Reyes is trash. I just got a chance to watch him yesterday. He seems like he no longer throws 102, which means that all you have left is lack of pitchability, command and health.
    I actually like Montero too. He has been very good since moving to the pen. I think the chance that Graveman keeps pushing him for saves in pretty unlikely.

  • Avatar Mario says:

    Not a closer question, but a reliever — how has Jimmy Nelson looked to you?

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      He’s been pretty great outside of a high walk rate, but the curveball and slider are doing great things for him out of the bullpen. He’ll make the holds list this week, but the lack of holds and high walk rate will keep him pretty far down that list for now.

  • Avatar David says:

    I literally come on here every Tuesday for this article. Great job! The only thing I would adjust is maybe adding a chart at the bottom of who your top 5 “stashes” are in order of your favourite “up next” guys… I love knowing that Crichton, Montero and Garrett are iffy for now but I can see that on my own as well…. what I would love from a closer expert is if you had 5 guys to stash to beat out everyone else. I prefer that projection over hanging onto a bottom guy that no one trusts…

    Examples I’m thinking of ; Hicks, Graveman, Sims, etc. I would love to know who you love as a feeling that the job is
    Theirs sooner than later but be patient… like Staumont, came out of nowhere. Is it for real? Does it last? But being ahead of the pack helps! Now I didn’t get Staumont anywhere, so I’m wondering that the guys that got him .. where are they getting their info or they just waivering quickly? Lol

    Ps. I do get that it isn’t easy!

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      Hey David, thanks for the comment! I’ve actually thought about having a separate table at the bottom for doing something like this so perhaps next week I will roll that out.

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