Just when you thought the Nationals closer situation couldn’t get any worse, GM Mike Rizzo decided to sign Francisco Rodriguez on Monday. It’s laughable to think that he could fix their 9th inning problem, as he has been downright terrible this season and has been trending that way for over a year now. He will spend 2 weeks in AAA and while it essentially is a zero risk move, the team has to be willing to deal something of value in their farm system for a legitimate, proven closer outside the organization. As Mike Ehrmentraut might say, “no more half measures“.
TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U
- 30 games and 52 strikeouts later, Kenley Jansen finally walked his first batter of the season. It was an impressive run to say the least, and there’s no reason to think he can’t best that streak the rest of the season. Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman had minor hiccups this past week, but nothing major.
TIER 2: Save Tonight
- Corey Knebel has just been so good all year, whether closing or not, he definitely belongs to be in the top 5 closer discussion. The top 3 closers over the past 30 days (in order) have been Kenley Jansen, Knebel and Roberto Osuna. The best RP over the last 2 months? Corey Knebel. He leads all active closers in K’s despite ranking just 16th in SwStr%, so I don’t expect his 15.53 K/9 number to get any higher. His FIP, xFIP and SIERA numbers all sit in the top 5, further proving Knebel’s dominance is the real thing.
- Kelvin Herrera finds himself back in tier 2 after back to back solid weeks, earning 5 saves over that span. He has been a bit lucky through that stretch, but still seems to be turning a corner potentially. He hasn’t been missing as many bats over the past few weeks, but has seen a dip in his hard/medium contact %.
TIER 3: Bound for the Floor
- This tier is beginning to flatten out, with none of this options being ideal options going forward, at least until August 1st. The setup options turned closer (Addison Reed, Justin Wilson, Matt Bush) have mostly struggled in their new roles and/or have lacked much opportunity. While closers with promise heading into the season (Mark Melancon, Seung Hwan Oh, AJ Ramos) have struggled to find any consistency. Then there are the 3 veteran’s (David Robertson, Fernando Rodney, Jim Johnson) who go through stretches of borderline dominance, usually to be followed by a nasty rough patch. I still have a hard time buying Brandon Kintzler given the peripherals (bottom 5 in SIERA, bottom 10 in FIP, xFIP), lack of swing and miss stuff (dead last with a horrid 6.7% SwStr %) and the fact his GB% continues to dip. The time to sell high would be now.
- With Zach Britton scheduled to come of the DL next Wednesday, this should be the last week of Brad Brach on the list. Despite the Orioles recent struggles limiting Brach to only 4 saves over the past month, he pitched very well since Brittons latest DL stint and will go back to being a top set-up man who could still have some standard league value going forward.
TIER 4: Better Days (and the Bottom Drops Out)
- Just like with the Nationals situation, the Angels closer debacle continues to be a mystery. The good news, for Bud Norris owners anyway, is that it seems like Norris will keep his job when he returns from his minor knee injury, which could be as early as the weekend. I’m speculating here, but if the Angels have a rough July and begin to slip away from the AL Wild Card race, it could be wise to sell high and move Norris (signed to a 1 year deal) to a contender at the deadline and work Cam Bedrosian back into the closers role. Anyone desperate for saves should still consider stashing Bedrosian and possibly Huston Street.
Sammy Solis (Washington Nationals)