Happy All-Star day to everyone and for the list during the break this week, I’ve shuffled some names around based of first half xStats (including the entire season to date as well as the past two months only) which has created some Tier 2 mayhem.
It’s truly one of the deepest closer groups we have ever seen, as there are 15-16 closers (Evan Phillips would be in Tier 2 if I didn’t get the feeling the Dodgers will trade for a potential closer) here I would be more than happy with as my top closer. Just because Emmanuel Clase is 12th, doesn’t mean I think you need to trade him for Craig Kimbrel.
Not only that, but pretty much everyone in Tier 4 as well could be in this group in the coming weeks, if they are able to breakaway from their respective committees and just become the sole closer. This really is one of the deepest closer groups top to bottom I’ve ever seen, which probably means I just jinxed this and we should expect some second half regression from everyone.
Perhaps we will finally see some prominent closers on the hot seat this year if that happens, but that’s fairly normal with closers anyway, one day you are the unquestioned top closer and a week later you are in mop up duty.
- Craig Kimbrel has really turned back the clock this season and has pulled away from José Alvarado in Philadelphia and it was nice to see him get added to the All-Star game as he was originally snubbed. He’s striking out more hitters than any closer not named Félix Bautista right now, and there’s no reason to believe that can’t continue in the second half.
- Paul Sewald is always criminally underrated and his current 5.50 PLV ranks him 4th in all of baseball which goes to show velocity isn’t everything. His 34.2% CSW and 36% K rate also aren’t too shabby, ranking in the top 20 for the season and no ones going to argue with a 1.02 WHIP.
- A.J. Puk hit a little rough patch heading into the break but for the most part has been great lately and I think can actually provide a really steady floor the rest of the way. He doesn’t walk anyone (3.8% BB rate) but is still able to miss bats at a high rate (36.4% CSW) and I’d expect him to finish with an ERA closer to 3.00 then the 4.03 he’s currently at.
- It took him a little while to get going but Raisel Iglesias has been awesome lately and should be able to keep it going the rest of the way. His swing and miss stuff is still prevalent, with a 19.5% SwStr rate on the season that ranks him in the top 10.
- Josh Hader ranks 6th in K rate at 37.6%, so why is he moving down? I still hate the walk rate (14.3%) and his 3.65 xFIP indicates we could be in store for Hader’s annual July/August implosion. So far though, he has done a fantastic job limiting hard contact and has career low HR rates, for now.
- Hader’s former teammate Devin Williams has some similar concerns as despite the swing and miss stuff, he’s had trouble with free passes (13.4% BB rate) and like Hader should see some negative second half regression after posting career high BABIP’s in the first half.
- Emmanuel Clase has been much better in the second half and has been able to miss more bats, but I do worry about his workload (leads all closers in appearances with 44) and wonder if the Guardians step in and decide to slow things down with Clase at some point as Terry Francona has been notorious for overusing and ruining relievers in the past. He’s still great (5.51 PLV) and someone to be excited about rostering.
- David Bednar has hit a little bit of a rough patch lately and there are certainly questions about him going into the second half. His 3.52 xFIP suggests we could see some regression in the second half but there’s also the matter of whether or not he will be dealt at the deadline. The Pirates are moving in the right direction, and perhaps Bednar is part of that core, but he also would likely be the best reliever available and this could be a chance for the team to sell at Bednar’s peak value. I think they ultimately hold on to him, which could hurt his value as the Pirates are just 21-41 over their last 62 games.
- Alexis Díaz has been great and you should be excited to roster him, but if I were asked which closer in this tier could we see have a rough second half, I think I would reluctantly pick him. Neither Stuff+ (94) or PLV (5.01) are big fans of his arsenal, he’s totaled more than 60 IP just once in his professional career since 2015 and are the Reds going to be able to keep their momentum going after the break? I’m most worried about that second fact, that Díaz, who is at 40 IP already, may break down or show more fatigue over the second half of the season (which may already be happening) than the veterans in this tier.
- Carlos Estévez has been one of the luckiest relievers in baseball this season (91% LOB rate) and his 4.18 xFIP and 1.29 WHIP could be indicators a rough second half may be in store. His command is still an issue (12.2% BB rate) and he doesn’t exactly miss bats at a high rate (29% CSW) but lucky for him, should have plenty of job security after making the All-Star team.
And if you want more daily reliever updates, please check out our Reliever Ranks series
|1.||Aroldis Chapman||TEX||Smith isn’t giving up the job easily, but Chapman looms.|
|2.||Giovanny Gallegos||STL||Hicks and Helsley aren’t reliable yet, so Gallegos is still here.|
|3.||Carlos Hernández||KC||If Barlow is dealt, could be the next closer in KC.|
|4.||José Soriano||LAA||Best stuff in that bullpen and I dont’t have faith in Estévez.|
|5.||Mark Leiter Jr.||CHC||Alzolay is pulling away, but Leiter has still pitched well.|
|6.||Andrew Chafin||ARZ||McGough is pulling away, but Chafin has still pitched well.|
|7.||Jason Adam||TB||No closer is more injury prone than Fairbanks.|
|8.||Adam Ottavino||NYM||Still likely in some timeshare with Robertson.|
|9.||Tommy Kahnle||NYY||Yankees are all over the place with bullpen usage.|
|10.||Jason Foley||DET||Lange has been shaky lately and may even be traded.|