Closing Time 7/13: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Tuesday

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

There’s probably a case to be made that Richard Rodríguez is a more deserving All-Star than Mark Melancon, but apparently saves are all that matter to be an All-Star, and they’ve been hard to come by for the Pirates this season. Rodríguez shouldn’t have to worry about that for much longer, but the question remains whether or not he will get a chance to close wherever he ends up. The Blue Jays have been linked to Rodríguez, and that is certainly one team where he might have a chance at closing out games, as they seemed to prefer Jordan Romano in more of a setup/fireman role. That would probably be the best-case scenario here, as it’s far more likely he winds up on a team that has an established closer already. But if it is Toronto, then Rodríguez all of a sudden becomes a third-tier guy like Melancon.

 

Notes

 

  • Aroldis Chapman didn’t exactly do anything this past week to reassure us that he is still the best option to close out games for the Yankees going forward. He pitched in one game, working the ninth in an eleven-run ballgame, and proceeded to walk two and give up a hit. The Yankees passed him up in a couple of save chances, with Chad Green getting obliterated for four earned runs against the Astros this past weekend. I expect Chapman to open up as the team’s closer after the All-Star break, assuming he doesn’t get shelled tonight.
  • It had looked like Scott Barlow was going to potentially run away with the Royals closer job, but he stumbled a bit this week, allowing five earned runs total in consecutive days before being shut down through the break. As I mentioned last week, I think Barlow was probably just dealing with some fatigue as he had been one of the more overworked relievers in baseball up to that point. I suppose the good news for him is that his teammates did not pitch much better all of last week, so I still think he remains in that closer role after the break.

 

  • Heath Hembree led all relievers in saves this past week with three, allowing just one walk and no hits while striking out five during those three outings. He is the only relievers to record five saves in the month of July so far. As a Red Sox fan is kind of weird to be typing this, but Hembree has been pretty awesome this season, and barring any trade (the Reds will not trade for a big-name reliever) Hembree should remain in the closer role even when Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone return. Sims and Antone are better suited for multi-inning work and getting out of jams earlier in games while Hembree is at his best starting and pitching one inning.
  • Ranger Suárez converted the Phillies only save chance last week, and did so by working the final 2.1 innings of the game. He closes out the first half with a 0.77 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts over 35 innings of work. He’ll open up the second half as the teams closer, but will the Phillies look to add a more experienced closer before the deadline? That’s the only thing holding Suárez back at this point.

 

  • It appears that, for now, Yimi García is still the Marlins’ closer, but that could change at any moment as he is about one blown save or trade away from opening up that role to Anthony Bender full time. García was able to give us at least 13 saves this season, which is a very respectable mark for someone being taken late in drafts or not at all. Bender is now my top stash candidate as the Marlins closer role looks like the best of the trade candidate openings.
  • It’s not much, but it’s nice to finally see a Diamondback reliever have a productive week this season as Joakim Soria was able to pick up two saves while not allowing a run all of last week. I’m not sure what the return would be, but I suppose Soria could get moved, as he fits that veteran reliever most teams covet at this point in the year.
Rank Pitcher Change
1Josh HaderT1-
2Liam Hendriks-
3Craig Kimbrel
T2
-
4Ryan Pressly-
5Edwin Diaz-
6Matt Barnes-
7Kenley Jansen-
8Raisel Iglesias-
9Alex Reyes
T3
-
10Aroldis Chapman-
11Will Smith-
12Jordan Romano-
13Mark Melancon-
14Brad Hand-
15Jake McGee-
16Kendall Graveman
T4
-
17Diego Castillo-
18James Karinchak-
19Scott Barlow-
20Taylor Rogers-
21Lou Trivino-
22Heath Hembree+5
23Ranger Suarez+3
24Richard Rodriguez
T5
-2
25Ian Kennedy-1
26Daniel Bard-3
27Yimi Garcia-2
28Joakim Soria+2
29Cole Sulser
T6
-1
30Jose Cisnero-1

 

Stash List

 

Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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 Anon says:

    Just going to point out that both Britton and Lorenzen are likely to be activated right after the AS Break and it’s not hard to see either of them taking over the closer role. Long-term for the Yankees I still think Chapman is the guy and the last month is just a blip so any Britton takeover is temporary as I see it, but there is no obvious guy for Cincy. Lorenzen has been good the last couple years and it’s not at all hard to imagine him taking the role and running away with it. There was talk of him sliding into a starting role at the start of the year but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards based on his rehab stint which has been 4 IP in 3 outings with the last one a 2 inning save and overall he’s pitched well – 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 K, 1 BB, 5.0 GB/FB. I know Hembree’s peripherals have had some good pieces (lots of K’s) but it’s also had some bad (lots of HR) but we’re not that far removed from his mid-May to mid-June stretch when he was BRUTAL and everybody else on that roster has shit the bed when given a chance.

    • Rick Graham Rick Graham says:

      Good call for both guys, but I don’t think they are close to being roster-worthy in most standard leagues yet. Britton did not look good before his hamstring injury but perhaps the extra time off now has helped his arm issues. I’d still like to see some positive outings from him first though.

      As far as Lorenzen, I can’t imagine they would throw him into a high leverage spot after missing over half the year. That said, he has flashed closer upside in the past so if he comes back and looks like he did in 2019 then yea I could see him being the team’s closer from August on.

  • Avatar Mike Honcho says:

    No mention of J.Merryweather in Toronto. Are the Jays more likely to make a deal for a closer rather than risk entrusting the role to the fragile Merryweather? I have him stashed in a 12-teamer and am wondering if I have better use for that slot.

    • Rick Graham Rick Graham says:

      Yea it’s tough to tell with Merryweather because, like you said, he has had a hard time staying on the field throughout his career. Depends on the other stashes available to you, but I would give him a less than 50% chance of regaining the closer role in Toronto.

  • Avatar GAME says:

    Is it crazy to give up Edwin Diaz and start Soria/Ranger Suarez. I do get back Robbie Ray for Diaz?

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