Closing Time 7/23: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Tuesday

[closing_time_2019 list_id=”34320″ include_stats=”1″]

  • With the Giants all of a sudden just two games out of the Wild Card race, there is growing speculation they may not be selling at the deadline in what will be Bruce Bochy’s final season with the team. Whether that’s the right move or not, it now makes a Will Smith trade not so guaranteed and even despite his recent struggles, he stays in the top 10 for now. Ken Giles, on the other hand, seems more and more likely to be on the move and wherever it is he ends up, he should be closing for his new team. Shane Greene has been mentioned as an option for the Phillies recently, which would supposedly work out well for his fantasy value. Greg Holland and Alex Colome rumors have been quiet up to this point, but both free agents to be should draw some interest by next Wednesday.
  • Jose Leclerc may finally start seeing save chances again with Shawn Kelley landing on the IL with a bicep injury. Kelley’s injury is considered minor, but any time you are dealing with that part of the arm for a pitcher, it’s probably better to play things safe. As for Leclerc’s value, I’m tempted to rank him higher, and if I was certain he would finish the year as the team’s closer, he’d be in tier 2. For now, he is worth the speculative add wherever available and we’ll just have to monitor the situation on a week to week basis based on his performance and Kelley’s health. As long as he pitches well, the job should be Leclerc’s from here on out.
  • Nathan Eovaldi‘s first appearance out of the bullpen did nothing to excite Red Sox fans or fantasy owners, but the performance itself is not worth getting too discouraged about. The team clearly rushed him back early, as they felt he’d only needed a total of one rehab inning before asking him to make his second live pitching appearance in over 3 months last night in Tampa. I still think Eovaldi will be able to figure things out in his new reliever role, but the Sox do seem to be in the market for a more traditional closer, with Ken Giles and Kirby Yates being rumored targets. I’d still try to hold on to Eovaldi, at least through the trade deadline, but if there are any top 20 options available feel free to chase those options.

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 Bryan says:

    Don’t get why you’re so low on Luke Jackson. Is it trade concerns? He’s been unbelievable this year so far.

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      He’s shown flashes but he leads the league in blown saves and hasn’t pitched well in July (5.14 ERA, 2.00 WHIP). Opponents have a .920 OPS against his fastball this season. The Braves need an upgrade at that spot.

      • Avatar Bryan says:

        He also has the 8th best xFIP among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched and 18th best K/9 on the season. I hope the Braves are smart and realize that massive positive regression is coming.

        • Avatar Rick Graham says:

          He’s fine as a reliever. But a closer who only has a 70% success rate who can’t trust his fastball seems like a liability to me.

          • Avatar Bryan says:

            As someone who follows these things closely, wouldn’t you agree that closer success rate is arbitrary? Do we actually think there’s some special skill to closing as opposed to just generally limiting runs, which his stats suggest he’ll do a way better job of going forward?

            • Avatar Rick Graham says:

              Sometimes, the mental aspect of the position is hard to quantify but I feel like it’s something teams themselves place a greater value in. I get that theres things to like in his xStats and yes the HR rate should drop and help lower his ratios, but also the BABIP as is (.351) isn’t far off from his career average (.332). For a team primed to make a run this postseason, it just makes sense to upgrade at that spot with so many options available.

  • Avatar TheKraken says:

    Those numbers dont mean a whole lot over a fraction of a season. Rp come and go.

  • Avatar Toothless says:

    With no clear-cut successor (JJ really sucks), and the Tiger’s overpricing their players, is Greene a sure-fire lock to get dealt?

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      Anything could happen, but it would be foolish for the Tigers to not move Greene in what has clearly been a career year for him. The deadline should be their best chance to maximize his value with plenty of teams needing bullpen help. They shouldn’t be worried about who’s next in line, whether its JJ, Buck Farmer or whoever it will be closing games for the next two months with nothing to play for.

      • Avatar Toothless says:

        What are the chances Greene ends up closing where he lands? Seems likely spots like Boston, Philly, Atlanta, could use stability.

  • Avatar Joe says:

    Would you drop Holland to pick up Kennedy? Holland has pitched well lately it seems. Would you drop Eovaldi to pick up LeClerc, or is Eovaldi’s upside worth holding through the deadline?

  • Avatar NickFolesMVP says:

    Top tiers need to be reshuffled. How can you justify having Jansen 3? He hasn’t been a top 10 reliever this season. Brad Hand should borderline first tier.

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      No closer has better job security than Jansen. That combined with pitching for one of if not the best teams in baseball makes him as safe as anyone on the list. Yes he had a meltdown against the Phillies last week but that came after he got smoked on the ankle with a line drive then somehow stayed in the game when he shouldn’t have. Outside of that he’s been pretty elite for 3+ months now.

  • Avatar NumbersOverEmotions says:

    No offense but still basing these rankings on criteria like “the mental aspect of the position” when there are actual stats like xFIP, expected stats, and batted ball data available in abundance reads like analysis from a different era. You sound like one of those old scouts in the moneyball room. Time to move on!

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      If this is in regards to the Jackson ranking, I was simply suggesting that the Braves, who are shopping for a closer because their guy leads the league in blown saves, probably prefer Jackson in a lower leverage role. Why does he keep blowing saves? Could it all be a result of bad luck? Sure, thats a lot of bad luck but it’s possible. Sometimes people just work better with less pressure on them. Yes, stats are great and 99% of what these lists are based on, but at the end of the day, we are ranking human beings here. To say the mental aspect of the game isn’t important and that MLB teams don’t take that stuff into account is extremely shortsighted.

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