Closing Time 8/11: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Tuesday

Rick Graham ranks baseball's closers for the 2020 season.

It was a surprise to see Rafael Montero, fresh of the IL just this past Friday, not only make his first appearance in a save situation, but also work the next night in a save situation. The Rangers really needed to get him back after losing so many other pitchers to injuries but it’s still surprising to see him get thrown right into the first save situation of his career the first day back from an IL stint.

Not only did he receive those two save chances, but he was lights out in each one, allowing no baserunners and striking out two. He even seemed to have a tiny bit of extra juice on his fastball, showing no lingering effects from the elbow injury that sidelined him to start the season.

After flaming out with the Mets earlier in his career, Montero found a home in the back end of the Rangers bullpen late last season, and with a steady grip on the closer role currently. I don’t think it would shock anyone to see him keep the role even when Jose Leclerc returns.

Notes

 

  • So let’s just dive right into tier 3 here because that is where things get interesting. Nick Anderson and Seth Lugo headline this group, and despite having Tier 1 upside, the fact that they very likely won’t be closing out games by next week keeps them in the middle of the pack. Both are still worth rostering for the occasional save and great ratios, no matter what happens. Anderson had picked up the Rays past two saves up until last night where Andrew Kittredge finished off the game. Anderson should get the bulk of the chances going forward but who knows with the Rays. Lugo, on the other hand, has swapped roles with Edwin Diaz for the time being, but with Diaz putting together four quality outings in a row, they could go back to their normal roles by next week.
  • Ryan Pressly is still not quite right and while it’s only been four games, the lack of whiffs is alarming. The 20% whiff rate is 16% lower than last year’s total. Assuming he’s healthy, which I think is the case considering his velocity has been fine, I’d still bank on him figuring things out and getting back to the 2018-19 version of himself.

 

  • With Kwang-Hyun Kim heading to the rotation and Ryan Helsley testing positive for Covid, it looks like Giovanny Gallegos may get a chance to be the Cardinals closer after all. It’s certainly frustrating having these Cardinal players on your roster when they haven’t played for almost two weeks, but the layoff and the future doubleheaders could actually benefit whoever winds up closing out games here. So far on the season, we have seen someone record a save in six games through the five doubleheaders played.
  • I put Trevor Rosenthal at the top of tier four, the tier of new and interim closers, due to his incredible strikeout upside that no one else in this tier can really match. His 34.7% whiff and 16.8% SwStr rates are on par or better than his career-high numbers from 2017.

 

  • Ty Buttrey seems to be making a push to be the Angels full time closer, but would it be so much to ask for a couple of swings and misses from him? After posting 27.2% K, 11.9% SwStr and a 27.1% whiff rates in 2019, Buttrey has given us just three Ks in eight innings pitched.
RankPitcherChange
1Josh HaderT1-
2Liam Hendriks+1
3Taylor Rogers-1
4Kirby Yates-
5Kenley Jansen+1
6Hector Neris
T2
+1
7Raisel Iglesias+4
8Brandon Workman-
9Archie Bradley+1
10Alex Colome+3
11Daniel Hudson-2
12Mark Melancon-
13Joe Jimenez+1
14Ryan Pressly
T3
-9
15Nick Anderson+UR
16Seth Lugo+UR
17Brad Hand-1
18Giovanny Gallegos+UR
19Trevor Rosenthal
T4
+2
20Rafael Montero+UR
21Rowan Wick-3
22Anthony Bass-2
23Jairo Diaz-1
24Trevor Gott-1
25Zack Britton-1
26Brandon Kintzler+2
27Ty Buttrey
T5
+UR
28Cole Sulser+1
29Richard Rodriguez+UR
30Taylor Williams-

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm 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 Mickey says:

    Thoughts on the Smith-Melancon situation? Does Smith eventually take over?

    Also where does Kela rank when he’s back?

    • Avatar Rick Graham says:

      Melancon has been fine so far so no reason for the team to change anything there. Expect the Braves to use Smith more in an earlier innings stopper/set up role.

      I’d probably slot Kela in around 20 to start.

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