Closing Time 8/3: Ranking the Top 30 Closers Every Tuesday

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

Kyle Finnegan is the first post-trade deadline closer to hype up, as he already has two saves and has almost zero competition as we saw this past week (last night especially). There’s not a whole lot that sticks out in Finnegan’s repertoire, but his slider is certainly above average while his splitter gives him a chance at getting lefties out. He’s had issues with walks throughout the season but over his last 14.2 innings of work, he’s only walked four while having an ERA of 1.23 and WHIP of 0.82 further strengthen his hold on the closer role vacated by Brad Hand. Don’t expect anything more than a strikeout per inning, but if you are looking for a solid yet unspectacular third or fourth closer in mixed leagues, Finnegan should be your man for the rest of the season.

 

Notes

 

  • My blurb last week for Craig Kimbrel went as follows: “Kimbrel is the only closer on the market that is a near-lock to remain in a closer role with his new team, wherever that may be.” Of course, he went to the one team in the league where this wouldn’t be the case, as he now becomes Liam Hendriks top setup man. It obviously hurts Kimbrel’s value (still worth rostering in 12 teamers), but how does it affect Hendriks? The White Sox have said all year they will not overwork Hendriks, or that he won’t work more than one inning in a game, but that has clearly not been the case. Perhaps things will change now that they have Kimbrel and an 8.5-game lead in the Central, but I wouldn’t worry much about Hendriks usage.
  • Those who speculated on Paul Sewald last week assuredly went through a roller coaster of emotions as closer Kendall Graveman was traded on Tuesday, only to be replaced by Diego Castillo on Thursday. The numbers may not show it, but I’d consider Castillo a slight upgrade over Graveman and likely someone who has a stronger grip on the closer role moving forward. That’s not to say the team won’t split the role, or Castillo couldn’t lose it (already has a blown save for his new team), but I wouldn’t bank on Sewald having value in mixed 12 team leagues the rest of the way.

 

  • The Blue Jays went out and traded for Brad Hand last week to presumably be the team’s closer down the stretch, but so far that is not how things have played out (and for good reason). Hand has an ERA of 8.16 since the start of July over a 10-inning stretch, and moving to an environment like Toronto in the AL East won’t do anything to help. Jordan Romano’s July wasn’t exactly great either (8.10 ERA over 6.2 IP) but the xStats certainly paint a much better picture and are certainly a big reason why Romano is keeping his role as the team’s closer.
  • The closer situation in Cleveland may have flipped again, with Emmanuel Clase now the clear front runner for save attempts after a rough July from James Karinchak. Karinchak just hasn’t been the same guy since the league enforced the new sticky stuff rules, as his curveball isn’t quite as unhittable anymore. There’s going to be an adjustment period for a lot of pitchers, but it looks like Karinchak is taking longer than others. Clase on the other hand finished the month of July strong and has now gone eight games without allowing a run. He’s also allowed just two walks over his last 22 innings pitched, so yeah I’m excited to see what he can do over the final two months as the Guardians closer.

 

  • The Phillies made a move for closer Ian Kennedy at the deadline, and have moved former closer Ranger Suárez into the starting rotation, something you don’t see mid-season very often. It’s not the best fit for Kennedy but at least he gets to continue being the closer somewhere, although I think the Phillies closer position may just be cursed at this point. His first two outings with his new team haven’t gone so well, as he’s allowed four earned and two home runs, luckily in non-save situations, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Héctor Neris back closing out games in September again.
  • The Rockies decided to sit out this year’s trade deadline for whatever reason, but that means that Daniel Bard was the only closer expected to get dealt who didn’t. He’ll likely finish the season as the Rockies closer but things haven’t been exactly smooth for him this year as there’s the beware of Coors factor.

 

  • Just a quick update on the Reds here as I have no idea who will be closing for this team a week or two from now. Heath Hembree and Amir Garrett have the clubs last three saves, but with the addition of Mychal Givens, the return of Michael Lorenzen, and the impending returns of Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, and Art Warren, it really hard to tell how the team will approach the ninth inning moving forward. Not to mention Sean Doolittle is throwing 98 mph all of a sudden and Justin Wilson looks like a different pitcher with the Reds. What a mess (in a good way for the team, in a bad way for fantasy purposes).
  • Spencer Patton picked up his first career save last night against the Angels, and should be the favorite for saves here the rest of the way. His stuff is very average at best, but he does a good job mixing and matching his fastball and slider while occasionally showing a splitter to lefties. If he were to falter early on, look for rookie Joe Barlow (no relation to Scott, but eerily similar stuff) to get the next look in that bullpen.

 

  • The Marlins unveiled their new late-inning, high leverage crew, last night in their 6-3 win over the Mets, which featured Anthony Bender in the seventh, Anthony Bass in the eighth, and Dylan Floro in the ninth. I’d expect Richard Bleier to mix in there occasionally as well, but this is not great news for Bender and his prospects of closing out games this season. It is great news for those who speculated on Floro, who like Yimi García before him, has been wonderfully mediocre all season.
  • The Diamondbacks traded closer Joakim Soria to the Blue Jays on deadline day, leaving them with Tyler Clippard as the only somewhat trustworthy bullpen option (at least until Noé Ramirez returns). Clippard should have a fairly easy time holding down this gig for the remainder of the season, as long as he can stay healthy as he’s only managed to throw five innings so far this season.

 

  • Chris Stratton looks poised to be the first Pirate to record a save after the team dealt Richard Rodríguez to the Braves last week. Stratton also falls into that very mediocre category of relievers and likely won’t be someone to move the needle for you in fantasy leagues. David Bednar is still next in line and if Stratton (whose WHIP was 2.08 in July over 12 innings) has any meltdowns, could quickly replace him in the closer role.
  • With Hansel Robles now in Boston, Taylor Rogers likely out for the year, and Tyler Duffey just not himself this season, it appears that Alex Colomé will be the Twins closer for the rest of the season by default. There’s not much more to say about it, but Colomé did put together an ok month of July with a 3.72 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.

 

  • The Orioles continue to bounce back and forth between closers, with Cole Sulser jumping back into the role this past week and actually picking up more than one save. Expect this to be a headache for the rest of the season, but you could do a lot worse than rostering Sulser who won’t wreck your ratios and helps in the strikeout department.
  • The Rays traded away their best reliever and closer (typical Ray move) despite more than half of their bullpen on the IL at the moment. This leaves some sort of committee of Matt Wisler, and Andrew Kittredge as the interim closers until Nick Anderson returns. Anderson was supposed to report to AAA this past week but has been delayed by a COVID-19 issue, so we may not actually see him until late August now.

 

  • Also COVID related, the Brewers placed closer Josh Hader on the IL yesterday, so the team will be without him for the next ten days at least. When he returns, he’ll go back to be the number one closer on the list, but for now and the next week plus, I’d expect Brad Boxberger to handle closing duties.
  • I have no idea who is going to close out games for the Cubs the next two months, but a veteran like Dan Winkler or even Rex Brothers would make sense? Codi Heuer is probably the most talented member of this bullpen right now (Manuel Rodríguez right behind him) but I doubt we see him get a real chance to actually close out games. Kyle Ryan already picked up a save this past week but I don’t know if that will continue. Rowan Wick is probably the favorite to finish the season as the closer given his experience in the role last season, but he’s just not very good and has not pitched well in his AAA rehab so far.

 

Rank Pitcher Change
1Liam HendriksT1+1
2Ryan Pressly+2
3Raisel Iglesias+3
4Matt Barnes+1
5Will Smith+2
6Edwin Diaz+2
7Aroldis Chapman+4
8Alex Reyes
T2
+2
9Kenley Jansen-
10Mark Melancon+2
11Jake McGee+3
12Diego Castillo+4
13Jordan Romano
T3
-
14Scott Barlow+1
15Emmanuel Clase+UR
16Lou Trivino+2
17Ian Kennedy+9
18Kyle Finnegan+UR
19Daniel Bard+9
20Gregory Soto
T4
+1
21Heath Hembree+1
22Spencer Patton+UR
23Dylan Floro+UR
24Tyler Clippard+UR
25Chris Stratton+UR
26Alex Colome+UR
27Cole Sulser+UR
28Matt Wisler+UR
29Brad Boxberger+UR
30Dan Winkler+UR

 

Stash List

 

Photo by Mark Goldman/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.

  • Rick says:

    Pending updated injury news, Pete Fairbanks could be a sneaky grab right now for SV’s in TB. Always interesting with them though, could be any group of guys just rotating in a committee once Feyereisen also comes off the DL.

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