How do you rank closers? Its a crap shoot. Whether or not a closer gets a save situation is completely out of his hands. So although one closer may have more talent then another it doesn’t mean he will have better numbers. This is why I wait to draft my closers late. I get them in the last few rounds. Last year I waited and grabbed Matt Capps in round 21 since nobody seemed to want him, and I ended up first overall in saves. In the meantime other people wasted 2 or 3 high picks on their closers and finished behind me. I used those high picks to get better hitting and starting pitching. Anyone who actually gets opportunities is valuable. Repeat that after me. Even if a guy is only a closer for two weeks because of injury he’s still worth owning. Instead of doing a ranking (because its pointless), I’ll look at each situation by team.
Arizona- J.J. Putz – He hasn’t been a closer since 2008. His team doesn’t win a whole lot which means limited save opportunities. He scares me. Keep an eye on former Oriole David Hernandez to take this spot eventually. Probably by injury.
Atlanta- Craig Kimbrel/Jonny Venters – It looks like they are going to use a duel closer technique. There is a chance that Kimbrel is the sole closer as he is the better one to own, but Venters could be taking lots of saves away. If only one guy were handling the duties on this amazing team. They would be gold. If either is named sole closer grab them immediately because everything about Atlanta is worth having this season.
Baltimore- Kevin Gregg– He’s had his troubles early in the spring, but I expect him to be fine. He’s a veteran and thats what veteran’s do. He’s very good value in the late rounds. Koji Uehara is there if Gregg gets injured. Unless Koji gets injured first…..
Boston- Jonathan Papelbon – The RedSox will win a whole lot of games so there will be plenty of chances. The only thing that worries me is stud Daniel Bard “the closer of the future” waiting in the wings. Papelbon will have a short leash if he fails and is always likely to be traded away. If Bard ever gets the job grab him immediately.
Chicago Cubs- Carlos Marmol – Ridiculous K’s. Doesn’t blow many. Ranked #1 closer. Which means you have to use a high pick to get him…and yeah…about that…
Chicago WS- Matt Thornton – Love Thornton. Has great stuff. Has great value. He’s being drafted very late and pitches for a team that wins a nice number of games. The White Sox are playoff contenders and don’t blow the competition away. Which means they win close a lot. Which means lots of save opportunities. Thats exactly what you want out of a young gun. Chris Sale worries me a little because he’s a great talent. But rather than threaten Thonton he should eventually go to the rotation. Thus making him a starting pitcher sleeper for next season. If everything works out ideally for Thornton your looking at an Allstar. But have some caution because of Sale. But that’s why you can get him so cheap.
Cincinnati- Francisco Cordero – I won’t touch him. If Chapman isn’t going to start then why isn’t he closing? He’s going to force one or the other. And that may not bode well for old Mr. Cordero. But the team is so good that I’d want whoever is closing for them. However, Cordero is a bit pricy for this risk. And those are the kind of situations The God is trying to teach you guys to avoid.
Cleveland- Chris Perez – Beast. Really like this kid. Any guesses what his #’s in the second half were? 16 saves with a 0.63 ERA. The only problem is that the team doesn’t win a whole lot. But when they do win it should be close. And the team will be improved somewhat so expect him to get plenty of save opportunities. Perez is one of those guys you should recognize as fantasy gold.
Colorado- Huston Street – Injury prone but good. Not much else to say. Matt Lindstrom gets saves if he gets injured.
Detroit- Jose Valverde – Consistent. Saves will increase. Good middle-tier closer.
Florida- Leo Nunez – He had a bad second half. But he’s young and talented enough to bounce back. His bad finish creates good value for him this year. He’s drafted at the end of the draft and could be as good as any middle-tier closer. The team will win and he will get chances. Nice late option.
Houston- Brandon Lyon – eehhhh I don’t think he’s that good…but he gets save opportunities. Since I draft them late I have to settle for guys like him. But saves are saves and are unpredictable. In any given week he can get as many saves as Carlos Marmol. Get him at the very end and be happy knowing the job is solely his.
Kansas City- Joakim Soria – Excellent closer. Drafted very high. Expensive.
LA Angels- Fernando Rodney – Very shaky. He’s another guy to get at the end of the draft because the job is his. But if he blows up there is a very good Jordan Walden waiting behind him and ready to be an Allstar closer. Another guy to jump on if and when the job is his.
LA Dodgers- Jonathan Broxton – Lost the job for awhile last season, but its his again. This guy was “the closer” two years ago and was the number one closer taken overall. So he has great potential at a lower price. But he doesn’t go at the end of drafts, he’s still drafted in the middle rounds.
Milwaukee- John Axford – This guy is in the ideal situation. An unknown under the radar guy who is the one and only closer for a breakout playoff contending team. The Brewers will be good, they will win, and he will get saves. Did I mention he goes in the later rounds? This is one of those could lead the league in saves and surprise people guys.
Minnesota- Joe Nathan – He hasn’t been declared the closer yet over Matt Capps, but how can he not be? Nathan is the better long term option because he will be the closer at the end. But if Capps starts the season closing to give Nathan more time to heal, then have Capps on your team until Nathan comes back. Anybody who closes for the Twins is money. Jon Rauch was proof of that last year.
New York Mets- Francisco Rodriguez – Everything about the Mets are a mess including this guy. I can’t keep track of what he’s in trouble for. With that being said I don’t think I’d want to use a middle round pick on him. If I wanted to waste a middle round pick I’d use it on a different closer. Could Rule 5 Pick from the Orioles Pedro Beato be there to pick up his mess if he’s arrested again?
New York Yankees- Mariano Rivera – duh, who else would it be. He’s very expensive. He goes very early because of his elite ERA. Although most of the guys that go behind him had more saves than him last year. And he turns 86 this year.
Oakland- Andrew Bailey/Brian Fuentes – Bailey is the closer. But he’s hurt. Fuentes should start the season with the job. Which once again means…………? Correct. Add him if you need saves and all the closers are gone. Because anyone who gets saves has………..? Correct. Value. Bailey should fall pretty late now that he’s hurt. Maybe draft him, and stash him on the DL?
Philadelphia- Brad Lidge– ewwww. Every year the Phillies have back of the bullpen problems with Lidge and Madson, yet they never address it in the offseason and get someone better. Why? I don’t get it. Lidge goes in the last few rounds and does actually record some saves without blowing them all. For the 100th time, take anybody who gets saves if you need them. I don’t care how bad they are.
Pittsburgh- Joel Hanrahan – Talk about bad. Why isn’t Evan Meek closing? He will be eventually. Hanrahan should be getting drafted in the last round so only get him if he’s one of the very last left.
San Diego- Heath Bell – Great closer. He’s a trade candidate though. But he’s so good that if he gets dealt he should be the new closer wherever he goes. I like him better than all of the expensive closers because of this. He could go to a contender down the stretch and really help you with saves during your playoffs.
San Francisco- Brian Wilson – Drafted very high. Mainly because he was exposed to the world during the World Series and has sweet commercials. He’s day to day right now, but I’d imagine he will be fine. My 2004 fantasy closer Jeremy Affeldt will pick up some saves if he’s not ready to start.
Seattle Mariners- David Aardsma/Brandon League – Aardsma will start on the DL. League will get saves for the first few weeks making him a nice option. If he dominates and steals Aardsma’s job or if there is a set back, League is a great long term option.
Aardsma is being drafted a bit too high seeing how he is injured. But then again maybe people just don’t know he’s injured. Not everyone can be a Fantasy God.
St Louis- Ryan Franklin – Another Brad Lidge situation. Why don’t the Cards get a better option? Franklin gets drafted late, but that’s because he isn’t good. Take him if your down to the last 2 or 3 guys since the Cardinals can win games. Jason Motte is much better and should have taken over by now. Maybe this year? Probably not.
Tampa Bay- Kyle Farnsworth/Jake McGee/maybe others– Yuck. The dreaded closer by committee. And none of these guys seem to be that impressive to take ahold of the job. It’s disappointing coming from a franchise who won the division last season. That could have been some major save opportunities. If they trade for someone or McGee shows success get them. I seriously doubt Fransworth has any sort of success.
Texas- Neftali Feliz????? – Still hasn’t been decided whether Feliz will close or start. I think he should start. Regardless he’s a top 5 drafted closer. Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, or Darren Oliver could get saves if he starts. More than likely though, the Rangers will make a move and bring someone in to close immediately after announcing Feliz’s starting status. Or he will close. If they bring someone in, get that guy. Unless its Jorge Julio.
Toronto- Frank Francisco – Its unknown if Francisco will start the season on the DL or not. If he does Octavio Dotel will close. However, its unknown if Dotel will start the season on the DL or not. If he does Jon Rauch will close. If you want a Blue Jays closer grab Francisco and stash him on the DL because once he’s back its his job.
Washington- Drew Storen – Lots of potential. Terrible spring. Tyler Clippard waiting behind him to steal some saves. But Storen is the long term closer. He was drafted to be. My bet is that he does fine during the regular season.
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Check out The Fantasy God’s other position break downs:
- Guide to drafting Catchers
- Guide to drafting First Basemen
- Guide to drafting Second Basemen
- Guide to drafting Third Basemen
- Guide to drafting Outfielders