Did you bring home the bullpen bacon in 2018? Hopefully I helped guide you in your saves chase this season. It’s never too early to make some plans for 2019. Here’s how I rank the probable closer situations going into the offseason.
You know that restaurant your girlfriend/wife/what-have-you likes to go to that charges, like, $12 for a salad? Every time you go there, you have a thoroughly solid meal. No complaints, except you just paid $12 for a salad when you could’ve went to McDonald’s and stuffed you and your woman for ten schmools and had $2 in quarters left over to make the hotel bed vibrate. These closers are $12 salads.
1. Edwin Diaz – Diaz finally settled into his potential as the best closer in the game. His velocity was much more dialed in at around 98, compared to last year when he was spiking triple digits often. That’s a good thing.
2. Craig Kimbrel – Expect him to be back in Boston. That arm has some mileage, but he should still have a couple seasons left as an elite closer.
3. Roberto Osuna – Pending action from the league, he has to go here.
4. Blake Treinen – Oakland has been a great fit for The Witch. I like that they aren’t afraid to mix options for the ninth occasionally and that has benefitted Treinen.
5. Jose Leclerc – The only thing keeping Leclerc from being higher is questions about the level of commitment the Rangers have to him as their closer. He’s been lights out and deserves the role. This team has had trouble making decisions in the pen for a bit now, however.
6. Kenley Jansen – I expect Jansen to manage his heart condition during the offseason and be good to go when the spring rolls around. He probably can’t afford to lose much more velocity, nevertheless.
Imagine you’re following a donkey, who’s wearing a wool cap, through a desert for 1700 miles. Why are you following a donkey? Because he promises you something wonderful and you just need to trust him. Does the donkey talk? Yes. Yes, he does talk. So when you and the donkey in the wool cap arrive at his destination, he removes the wool cap to reveal a horn. The donkey is a unicorn and his gift to you for your trust is saves. These closers are Donkeycorns.
7. Aroldis Chapman – Wearing down prior to the season’s end is becoming a worrisome trend for the fireballer. He’ll have the job to start, though.
8. Cody Allen / Brad Hand – The Tribe have a few free agents to sort out, but I’d bet on a co-closer situation in 2019 again.
9. Felipe Vazquez – A solid, if unspectacular season for a former journeyman. It does make me nervous that Keona Kela could start breathing down his neck.
10. Ken Giles – Toronto doesn’t seem ideal for someone who’s struggled with the long ball, but that cupboard is bare behind him.
11. Will Smith – The Giants pen is loaded with options, but I don’t see how they change Smith’s role given how effective he’s been. It also helps that they have another high leverage lefty in Tony Watson.
12. Raisel Iglesias – It’d be nice if the Reds would be competitive at least until temperatures break the 80s next spring.
13. Sean Doolittle – Health has been the only thing holding Doolittle back from being an elite reliever his whole career.
14. Corey Knebel – The season did not go as planned for Knebel. He’s back in form now and we’ll see what October brings. I wouldn’t be shocked to see three different RPs get a postseason save for the Brew Crew, given they win some games. The door should be open for his returning to the closer role in 2019.
15. Wade Davis – The Rockies do rack up the save opportunities.
These guys are the men that make the save market go round. They punch in, punch out. Have the job, no real threat to speak of, and are basically just there to collect great benny’s so they can take care of their crippled brother. Who is only really crippled because he is scared of the sun.
16. Chaz Roe – With Sergio Romo set to be a free agent, I would bank on Roe taking over as the Rays closer. Jose Alvarado has a case, but as a LHP it’s an uphill climb. Roe absolutely has the stuff to get the job done.
17. Jordan Hicks – This bullpen was the hardest to project in spring training. I’m not sure 2019 will be much easier. If Hicks can take a step forward he has to be the favorite.
18. Shane Greene – Why didn’t the Tigers trade him this season?
19. Mychal Givens – The Orioles cleared out the back end of their pen, leaving things open for their closer in waiting Givens. He still has some development to achieve, but it’s going to have to happen in the ninth.
20. Nate Jones – He’d be higher if it weren’t for persistent injuries and frequent trade talks.
21. Kirby Yates – This could be a landing spot for one of the free agents with experience. Yates has got the job done in the second half, though.
22. Wily Peralta – He’s been effective. This is not a club that loves to spend, either.
I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples, bananas and Carlos Marmol– Wait, he just gave up 12 earned runs and hit Castro in the head with a pick-off throw. Brain freeze! Make it stop! Use the following closers at your own risk.
23. A.J. Minter – My gut tells me the Braves would prefer to put Arodys Vizcaino in a setup role if Minter can show he’s ready to handle the ninth alone.
24. Brad Boxberger – It’s not surprising the oft-injured reliever wore down. Barring a splashy signing the DBacks likely give him another shot in 2019.
25. Trevor Hildenberger – Taylor Rogers is probably the better reliever, but I don’t think they’ll go with a lefty to start the season. This is a top spot to speculate for role changes next year.
26. Seranthony Dominguez – Your new least favorite bullpen manager, Gabe Kapler.
27. Brandon Morrow – You’re paying him closer’s money, better get the production to match.
28. Blake Parker – Maybe we can finally be rid of The Sciosciapath.
29. Drew Steckenrider – Steck seems to have moved ahead of Kyle Barraclough in the pecking order, but this pen is far from stable.
30. Robert Gsellman – I fully expect the Mets to sign a closer. Can Ryan Madson add another NL East team to the resume?