What’s poppin’, Razzpimples?

So here we are. My Top 30 closers for 2024 fantasy baseball. Last year I split up #1-20 and #21-40, but this year I figured what the hell, meet in the middle by putting them into one article and shaving the list down to 30. Cuz I thought about it, and after 30, what’s really the point in ranking? You’re covering every team’s primary closer with 30, then it’s just dart throws.

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Let’s do it to it.

1. Devin Williams

2. Edwin Diaz

3. Josh Hader

4. Jhoan Duran

5. Ryan Helsley

6. Pete Fairbanks

7. Evan Phillips

8. Alexis Diaz

9. Camilo Doval

10. Emmanuel Clase

11. Raisel Iglesias

12. David Bednar

13. Jose Alvarado

14. Tanner Scott

15. Paul Sewald

16. Jordan Romano

17. Clay Holmes

18. Andres Munoz

19. Craig Kimbrel

20. Alex Lange

21. Adbert Alzolay

22. Jose Leclerc

23. Kenley Jansen

24. Robert Suarez

25. Kyle Finnegan

26. Carlos Estevez

27. Will Smith

28. Justin Lawrence / Tyler Kinley

29. Dany Jimenez / Trevor Gott

30. John Brebbia

Let me start off by saying that these rankings kind of inherently and somewhat arbitrarily have ADP value baked into them. For instance, Evan Phillips being above Alexis Diaz being above Camilo Doval. You got almost identical seasons from Diaz and Doval last year (aside from unpredictable RP wins) and I really don’t see much reason to expect otherwise this year. Both have firm job security and fantastic stuff, and where Doval has an edge in BB/9, Diaz has the edge in H/9. End of the day, the ratios and SV+K totals should be in the same neighborhood. Only difference is that Doval costs about a 12 picks earlier on Yahoo. Ain’t no reason for that! So Diaz gets the bump in my rankings. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the same closer for a slightly cheaper price. And then Evan Phillips can be had for even cheaper, and while he doesn’t have the same K upside as Diaz/Doval, the ratios should be steadier and the Ks still competitive, plus he closes for the World Series favorites. Factor in his price, and I think he outvalues both.

Tier 1

First tier goes from DWill to Hader. It’s really kind of impossible to distinguish between the three. Either could end as fantasy’s #1 RP. Edwin was my pick for #1 last year until, well, you know. Only docking him a spot this year because Airbender is just as good and doesn’t have a year of rust to shake off. Then again, Hader could just go out there and do #1 type stuff himself. All these dudes go around the exact same time on draft day. If you’re the type to pay a premium for saves, pick your poison.

Tier 2

Second tier is Duran by himself. Our Player Rater has him as the #1 RP heading in to 2024, so why do I have him a tier below? The walks, namely. And the slight downtick in strikeouts. The CSW% is a wee bit lacking for true upper-echelon elitedom as well. He’s so close, he’s just not quite there in my mind. I know DWill has lots of walks, but he’s so dominant everywhere else that he more than makes up for it.

Tier 3

Third tier is Helsley to Phillips. I may surprise some of you by having these three inside the Top 10, much less the Top 5 in Helsley’s case. It’s all because of upside versus ADP. I believe in my heart, my very soul, that Helsley and Fairbanks have the exact same upside as the names ahead of them. Given health. They’re priced where they are because of said health, but I’m not here to be a scared little baby! I’m here to tell you these guys are good. Great. Elite! Phillips is below them because the K upside isn’t in the same ballpark, but the ratios are so strong and his situation is so favorable that he warrants Top 10 fantasy closer to me. I mean, he posted a 1.14 ERA/0.76 WHIP in 2022 and then 2.05 ERA/0.83 WHIP in 2023. Over a combined 124.1 IP. And then there’s Helsley and Fairbanks, whom I discussed last week. They only aren’t in Tier 2 because of health reasons (Helsley/Fairbanks) or deficit reasons (Phillips’s Ks).

Tier 4

Fourth tier is Diaz to Bednar. Of these, the best value is easily Diaz, which is why I’ve got him at #8. Did you know his 2023 season was the #10 best season from any RP over the last five seasons? Just filter that there table by “RP” and you can see for yourself. Why can’t he do that again? Answer is he can. Overall, all these guys amount to similar returns fantasy-wise, with Diaz again my favorite here for his relative price. Thought long and hard (teehee) about knocking him up to Tier 3. Little too wild for my taste — awful BB% and he also hit 10 batters last year. Clase could lead the league in saves once again, but his quality took a step back in 2023, so it remains to be seen if he can right that ship in 2024. He’s also kind of a deficit as far as strikeouts are concerned. Iglesias is approaching his mid-life-crisis age but is still churning out strong metrics (99th percentile Chase%, 16.6 SwStr%). And the Braves should give him plenty of save chances (or maybe they’ll just score too much?!). Have no fear about Bednar, who’s job is safe despite the addition of Aroldis Chapman. Bednar amassed 39 SV in 2023 and had a Statcast any bull would charge at. Doval is great, I just don’t like him as much as the eight guys I’ve got ahead of him due to his price tag (currently the seventh RP off the board by Yahoo ADP).

Tier 5

Fifth tier is Alvarado to Sewald. Already covered my bois Alvarado and Scott in my last piece. Putting my faith in full-time duties and big-time fantasy returns. I sure hope I’m right, cuz I just took both in TGFBI (Rounds 8 and 9). The closer pool evaporated rather quickly and I had to keep pace. At least I didn’t burn a 3rd or 4th like others, eh? For reference, it’s a 15-team roto league, so that does change some things. Anywho, that leaves Sewald. I don’t really have anything against Sewald at all. Damn fine RP1 if you ask me. Despite sub-par velocity, the fastball is good, and it’s complemented by an even better sweeper. Job is safe, so I expect a season that looks quite similar to what we saw in 2023.

Tier 6

Sixth tier is Romano to Kimbrel. Really solid options, I just don’t think the sex appeal is as high as the other tiers. I want to put Munoz higher, cuz his junk has da funk…but he just can’t really control it, and the H/9 and overall WHIP wasn’t encouraging from August onward. He certainly has the wherewithal to make my ranking look stupid, but whatever, call it a confidence thing. I’m more confident in the 17 guys ahead of him. You may be curious as to why Romano is down outside the Top 15, and to that my answer would be all about his price tag. The sixth RP off the board in Yahoo? That’s ridonk. He’s quite fine in a vacuum, but there are so many guys I’d rather have at cost than Romano. And lastly, with Kimbrel, age isn’t in his favor, the AL East is a tough place, his control is getting worse, yadda yadda. People are starting to hit him very, very hard, and very often. The strikeout stuff is still hella elite, and I figure he’s got a pretty long leash as Bautista’s stand-in. And annoyingly, he still wasn’t a full-time closer in Philly, whereas he should be in Baltimore. Full-time closer Kimbrel is the best kind of Kimbrel, so he also has the chops the make my ranking look foolish.

Tier 7

Seventh tier is Lange to Jansen. I spoke pretty highly of Lange last year, and then did so again last week. You’re not paying a high price, yet there’s Top 20 RP upside (SV-only, that is). The ratios won’t be elite, but the K and SV totals have potential to be excellent returns on your investment. The stuff is juicy, evidenced by the 99th percentile Whiff% in 2023, it’s just that sometimes it’s so juicy it slips right out of his hand, leading to a 15.6 BB%. If he can get even moderately better at free passes, the WHIP likely drops 10 points or so. I reckon the SV totals are competitive regardless. Everyone else in this tier has some modicum of risk associated with them. Lange’s is the walks, Leclerc’s is the fact he’s got two other capable dudes vying for high-leverage duties, Alzolay’s is that he hasn’t been named closer yet and Hector Neris is now in town, and then Jansen’s is mostly health-related. I’ll say I feel pretty confident that Leclerc and Alzolay manage to be primary closers. Jansen only pitched 44.2 IP last year and was kind mid at it, while Chris Martin has been really, really, really good for the past two seasons. Also, Boston signed Liam Hendriks as the clear closer-in-waiting once Jansen peaces out, so it’s not like they’re super tied to him or anything.

Tier 8

Eighth tier is Suarez to Smith. I’d feel better about Suarez if they hadn’t have signed Yuki Matsui. I’ve said I expect Suarez to be the main man to start, mainly because of 1). his paycheck, 2). his MLB success thus far, and 3). his closing experience/dominance in Japan. But. Matsui also has closing experience/dominance, and he has much sexier stuff. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s a timeshare situation, and in that case I could see Matsui just winning out. Or maybe Suarez’s lack of true K stuff comes back to bite him and he just loses the gig. He’s also not exactly the picture of health. So he’s a risky pick, but there is most definitely upside at a very cheap price. Finnegan is all well and good. He’s not giving you stellar ratios, and Hunter Harvey is a thing, but I do still think a repeat of last year is within the realm of possibility. Estevez has been named the closer and was more than adequate for a large portion of ’23, but Robert Stephenson is now in town and is being paid more because he’s a helluva lot better pitcher. Thing is, Stephenson is battling a shoulder injury and might not be ready for Opening Day. But then there’s also that Ben Joyce kid. As for Smith, I think he’s pretty boo boo. Really struggled in the second half, posting a 1-4 record, 6.12 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 7.2 K/9 post-All-Star break. He seems to be the favorite for saves, however, so that’s draftable in its own right. I just don’t think the quality is all that good anymore, and I think McArthur can outpitch him in a hurry.

Tier 9

Ninth tier is Lawrence/Kinley to Brebbia. I’m not gonna spend much time here. They aren’t guys you want if you can help it. If you’ve faded RP so hard that you’ve been sniped 27 times, then you can pick from this lot. No one here has a steady job, nor do they have the chops to keep and run away with any kind of closing job. Tyler Kinley intrigues me the most, I’ll say. Was damn good in 2022 in limited IP, but he was also very bad after finally getting healthy last year. Maybe a full offseason and full spring ramp up will help. His potential is highest, and he’s competing with Lawrence for the closing job. Could see him winning out and being an extremely cheap source of 20+ SV.


Late-Round Dart Throws

I know a list of just 30 names might not be comprehensive enough for some of you. I understand, I sympathize, and I may even empathize. So I’m gonna compromise, lest you chastise. In no particular order, here are some guys to throw late picks at just in case they stick:

Robert Stephenson is the handcuff to Carlos Estevez. Even though Stephenson is injured at the moment, he’s still someone you might want to grab and stash. Estevez is far from a sure bet to hang onto his job, while Stephenson was ridonkulously good last year: 2.73 xERA, .180 xBA, 41.3 Chase%, 46.3 Whiff%, 38.3 K%, and 0.88 WHIP across 52.1 IP. Technically didn’t qualify per Statcast, but those numbers are all tippity top across the league. Like, upper-echelon, cream-of-the-crop elite.

Mason Miller will not see the ninth inning until he proves capable of handling a high-leverage workload, per manager Mark Kotsay. But that doesn’t mean you can’t draft him with your last pick and stash him, if you’ve got that kind of luxury. The A’s don’t have a whole lot going for them, but Miller is a bright spot for the future. Tossed 33.1 IP last year, striking out 38 and posting a .185 xBA, which would have been among the league’s very best had he qualified.

Josh Sborz and David Robertson are breathing down Leclerc’s neck. Robertson has plenty of experience and recent success as a closer (aside from, well, sucking it up in Miami last year more often than not), while Sborz has pretty tantalizing upside and finished out the World Series winner.

Hunter Harvey is the Finnegan handcuff to own, of course. Looked mighty, mighty fine in ’23. Can he be healthy and do it again? Could it be enough to unseat Finnegan of 28-save fame?

James McArthur is probably my next man up in KC if the Smith Show doesn’t pan out. And given how he ended 2023, that may not take too long.

Gotta keep tabs on Yuki Matsui just in case Suarez doesn’t meet expectations. Yuki has that dookie (the good kind).


That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading. Leave me a comment below so I feel all warm and fuzzy.

I specialize in bullpens, and I also do some fantasy hockey as well here at Razzball. Find me on Elon’s Disaster: @jkj0787. DMs are always open for questions, comments, concerns, complaints, etc. Odds are good I’m drinking black coffee, dark beer, or some form of bourbon at any given time of day.