The people were asking for a closer rankings update and I haves to gives thems what they wants. To recap — here are my preseason rankings from February 3rd: SAGNOF: Preseason Closer Rankings.
TLDR: I ranked the closers in that first article according to three factors: their job security, their pitching ability, and the team they’re on providing them save opportunities (good offenses, good starting pitching, good other relievers.)
As you’ll see below in only a month and a half there has already been some moving and shaking in my rankings. Only a few hours after my article went live it was out of date because the Twins signed Alex Colome which muddied the Twins closer situation. Some guys have lost/gained in the rankings due to their small sample size spring stats.
Let’s get into it!
There’s not much to say here, these guys are still your top 3 closer options. All three have perfect scores in job security and player ability, while I give the save opportunity nod to Liam Hendriks. If possible, Chapman’s job security ranking got even better with the news of Zack Britton’s elbow surgery.
|9||Nick Anderson & Friends||TB||10|
Edwin Diaz and Raisel Iglesias have swapped spots only because of Diaz’s performance this spring. “Spring training stats don’t mean anything.” Correct, but it’s still nice to see 3 complete untouched innings with 5 Ks from Diaz. I have a feeling he’ll catapult into tier 1 status if he continues last season’s dominance and the Mets can hand him lots of close leads.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced Jansen is the Dodgers closer to open the season, but the fact that he had to come out and say that made me want to bump down his job security a little. Sounds counter-intuitive, but Jansen does have a medium-sized leash compared to the longer leash of the guys above him.
Nine days after my first closer rankings the Padres announced they signed Mark Melancon. Three days after this, the Padres signed Keone Kela. This took Pomeranz from a 7 out of 10 on the job security scale all the way to a 4. Padres manager Jayce Tingler saying that he is “incredibly open-minded” in regards to bullpen roles doesn’t help.
Rosenthal was unsigned in my last article with Jake Diekman serving as the placeholder as Athletics closer. Rosenthal’s signing moved the Oakland closer’s score from 16 to 19 due to an increase in job security and player ability. Rosenthal did suffer a slight groin strain early in camp, but he’s set to make his debut probably as you’re reading this.
|14||Taylor Rogers/Alex Colome||MIN||12|
|15||Chris Martin & Friends||ATL||N/A|
Karinchak slipped a bit in the job security score due to comments from pitching coach Carl WIllis saying that the Cleveland Baseball Team’s closer job was an open competition. The combatants in this case are: Karinchak, Emmanuel Clase, and Nick Wittgren. I still think it’s Karinchak’s job to lose and he’s done a pretty good job so far with 11 Ks in 5.1 IP.
As I mentioned in the intro, Colome was signed mere hours after my preseason closer article went live. The early word out of camp was that Colome was going to be the primary closer in Minnesota, but now it’s sounding like there will be a twin closer situation in the twin cities. Both are solid contributors and capable of closing, but obviously their job security role had to drop.
In early February I had Will Smith as the lead bullpen dog in Atlanta, but after digging deeper I think Chris Martin could be the front runner. Here’s what I said in last week’s bullpen update article: “All three are capable of 10+ K/9 which is a huge benefit in the closer role, but Minter gets himself into too much trouble (career 4.0 BB/9) and is the only lefty, and Smith showed a tendency to give up the long ball too often last year (3.9 HR/9.) What could work against Martin, however, is that he has struggled against righties throughout his career (.286 BAA vs .225 vs lefties.) He has a devastating slider that breaks in against lefties, but nothing to combat righties.”
|17||Jordan Hicks & Friends||STL||20|
Amir Garrett slipped slightly due to the signing of Sean Doolittle. I still think Garrett is the arm to own in this bullpen, but the signing of Doolittle and the spring dominance of Tejay Antone has lead the job security ranking to slip just a bit.
|30||Bryan Garcia & Friends||DET||30|
Greg Holland has helped his own case this spring throwing 4 shutout innings allowing only 2 baserunners with 5 Ks. There is some sleeper potential for Holland to move up based on how this rebuild Royals team performs. I may have been a little hard on the Royals giving them a 2 out of 10 as a save opportunity score. The first seven guys in their lineup: (Whit Merrifield, Andrew Benintendi, Adalberto Mondesi, Carlos Santana, Salvador Perez, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier) could actually be pretty productive. Their starting rotation does leave a bit to be desired, however.
Craig Kimbrel honestly should’ve fallen further. In only 3 spring training games he’s allowed 7 hits, 2 walks, and 9 ERs with only 1 strikeout. I know it’s only spring training — stop saying that — but color me concerned. His only saving grace is that his potential replacement, Rowan Wick, is nursing an intercostal injury.
Joakim Soria was signed in early February, but I don’t think he’s such a huge upgrade over the pitcher I wrote about before the signing – Stefan Crichton. Crichton had a 2.42 ERA with an 8.0 K/9 while Soria had a 2.82 ERA with a 9/7 K/9. Soria obviously does have more closing experience — I’ll be keeping an eye on this situation as the season progresses.
It’s a two-horse race in the Miami bullpen between Bass and Yimi Garcia, but two things are working in Bass’s favor: one is that manager Don Mattingly keeps insinuating and hinting that Bass is his closer, and Yimi has allowed 5 ERs on 7 hits in 4 innings this spring while Bass has yet to be scored on.
Like Alex Colome and Trevor Rosenthal, McGee was a late closer competitor added to his team. Almost right away, Giants manager Gabe Kapler said that McGree will be battling to be Giants closer. After McGee’s 2.66 ERA/14.6 K/9 in 20.1 IP last season with the Dodgers I’m thinking it’s McGee’s job to lose, but will there be a lot of saves in San Francisco? I gave them a 1 out of 10 for save opportunities.
Jose Leclerc slipped because he looked rough even though it’s been only 2 short spring appearances. The leash could be quite short for Leclerc who has never really been able to lock down a closer job for long. Joely Rodriguez could be in the conversation after a brief breakout debut with the Rangers last season: 12.2 IP, 17 Ks, 3 ERs.
Allow me to quote myself from last week again regarding the Baltimore bullpen situation: “I think this battle is more wide-open than a lot of other people think. Everything I’m reading is saying that it’s Harvey’s job to lose, but I’m actually leaning Tanner Scott. Last year Scott was in the 92nd percentile in fastball velocity and 93rd percentile in opponent exit velocity. One of the big knocks against Scott is his control (career 5.2 BB/9,) but look who has 3 BBs compared to 0 this year? Yea, I’m aware it’s only two innings, but if Scott has been working on that control, his 1.31 ERA in 20.2 IP could be a sign of things to come. Plus, Harvey is no guarantee to stay healthy.” Well guess what sports fans? Hunter Harvey is already dealing with an oblique injury and is expected to miss time. The Orioles scored a 1 in the save opportunity rating though so no big loss.