What’s poppin’, Razzhooligans?
Can you feel it? Regular season baseball will be here in 48 hours. Not long ago, I was certain we wouldn’t be playing probably at all this month. #grateful
In my final preseason piece for you cool cats, I wanted to update my closer rankings since, well, a whole lot has happened since last time. If you’re interested, check out how I rated them way back in January. Same goes this time as it did last time: I’m only looking at guys in the mix for some saves on their respective teams, and the actual ranking number is a little bit arbitrary since I view everyone in each tier very similarly in terms of overall fantasy value.
Keep the Bullpen Chart in your bookmarks, folks. I update that thang on the regular!
Tier 1 – The Elite
I’ve tossed a new name into Tier 1. I know there’s trepidation about Craig Kimbrel based on how he looked in a White Sox uniform, but I am almost entirely ignoring that. If I were entirely ignoring it, then I’d have the dude at least #3 ahead of Raisel Iglesias. But by all indications, Kimbrel abhorred his role with CHW and it pretty obviously seeped into his on-field performance. There’s no doubt he goes to the Dodgers as their full-time closer. Blake Treinen and Daniel Hudson don’t even like to close out games (they’ve been quoted as saying so), and now they don’t have to worry about getting put into a situation they don’t want. It’s a win-win. I’ve got faith Kimbrel looks like Good Cubs Kimbrel in 2022 now that he’s closing for a World Series favorite.
Tier 2 – The Great
There’s a tad bit of worry about Jordan Romano’s ankle right now, but I think that’s a little silly. How bad could a sprained ankle while walking your dog really be? He’ll be fine and it won’t affect his 2022 season. Now that Kenley Jansen has signed with the Braves, he’s gotta get bumped way up to Tier 2. All non-SVHD Will Smith shares can go out the window, I’m afraid; Jansen will definitely be the only guy getting looks in the ninth.
Tier 3 – The Good
So this tier looks a lot different now. Simply put, things have solidified to where they’re good fantasy options for saves. Gabe Kapler has said Jake McGee is the closer again, so there’s that. Can’t completely rule out a timeshare down the road, but for right now I think it’s pretty safe to assume McGee gets the lion’s share of saves in San Fran. The Phils signed Brad Hand, but don’t let that lead you to believe he even kind of challenges Corey Knebel for regular saves. I’m vaulting Taylor Rogers up to the top of The Good tier cuz the Twins have made some surprising acquisitions and haven’t signed anyone else who could realistically vie for the closer role. It’s Rogers’s job to lose. I’ve bumped Lucas Sims down a few spots since he’ll start the year on the IL. He’s not expected to miss much time at all, but I felt like docking him because I could see a guy like Art Warren wrecking shiz and just keeping the main gig while Sims turns into Tejay Antone 2.0 for the Reds.
Tier 4 – The Fine
Had to knock Giovanny Gallegos down a few pegs now that the closer role is very murky in St. Louis, per new manager Oli Marmol. Rudy’s still got him as the #11 RP on the Player Rater, though I’m not entirely sold that will be the case in SV-only formats — he’ll remain an elite SVHD option, of course. I’ve dropped Lou Trivino to Tier 4 cuz the A’s are absolutely giving up and are in full rebuild mode. Everyone who’s worth a damn is or will be gone, so Trivino is now the closer on the worst team in baseball as far as I’m concerned. And he’s not even all that good in his own right. I almost dropped him to Tier 5, but the fact that he shouldn’t be sharing the role with anyone means he should still see a decent SV total by season’s end (assuming he keeps the job). Kinda on a whim bumped Gregory Soto and David Bednar up a tier. *Shrug emoji* I guess it’s cuz they should have relatively safe jobs in this day and age of uncertainty. Andrew Kittredge is up a tier as well since Pete Fairbanks has a very lengthy absence ahead, but you can expect to still see your typical Kevin Cash Closer Carousel in Tampa. Worth noting that the Player Rater has Kittredge sitting #14 in standard formats. Dylan Floro is gonna miss some time to start the year, but like with Sims, I’m optimistic it won’t be too long of an IL stint. Mark Melancon keeps his #21 ranking but finds himself in a new tier with the restructuring I’ve had to do.
Tier 5 – The Maybes
Man, this tier is kind of a mess. I’ve renamed it the Maybes. We could have some studs here; we could have some duds here. I’ve got Rowan Wick at the top because he seems to be the safest bet on a not-terrible team, but a guy like David Robertson or Brad Wieck (when healthy) could easily push him aside. I’m assuming Alex Colome takes the gig immediately and makes Carlos Estevez irrelevant, but I don’t trust Colome as far as I can throw him. As for Matt Barnes…I don’t even know. I think he’s better than what his second half of 2021 looked like. I can’t see Jake Diekman really making a big impact, and Garrett Whitlock is out of the picture for now since Alex Cora confirmed he’ll piggyback behind Rich Hill to ease the workload on that dinosaur. Ken Giles is shut down and will start the year on the IL after suffering a finger tendon injury, but since surgery isn’t going to be necessary, I’m still going to assume he comes ack relatively soon-ish and takes the main closer role. I wanted to put him at the top — actually, I really wanted to put him a tier higher — but the injury concerns are just a little too lofty for my taste. Taking the conservative approach. Robert Suarez is the favorite to close for the Dads in my mind, he’s just got a good deal of risk associated with him. Elite in Japan does not guarantee elite in MLB. Especially with a lack of strikeout stuff. Tanner Rainey feels like the favorite in Washington since Davey Martinez has said he would prefer him back there. Spencer Patton or Greg Holland could emerge as the Rangers closer, but we do at least now know that manager Chris Woodward doesn’t want Joe Barlow in the ninth, so that’s one less name to worry about. As for who closes in Baltimore now that Sulser/Scott have been dealt and Tyler Wells is in the rotation…I’m guessing it’s a committee approach with Dillon Tate and Paul Fry.
Tier 6 – The Next-Ups
Up top in the intro, I told you I view everyone in each tier pretty equally in terms of fantasy value. That’s…not entirely true in this case. I’m definitely not looking at Daniel Bard in the same way that I’m looking at Camilo Doval. However, they’re in the same tier because they’re not closers right now. McGee is the Giants closer, and Colome is probably the Rockies closer. But of course, Doval’s path to saves is much smoother than Bard’s. Duh. You get it. I just wanted to put it writing. This ranking closers thing is really hard, folks.
So anyway, everyone you see in this tier has a chance to close. I left off guys like Devin Williams, Jonathan Loaisiga, Will Smith, Ian Kennedy, etc. since they’re only looking at saves when there’s either an injury or a day off needed. All the guys here could challenge for regular saves at some point, I’m just not overly confident that they will, so I lumped them all in my renamed Tier 6, the Next-Ups. Also, you gotta be smart here. Pay attention to injuries. Art Warren is very likely to see closing duties until Sims is back. Anthony Bender, Cole Sulser, and/or Tanner Scott could while Floro is out. Yeah, ICYMI: The Marlins traded for two RPs with closing experience from the O’s. I’m hearing whispers here and there that the Marlins don’t like Bender to close, but I’ve lumped him here anyway, albeit behind the two new faces. Ugh, what a mess. Oh yeah, and one more thing: if Suarez slips up in San Diego, I have Johnson and Garcia higher up on the ranks in this tier, but it really could be anyone back there. That’s why there’s a big crop of other SD relievers near the bottom, and I still like Dinelson Lamet to potentially get some looks there and maybe, just maybe, hold onto that gig all year. And Jose Leclerc could be a galaxy brain IL stash as he gets closer to making a return after Tommy John surgery. Let him sit on the waiver wire for now, just don’t forget about him come summertime. Same goes for Jonathan Hernandez, but I would put my money on Leclerc first. If you’re looking for late speculative saves, throw a dart at the names in this tier, but by and large none of them are draftable outside of SVHD formats or deeper leagues. Except for the guys filling in for injuries early on. Remember, be smart!
I do some fantasy baseball as well as some fantasy hockey here at Razzball. Find me on Twitter: @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.