2011 Closer Rankings: August

Surprisingly, there weren’t any closers dealt last weekend at the trade deadline despite plenty of rumors, so the rankings don’t change all that much nor are there many new names. Here are July’s rankings, which can take you back through the start of the season, and here’s the saves leaderboard for reference.

Tier One
Craig Kimbrel
John Axford
Joakim Soria
Jonathan Papelbon
Brian Wilson
Heath Bell

Axford might be the best in the fantasy business at the moment, pitching to a 1.32 ERA with 45 strikeouts and just a dozen walks (one intentional) in his last 34 innings with zero blown saves. The Brewers are winning quite a bunch these days, which is why he has eight saves in the last two and a half walks. Everyone else in this tier is pretty self explanatory, though it’s kinda surprising Bell is still working the ninth inning for the Padres after the trade deadline.

Tier Two
Mariano Rivera
Ryan Madson
Joel Hanrahan
J.J. Putz
Andrew Bailey
Leo Nunez

This tier is all about health. Nagging injuries over the last few years are why the 42-year-old Rivera isn’t in the top tier, and successful returns from the disabled list are why Madson, Putz, and Bailey moved up. Nunez has been kind of sketchy of late but generally very good, and it sure would be nice if Clint Hurdle maximized Hanrahan’s usage.

Tier Three
Sergio Santos
Fernando Salas
Carlos Marmol
Huston Street
Jordan Walden
Brandon League
Drew Storen

July was a very rough month for Marmol, who temporarily lost his job and at one point walked seven of 20 batters faced. Storen has been shaky of late as well. Salas has been very good overall but also somewhat homer prone. The Cardinals didn’t make a deal (for Bell?) at the deadline, so his job is pretty safe for the time being.

Tier Four
Kyle Farnsworth
Chris Perez
Jose Valverde
Francisco Cordero
Javy Guerra
Neftali Feliz
Mark Melancon
Joe Nathan
Jon Rauch
Jason Isringhausen
Kevin Gregg

Perez is slowly getting away from the dreaded 1.0 K/BB ratio, though he still appears to be allergic to 1-2-3 innings. But hey, the Tribe win a fair amount of ballgames and he’s the undisputed guy in the ninth inning, so that counts for something. Valverde and Cordero had particularly rough months, and it’s good to see Nathan back where he should be after a tough start to the season and a DL stint. Izzy is as combustible as the come, and that’s not just based on the last two nights.

No Longer Closing (for various reasons)
Francisco Rodriguez
David Hernandez
Matt Capps
Frank Francisco
Brian Fuentes
David Aardsma
Jonathan Broxton
Brandon Lyon

None of these guys are expected to get their closer’s job back, though a handful are an injury away from save chances.




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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

34 Responses to “2011 Closer Rankings: August”

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  1. don says:

    yeah valverde is only 29 for 29 in save chances with an era under 3. total 4th tier guy. they should just dfa him

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    • Tom B says:

      0 ER for all of June, and only 2 games where he gave up 3 run a piece in July.

      Yeah, Valverde is definitely in the wrong place.

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    • Mike Axisa says:

      He also walked as many guys as he struck out with a ~5.00 ERA over the last month. The 29-or-29 is a minor miracle.

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      • don says:

        his numbers are almost identical to 1st tier brian wilson. that just doesnt make sense to me, sorry.

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      • Kyle says:

        What don said… wow. Brian Wilson is one of the more overrated players maybe ever now?

        Valverde not only has a better k ratio over 9 innings, but actually walks less guys than Wilson. His career WHIP is 1.17 and of course Wilson’s is 1.33. Guess which one has 0 blown saves, and which guy has 5 blown saves? Easy… the overrated guy whose team NEEDED him but he’s just so cool, zany and random. Wow. Not that it matters, but he also pitches in the National League in park that’s made for pitchers.

        And Valverde, according to Fangraphs, has far better hit and miss stuff. He also gets guys to chase pitches more often and it seems hitters have started to not swing and Wilson’s stuff. With a WHIP of 1.39 this year, and talking about Valverde’s walks? 33 in 66.1 innings while the GREATEST closer ever has a Roy Halladay like 31 walks. But he’s only thrown 53.2 innings…. how in the hell does WAR have Wilson at .7 and Vervalde at .6.

        ELITE closers typically have opposing hitters at or below the Mendoza line when facing them. Valverde is the guy who has that, but I guess Wilson’s beard and cockiness gets him extra cool points.

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  2. Tom B says:

    Nagging injuries over the last few years are why the 42-year-old Rivera isn’t in the top tie

    Uh… what? Mo hasn’t been hurt at all… a sore triceps 2 months ago is what you are docking him for? lol…

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    • Mike Axisa says:

      Nah, he’s had nagging oblique issues for the last two seasons or so. Plus the Yanks are taking it easy on him, very rarely works three days in a row or four times in five days, etc.

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      • Tom B says:

        Actually he has been working 3 days in a row and 4 times in 5 days since Soriano went down earlier this year. The Yankees lost a lot of games in July if you didn’t notice.

        nagging oblique issues? is that a joke? I think kimbrel stubbed his tow once when he was a kid, definitely not tier 1 material.

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      • Tom B says:

        … but Madson, a guy who was actually JUSt hurt… gets bumped right back to 2? come on.

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      • Tom B says:

        3 guys in tier 2 have been on the DL this year, and none of them are named mariano rivera.

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      • Total Dominication says:

        @Tom- Yeah, Mike Axisa needs to stop what is a clear ignorance and hatred for the Yankees.

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      • ultimate913 says:

        @Total Dominication – riveraveblues.com

        Go ahead and look at what type of site that is and who one of the authors are.

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      • Total Dominication says:

        —————————

        your head

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      • Tom B says:

        I was not implying that he hates the Yankees… he writes for a Yankee blog. He might be too close to remember how much better and more secure Mo’s position is in relation to the guys he placed in Tier 1. That’s all.

        2 guys with established backups, a guy that lost his job once this year, assface, a guy walking the park and a guy on a terrible team. For the 31 days of August… I’ll take my chances with Mo.

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      • SKob says:

        I’m a Red Sox fan and even I think puting Mo in tier 2 is one of the bigger attrocities I have ever seen on this site!

        And when did Soria get the utmost confiedence back. He was dominant in June, but has not had another month with an ERA under 3.8! What the frick?

        As a group, I’m pretty sure I would trade tier 1 for tier 2 straight up! Outside of Nunez, I’m far more confident in the tier 2 group.

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      • mattinm says:

        @TomB

        “Actually he has been working 3 days in a row and 4 times in 5 days since Soriano went down earlier this year.”

        Looking at his game long, the only time he’s gone 3 in a row was 4/30-5/2 and the only time going 4 in 5 was 4/13-4/17. Part of that could just be perfect spacing on save opps though.

        That said, I do think he should be in the first tier, for all the reasons people have mentioned.

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      • Tom B says:

        Mo has been skipped over for a save opportunity exactly once this season. No players have saves or blown saves in the 9th except the one that Soriano has. There is no nagging injury. There are no reasons. There are however, plenty of reason for the rest of the Tier1 guys to NOT be in tier 1.

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    • Pedro Pumpkin says:

      I would agree that Mo belongs in the top tier. His job security is much greater than some of the other guys in that group. Axford and Kimbrel both have established setup guys that could easily take their spot with a prolonged slump. Soria already lost his job for a short time when he slumped earlier in the year, and he also plays for a poor team.

      Of course I would prefer Axford or Kimbrel or Papelbon to Mo considering age and strike out rate. But Mo has a great combination of the best job security in the game with a great team that will produce many save chances for him. So he’s still in the top tier.

      And does Brian Wilson belong in that group right now? His walk rate is alarming. I’d much rather own Mo or Hanrahan. Probably Madson too.

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      • Tom B says:

        Neither Wilson nor Bell belong up there… and the handful of guys you mentioned with big question marks to their job security are on the fence…

        Is this not the August closer rankings? Not the keeper or the preseason rankings for next year… If there was one closer I had to pick right now to get me the most secure source of saves… in August… there’s only one name on that list.

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  3. Pedro Pumpkin says:

    I’d also like to point out that Mo essentially has the same number of innings pitched as David Robertson. Robertson is generally seen as the workhorse of the yankee ‘pen and the one guy that might get overly abused by Girardi. yet Mo is only one inning behind him right now. In truth, Mo and Robertson get used more than any other Yankee relievers. I don’t think you need to worry about Mo’s useage due to age. It is clear that if it is a save chance, Girardi will use him.

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  4. Detroit Michael says:

    Kevin Gregg has improved from sucky to mediocre seemingly. I’m not saying he’s great but his job is more secure than it has been previously this year:
    - 24K versus 9BB since June 1. His wildness seems to be streaky the last couple of years and he’s had it under control lately.
    - He is going to be paid $5.8M next year, so one will be eager to demote him from the high-profile closer role.
    - Uehara is in Texas and Jim Johnson might become a starter, reducing his competition.

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    • Mark says:

      This, his xFIP in both June and July was below 3.50, which isn’t anything special for a closer, but pretty nice for Gregg. Of course he did it in completely different ways both months. He was basically a Carlos Marmol (pre-2011) clone in July, striking out a ton of batters but walking a ton also. It was also ironically the lowest xFIP he had in any month and the highest ERA he had in any month. But he has job security and hasn’t been torching rates lately.

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  5. Matt says:

    Show of hands:

    How many prefer Bell to Rivera?

    Either they don’t… or they’re sans hands

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  6. Mike D says:

    Rivera’s IP the last two seasons: 66 1/3 and 61. We are two-thirds into the season and how many innings has he pitched? 41 1/3. Right on target with the last two years.

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  7. benjipants says:

    Is anyone else terrified of Brian Wilson’s BB/9?

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  8. Mark says:

    Why is Santos the head of Tier 3? He’s a fine pitcher, and its not his fault, but Ozzie Guillen has really killed some of his value. And why are League and Walden at the bottom? They’ve both been very solid with the occasional blips. Arguably the two best values from their preseason rankings at the position. I’d take them over Santos, Salas, or Marmol at this point. They’re all pretty similar values in terms of rates, save Marmol who is a unique and unpredictable creature, but Salas and Santos both have some job security/save opp risks considering their managers while Walden and League seem quite a bit safer.

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  9. Yankeegm says:

    Now mike… I’m not gonna say anything dumb like you have an anti Yankee bias, but no in tier 2 is an awful mistake. You’re probably too close to see his continued Mo-ness.

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  10. Yankeegm says:

    Plus, if given the chance, and for this year only, would you trade mo for any of the guys on tier 1? Especially papelpuss?? I doubt it.

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  11. Ben says:

    Guys, give him a break. Stop insulting every ranking he makes–why not comment on any of his good rankings. It’s not that easy to rank players, so just be quiet and let him do his job. Nice work, Mike.

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  12. James says:

    You guys do know that these are fantasy rankings, right? I don’t agree with Rivera being so low but as far as some of the others I reckon their k/9 rates hurt them.

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  13. SF 55 for life says:

    small small quibble, but I think Nathan should be a bit higher do to his track record

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    • Detroit Michael says:

      I’m not sure that Nathan’s pre-injury track record is very relevant these days, but I admire your optimism.

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  14. Dubs says:

    I <3 Craig Kimbrel

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  15. Shaun Catron says:

    LOL. Leo Nunez in Tier 2 but Santos in Tier 3?

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