We’re now halfway through the season, so let’s update our rankings of the guys shutting things down in the ninth inning. Here are the preseason, May, and June rankings for reference, as well as the saves leaderboard. This rankings are based on three things (in no particular order): current performance, expected future performance, and job security. That last one is important for closers but not always easy to gauge. There hasn’t been a ton of movement in the last month, but there’s always some…
Kimbrel joins the top tier because his stellar performance is now three months old (really more if you go back to last season), though I’m concerned about his workload (on pace for ~90 IP/appearances). I wouldn’t be surprised if Jonny Venters steals some saves down the stretch, though he’s not exactly underworked either. Soria jumps back into the top tier after a stellar June, rebounding from a brutal start to the season and a temporary demotion. Bell dropped within the teir because his strikeouts are down considerably, like four strikeouts per nine have gone missing, and there’s a pretty darn good chance that he’ll be on another team and not even closing the next time we update these rankings. Wilson has been getting his walk problem under control and Papelbon battled through a short little rough stretch not too long ago. His peripherals are still fantastic and his team great.
Rivera is still the king of kings, but he’s also 42 years old. A minor triceps/elbow issue has him on the sidelines right now, and it’s nagging injuries like that that have limited his value somewhat over the last few years. Axford’s recent stretch of dominance bumps him up a tier, Monday’s outing notwithstanding. Hanrahan’s strikeouts are down but so are his walks, and he’s been great all season for the surprisingly awesome Pirates.
Not a ton of movement here, but it’s time to give League his due even though he blew the save last night. He’s poised to threaten 40 saves this year even if his peripherals aren’t great. Santos’ workload is worth keeping an eye on, and his high walk rate is offset by the fact that he’s really, really tough to hit. K-Rod is another candidate to be traded this month and is even more likely than Bell to be a setup man down the stretch. Bailey’s back to being dominant after his injury, and the rest of the guys are all rock solid. Street just needs to cut down on the homers and Perez needs to get further away from the dreaded 1.00 K/BB threshold.
It’s pretty crazy to think that Feliz has struck out just four of the 60 right-handed batters he’s faced this year. Add in the 13 walks, and … yikes. He’s better than what he’s shown and he’s done better of late, but where’s the guy that won the Rookie of the Year award in 2010? Bastardo and Hernandez are only temporary additions to the list while Ryan Madson (hand) and J.J. Putz (elbow) are on the disabled list. Pretty much anyone below Melancon is sketchy.
Brad Lidge is on a minor league rehab assignment at the moment, though Madson was so great in the ninth inning that he’ll likely remain at closer this year. When healthy, Madson’s a tier two guy at worst, Putz tier three. Crow didn’t lose the job so much as Soria took it back, and the rest of the guys have been displaced for somewhat obvious reasons by now.
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