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2011 Closer Rankings: September

It’s not September yet, but it’s close enough. Here’s are our August closer rankings, which can take you back through the rest of the season, and here’s the saves leaderboard for reference. September call-ups are right around the corner, and last year we caught our first glimpse of Jordan Walden in the ninth inning during the season’s final month. I don’t think there are any closer options coming up from the minors this month, but stranger things have happened.

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

No change here at all from last month, these guys (especially Kimbrel and Axford) are still the cream of the fantasy crop. Don’t be shocked if Papelbon gets a little more rest than usual in September, he’s had to work quite a bit the last two months and the Red Sox have a huge lead on a playoff spot. They might give him a bit of a breather before the postseason.

Tier Two
Mariano Rivera
Ryan Madson
Jose Valverde
Joel Hanrahan
J.J. Putz
Andrew Bailey

Valverde jumps into tier two because he continues to be perfect (39-for-39 in save chances), though his walk rate (4.78 BB/9) is scary. Hanrahan’s seen his number of opportunities decline (not his fault, obviously), and Putz is always a DL risk. Bailey’s pretty much right back to where he was in 2009, which is awesome.

Tier Three
Rafael Betancourt
Leo Nunez
Sergio Santos
Carlos Marmol
Brandon League
Drew Storen
Fernando Salas
Jordan Walden

Betancourt took over the ninth inning when Huston Street hit the DL, and he’s kept the job even though Street has since been activated. He blew a save a few days ago, but his peripherals are still elite and I suspect he’ll be perfectly fine pitching one inning later than usual. I knocked Nunez down a peg only because his ground ball rate has fallen off a cliff which has (predictably) led to a ton of homers. Walden admitting that he’s getting tired is scary, especially since the Angels are fighting for a playoff spot and will need him quite a bit this month. The blow-up potential is quite high at the moment.

Tier Four
Kyle Farnsworth
Chris Perez
Francisco Cordero
Javy Guerra
Neftali Feliz
Mark Melancon
Joe Nathan
Jon Rauch / Frank Francisco
Jason Isringhausen / Bobby Parnell
Kevin Gregg

The Professor has been dealing with some elbow trouble of late, but apparently it’s not serious enough for the Rays to stick him on the DL. It’s a situation worth monitoring. Feliz still (still!) has walked more right-handed batters (17) than he’s struck out (12). How in the world does that happen to a guy with his stuff? Frankie Frank is closing right now, but Rauch will be back off the DL soon and figures to reclaim the job. That entire situation in Toronto has been up in the air all season long.

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

Wilson’s hurt and may or may not be back soon, and both Ramon Ramirez and Santiago Casilla have picked up saves in his stead. Sergio Romo was just activated off the DL and figures to see the majority of the ninth inning work now, and he’s quite good, in case you haven’t heard.