While it's always nice to own closers like Mariano Rivera and Joakim Soria, many owners simply aren't willing to draft these players where they will be required to do so. As a result, finding late round values who can provide saves can make the difference in how you finish in your league.
When looking for closer candidates, I try to find players who are going to provide at least solid value even if they do not end up getting saves for me. These candidates are divided into two groups: Players who have the job lined up already, and players who might get the chance. All ADP data is from Mock Draft Central.
Players with Closer Jobs
- Ryan Franklin - (ADP of 283) - Franklin was the closer last season for the Cardinals, and has held the job for a majority of the last 3 seasons. His strikeout rate isn't really going to help you out at this point (5.8, 6.5, and 5.8 K/9 the last 3 years), but he's been getting ground balls at right around 45% of the time. Throw in that he's pitching for a team that is reasonably expected to compete for a division title, and there aren't a ton of candidates pushing him, and you've got a very nice value play late.
- Joe Nathan - (ADP of 241) - Nathan is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and is expected to be ready in time for the start of the season. He's being forgotten because he had no stats last year, but he seems like a very good possibility to return to the form that made him one of the top closers in the league.
- Brandon Lyon - (ADP of 352) - Lyon benefited from an offseason trade of Matt Lindstrom by the Astros, and now has very minimal competition for the closers' job. His strikeout rate isn't as good as some of the elite closers, but he should still be good for about 6-6.25 per 9 innings, along with decent ratios.
Players without Closer Jobs
- Mike Adams (390) and Luke Gregerson (396) - The Padres already moved Adrian Gonzalez, and Heath Bell seems likely to bring back a great haul in trade if they move him to a contender. If that happens, both Adams and Gregerson could slot into the closer's role, and both struck out more than a batter per inning in each of the last 2 seasons.
- Brandon League (396) - League was the 8th inning guy for the Mariners last year, and with current closer David Aardsma currently rehabbing from an injury, League could be in line to take over that role until Aardsma returns.
- Jordan Walden (UD) - The closer situation in Anaheim seems like it should be locked in with Fernando Rodney holding down the role, but Walden could be a candidate if Rodney struggles early on. He burst onto the scene late last year with 23 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings, even recording a save in the process. He seems like a deep-league candidate only, but he's one to watch for sure.