Closer Report for March 28th

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Ray Guilfoyle ranks the closers to get you ready for your drafts this weekend and next week.

With 2013 fantasy drafts this weekend and into next week for some of you (and me), here is my take on the 2013 closer rankings heading into Opening Day, which is just four days away.

I will be publishing the Closer Report on a weekly basis going forward, probably on Monday mornings. I will release a full schedule of all of our in-season coverage tomorrow.

2013 Closer Rankings

1. Craig Kimbrel, ATL

2. Aroldis Chapman, CIN

3. Fernando Rodney, TB

4. Mariano Rivera, NYY

5. Rafael Soriano, WAS

6. Jonathan Papelbon, PHI

7. Joe Nathan, TEX

8. Greg Holland, KC

9. Tom Wilhelmsen, SEA

10. J.J. Putz, ARI

11. Jim Johnson, BAL

12. Addison Reed, CHW

13. John Axford, MIL

14. Glen Perkins, MIN

15. Ernesto Frieri/Ryan Madson, LAA

16. Chris Perez/Vinnie Pestano, CLE

17. Brandon League, LAD

18. Sergio Romo, SFG

19. Huston Street, SD

20. Joel Hanrahan, BOS

21. Rafael Betancourt, COL

22. Grant Balfour, OAK

23. Steve Cishek, MIA

24. Jason Grilli, PIT

25. Casey Janssen/Sergio Santos, TOR

26. Bobby Parnell, NYM

27. Mitchell Boggs/Jason Motte, STL

28. Carlos Marmol, CHC

29. Detroit closer by committee

30. Jose Veras, HOU

31. Kenley Jansen, LAD

32. David Robertson, NYY

33. Kyuji Fujikawa, CHC

34. David Hernandez, ARI

35. Luke Gregerson, SD

36. Drew Storen, WAS

37. Joakim Soria, TEX

38. Kelvim Herrera, KC

39. Wilton Lopez, COL

40. Mark Melancon, PIT

Earlier today, the Tigers announced they were sending closer prospect Bruce Rondon to AAA, and who can blame them? Rondon struggled in most of his appearances this spring. All told, he gave up 8 runs on 17 hits and 9 walks, with 19 strikeouts, in 12.1 innings of work. All that put together is a 5.84 ERA, a 2.11 WHIP, and a K/BB of just over 2.00.

The Tigers will go with a closer by committee to start the season, but I am sure manager Jim Leyland will want just one guy he can count on in the 9th to close out games. The names involved in the committee are Joaquin Benoit, Al Albuquerque, Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel. Benoit and Al-Al seem to have the lead in what could be a close competition for the Tigers closer job. Why Detroit waited till today to send Rondon down tells me they were serious about giving him the closer job, which makes a midseason trade for a closer all the more likely. Guys like Rafael Betancourt, Huston Street, and Steve Cishek should be available come June.

Once Detroit decides on one guy, I will adjust my rankings for the Detroit closer.

Several of these guys may be on short leashes to start the season, headed by Carlos Marmol, who has had a horrific spring after a strong second half last season. There has been talk that he will be traded after the season starts, so grab Fujikawa late in your drafts.

Another guy who will be on a short leash, in my opinion, will be Jose Veras. The Astros are rebuilding and will try anyone in the role until they find someone who can handle the job on a consistent basis. Then THAT guy will be traded come July 31st for prospects.

One closer who could be traded fairly early in the season is Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt. With the Tigers still looking for a closer, he would be a great fit in the back of their bullpen. The guy who could get the first shot at the closer role should Betancourt be dealt is Wilton Lopez. He has closer experience and is an elite ground ball pitcher.

I am of the belief that Dodgers closer Brandon League will be on a short leash, but may be in the minority in that line of thinking. Jansen is the obvious guy to close should League struggle early on. The pressure to win this season will push manager Don Mattingly to make a change fairly quickly.

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