Closer Report: Rankings for Week 4

USA TODAY Sports

Ray Guilfoyle ranks the top closers and middle relievers for Week 4, with a few first year closers making some noise in the rankings.

I did not get to the Closer Report for Week 3 last week, but here it is for Week 4. As expected, there have been some volatility in the closer roles for several teams, and there could be more on the horizon. I will discuss each situation below.

With that said, here are the Week 4 Closer Rankings:

Rank

Closer/Middle Reliever

Team

1

Craig Kimbrel

ATL

2

Aroldis Chapman

CIN

3

Rafael Soriano

WAS

4

Jonathan Papelbon

PHI

5

Mariano Rivera

NYY

6

Joe Nathan

TEX

7

Sergio Romo

SFG

8

Jason Grilli

PIT

9

Andrew Bailey

BOS

10

Jim Johnson

BAL

11

Glen Perkins

MIN

12

Casey Janssen

TOR

13

Tom Wilhelmsen

SEA

14

Fernando Rodney

TB

15

Greg Holland

KC

16

Addison Reed

CHW

17

Chris Perez

CLE

18

Huston Street

SD

19

Grant Balfour

OAK

20

Brandon League

LAD

21

J.J. Putz

ARI

22

Steve Cishek

MIA

23

Ernesto Frieri

LAA

24

Rafael Betancourt

COL

25

Edward Mujica

STL

26

Bobby Parnell

NYM

27

Jim Henderson

MIL

28

Jose Valverde

DET

29

Jose Veras

HOU

30

Carlos Marmol

CHC

31

Kenley Jansen

LAD

32

Kelvin Herrera

KC

33

David Robertson

NYY

34

David Hernandez

ARI

35

Luke Gregerson

SD

36

Mark Melancon

PIT

37

Trevor Rosenthal

STL

38

Joel Hanrahan

BOS

39

Al Albuquerque

DET

40

John Axford

MIL


Closer Changes

Several teams have already made changes at the closer role in the early going, including the Cardinals, Cubs, Red Sox, Tigers, and Brewers. I will address each below.

Boston - Andrew Bailey

Bailey has entrenched himself as the Red Sox closer while Joel Hanrahan is on the DL, and I don't know how they can make a change when he does return from the DL, barring an injury or several blown saves by Bailey. Bailey is tied for second amongst all relievers with a 15.88 K.9 with one Aroldis Chapman. Chapman lead in K% at 48.8%, with Bailey second with a 46.5% K%.

St. Louis - Edward Mujica

Mujica has been a perfect 4 for 4 in save opportunities thus far, and has been the Cardinals most consistent reliever to date. Mitchell Boggs failed miserably in his time as the Cardinals closer, and I don't see him getting save opportunities should Mujica blow a few saves down the road.

Chicago Cubs - Carlos Marmol

Recently called up reliever Kevin Gregg earned the most recent save for the Cubs, but I think Marmol will get the majority of saves going forward. He has pitched well since his early season struggles, as he has not given up a run in his last 7.2 innings of work.

Detroit - Jose Valverde

The Tigers signed Valverde to a minor league deal after the season started, and called him up yesterday. Valverde did not take long to earn his first save opportunity, as he got the save last night, pitching a clean ninth. He will probably have a long leash in the role, but expect many roller coaster outings from him going forward.

Milwaukee - Jim Henderson

Henderson has pitched well since taking over the closer role from John Axford, but, like last season, I see Axford taking back the job now that he appears to be over his early season struggles.

Closer Situations to Watch

In the past few days we have seen two NL West closers blow a save and I think each situation bares watching.

Arizona - J.J. Putz

Putz blew a save on Monday night, giving up a home run to Brandon Belt. He now has blown three saves on the season to lead the majors, but manager Kirk Gibson is not closer to making a change in the closer role. With that said, he did go to David Hernandez in the ninth of a one run game on Wednesday, yet Hernandez promptly served up a gopher ball to Brandon Crawford of all people, to blow the save. I would grab Hernandez just in case Putz is injured or loses the job.

Los Angeles - Brandon League

I made no secret that I think League will eventually lose the closer job to Kenley Jansen, and League blew a save in last night's game vs the Mets. Carl Crawford, a defensive replacement, was to blame for the blown save, but I think if he should blow a few more saves in the next week or so, we could see Jansen taking over, as he is the better choice for the ninth inning.

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