Closer Report: Rankings for Week 7

Kyle Rivas

Ray Guilfoyle discusses his Week 7 Closer Rankings, and highlights some closers that may lose their jobs in the near future.

You know the deal with closers. There is always volatility in the closer rankings and a large percentage of closers lose their job from year to year. Why is that? Because it takes just a few bad outings in a row for a manager to decide he has seen enough and pick from one of the other 7-8 relievers in his bullpen to take the closer role. The funny thing is that starters are far more inconsistent than some relievers, yet they get to keep their job. A couple guys come to mind: Joe Blanton and Josh Beckett among others.

Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman remain in the top two spots, but there is a new sheriff manning the #3 spot in the rankings this week. I considered moving Mariano Rivera to the top spot, but will hold off for now, but let's just say they have been warned. Rivera is tied for the MLB lead in saves with 10, and continues to dominate hitters with his cutter.

I also moved the Casey Janssen up on the recommendation of a Twitter follower. Janssen has been pretty dominant thus far with 13 saves and a 0.69 ERA, 1.01 FIP and he has yet to walk a batter this season.

Edward Mujica has been a perfect 10-10 in saves opportunities since taking over the closer role, and I moved him up into my top 10 closers this week. Mujica doesn't have dominating stuff, but he limits the free passes and keeps the ball on the ground, while striking out a batter per inning. Not flashy, but he gets the job done,

I moved Dodgers set up man Kenley Jansen into the #22 spot this week, as I think it is just a matter of when, not if, that manager Don Mattingly makes a change in the ninth inning role in Los Angeles. He gave closer Brandon League a weak endorsement on Monday.

Kevin Gregg was all but forgotten coming into this season, as the Cubs took a flyer on him by signing him to a minor league contract in spring training. With the injury to Kyuji Fujikawa and the ineffectiveness of Carlos Marmol, Gregg was given the opportunity to close and has converted six saves in six chances thus far, while striking out almost 12 batters per nine innings.

Closer Rankings for Week 7

Rank

Closer/Middle Reliever

Team

1

Craig Kimbrel

ATL

2

Aroldis Chapman

CIN

3

Mariano Rivera

NYY

4

Jason Grilli

PIT

5

Sergio Romo

SFG

6

Jim Johnson

BAL

7

Casey Janssen

TOR

8

Rafael Soriano

WAS

9

Joe Nathan

TEX

10

Edward Mujica

STL

11

Tom Wilhelmsen

SEA

12

Glen Perkins

MIN

13

Jonathan Papelbon

PHI

14

Addison Reed

CHW

15

Andrew Bailey

BOS

16

Fernando Rodney

TB

17

Greg Holland

KC

18

Chris Perez

CLE

19

Rafael Betancourt

COL

20

Kevin Gregg

CHC

21

Grant Balfour

OAK

22

Kenley Jansen

LAD

23

Steve Cishek

MIA

24

Jim Henderson

MIL

25

Huston Street

SD

26

Heath Bell

ARI

27

Ernesto Frieri

LAA

28

Jose Valverde

DET

29

Bobby Parnell

NYM

30

Jose Veras

HOU

31

Kelvin Herrera

KC

32

David Robertson

NYY

33

David Hernandez

ARI

34

Luke Gregerson

SD

35

Mark Melancon

PIT

36

Trevor Rosenthal

STL

37

Brandon League

LAD

38

Junichi Tazawa

BOS

39

Al Albuquerque

DET

40

Joakim Soria

TEX

Closer Changes

Heath Bell, Arizona

Bell took over the closer role for the Diamondbacks with J.J. Putz headed to the DL with an elbow injury. Bell promptly converted three saves opportunities in a row before blowing a save on Sunday, giving up two runs on 4 hits vs the Phillies. How long he keeps the job is another story.

Closer Situations to Watch

Brandon League

League gave up two more runs in his most recent outing on Sunday, a non-save opportunity, and has now given up runs in 8 of his last 11 appearances. League's hold on the closer role in LA is beginning to weaken and manager Don Mattingly could make a change as soon as the next save opportunity arises. Look for Kenley Jansen to get more saves for the Dodgers from here on out.

Huston Street

Street has struggled with the long ball in the early going, while set up man Luke Gregerson has been almost unhittable. He gave up just 2 home runs in 40 innings last season, but has already given up 5 in 14.2 innings this season. Is he hurt? He has converted 8 of his 9 save opportunities, but has a 4.91 ERA, 7.10 FIP, and a strikeout rate that has dropped from 10.85 to 6.14 K/9 this season.

Heath Bell

I think you know by now I don't think Bell will keep the Diamondbacks closer job. His peripherals say I might be wrong as his strikeout rate is up, his walk rate is down and his .435 BABIP indicates he has been unlucky with balls in play, and his FIP sits at 2.70. I just think that David Hernandez is the better reliever of the two and could take over the job should Bell blow another save or two. The Diamondbacks have already blown 11 saves this season, so manager Kirk Gibson may be quick to make a change if there is another blown save in the near future.

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