Closer Rankings: A lot of guesswork

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we wondered who would be the Oakland closer. This week ... we still don't know. Sigh.

I had a big weekend, y'all. My favorite band, Nickel Creek, is back together now, and I sojourned down to Nashville for the concert. We had an Easter thing at the house Sunday. And I vacuumed my bedroom. No, really, I vacuumed.

Okay, basically, I took a trip to Nashville this weekend and then some other stuff. It means I got a late start on this closer-rankings column. The rankings are fine; the write-up might be sad.

Starting with an excuse! Good times.

The big closer kerfuffle from last week's piece - and my follow-up player piece Wednesday - was the situation in Oakland. Jim Johnson had lost his closer job. Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle (and Ryan Cook, and Danny Otero, and probably Rollie Fingers) were in the mix to replace him. I thought Gregerson was the best bet, and ranked him accordingly - though I didn't go crazy with it, having him at 22nd for the week and 30th for the rest of the season.

Over the course of the week, Gregerson got three save opportunities, blowing one. Doolittle got one chance and blew it. The A's went to extra innings approximately a billionty-six times. Johnson, relegated to middle relief, pitched really well, actually. Basically, it seemed (and seems) that the team decided to use Gregerson as the primary closer, while Doolittle became the team's leverage-against-lefties guy-if the crucial lefty opponent was hitting in the ninth, Doolittle might get the save op, but he might be used exactly the same in the seventh, tenth, or second (probably not the second).

Last week, we wondered whether Oakland - owing Johnson $10 million for the season - would really shy away from him for the long term. I argued that if Gregerson (or Doolittle or Cook or whoever) got the job in the short term came out and was lights-out for the first week, the team won't be in any big rush to change. Obviously, that didn't happen. For now, the job still isn't Johnson's. It's Gregoolitterook's. But with Johnson looking better, no one seizing the role, and the A's still winning, the jury's still out in the long-term.

Anyway, that right there was more than I expected to write. I'm tired, y'all. But what a concert. Seriously so great.

Here are the week's rankings. As a reminder, there are two sets: Rankings for the week to come, and rest-of-season ranks. We start with the group for now:

Right-Now Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week Thoughts
1 Kenley Jansen LAD 2 His BABIP is out of control; that'll settle and he'll be fine.
2 Craig Kimbrel ATL 1 Long-range, I'm not scared, but the team might be gentle with him
3 Greg Holland KCR 3 He's been strong, and the team has started winning.
4 Koji Uehara BOS NR Showed basically no ill effects from his short-term injury.
5 Glen Perkins MIN 4 Upcoming series against Tampa Bay, Detroit, and the Dodgers. Save opportunities might be slim.
6 Sergio Romo SFG 6 Really glad I didn't buy into the spring worries.
7 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 5 He's been middlingly good, but I still believe in him.
8 Steve Cishek MIA 9 Seriously, don't care, he's right on the edge of upper echelon.
9 Rafael Soriano WAS 8 Only allowed one hit in five innings since April 9.
10 Grant Balfour TBR 11 Five strikeouts, five walks. Not a great ratio to see.
11 Huston Street SDP 7 Gave up his first run of the season Friday.
12 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 19 Um ... who saw this coming? Ten innings, 15 strikeouts, six baserunners. Crazy.
13 Joe Nathan TEX 15 He's bounced back from his early struggles, but "dead arm" is still scary.
14 Jason Grilli PIT 13 I remain unconvinced Mark Melancon doesn't take over someday.
15 Joakim Soria TEX 20 It's becoming progressively clear Soria is the only closer-y closer in Texas.
16 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 24 Maybe that first week was a blip; he's been good since.
17 Addison Reed ARI 12 His defense hasn't been helpful; three unearned runs allowed already.
18 Josh Fields HOU 18 Fields has been good, even if the team hasn't totally committed to him.
19 Jonathan Broxton CIN 28 I don't mind rolling with him until Chapman comes back, though that's on its way.
20 Tommy Hunter BAL 26 Been better than I expected, but it's still way too small a sample to trust him against lefties.
21 Matt Lindstrom CWS 25 Another guy who has been better than I thought, but the White Sox are due to slide.
22 John Axford CLE 27 Been living right on the edge the last week, but at least he got the job done.
23 LaTroy Hawkins COL 29 Success so far, but two strikeouts in seven games, 6.2 innings? That's not reassuring.
24 Fernando Rodney SEA 16 Rodney started Rodneying.last week; who knows how far off Danny Farquhar is?
25 Ernesto Frieri LAA 23 Eleven baserunners in 7.1 innings, three homers already.
26 Kyle Farnsworth NYM NR We all knew Jose Valverde stinks, yeah? We don't know Farnsworth does.
27 David Robertson NYY NR Due back from the DL Tuesday, but who knows if the Yankees go right back to that well.
28 Shawn Kelley NYY 17 Robertson is due back from the DL Tuesday, but who knows if the Yankees go right back to that well. (Deja vu.)
29 Sergio Santos TOR 10 Man, even with the Casey Janssen worries, another outing like that disaster last week and he might be out of the job.
30 Pedro Strop CHC 21 I guess Strop is the top Cubs option. Jose Veras has been indescribable. Hector Rondon and James Russell are worth watching, too.

Rest-Of-Season Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week Thoughts
1 Craig Kimbrel ATL 1
2 Kenley Jansen LAD 2
3 Greg Holland KCR 3
4 Koji Uehara BOS 5
5 Glen Perkins MIN 4
6 Sergio Romo SFG 7
7 Aroldis Chapman CIN 9 He's coming, he's coming, he's coming ...
8 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 6
9 Steve Cishek MIA 12
10 Rafael Soriano WAS 11
11 Huston Street SDP 8
12 Grant Balfour TBR 13
13 Joe Nathan DET 15
14 Joakim Soria TEX 18
15 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 24
16 Addison Reed ARI 14
17 David Robertson NYY 10 Will probably be higher, but part of me wonders if the team tries to keep Shawn Kelley closing.
18 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 19
19 Jason Grilli PIT 16 Of this middle tier, he is the one with the best fill-in option if there are struggles.
20 Tommy Hunter BAL 22
21 John Axford CLE 21
22 Josh Fields HOU 17
23 Fernando Rodney SEA 20
24 Matt Lindstrom CWS 23
25 LaTroy Hawkins COL 26 Rex Brothers hasn't really been lighting it up so far.
26 Ernesto Frieri LAA 27
27 Kyle Farnsworth NYM NR
28 Sergio Santos TOR 25
29 Jim Johnson OAK NR I guess he's the best long-term option on a good ballclub.
30 Pedro Strop CHC 29

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