Closer Rankings: The top 30 closers aren't the top 30 relievers

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

When picking a fantasy closer, you're kinda stuck with what the big-league managers give you.

Nowhere is fantasy baseball more different from real baseball than in closers. I touched on this in my Pitcher Equivalent fantasy Average piece from Friday (it exists!), but it's just so very true.

If I were to make a list of the top 30 relievers, guys who I think would be fine closers but don't have the chance, something like half the names would be different than the ones that appear here. Wade Davis would show up, and Dellin Betances. Joaquin Benoit. Heck Tony Watson and Pat Neshek, Sunday's holy-crap-they-shouldn't-be-All-Stars selections, would still probably beat out guys like Jake Petricka and LaTroy Hawkins.

But that's not what we do here. I'm not building a roster; I'm just working with my opportunities. Yeah, there are times when we think, I don't know, the Cardinals should have given Matt Adams' or Allen Craig's or Jon Jay's plate appearances to Oscar Taveras early in the season, or that Kevin Gausman should be starting every fifth day in Baltimore, but by and large, 99 percent of players who should have opportunities with the big leagues do. Except relievers. The Royals, Braves, Yankees, and other teams have elite relievers whose only paths to saves is pushing Greg Holland, Craig Kimbrel, or David Robertson in front of a bus.

What are there, eight backup middle infielders across all of baseball who should start on other teams? Maybe a dozen outfielders and/or starting pitchers who would have gigs if they got dealt? There's just no contest between "guys who can do the job" in the bullpen and elsewhere.

I've been vocal this season about not buying in on Hawkins. I don't think he's a particularly great pitcher, with a 2.70 ERA masking a 4.34 xFIP, and only 4.50 K/9 in an era where that's barely half of what is acceptable. He probably wouldn't be in the top 100 relievers I'd put on my roster if I were given the San Diego job and a blank checkbook today. But the Rockies are all in on him, and short of a Joe Nathan-ian stretch, it's hard to see Rex Brothers or anyone else taking his job from him. He'll get saves, and if he's getting saves, he has to be owned.

Okay, so here are this week's rankings. Remember, right-now rankings and rest-of-season rankings, yada yada yada.

Right-Now Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week Thoughts
1 Craig Kimbrel ATL 2 Baseball-Reference.com has his all-time rank right in line with Harry Coveleski, Dan Petry, Carl Weilman, and Stan Bahnsen, which is meaningless but fun.
2 Greg Holland KAN 3 Two months since his last (and only) blown save.
3 Koji Uehara BOS 5 Run he allowed Tuesday was the only one he's given up all year on a non-homer.
4 Glen Perkins MIN 4 The Twins are in last place and now lose Joe Mauer. Where will save chances come from?
5 Kenley Jansen LAD 7 Five runs allowed in March+April. Five in May. Five in June.
6 Huston Street SDP 6 Dangit, I was enjoying his blown-save-less-ness, until he blew one Saturday.
7 Aroldis Chapman CIN 1 He gets demoted because of a hamstring injury that might limit him for a few days, not for ability.
8 David Robertson NYY 8 Run he allowed Sunday was his first in more than a month.
9 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 9 His ERA keeps reaching new season lows with each outing.
10 Rafael Soriano WAS 11 I really thought he'd make the All-Star team, despite what I said a couple weeks ago. I still think he'll make it eventually.
11 Casey Janssen TOR 14 His strikeout issues aren't as glaring as Hawkins', but he does only have 13 in 20 innings.
12 Joakim Soria TEX 13 The Rangers are in full-on "next year" mode. Maybe Soria gets dealt, maybe he stays and doesn't get chances.
13 Sean Doolittle OAK 10 Walked only his second guy of the season Monday, and that walk scored. WALKS ARE THE DEVIL.
14 Steve Cishek MIA 16 Closers come in tiers, and the Cishek/Rodriguez/Melancon tier could really go in any order. Even now I think I got it wrong.
15 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 12 Didn't pitch in the last week. Sure, the team's only win came when Matt Garza pitched a complete game, but you'd think they'd get him work at some point.
16 Mark Melancon PIT 17 Six saves in the last two weeks; three of them have come with a run scoring. Not been overwhelming.
17 Fernando Rodney SEA 18 B-R says his nickname is "Kimbo." I have literally never heard that.
18 Zach Britton BAL 21 Since four-run outing June 20: Eight outings, eight innings, five saves, eight strikeouts, four baserunners. Stout.
19 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 15 Slid back in the past week, with back-to-back two-run outings.
20 Cody Allen CLE 19 Yeah, John Axford isn't getting his job back any time soon.
21 LaTroy Hawkins COL 22 One earned run allowed since May 20. Maybe I need to adjust my opinion, I don't know.
22 Joe Smith LAA 25 Jason Grilli has been fine since joining the Angels, but Smith's been even better.
23 Addison Reed ARI 23 Runs allowed in five of his last 11 outings; ERA is still over 4.00.
24 Chad Qualls HOU 20 Team has started giving save opportunities elsewhere; could a trade be in the offing?
25 Jake McGee TAM 24 Looking more and more like he'll keep his hold on the closer role.
26 Santiago Casilla SFG 29 Sergio Romo will get the job back eventually, but Casilla's been good so far.
27 Joe Nathan DET 26 Well, at least he's only been allowing one run per outing at most lately.
28 Hector Rondon CHC 27 One disaster outing June 23 is skewing his season numbers.
29 Jenrry Mejia NYM 28 Looks like he's holding on to the job.
30 Jonathan Broxton CIN NR Might get a few saves if Chapman's hamstring keeps bothering him.

Rest-Of-Season Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week
1 Aroldis Chapman CIN 1
2 Craig Kimbrel ATL 2
3 Greg Holland KAN 3
4 Koji Uehara BOS 4
5 David Robertson NYY 7
6 Kenley Jansen LAD 6
7 Glen Perkins MIN 5
8 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 9
9 Rafael Soriano WAS 10
10 Huston Street SDP 8
11 Casey Janssen TOR 12
12 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 11
13 Joakim Soria TEX 15
14 Steve Cishek MIA 16
15 Mark Melancon PIT 17
16 Sean Doolittle OAK 13
17 Fernando Rodney SEA 20
18 Zach Britton BAL 19
19 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 14
20 Cody Allen CLE 18
21 Addison Reed ARI 21
22 LaTroy Hawkins COL 23
23 Joe Nathan DET 27
24 Jake McGee TAM 25
25 Chad Qualls HOU 24
26 Joe Smith LAA 26
27 Sergio Romo SFG 22
28 Hector Rondon CHC 28
29 Jenrry Mejia NYM 29
30 Jake Petricka CWS 30

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