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Closer Rankings: Some big returnees

A couple big names among closers have returned. Their teams and fantasy owners alike should rejoice.

Brad White

Last season, my regular Monday piece was called the Injury Report. I would run through the bugaboos and stuff, and give my best bets on their long-term outlooks. I would also make dumb jokes and stuff, but that's kind of what I do.

Now, I'm not doing that piece anymore - in part because this:


and this:


are things that exist (those would be the Yahoo! and ESPN player news icons, FYI) - but if I were, this week would be a doozy of returns-from-injury. In the last little bit, Chris Davis, Billy Hamilton, Chase Headley, Doug Fister, and others have returned from various injuries. Also, and this is how I relate it to, you know, closers, two big(ish?) names also made it back this week.

The first, Aroldis Chapman, made his season debut Sunday after missing the first month. He pitched the ninth in the Reds' 4-1 win over the Rockies, striking out three and walking one. His control wasn't perfect - only 14 of 21 pitches for strikes - but dude hit 100-plus MPH on fifteen of those pitches. For the entire season, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Carlos Martinez was leading the way with 12 pitches of 100-plus. Basically, Chapman was Chapman.

Of course, Chapman was replacing Jonathan Broxton, who had been pretty lights out (five saves in six chances and a 1.00 ERA so far). I mean, it's Jonathan Broxton, so it wasn't going to last all season or anything, but he was getting the job done. That's why the other returning closer might, for his team, be a much bigger deal - Casey Janssen.

The Blue Jays activated Janssen before Sunday's game against the Angels. He didn't play in that one - they lost 9-3 - but considering the performances of the Toronto bullpen thus far this season, his return had to be eagerly anticipated. Blue Jays relievers have put up a 4.77 ERA thus far. The three pitchers who have gotten saves - Sergio Santos, Brett Cecil, and Aaron Loup - have put up a 5.52 ERA. Janssen, meanwhile, is coming off of a 2013 in which he put up a 2.74 ERA and 0.987 WHIP, and was 34 of 36 in save opportunities.

Chapman is the better pitcher, sure, but the Blue Jays are probably just as happy to have Janssen back as the Reds are to have their fireballer.

Anyway, this is the week's closer rankings. Remember, there are two lists here: The right-now rankings, which are liable to shift a good deal from week to week, and the rest-of-season rankings, which, heck, could move a lot too, but are less influenced by guys who might have lost their job for a short period.

Right-Now Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week Thoughts
1 Craig Kimbrel ATL 1 C'mon, it's Craig Kimbrel. One blown save won't scare me.
2 Greg Holland KCR 2 There's really only so many ways to say that these guys are both good ...
3 Glen Perkins MIN 3 ... and reliable, because that's really all they are, and if you have them ...
4 Koji Uehara BOS 4 ... you're happy, so here's a long sentence that I wrote to fill space. Hi.
5 Aroldis Chapman CIN NR They'll probably ease him back into use at first, but he'll be fine in the long run.
6 Sergio Romo SFG 6 Had an awful game Sunday, but, um, he got the win, so yay?
7 Kenley Jansen LAD 5 He's still striking people out, but overall he's looked rough.
8 Joakim Soria TEX 10 One more perfect inning and his WHIP is 0.50. As of Monday, he hasn't given up a hit or a walk in a month.
9 David Robertson NYY 11 Joe Girardi says he doesn't really want him going more than one inning, which is frustrating.
10 Mark Melancon PIT 9 With Jason Grilli's return drawing nearer, how long will Melancon have the job?
11 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 7 The pedigree is there, but he keeps giving up runs.
12 Huston Street SDP 12 Been perfect on the season other than a home run to Brandon Belt April 18.
13 Steve Cishek MIA 13 At least one strikeout in every outing except his blown save April 25.
14 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 8 Gave up his first run of the year Sunday; you wonder if floodgates open up.
15 Joe Nathan DET 14 Five runs in his first four outings; one run in nine innings since.
16 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 16 I probably need to start raising him soon; he's been great.
17 Rafael Soriano WAS 15 He also gave up his first run of the season this week.
18 Casey Janssen TOR NR Hasn't pitched yet, but assuming he is who he was last year, he'll be fine.
19 THIS IS A BIG SAD GAP Seriously, above this, decent production. Below this, sadness.
20 Grant Balfour TBR 20 He's been so wildly inconsistent. Really hard to trust.
21 Addison Reed ARI 19 He's been decent, but have you seen Brad Ziegler's stat line? He's having a heck of a year; if Reed falters ...
22 Tommy Hunter BAL 18 In his last three outings, he's given up four runs in 2.2 innings, and hasn't had a scoreless outing since last Tuesday.
23 Fernando Rodney SEA 26 After looking really shaky in April, he's allowed 0 runs in 6.1 innings with only five baserunners in May.
24 Cody Allen CLE NR John Axford is out of the job for now, but I expect him to get it back before too long.
25 Matt Lindstrom CWS 24 So, a 5:4 K:BB ratio is ... not great, yeah?
26 LaTroy Hawkins COL 29 Seriously, he hasn't struck anyone out in two weeks.
27 Jim Johnson OAK NR Eh, he probably has the closer back, and his stat line of late looks okay, but that's in part because he all four runs he gave up Tuesday were unearned.
28 Chad Qualls HOU NR If he falters, Anthony Bass is likely next up.
29 Ernesto Frieri LAA NR Joe Smith will probably get the occasional opportunity, but it seems it's Frieri's again.
30 Hector Rondon CHC 22 He struggled against St. Louis last Sunday, but has otherwise been great this season.

Rest-Of-Season Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week Thoughts
1 Craig Kimbrel ATL 1
2 Aroldis Chapman CIN 6 Yeah, long run I think he's still Aroldis.
3 Greg Holland KCR 2
4 Glen Perkins MIN 5
5 Koji Uehara BOS 4
6 Kenley Jansen LAD 3 Starting to worry me a bit, though his leash is likely long.
7 Sergio Romo SFG 7
8 Joakim Soria TEX 8
9 David Robertson NYY 10
10 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 9
11 Huston Street SDP 12
12 Steve Cishek MIA 13
13 Joe Nathan DET 15
14 Rafael Soriano WAS 16
15 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 17
16 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 11
17 Casey Janssen TOR 23 Let's see how he looks before committing to a higher spot.
18 Mark Melancon PIT 14 If I knew he'd keep the job I'd have him way higher.
19 Grant Balfour TBR 20
20 Addison Reed ARI 19
21 Tommy Hunter BAL 18
22 Fernando Rodney SEA 28
23 Matt Lindstrom CWS 26
24 Jim Johnson OAK 25
25 LaTroy Hawkins COL 27
26 Ernesto Frieri LAA NR
27 Chad Qualls HOU 29
28 John Axford CLE 21 For better or worse, I do think he gets the job back.
29 Hector Rondon CHC 22
30 Kyle Farnsworth NYM 30 I mean, someone's gotta do it for Chicago.