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.
|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.|