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Closer Rankings: When is a bad week more than a bad week?

Every pitcher has bad outings. With relievers, they stick even more, with so few innings pitched. But sometimes, it means more than that.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

I have a reliever spreadsheet. It includes my rankings from every week — I had Steve Cishek as my No. 4 closer to start the season, y'all — as well as a table so I can track stats. Each week, I sort appearances into "good," "bad" and "neutral" outings, and note whether they got a save. At the end of the week, I have two columns marked out for each pitcher's stats, both from the week preceding and for the overall season.

I track the previous week's stats not because they are necessarily indicative — hot and cold streaks can last for months or for a single outing — but it's a handy benchmark. If, for example, Brad Boxberger had three outings in the last week, all three were marked "bad," and he ended the week with an ERA of 11.57, well, it's at least worth looking at more deeply. (Yes, that was Boxberger's last week.) In and of itself, a bad week is just a bad week, but it does prompt a look at whether something has changed.

Normally, it's sporadic. Oh, the No. 2 closer had a rough week, and so did the No. 6. The rest of the top 10 were okay-to-good. It lets me look at the handful of guys that struggle, and give the other guys passing consideration.

This week, though, the "bad" column had a lot going on. My top two closers, Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, each pitched once in the last week, and each blew a save. Craig Kimbrel had two bad outings. My top three, five of my top seven, eight of 12, and so on all had rough goes of it. As you might imagine, the further you go down my closer rankings, the worse the pitchers tend to be, and the more the bad outings popped up. Cody Allen, A.J. Ramos and Dellin Betances each had a pair of bad outings. Boxberger, as I mentioned, had three. Other guys lost their spot on my list altogether by virtue of badness.

It's a blip. I'm not forecasting doomsday for the top guys. But it does give us something to keep an eye on. For example, Kimbrel gave up seven runs in 2012, nine in 2013 and 11 in 2014. After two Sunday, he's at 16 this year, despite moving to San Diego for his home games. Closers, the saying goes, burn hot and fast, and the days of uber-elite Craig Kimbrel might be behind us.

Or Boxberger, who since being named an All-Star despite a 1.29 WHIP and some shaky peripherals has a 4.96 ERA and almost as many outings with runs allowed as scoreless ones.

Sometimes, a run allowed is just a run allowed. Sometimes, a bad outing is just a bad outing. But sometimes, it's more than that, and it's up to the fantasy player to figure out which is which.

Now we move to the week's closer rankings, with "What they're talking about" afterward. Read on:

Closer Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week
1 Kenley Jansen LAD 1
2 Trevor Rosenthal STL 4
3 Aroldis Chapman CIN 2
4 Andrew Miller NYY 5
5 Craig Kimbrel SDP 3
6 Jonathan Papelbon WAS 8
7 Mark Melancon PIT 7
8 David Robertson CHW 9
9 Huston Street LAA 6
10 Ken Giles PHI 15
11 Zach Britton BAL 11
12 Greg Holland KAN 13
13 Cody Allen CLE 12
14 Glen Perkins MIN 10
15 Brad Ziegler ARI 19
16 Jeurys Familia NYM 20
17 Roberto Osuna TOR 17
18 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 14
19 Dellin Betances NYY 18
20 Luke Gregerson HOU 21
21 Shawn Tolleson TEX 22
22 A.J. Ramos MIA 16
23 Wade Davis KAN 27
24 Hector Rondon CHC 23
25 Santiago Casilla SFG 26
26 Arodys Vizcaino ATL 24
27 Tom Wilhelmsen SEA NR
28 Bruce Rondon DET 30
29 Brad Boxberger TAM 25
30 John Axford COL NR

What they're talking about

  • On Aroldis Chapman:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Aroldis Chapman had converted 56 straight saves at home before blown save Tuesday, the longest streak since saves became official in 1969.</p>&mdash; ESPN Stats &amp; Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) <a href="">August 19, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • On Andrew Miller:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">That was Andrew Miller&#39;s 4th save of 4+ outs, only Zach Britton and Tyler Clippard have more this year (both 5). Dellin Betances also has 4.</p>&mdash; James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) <a href="">August 19, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • On Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="">#Padres</a> are 30-4 when RHPs Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel work in tandem in 8-9 innings.</p>&mdash; Bill Center (@PadresCentral) <a href="">August 19, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • On Jonathan Papelbon and Ken Giles:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Saves since the trade:&#10;&#10;Ken Giles: 10&#10;Jonathan Papelbon: 3</p>&mdash; Philly Phan Talk (@phillyphantalk) <a href="">August 23, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • On Brad Ziegler:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Since May 21, <a href="">#dbacks</a> Brad Ziegler is 23-24 in saves with a 1.80 ERA and .158 opponents BA. Not bad for a guy with an 84 mph FB.</p>&mdash; Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) <a href="">August 22, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • On Luke Gregerson:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Astros with 7+ wins and 24+ saves in a season: Doug Jones (1992), Dave Smith (1985), Luke Gregerson (2015). <a href="">@Astros</a></p>&mdash; Richard Justice (@richardjustice) <a href="">August 23, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • On Tom Wilhelmsen:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Wilhelmsen on closing: &quot;Once you get a taste, that&#39;s something you strive to get back to.&quot; <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) <a href="">August 24, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • On Brad Boxberger:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Boxberger&#39;s 6 walkoff losses are most in <a href="">#Rays</a> history; most in majors since Brad Lidge had 6 in 2009</p>&mdash; Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) <a href="">August 19, 2015</a></blockquote>
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  • On Junichi Tazawa:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Junichi Tazawa said the ninth inning definitely makes him nervous, but today it was the slippery ball that contributed to his breakdown.</p>&mdash; Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) <a href="">August 23, 2015</a></blockquote>
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