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Closer Rankings: Some big post-deadline improvements

These three relievers were good before the trading deadline, but they have been incredible since.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ken Giles, man. He was good as a setup man for Jonathan Papelbon this year — not great, but very good. He had a 1.85 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 43.2 innings, which is all very good, but then he had 20 walks and a 1.35 WHIP. In and of themselves, that's not terrible, but for the highest tier of closers, those numbers were too high.

But then Papelbon got traded to the Nationals, and the Phillies installed Giles as closer, and he became vintage Craig Kimbrel?

It's a small sample, to be sure, but since the trade, Giles has pitched 15 innings in 13 games. He's saved 11 games in 11 opportunities. His ERA is 0.60, and it's matched by a similarly stingy 0.73 WHIP. And the best number is that strikeout-to-walk ratio, with 19 strikeouts and only a single walk. (All numbers are through Saturday, because Baseball Reference doesn't update in real-time, but that's okay, Giles saved Sunday's game, too.) If the Phillies were, you know, any good, Giles would be right up there among the most elite relievers.

Despite some recent struggles, Tyler Clippard has improved his numbers as well since the deadline. He had a 2.79 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and a 38:21 K:BB rate with Oakland; those numbers are 2.49, 1.03 and 20:8, respectively, since joining the Mets. Kevin Jepsen went from a decent reliever (2.81, 1.30, 34:20) in Tampa Bay to somehow a shutdown, take-over-for-Glen-Perkins closer for a somehow contending Minnesota team (1.37, 0.81, 18:7).

This is not to say all the midseason reliever trades worked out for all the teams. You need look no further than Washington (Papelbon and Drew Storen both) to see that. But some of these teams' moves have unquestionably let us see some relievers who have become very impressive (or, you know, very impressive-er) since the end of July. It helped the Mets, saved the Twins and reassured the Phillies.

But sorry, Nationals.

On to the Closer Rankings, followed as always by What They're Talking About.

Closer Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week
1 Kenley Jansen LAD 1
2 Aroldis Chapman CIN 3
3 Andrew Miller NYY 2
4 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 4
5 David Robertson CHW 5
6 Craig Kimbrel SDP 7
7 Mark Melancon PIT 9
8 Ken Giles PHI 11
9 Roberto Osuna TOR 13
10 Jonathan Papelbon WAS 8
11 Zach Britton BAL 14
12 Cody Allen CLE 10
13 Jeurys Familia NYM 15
14 Huston Street LAA 12
15 Greg Holland KAN 24
16 Shawn Tolleson TEX 17
17 Kevin Jepsen MIN 19
18 Wade Davis KAN 6
19 Luke Gregerson HOU 16
20 Hector Rondon CHC 18
21 A.J. Ramos MIA 20
22 Santiago Casilla SFG 23
23 John Axford COL 25
24 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 22
25 Brad Boxberger TAM 26
26 Tom Wilhelmsen SEA 27
27 Dellin Betances NYY 21
28 Brad Ziegler ARI NR
29 Sean Doolittle OAK NR
30 I refuse; no one else is good

What They're Talking About

  • On Kenley Jansen:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Kenley Jansen: *is great in the majority of his appearances*&#10;Kenley Jansen: *has a rough outing* &#10;Dodger Twitter: KENLEY SUX</p>&mdash; Sarah Wexler (@SarahWexler32) <a href="https://twitter.com/SarahWexler32/status/643199009717288960">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
  • On Ken Giles:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ken Giles extended scoreless streak to season-best 13 innings. converted each of 13 save opportunities since assuming the closers role.</p>&mdash; Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) <a href="https://twitter.com/ToddZolecki/status/643165000631197696">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
  • On Kevin Jepsen:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Kevin Jepsen in 20 GP since joining Twins: &#10;&#10;1-1, 1.45 ERA, 9 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, 18 SO, 7 SV in 18.2 IP</p>&mdash; Ex Twins News (@Ex_Twins_News) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ex_Twins_News/status/642248959822561281">September 11, 2015</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
  • On John Axford:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">2.84 ERA in the 19 innings since this tweet. <a href="https://t.co/rbDCfqrOyV">https://t.co/rbDCfqrOyV</a></p>&mdash; Ryan Freemyer (@RFreemyer) <a href="https://twitter.com/RFreemyer/status/643204384533422080">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
  • On Dellin Betances:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Dellin Betances allowed 0 homers in his first 40 1/3 innings this season, through July 3rd. Since then: 5 homers in 32 1/3 innings.</p>&mdash; Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) <a href="https://twitter.com/Buster_ESPN/status/642788513801465856">September 12, 2015</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
  • On Sean Doolittle:
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Oakland <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Athletics?src=hash">#Athletics</a> closer Sean Doolittle records first save since 2014. He&#39;s baaaack. <a href="http://t.co/60iq0Z5Fdr">http://t.co/60iq0Z5Fdr</a> <a href="http://t.co/8mU3PZzpbL">pic.twitter.com/8mU3PZzpbL</a></p>&mdash; Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) <a href="https://twitter.com/athleticsnation/status/641097204791427072">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>