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Top 40 Closers & Relief Pitchers - Rankings, Tiers and Projections

1. “Elite” Tier, aka the Kate Upton Tier

Kate Upton embodies all that is amazing about everything. Like these closers, she is, quite simply, the best, in every way.

Craig KimbrelKenley JansenGreg HollandAroldis ChapmanJoe Nathan

In some cases but not all, size does matter and yes when I mean size I mean the large amount of strikeouts a closer has. The first four on list do in fact have elite strikeout rates which helps them keep their jobs as closer. In this day and age it is rare to see the same pitcher closing out games for a number of years. By looking at this group: Kimbrel, Jansen, Holland and Chapman, let’s hope that we get to see them finish out games for many more years. Joe Nathan has already been there and done that and could quite possibly be heading to the Hall of Fame one day. So to summarize, I would not be afraid to draft or own any one of these “elite” game stoppers, panty droppers.


2. Second Tier aka The Scarlett Johannsen Tier

This tier, like Scarlett Johannsen, is still top notch quality, nearly cream of the crop, but not quite on the Kate Upton level

Trevor RosenthalKoji UeharaGlen PerkinsErnesto FrieriJim JohnsonSergio Romo

There are only a couple from this tier that could join the “elite” group this year.  The only three pitchers that could make a move to elite status on this list are: Rosenthal, Uehara and Frieri. This assumption is only based on their k/9 and number of saves. On that note, I would still feel comfortable drafting anyone of these closers as my top closer.


3. Third Tier aka The Katie Holmes Tier

This tier, like Katie Holmes, gets a bit more mediocre, boring, and a tad bit unpredictable.

David Robertson, Steve CishekAddison ReedJason GrilliGrant BalfourRafael SorianoJonathan Papelbon

This tier is where the situations become a bit shady, and a bit more boring. There are many relievers from this group that I can see losing their jobs because: they are unproven, their age, injury or ineffectiveness or just their decline. Which is exactly why I created the fifth tier of save vultures and sleepers. There is only one reliever from this group that I can see keeping his job all season and that is Addison Reed. The rest of this group is very suspect and needs to be monitored during the entire season, spring included. Please stay tuned into most of these situations above because I’ll be the one to point you in the right direction.


4. Fourth Tier or Tier aka The Lindsay Lohan Tier

While this tier has some solid closers (Rodney, Henderson, Veras), and some potential breakouts (Jones, Brothers), the bigger theme here is the amount of busted, injury prone or overdone closers, hence the Lindsay Lohan tier.

Jim Henderson, Fernando RodneyTommy HunterCasey JanssenBobby ParnellNate JonesNeftali FelizJohn AxfordJose VerasHuston StreetRex Brothers

These group of pitchers are not bad they are just not established. There are some relievers in this tier that I like: Tommy Hunter, Neftali Feliz and Rex Brothers are the three main pitchers that I like from this list but no one here stands out and could easily be replaced.


5. Saves Vultures/Sleeper Tier aka The Miley Cyrus Tier

The name Miley Cyrus should say it all. Don't touch this tier with a 10 foot pole, at least not just yet.  These guys might be valuable, if a small miracle happens (sorta like Miley might be attractive with a small miracle), but for now they're not attractive in a 5x5 league:

Cody AllenJoakim SoriaDaniel WebbDanny FarquharPedro StropVic Black, Sergio SantosMark MelanconEdward MujicaRyan CookFrancisco RodriguezCarlos MarmolJason MotteBrian WilsonJosh ZeidJoaquin BenoitFernando Salas

At some point during the season there will be a changing at guard, this happens every season and could happen more often than not this year. So if you are in a deep league or you may need saves during the season because you did not focus your draft on closers and why would you? I’m not saying to avoid drafting closers, I’m just stating that this year saves could be easily snagged off the waiver wire. Even if you’re not in this predicament and need trade bait, everyone will want to keep these names close and be ready to hit the add button before anyone does.


Rankings & Projections - Top 40 Relievers for 2014

Player W S K ERA WHIP $
Craig Kimbrel 5 46 101 1.88 0.91 28
Kenley Jansen 7 45 107 1.98 0.95 28
Greg Holland 4 44 99 1.99 1.01 27
Aroldis Chapman 3 43 111 2.61 1.12 26
Trevor Rosenthal 4 41 104 2.67 1.09 25
Koji Uehara 3 39 83 2.13 0.89 23
Joe Nathan 5 41 71 2.43 0.99 22
Glen Perkins 3 39 77 2.69 1.05 21
Ernesto Frieri 4 37 96 3.13 1.19 20
David Robertson 4 37 81 2.41 1.11 20
Jim Johnson 5 45 55 2.89 1.23 19
Sergio Romo 4 36 62 2.42 1.03 17
Casey Janssen 3 36 57 2.51 1.02 16
Steve Cishek 3 35 76 2.29 1.09 15
Addison Reed 5 38 69 3.55 1.21 14
Jonathan Papelbon 3 33 61 3.33 1.16 13
Jason Grilli 2 35 79 2.79 1.11 12
Grant Balfour 3 34 70 2.89 1.23 12
Rafael Soriano 3 39 49 2.99 1.19 11
Jim Henderson 4 31 73 2.89 1.26 11
Fernando Rodney 4 33 78 3.61 1.36 10
Tommy Hunter 5 29 75 2.93 1.01 10
Bobby Parnell 4 27 55 2.77 1.17 10
Nate Jones 5 25 91 3.51 1.19 9
Neftali Feliz 4 26 65 3.23 1.29 9
John Axford 3 23 77 3.47 1.36 9
Jose Veras 3 25 62 3.21 1.19 8
Huston Street 2 22 45 2.99 1.09 8
Rex Brothers 4 27 79 2.63 1.29 8
Cody Allen 5 21 91 2.89 1.23 7
Joaquin Benoit 4 18 71 2.59 1.12 6
Jesse Crain 2 15 51 2.75 1.23 5
Chad Qualls 2 13 51 3.23 1.29 5
Joakim Soria 3 13 63 3.01 1.15 5
Daniel Webb 4 13 74 3.13 1.19 4
Danny Farquhar 5 17 89 3.41 1.19 4
Tyler Clippard 8 5 79 2.49 0.9 3
Pedro Strop 4 14 77 3.22 1.19 3
Vic Black 5 11 73 3.46 1.23 2

Relievers 41 -100

Ryan Cook, Sergio Santos, Mark Melanconm Edward Mujica, J.J. Putz, Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol, Phillippe Aumont, Kevin Siegrist, Sergio Casilla, Darren O'Day, Jason Motte, Luke Hochevar, Brian Wilson, Jarod Burton, Matt Lindstrom, Sean Doolittle, Bruce Rondon, LaTroy Hawkins, Brad Ziegler, David Carpenter, Sean Doolittle, Drew Storen, J.J. Hoover, Nick Vincent, Josh Zeid, Antonio Bastardo, Fernando Salas, Dane De La Rosa, Joe Smith, Preston Claiborne, Jake McGee, Michael Tonkin, Junichi Tazawa, Brandon Kintzler, Sean Marshall, A. J. Ramos, Tanner Scheppers, Kelvin Herrera, Al Alburquerque, Andrew Bailey, Carter Capps, Aaron CrowSteve DelabarJosh Fields, Chia-Jen Lo, Luke Gregerson, Heath Hembree, Tom Wihelmsen, Bryan Morris, Carlos Torres, Chad Bettis, Chris Perez, Jordan Walden, Blake Parker, Bryan Shaw, Joel Hanrahan, Manny Parra, Ryan Madson.


The Fine Print...

Projections valid only at participating locations, which in this case means all locations. Not to be combined with other predictions or somehow cleverly duplicated. Limit one view per visit. Please present this voucher to the writer, but don’t be surprised when they keep it. Cash value 1/100th of one cent, which is pretty much nothing. This is the fine print, why are you still reading this? Really, this is getting silly, go drink. Love em’ or Hate em’, Ima do me and you do you. © 2014 Josh Bixler.

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