Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in lineUpdatedCloser1st in line2nd in lineUpdated
TORRomanoCimberMayza7/1/22WASRaineyFinneganEdwards Jr.6/28/22

* = closer-by-committee

Liam Hendriks returns from the IL; Will Smith now atop his committee

July 5, 2022

Chicago White Sox – Liam Hendriks is back from the IL and looked very sharp as he mowed down the Twins in the 8th inning, striking out the side on 14 pitches. Look for him to slot right back into his spot atop the White Sox hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Hendriks | Graveman | Kelly.

Boston Red Sox – John Schreiber got the final two outs of the top of the 8th in a 2-run game, and after the Red Sox added two more runs in the bottom half, he stayed on to collect his third save of the season. His ERA now sits at 0.66 on the season.

Hierarchy remains: Houck | Schreiber | Strahm.

Tampa Bay Rays – Colin Poche, ostensibly the leader of the Rays committee, hasn’t pitched in nearly two weeks. No word on whether his absence is injury-related, but we’ll monitor this situation and will alert if an IL stint is needed.

Hierarchy remains: *Poche | Adam | Raley.
* = closer-by-committee

Arizona Diamondbacks – Ian Kennedy was placed on the IL with a calf injury, meaning Joe Mantiply will handle 8th inning duties ahead of Mark Melancon. Sean Poppen got a 6th inning hold yesterday ahead of these two, so we’ll slot him in at 2nd in line.

Updated hierarchy: Melancon | Mantiply | Poppen.

New York Mets – Rather than use Edwin Diaz three times in four days, Buck Showalter decided to give his closer the night off, sending Seth Lugo out for the 9th inning in a three-run game against the Reds. Lugo converted for his third save, and this usage along with Drew Smith’s recent struggles prompts a move back to handcuff status on the hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Diaz | Lugo | Smith.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Yency Almonte picked up a one-out save after Reyes Moronta, staked with a four-run lead in the 9th, got in trouble. The Dodgers will continue to mix and match in the late innings with Craig Kimbrel day-to-day.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Graterol | Phillips.

Atlanta Braves – Will Smith picked up his fifth save of the season — and third since June 29, during which AJ Minter has one — so he bumps to the top of this hierarchy, which awaits Kenley Jansen’s return. Also, Tyler Matzek was activated from the IL, and we’ll tentatively slot him in at 2nd in line and see how the Braves deploy him. Also, while we’re uncertain how to efficiently research this, we suspect this could be the first all-lefty hierarchy in Closer Monkey’s 12-year history.

Updated hierarchy: *Smith | Minter | Matzek.
* = closer-by-committee

Miami Marlins – Monday morning. 7 a.m. The alarm blares. Ugh. Forgot to switch it off. Head is absolutely throbbing. Mouth tastes like whiskey and pavement. At least there’s no work today, thank God. You roll over and grab the phone. It’s too bright, but you squint and absentmindedly scroll over to the gram. It’s her. Smiling. On a boat. With her new boyfriend. Great. Well, enough of that. Over to the box scores. Hey. Look. Dylan Floro got a save. Ha. That darn Monkey did it again. A quick smile before you drift back off, and when you wake up again, the morning update is out. Look at that — Floro’s on the Vulture Save Watch for a second straight day. Heh, well, he’s already on the roster, despite the 5+ ERA. What’s one more day? Noon rolls around. You head to the barbecue. The burgers are overcooked. There are too many kids, as always. Brynne falls off the swing and is screeching. Of course. Ugh. You sneak inside during the commotion and head to the liquor cabinet. The whiskey flows. At least it’s just a short drive back. The party mercifully ends. Back home, the couch beckons. Head is swimming, but plenty of daylight left. Fall asleep now and work won’t be so bad in the morning. One more check of the box scores. Ha. No way. Another save for Floro. What a world. You drift off thinking that the guy she’s with is ugly, anyway.

Updated hierarchy: Scott | Bass | Floro.


1. AJ Minter – After a 35-pitch outing for Will Smith (who has thrown a total of 57 over the last three days), it’s Minter’s turn for a save chance tonight.
2. Devin Williams/Trevor Gott – Josh Hader has gone back to back (54 pitches), as has Devin Williams (39 pitches) and Brad Boxberger (46 pitches). Hader and Box should be down, but outside chance that Williams will go three straight. If not, we like Trevor Gott for the save chance.
3. Rowan Wick – David Robertson, who blew a save yesterday, has gone in three of the last four.
4. Dylan Coleman – Scott Barlow has gone back to back and three of four.
5. Carl Edwards Jr. – Tanner Rainey and Kyle Finnegan have gone back to back.

1. Felix Bautista/Dillon Tate – If Jorge Lopez or Felix Bautista go today, it’s back to back and four of five.
2. Michael Fulmer – Gregory Soto threw 27 pitches yesterday; if he goes again today, he’s likely down on Wednesday.
3. Kendall Graveman – If Liam Hendriks goes today, it’s back to back, and we figure it’s unlikely that Tony La Russa pitches him three straight immediately after activating him.

Craig Kimbrel day-to-day after getting hit with a comebacker

July 4, 2022

Baltimore Orioles – Jorge Lopez and Felix Bautista both got Sunday off, allowing Dillon Tate to pick up his second save of the year. If only there was a bullpen-centric website that had some kind of WATCH that could predict when players like Tate could potentially VULTURE a SAVE like this. Ah, well. It’s a good idea, anyway.

Hierarchy remains: Lopez | Bautista | Tate.

Miami Marlins – Speaking of which, after the Marlins hitters rallied against Tanner Rainey in the top of the 9th, Tanner Scott was summoned for the third straight day to try and lock down the save. (Yes, we also just realized that 40% of the NL East’s closers are named “Tanner.” What a world.) Scott blew the save chance, but Dylan Floro, who was also listed in yesterday morning’s Vulture Save Watch, got the job done in the bottom of the 10th after the Marlins tacked on three additional runs. Wasn’t quite how we drew this one up, but VSW loyalists were still rewarded.

Hierarchy remains: Scott | Bass | Okert.

Tampa Bay Rays – After Shawn Armstrong got into some trouble in the 9th inning, Jason Adam nailed down the game’s final two outs for his third save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Poche | Adam | Raley.
* = closer-by-committee


1. Brusdar Graterol – Craig Kimbrel, who saw his ERA climb to 4.78 after blowing last night’s save, is day-to-day after being hit by a comebacker. (He’s not in danger of losing his job yet, per Dave Roberts.)
2. Dylan Floro – Tanner Scott, Anthony Bass, and Steven Okert have all gone three straight.
3. Devin Williams – Josh Hader threw 33 pitches yesterday.
4. Eli Morgan/Michael Fulmer – The Guardians and Tigers have a doubleheader.

1. Drew Smith – If Edwin Diaz goes today, it’s back to back and three of four.
2. Dylan Coleman – Same for Scott Barlow.
3. Rafael Montero – If Ryan Pressly goes today, it’s back to back.
4. Kyle Finnegan – Same for Tanner Rainey.
5. Alex Colome – Same for Daniel Bard.

Will Smith records another save while Aroldis Chapman struggles in his return

July 3, 2022

Atlanta Braves — Will Smith walked a couple of batters but was able to pitch a scoreless 9th inning for his 4th save of the season.  AJ Minter pitched a perfect 7th inning against the 4-5-6 hitters in the Reds’ lineup.  Minter recorded the first save after Kenley Jansen went on the IL but now Will Smith has the past two.  Minter has been the better pitcher so far this season and we will leave him at the top of the committee for now but we will watch this and see if the Braves continue to use Smith more frequently in the 9th inning.

Hierarchy remains: *Minter | Smith | McHugh.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Yankees — Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance since returning from the IL and it did not go well.  Chapman walked all three batters he faced and only one of the eight fastballs he threw was a strike.  It’s hard to imagine the Yankees using Chapman in a meaningful spot after yesterday’s outing so we will drop him on the hierarchy until he proves he can throw strikes. 

Updated hierarchy: Holmes | King | Chapman.

Pittsburgh Pirates — David Bednar bounced back from a pair of rough outings to pitch a scoreless 9th inning for his 12th save of the season.  Hopefully, this means that Bednar is over his back injury that kept him out at the beginning of last week.

Hierarchy remains: Bednar | Crowe | Stratton.

1. Dillon Tate (BAL) – Jorge Lopez has pitched in two straight and three of four while Felix Bautista has pitched in two straight.
2. Jose Ruiz (CHW) – Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly have both pitched in two straight.
3. A.J. Puk/Zach Jackson (OAK) – Lou Trivino has pitched in two straight.
4. Dylan Floro (MIA) – Tanner Scott, Anthony Bass, and Scott Okert have all pitched in two straight.
5. Corey Knebel (PHI) – Seranthony Dominguez, Brad Hand, and Andrew Bellatti have all pitched in two straight.
6. Rowan Wick/Mychal Givens (CHC) – David Robertson has pitched in two straight, including a 28 pitch outing yesterday.
7. Giovanny Gallegos (STL) – Ryan Helsley threw 37 pitches yesterday.

1. Wil Crowe (PIT) – If David Bednar pitches on Sunday it will be two straight and three of four.
2. Brusdar Graterol (LAD) – If Craig Kimbrel pitches on Sunday it will be three of four.

Chapman Returns, Bonilla gets paid.

July 2, 2022
Philadelphia Phillies – With the 3-4-5 hitters coming up in the 8th inning, the Phillies turned to Seranthony Dominguez to protect a 2 run lead. He (or the scorekeeper) gave up the single that Nolan Arenado needed to complete the cycle, but was otherwise unscathed. This left Brad Hand to close the game out, and he pitched a perfect 9th for his 3rd save of the year. Dominguez and Hand continue to be a 2 headed committee, with either one likely to get a save chance based on matchups. 

Hierarchy Remains: *Dominguez | Hand | Bellatti.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Mets – Edwin Diaz ($10.2 million) pitched a clean 9th inning for his 17th save on the year, while Adam Ottavino ($4 million) and Seth Lugo ($3.925 million) picked up holds. David Peterson ($700,000) got the win while striking out 10, while Bobby Bonilla ($1.19 million) collected his 12th of 25 checks. Happy Bobby Bonilla Day to all those who celebrate!

Hierarchy Remains: Diaz | Smith | Lugo.

Oakland A’s – If it was hinted at yesterday, it was made clear last night that Lou Trivino is back to the top of this committee. He pitched a clean 9th inning for his 5th save and 3rd straight for the A’s. His ERA still sits at an ugly 6.85, but he has strung together 5 scoreless appearances at this point, and may be close to kicking the asterisk if nobody else challenges his spot. 

Hierarchy Remains: *Trivino | Puk | Jackson.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago White Sox – Kendall Graveman pitched a perfect 9th after the White Sox took the lead in the top half of the inning, but the major news is that Liam Hendriks is expected to be activated from the IL monday. Graveman hasn’t given up any earned runs since Hendriks hit the IL, but only has a couple saves in that time. Henriks will likely jump right back to the top of this hierarchy when he returns. 

Hierarchy Remains: *Graveman | Kelly | Ruiz.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Yankees — While last night’s contest against the Guardians was rained out, Aroldis Chapman was activated yesterday. He won’t return to closing just yet, as Clay Holmes has been nearly perfect on the year, but expect Chapman to be in the late inning mix. Meanwhile, Miguel Castro was placed on the paternity list 

Updated Hierarchy: Holmes | Chapman | King.

Vulture Save Watch:

  1. Felix Bautista (BAL) — Jorge Lopez has thrown 41 pitches over the past 3 days, including a blown save last night.
  2. Jason Adam (TB) — The Rays have a double header…
  3. Adam Cimber (TOR) — …against the Blue Jays.
  4. Aroldis Chapman (NYY) — The Yankees have a double header…
  5. Eli Morgan (CLE) — … against the Guardians.

For Sunday:

  1. Brusdar Graterol (LAD) — Today would be 3 in a row for Craig Kimbrel
  2. Dominic Leone (SF) — Camilo Doval threw 22 pitches last night, so another long outing could earn a rest on Sunday.
  3. Drew Smith (NYM) — Today would be back to back and 3 of 4 for Edwin Diaz.
  4. Dylan Coleman (KC) — Same for Scott Barlow.

David Bednar likely heading to the IL

July 1, 2022

Pittsburgh Pirates — David Bednar returned to action on Thursday night, tasked with protecting a four-run lead in the ninth after the Pirates added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Bednar struggled, however, so Yerry de los Santos came on to close out an 8-7 win for his second career save and his second save in as many days. The Pirates thought they’d avoid having to place Bednar on the injured list at the beginning of the week, but we’d be surprised if he doesn’t end the week on the IL.

Hierarchy remains: Bednar | Crowe | Stratton.

Oakland A’s – A.J. Puk entered last night’s game in the fifth inning with Oakland trailing, 5-4, and promptly gave up three runs thanks to a triple and a throwing error. He then stayed on to pitch a perfect sixth and seventh. Puk’s previous appearance was in the seventh, though that was to protect a 5-3 lead with Oakland in a jam against the heart of the Yankees’ lineup. Based on this usage, we’ll move Lou Trivino to the top of this committee for now.

Updated hierarchy: *Trivino | Puk | Jackson.
* = closer-by-committee

Toronto Blue Jays — If you read the Vulture Save Watch you were prepared for Adam Cimber to earn his fourth save of the season in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay.

Hierarchy remains: Romano | Cimber | Mayza.

1. Chris Stratton (PIT) — We’re expecting David Bednar to hit the IL and Wil Crowe has thrown 55 pitches over the last two nights.
2. Eli Morgan (CLE) — Emmanuel Clase has gone in three straight.
3. Emilio Pagan (MIN) — Jhoan Duran may get a second straight day off after he threw 33 pitches on Wednesday.
4. Rafael Montero (HOU) — Ryan Pressly has pitched in two straight.

1. Adam Cimber (TOR) — If Jordan Romano pitches today that will be three of four.
2. Dealer’s Choice (MIL) — The same is true of the entire Brewers’ hierarchy.