Closer Rankings: Nos. 11-20

March 13, 2014

11. Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants — Romo hasn’t been throwing his slider this spring, so it’s not clear precisely what to make of his lousy spring numbers.

12. Ernesto Frieri, Los Angeles Angels — After a disturbingly high ERA last year, Mike Scioscia intends to use Frieri more sparingly this season.

13. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals — We just don’t trust Soriano, who has been getting shelled this spring — but I guess we trust the guys below even less.

14. Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays — The irascible Australian, rejected by Baltimore, will be out to prove something to his division rivals.

15. Jim Johnson, Oakland A’s — A second straight year of 50 saves, sure, but don’t forget the nine blown saves either. Oakland will probably not present the same wealth of save opportunities as Baltimore has.

16. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies — Decreased velocity and a plummeting strikeout rate drop the pricy Papelbon into the bottom half of our rankings.

17. Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins — Win a bet with your bullpen-ignorant friends: Cishek boasts the longest active string of successful saves, at 29.

18. Fernando Rodney, Seattle Mariners — Rodney’s astonishing one-off 2012 season, in which his 3.8 WAR doubled the total from his other ten years combined, makes him the “Gangnam Style” of relievers.

19. Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays — Janssen has pitched well for Toronto over the last two seasons; his reputation suffers because of his subpar team and their hitter-friendly ballpark. A shoulder injury this spring could make his position more tenuous.

20. John Axford, Cleveland Indians — The Ax Man hopes to cut down his sky-high WHIP now that he’s no longer tipping his pitches. Cody Allen is lurking.

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