2020 Tiered Closer Rankings

February 28, 2020

Below, find our tiered closer rankings for 2020. Obviously, these are moment-in-time rankings and may shift due to injuries or spring training outings, but hopefully they’ll help make your draft a little easier.

Tier 1:
Josh Hader

There’s nobody in baseball quite like Josh Hader, who led all relievers with 138 strikeouts last season to go along with his 37 saves. Despite some hard-hit weirdness last year, he’s liable to help you in four categories due in part to his tendency to pitch multiple innings.

Tier 2:
Kirby Yates
Aroldis Chapman
Roberto Osuna
Liam Hendriks

If you weren’t paying much attention last year, Liam Hendriks might stand out on this list, but the Aussie was an absolute monster last season, logging 122 strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA. He also managed 25 saves despite not taking over the closer role until June 22, so suffice it to say that a repeat effort would put him up top with Hader. The others are names you’ve heard before, with up-and-comer Kirby Yates (1.19 ERA, 41 saves) coming in just above high-ranking mainstays Aroldis Chapman and Roberto Osuna. These guys will cost you a high-ish pick, but there’s no reason to think any of them can’t hold their jobs and excel all season long.

Tier 3:
Taylor Rogers
Brad Hand
Kenley Jansen
Ken Giles

The top three guys are solid veterans on winning teams, and then there’s Giles, who is just plain good. All perfectly cromulent picks, here.

Tier 4:
Edwin Diaz
Brandon Workman
Raisel Iglesias
Nick Anderson
Craig Kimbrel
Hector Neris
Giovanny Gallegos
Jose Leclerc

Now we get into some uncertainty. There’s Edwin Diaz and Craig Kimbrel, who are one season removed from being our #1 and #7 closers going into the 2019 season (whoops) and are looking to bounce back. There are a couple guys who have the stuff but have never closed before in Nick Anderson and Giovanny Gallegos. And there are the guys who have done it before, but have also lost (or have come close to losing) their spots in the past in Raisel Iglesias, Hector Neris, and Jose Leclerc. Also here is Brandon Workman, who after two solid-but-not-spectacular seasons figured something out in 2019 and became a total hoss. He’s probably the safest pick in this group, though he slots in just behind Diaz, who has more upside despite a terrible 2019 campaign.

Tier 5:
Hansel Robles
Ian Kennedy
Alex Colome
Archie Bradley
Keone Kela

These guys are all pretty much guaranteed to be closing for their teams on opening day. They’re also all pretty much guaranteed to be a little shaky now and again. Still, the ways relievers goes, two of these guys will probably end up with 30+ saves. Guess right and you’ll get some value.

Tier 6:
Mark Melancon
Sean Doolittle
Joe Jimenez
Brandon Kintzler
Mychal Givens
Yoshihisa Hirano
Wade Davis
Tony Watson

Major question marks — including whether they’ll even be the closer come opening day — plague every reliever in our last tier. Mark Melancon and Sean Doolittle are both solid, but they’ve got competition in Will Smith and Daniel Hudson, respectively, and might end up in committees. Joe Jimenez, Brandon Kintzler, and Mychal Givens are all more secure, but are all decidedly average relievers pitching for crappy teams. Hirano and Watson haven’t won jobs yet; they just represent our best guesses as to who will close for their respective (bad) teams. Finally, there’s Wade “8.65 ERA in 42.2 IP” Davis. Like with the tier above them, there’s probably one or two guys here who end up with 30 saves. But depending on your league settings, you might do well to go with a high-end middle reliever (Seth Lugo, Adam Ottavino, Emilio Pagan, etc.) rather than roll the dice with these guys.