Fantasy Baseball 2013: Tiers, Not Fears (Closers)

Yuck it up Mo’, you still the shit
Photo Credit: Keith Allison


In the final installment of “Tiers, Not Fears,” we have landed at relief pitching. A lot of fantasy owners hate having to deal with closers, but not me. While you read a lot of “don’t pay for saves” idioms being thrown out there, the fact is, if you play in a league that uses closers, you HAVE to pay for saves. Me? I cast a wide net and try to come away with at least four (but preferably five) closers to ensure I have some insurance.


Sure there is a ton of turnover at the position, and you will probably watch at least one of your draft/auction day closers shit the bed or get hurt at some point. That’s even more of a reason to pick up a bunch of ninth inning options in your drafts and auctions. Trying to scour the waiver wire for saves is a frustrating endeavor in competitive leagues, as all the best handcuffs are usually rostered. You become a slave to fantasy news information sites, looking for every edge you can get. Then you end up picking up, like, eight relievers in the hopes that you can scrape up enough saves to stay in the race. Don’t be that guy. Suck it up, pay for saves, and win your goddamn league.


More after the jump:


The “Closest To A Guarantee” Generals

These two are the closest thing to a guarantee at the closer position. And yes, I understand Mariano is 43 years old. Blow me.


1. Craig Kimbrel

2. Mariano Rivera


The “Second Level” Locals

These dudes are next up on the closer ranks. Rodney and Papelbon will cost you a pretty penny. Holland is a popular closer too, but his price tag is cheaper and he’s the only one I’d really feel comfortable drafting out of this group (if only because I would hate to allot so much money to the other three).


3. Fernando Rodney

4. Jonathan Papelbon

5. Greg Holland


The “Somewhat Safe” Syndicate

There’s really no such thing as a “safe” closer, but these guys have a good amount of leash and are talented enough to perform as RP1s. Problem is, they won’t come cheap (and thus, none of these guys will end up on my team unless their price plummets).


6. John Axford

7. Rafael Soriano

8. Joe Nathan

9. J.J. Putz


The “Talented, Yet Relatively Vulnerable” Villains

The players in this tier all have the ability to put up great numbers in the closer role, but there’s a touch of uncertainty surrounding them. None of the dudes in this tier have much pressure from other late-inning arms on their team, but they’re just not as sure a bet as the players in the above tiers. Still, I’m willing to spend the money/pick necessary to land Frieri, Johnson, Reed, and Street (the others I’ll probably pass on, unless the price is right).


10. Sergio Romo

11. Glen Perkins

12. Addison Reed

13. Ernesto Frieri

14. Jim Johnson

15. Huston Street

16. Tom Wilhelmsen


The “Over The Shoulder Peeking” Posse

The closers in this tier don’t have the type of job security you like to see from a closer. Aside from Betancourt and Rondon, all the dudes in this tier have someone with closing experience setting up for them. Betancourt finds himself on this tier because he’s 38 years old and, frankly, I don’t know if he can be as effective in 2013. Rondon is a bit of an unknown quantity as he has no big-league experience (but has the makeup and skill-set of a closer).


17. Joel Hanrahan

18. Jason Grilli

19. Grant Balfour

20. Rafael Betancourt

21. Bruce Rondon


The “Cheap For A Reason” Renegades

Perez is actually quite costly considering he’s already dealing with a shoulder issue (he’s going amongst the top 15 closers on draft day), so I’d stay away. Marmol, Broxton, League, and Parnell could all lose their jobs to a teammate. Cishek and Veras benefit from not having much competition for the ninth-inning gig on their respective squads, but both are very low-end options who sneak onto this tier because they will be saving games at the start of 2013 (though to be fair, their crazy-cheap price tags mean I’ll likely end up with one of them in a couple of leagues).


22. Carlos Marmol

23. Chris Perez

24. Jonathan Broxton

25. Brandon League

26. Steve Cishek

27. Jose Veras
28. Casey Janssen

29. Bobby Parnell


The “Handcuff” Hooligans

Should the closers ahead of any of these guys falter, expect these dudes to step up and seize the role. They are all worthy of being paired with their closer teammate as insurance.


30. Sergio Santos
31. Jason Motte

32. Frank Francisco

33. Kenley Jansen

34. Kyuji Fujikawa

35. Vinnie Pestano

36. Rex Brothers


The “Could Be Closers” Congregation

All of these players could find themselves seeing save opportunities in 2013. You don’t have to draft them, but definitely keep all these names in mind.


37. Ryan Madson

38. Luke Gregerson

39. Sean Doolittle

40. Andrew Bailey

41. Mark Melancon

42. Drew Storen

43. Ryan Cook

44. Wesley Wright

45. David Hernandez

46. Jake McGee

47. David Robertson

48. Brandon Lyon

49. Bryan Morris

50. Sean Marshall

*Last updated 3/27/13.


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.