Loading Closer Information...
2021 Closer Situations: Team-By-Analysis
Arizona Diamondbacks
Current Closer: Stefan Crichton
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
(5/4) Crichton made his major-league debut with the Orioles in 2017, but ultimately struggled and needed Tommy John before being traded to the Diamondbacks. He stepped into the closer role nicely, converting on all five of his final save attempts to end the year. Relying heavily on his sinker and curveball, Crichton does not possess normal traits of a closer who makes hitters miss. He recorded a below average 21.1% strikeout rate in 2020 and that mark is currently 20% through May 3. Crichton has converted all three of his save opportunities while allowing five runs on 13 hits and four walks while striking out nine over 10 innings.

Devenski joined as a free agent in January and comes with plenty of pedigree, but he hasn't had much recent success. He produced a 2.38 ERA in his first two years in the league but owns a 5.01 mark since the start of 2018. The right-hander closed out Arizona's first win of the season on April 4, then got the next opportunity only to allow a game-tying home run to blow the save. On April 7, Devenski was placed on the restricted list for personal reasons. He returned to the Diamondbacks on April 29 and has made two appearances since.

Soria has the most experience in this bullpen with 223 career saves, but has only made one appearance in 2021, suffering a calf strain in the game while covering first base. The right-hander recently threw in a game at Arizona's alternate site on May 2 and a return appears likely in the near future. Soria has seven consecutive seasons and 12 of 13 years in the majors with at least one save. It would be surprising if he didn't see ninth inning work at some point this season.

Ginkel made his way to the majors in 2019 and was impressive with a 1.48 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and a 29.2% strikeout rate to illustrate his clear potential for a late-inning role. He took a few steps backward during the shortened season last year, but has the tools to become a solid closer in the league if he can maintain his command (8.7% walk rate after recording a 16.5% mark in 2020) and keep the ball in the park (2.45 HR/9).

Smith and Clarke round out the remaining options for saves. Smith has been pitching a multi-inning role for the Diamondbacks and his 30.3% strikeout rate through May 3. Clarke has given up at least one earned run in seven of 11 appearances thus far.
Atlanta Braves
Current Closer: Will Smith
Team: Atlanta Braves
Next In Line:  Chris Martin IL-10, A.J. Minter , Tyler Matzek
(5/4) Given his strong spring and proven track record in the role - previously recording 34 saves for the Giants in 2019 - Smith opened 2021 as the Braves' primary ninth-inning option. Relying heavily on his slider and four-seam fastball, the southpaw's 34.8% strikeout rate through 12 appearances this season aligns with his 2019 success.

Martin was phenomenal in 2020, with a 1.00 ERA and 0.61 WHIP, and a 30.3% strikeout rate to illustrate his clear potential for a late-inning role. The right-hander is nearing a return from the IL after experiencing shoulder inflammation after just two appearances. Manager Brian Snitker previously hinted at the possibility of splitting save opportunities between Martin and Smith based on matchups.

Minter has prior experience in the role, recording 15 saves for Atlanta in 2018. He struggled the following year with only five saves and an ERA north of seven, but rebounded in 2020 with a 0.83 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. The left-hander produced a 28.2% strikeout rate and was one of the league's best in inducing soft contact, with hitters averaging an 84.5 mph average exit velocity, placing Minter amongst the top 4% of the pitchers in the league. He's off to a decent start in 2021 in a setup role.

Matzek got off to a fantastic start this season with a 14:4 K:BB over his first eight appearances without permitting an earned run. The southpaw has struggled since then, permitting six earned runs with four walks over his last four appearances. However, Matzek has maintained a strong 36% strikeout rate which could move him up the pecking order for saves if he regains his early season form again.
Baltimore Orioles
Current Closer: Cesar Valdez
Team: Baltimore Orioles
(5/4) Manager Brandon Hyde set expectations that the Orioles would be on a closer-by-committee basis again. However, Valdez closed out 2020 recording three saves in September and has already logged seven of Baltimore's eight saves of 2021. The 36-year-old doesn't fit the typical closer profile, as his primary pitch is a changeup that he throws over 80% of the time at an average of 78 mph. His fastball tops out in the mid-80s, but he rarely throws it (7.5% of the time) and his changeup has been effective, limiting hitters to a .217 batting average with the pitch. Valdez is Baltimore's most trusted high-leverage arm with a 1.32 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 15:3 K:BB through 13.2 innings.

Scott made huge strides in 2020 and was dominant with a 1.31 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 26.2% strikeout rate, illustrating his clear potential for a late-inning role. The left-hander has an incredible four-seam fastball and slider that both have high spin rates, leading to soft contact when hitters face him. The southpaw is Hyde's most promising lefty option, but he'll need to cut down his walk rate (21.4%) to maintain his high-leverage role.

Fry entered the year with five saves on his big league resume and picked up his first save of 2021 back on April 7. The right-hander is off to a strong start this season, giving Hyde another option if Valdez is unavailable.

Armstrong was great in the abbreviated 2020 campaign, but is struggling this year with a 10.80 ERA through 11 appearances. He's more likely to appear in the middle innings or lower leverage situations unless he turns his season around.

Harvey was the early spring favorite for the closer role despite a limited big league resume that spans 15 career innings. His lack of experience at the big league level can be attributed to health issues, but when active, his possess plenty of upside with a fastball that averages 97 mph. Harvey is currently on the 60-day IL due to an oblique strain he suffered this spring. He has the arsenal to be a high-leverage reliever, but he's unlikely to return until June.
Boston Red Sox
Current Closer: Matt Barnes
Team: Boston Red Sox
(5/4) Manager Alex Cora has taken back over the reigns in 2021 and kicked off his second stint in Boston with Matt Barnes as his closer after a false positive COVID-19 test late in spring training put the reliever's availability in question to start the year. Barnes was shaky last season, converting nine of his 13 save opportunities while struggling with consistency and command issues. However, the 30-year-old has been incredible in 14 appearances on the young season. The right-hander has given up four runs through 14.1 innings and owns a 25:3 K:BB while converting all six of his save opportunities. He's built some job security in the process since Ottavino, his biggest competition for ninth-inning duties, has been inconsistent.

Ottavino had a bumpy 2020 campaign, highlighted by a 5.89 ERA. However, his skills remains largely intact and he was burned by a 66.2% left on base rate and .375 BABIP in the short sample. In his age-35 season, Ottavino's velocity is up slightly at 94.3 mph, but he's allowed runs in five of his 12 appearances thus far and will need better results to re-enter the save mix at some point in 2021.

Hernandez made strides in 2020 with a 2.16 ERA and 32.5% strikeout rate, numbers that illustrate his potential for a late-inning role. The left-hander has an incredible four-seam fastball and slider that both have high spin rates, leading to soft contact when hitters face him. The 24-year-old is a promising weapon for Alex Cora's bullpen as his sole weakness tends to be his command, a common issue among young relievers.

Whitlock, a Rule 5 draft pick, had a great spring and won a spot in Boston's bullpen in a multi-inning role. He's been one of the team's most impressive relievers with a 0.63 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 19:2 K:BB over 14.1 innings (seven appearances). Whitlock will likely remain in a multi-inning relief role rather than see opportunities in the ninth-inning.

Sawamura spent the entirety of his professional career playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, but made his way to the majors in 2021. The 33-year-old right-hander recorded 73 saves between the 2015 and 2016 campaigns in Japan, but he's been utilized in middle relief for the Red Sox with promising results. Sawamura has allowed just five runs over 12.1 innings (3.65 ERA) and could earn his way into a higher-leverage role.

Taylor struggled during 2020, as he only saw 7.1 innings of work during his sophomore season. The left-hander had a hard-hit rate of 47.8% and walk rate of 13.9%. Taylor is unlikely to be a reliable option for saves in 2021 but showed promise during his rookie season, so Cora may turn to him as more of a setup reliever as the season progresses.

Brasier has yet to make his 2021 debut since suffering a left calf strain during the final week of spring training in late March. The 33-year-old has resumed throwing as of April 25 and could be cleared to make his season debut sometime in June. Brasier earned seven saves for the Red Sox in 2019 and could re-enter the late-inning mix assuming he proves healthy and effective whenever he does return.
Chicago Cubs
Current Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Team: Chicago Cubs
(5/4) With the departure of Theo Epstein in Chicago, it will be interesting to see if the new acting President of the Chicago Cubs, Jed Hoyer, will add to a bullpen in desperate need of depth. Manager David Ross will look to Craig Kimbrel to resemble his old form from his Braves/Red Sox days. After a rough first half of 2020 and rocky spring during which the veteran posted a 12.15 ERA, he's returned to form through 11 appearances, allowing just four hits and six walks through 11 scoreless innings while fanning 17. He's a perfect 5-for-5 in save chances and the lack of quality options behind him afford Kimbrel stability in the role.

Wick saw plenty of high-leverage chances last year, recording a 3.12 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 27% strikeout rate. The right-hander had a hard-hit rate of 39.6% and saw his walk rate dip to 9.1%. Wick succeeded in recording all four of his save opportunities in 2020 and also logged five holds. It is likely that Wick would be the next man up once he returns from an oblique strain has sidelined him since spring.

Brothers, Chafin, Tepera and Winkler round out this generally uninspiring group. Brothers and Chafin are lefties with decent strikeout rates that will likely be featured against lefty-heavy parts of the batting order.
Want to see our analysis of the closing situations for the other 25 teams?

We've included our analysis of the Chicago Cubs' closer depth chart below, but our full analysis of every team is reserved for RotoWire subscribers. We follow the latest closer news every day so you can trust that you'll be getting the best possible information. Once you start using our closer grid, you'll wonder how you ever chased saves without it.

Unlock Our Closer Analysis
Quick Closer Status Overview
Only RotoWire subscribers have access to this quick overview of each closer's job security and health status. We break down the current closers into five job security levels so you'll know who's solid and who's on shaky ground.

Subscribe To RotoWire Now
Closers in Waiting Ranks
  1. James Karinchak (CLE)
  2. Devin Williams (MIL)
  3. Rafael Montero (SEA)
  4. Jordan Romano (TOR)
  5. Pete Fairbanks (TB)
  6. Tejay Antone (CIN)
  7. Emilio Pagan (SD)
  8. Amir Garrett (CIN)
  9. Jose Alvarado (PHI)
  10. Blake Treinen (LAD)
  11. Giovanny Gallegos (STL)
  12. Tyler Rogers (SF)
  13. Adam Ottavino (BOS)
  14. Drew Pomeranz (SD)
  15. Chris Martin (ATL)
  16. Jordan Hicks (STL)
  17. Trevor May (NYM)
  18. Mychal Givens (COL)
  19. Chad Green (NYY)
  20. Kyle Crick (PIT)