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2020 Fantasy Baseball: Eisner's Closer Rankings

How should fantasy baseball owners value closers? Who are the top closers to target on draft day?

Are you a closer hoarder? Do you punt the category entirely? It seems like almost everyone has a closer strategy of some sort heading into drafts. While saves are the most important stat for the position, remember that high-quality relief pitchers (especially non-closers) can still help your ratios and add a few more strikeouts to your overall bucket. Also keep in mind that a closer may not be roster-worthy if his other stats drag your whole pitching staff down. Which relief pitchers should you target in 2020?

Players are ranked based on Standings Gain Points (SGP) for their projected stats relative to every other player’s projections. You can read more about the idea of SGP here. For these rankings, SGP is calculated assuming a 12-team, 5x5 mixed league with default positions and is based on information from leagues of that type from the last two seasons. My projections are derived from a composite of several projection systems weighted by their accuracy in previous seasons.

1. Josh Hader (RP - MIL) — ADP: 57.5

Hader has been a premier reliever since he debuted in 2017, but he finally got enough saves to be an elite fantasy option last season. He’s the top reliever off the board in drafts and is my top option as well.

2020 Projection: 4W - 2.91ERA - 1.02WHIP - 114SO - 29SV (68 IP)

2. Aroldis Chapman (RP - NYY) — ADP: 77.5

One of the most consistent fantasy closers since taking over in that role for the Reds in 2012. He really only has one disappointing season (2017) and even in that season he was useful.

2020 Projection: 4W - 2.94ERA - 1.13WHIP - 92SO - 34SV (63 IP)

3. Kirby Yates (RP - SD) — ADP: 71.0

Yates emerged as a top closing option with 41 saves, a 1.19 ERA and a sub-0.90 WHIP last season. I can’t imagine he replicates those ratios, but there’s less of a threat of him being traded this year… I think.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.00ERA - 1.07WHIP - 89SO - 33SV (64 IP)

4. Edwin Diaz (RP - NYM) — ADP: 120.0

His first year in New York was nothing short of a disaster, but the season before in Seattle he had the second-most saves of all time in a single season (57). There’s more risk here than with the Top 3 (and the ADP reflects that), but I expect a big bounce-back.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.02ERA - 1.05WHIP - 99SO - 30SV (65 IP)

5. Liam Hendriks (RP - OAK) — ADP: 105.5

Hendricks wrestled the job away from Blake Treinen last season and was tremendous in the closer’s role. Like Yates, I seriously doubt he’ll replicate his sterling ratios. However, he’s still a top option at the position.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.10ERA - 1.10WHIP - 91SO - 30SV (69 IP)

6. Roberto Osuna (RP - HOU) — ADP: 85.0

Osuna has performed as an elite closer in his season and a half in Houston. He falls out of the Top 5 mainly because his strikeout ceiling isn’t as high as the others on this list.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.48ERA - 1.10WHIP - 74SO - 34SV (64 IP)

7. Kenley Jansen (RP - LAD) — ADP: 113.3

I think last season may be the new normal for Jansen. He’s still a very useful fantasy closer, but don’t expect his ERA to drop under 3.00 anymore.

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.80ERA - 1.13WHIP - 75SO - 36SV (64 IP)

8. Brad Hand (RP - CLE) — ADP: 107.5

His WHIP is the biggest factor in his value dropping outside of the Top 5 for me. It was 1.24 last year and 1.16 the year before that. For a top closer, that’s not great. However, he’ll still get you 30-plus saves.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.60ERA - 1.18WHIP - 82SO - 33SV (65 IP)

9. Craig Kimbrel (RP - CHC) — ADP: 137.8

Like Diaz, the formerly reliable closer had a career-worst season in 2019. I’m expecting a bounce-back in 2020, just not to the level he played at in his final two seasons in Boston. If you think this projection is just a bit too harsh, you can use his 2016 season as a potential comp instead.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.70ERA - 1.20WHIP - 85SO - 32SV (61 IP)

10. Taylor Rogers (RP - MIN) — ADP: 116.3

Rogers was sensational as the Twins’ closer last season and has a more-than-firm grasp on the role again in 2020. His save total ceiling may not be as high as the others on this list, but you might consider him a safer option compared to a few players above him.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.35ERA - 1.15WHIP - 79SO - 30SV (66 IP)

11. Ken Giles (RP - TOR) — ADP: 130.3

Giles looked like his old self after a very poor 2018 season split between the Astros and Blue Jays. He’s been on-again-off-again in his career so far, not putting together back-to-back strong seasons since his rookie and sophomore seasons (2014-2015). That’s just something to be aware of, and why I’m essentially splitting the difference between his good and bad seasons in my projections.

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.44ERA - 1.15WHIP - 83SO - 30SV (64 IP)

12. Hector Neris (RP - PHI) — ADP: 143.3

Like Giles, we’ve seen good, bad and good final results over the last three seasons. The good news is that Neris should have a decently long leash if he struggles early as the only real threat to steal saves from him in the Philly bullpen (as of now) is Seranthony Dominguez.

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.76ERA - 1.18WHIP - 84SO - 31SV (66 IP)

13. Brandon Workman (RP - BOS) — ADP: 154.0

Now that Workman is settled as the Red Sox closer, fantasy managers should draft him with confidence (as long as you can handle the potential spike in WHIP). Boston will still be competitive, even without Mookie Betts, and provide plenty of save opportunities.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.63ERA - 1.30WHIP - 83SO - 31SV (68 IP)

14. Raisel Iglesias (RP - CIN) — ADP: 141.0

His ERA and WHIP shot up last season, but he also converted a career-high 34 saves. The Reds will be a better team this season and I expect Iglesias to improve his ratios, just not to 2016-2018 levels.

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.85ERA - 1.21WHIP - 80SO - 31SV (66 IP)

15. Jose Leclerc (RP - TEX) — ADP: 184.5

Leclerc had a dreadful start to the season, posting an 8.44 ERA through the first month. He started to figure things out in the middle of the season, but when he got the opportunity to close his ERA jumped back over 4.00. He strikes out a ton of batters and has the stuff to be a top fantasy closer, but there’s a lot of risk.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.72ERA - 1.28WHIP - 92SO - 28SV (67 IP)

16. Archie Bradley (RP - ARI) — ADP: 175.8

Bradley figured things out and returned to expected form in the second half last season. That doesn’t mean we completely ignore what happened in May and June, but you should feel pretty safe taking Bradley as your second closer.

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.85ERA - 1.30WHIP - 73SO - 32SV (66 IP)

17. Nick Anderson (RP - TB) — ADP: 214.5

Projecting the exact amount of saves any Ray will get is a fool’s errand. However, with Emilio Pagan out of the picture, Anderson should get a crack at the closer role. He’s got great stuff too.

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.22ERA - 1.07WHIP - 91SO - 19SV (65 IP)

18. Keone Kela (RP - PIT) — ADP: 213.3

A solid value in drafts right now, Kela is the expected closer in Pittsburgh. Reports are that they’re going to give him plenty of innings. It’s unlikely he gets into the 30s in saves, but he could come close.

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.50ERA - 1.20WHIP - 78SO - 26SV (63 IP)

19. Ian Kennedy (RP - KC) — ADP: 198.8

Kennedy won’t be super helpful to your ratios, but he’ll serve his purpose of racking up around 30 saves.

2020 Projection: 3W - 4.22ERA - 1.25WHIP - 68SO - 30SV (65 IP)

20. Joe Jimenez (RP - DET) — ADP: 218.3

If you’re willing to trade a couple saves for a handful of strikeouts, you can take Jimenez over Kennedy. Otherwise, he’ll close out the few games Detroit is expected to win this season.

2020 Projection: 3W - 4.15ERA - 1.26WHIP - 78SO - 28SV (65 IP)

21. Alex Colome (RP - CHW) — ADP: 155.8

The former Rays closer had a very strong first season with the White Sox. I don’t suggest paying for last season’s ratios. I think he’ll be more in the Kennedy-Jimenez group of a high save count being the only asset.

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2020 Projection: 3W - 4.11ERA - 1.32WHIP - 65SO - 30SV (65 IP)

22. A.J. Puk (SP/RP - OAK) — ADP: 241.8

I’m expecting Puk to start, but you can technically start him as a reliever in many formats (some have him as RP only).

2020 Projection: 10W - 3.98ERA - 1.30WHIP - 161SO - 0SV (146 IP)

23. Giovanni Gallegos (RP - STL) — ADP: 209.8

St. Louis’ closing situation is a little up in the air. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Alex Reyes in that role or maybe Carlos Martinez if they decide to not put him in/take him out of the rotation. As of right now, I’d take a chance on Gallegos.

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.55ERA - 1.14WHIP - 80SO - 19SV (67 IP)

24. Hansel Robles (RP - LAA) — ADP: 170.0

Point to the sky when you take Robles on draft day. It’ll be a mixed bag of success, but he’s got the best chance of pushing 30 saves of anyone left on the board.

2020 Projection: 3W - 4.00ERA - 1.26WHIP - 72SO - 24SV (67 IP)

25. Mark Melancon (RP - ATL) — ADP: 224.0

Like it or not, Melancon is likely to be first in line for saves in Atlanta. Financial reasons made it this way, but you can’t get caught up in what things should be. Given his ADP, he’s a better investment than Will Smith if you can’t roster both.

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.73ERA - 1.29WHIP - 60SO - 24SV (64 IP)

26. Sean Doolittle (RP - WSH) — ADP: 180.3

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.97ERA - 1.18WHIP - 66SO - 21SV (59 IP)

27. Carlos Martinez (SP/RP - STL) — ADP: 182.8

2020 Projection: 9W - 3.88ERA - 1.34WHIP - 151SO - 0SV (160 IP)

28. Will Smith (RP - ATL) — ADP: 145.7

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.31ERA - 1.15WHIP - 84SO - 10SV (64 IP)

29. Adrian Houser (SP/RP - MIL) — ADP: 308.5

2020 Projection: 9W - 4.20ERA - 1.33WHIP - 148SO - 0SV (155 IP)

30. Josh Lindblom (SP/RP - MIL) — ADP: 375.7

2020 Projection: 9W - 4.46ERA - 1.32WHIP - 158SO - 0SV (160 IP)

31. Mychal Givens (RP - BAL) — ADP: 342.5

2020 Projection: 3W - 4.04ERA - 1.25WHIP - 78SO - 16SV (66 IP)

32. Tony Watson (RP - SF) — ADP: 414.8

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.86ERA - 1.26WHIP - 61SO - 15SV (66 IP)

33. Wade Davis (RP - COL) — ADP: 358.5

2020 Projection: 3W - 5.00ERA - 1.50WHIP - 61SO - 23SV (59 IP)

34. Ross Stripling (SP/RP - LAD) — ADP: 313.5

2020 Projection: 6W - 3.80ERA - 1,09WHIP - 86SO - 0SV (87 IP)

35. Diego Castillo (RP - TB) — ADP: 414.7

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.24ERA - 1.18WHIP - 78SO - 5SV (65 IP)

36. Ryan Pressly (RP - HOU) — ADP: 347.5

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.26ERA - 1.13WHIP - 78SO - 4SV (63 IP)

37. Matt Barnes (RP - BOS) — ADP: 411.0

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.42ERA - 1.25WHIP - 94SO - 4SV (67 IP)

38. Dellin Betances (RP - NYM) — ADP: 325.8

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.06ERA - 1.16WHIP - 80SO - 4SV (54 IP)

39. Daniel Hudson (RP - WSH) — ADP: 310.3

2020 Projection: 3W - 4.20ERA - 1.35WHIP - 67SO - 13SV (66 IP)

40. Ty Buttrey (RP - LAA) — ADP: 544.0

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.63ERA - 1.21WHIP - 75SO - 5SV (65 IP)

41. Jose Alvarado (RP - TB) — ADP: 435.7

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.39ERA - 1.35WHIP - 66SO - 8SV (54 IP)

42. Seth Lugo (RP - NYM) — ADP: 277.8

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.42ERA - 1.13WHIP - 79SO - 3SV (68 IP)

43. Elieser Hernandez (SP/RP - MIA) — ADP: 537.5

2020 Projection: 7W - 4.68ERA - 1.32WHIP - 132SO - 0SV (136 IP)

44. Yoshihisa Hirano (RP - SEA) — ADP: 660.0

2020 Projection: 3W - 4.58ERA - 1.38WHIP - 51SO - 16SV (55 IP)

45. Emilio Pagan (RP - SD) — ADP: 202.3

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.51ERA - 1.08WHIP - 83SO - 1SV (66 IP)

46. Drew Pomeranz (RP - SD) — ADP: 347.3

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.42ERA - 1.18WHIP - 82SO - 3SV (65 IP)

47. Chad Green (RP - NYY) — ADP: 438.7

2020 Projection: 3W - 3.48ERA - 1.07WHIP - 83SO - 1SV (62 IP)

48. Ryne Stanek (RP - MIA) — ADP: 388.5

2020 Projection: 2W - 3.58ERA - 1.23WHIP - 83SO - 6SV (66 IP)

49. Will Harris (RP - WSH) — ADP: 419.7

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.41ERA - 1.22WHIP - 67SO - 4SV (64 IP)

50. Tommy Kahnle (RP - NYY) — ADP: 495.3

2020 Projection: 4W - 3.60ERA - 1.20WHIP - 84SO - 0SV (65 IP)

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