After each week of positional coverage, we will wrap things up here on Sunday with our 2016 dynasty/keeper rankings.
Players are ranked with the next five years of production in mind, so when you see Ken Giles ranked ahead of a player like Andrew Miller – that does not mean that we believe Giles will be the superior short-term option.
Taking part in our dynasty rankings will be Paul Hartman, Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Ron Vackar, Josh Coleman and Mike Sheehan. Our six experts each ranked their top 20 relievers/closers. Players marked N/R were not ranked inside the top 20 by that particular person.
Who is the top closer, Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman? While Jansen won out here, you might see Chapman’s name on top someplace else. It really doesn’t matter, though. Both are dominant flamethrowers capable of producing terrific ratios, tons of strikeouts, and those all important saves. Zach Britton will give you a lower strikeout total than Jansen and Chapman, but his ratios the past three years are right on par with both of them. He rounds out the trio of tier-one elite closers.
Ken Giles gets a tier of his own as he is the only other reliever whose rankings all fall within the top-10. His ranking is more of a leap of faith. We all saw what he could do in Philly, but we have only seen flashes of that man in Houston. There is no denying his strikeout ability, he’s more than capable of reaching 100+ each season. However, if we don’t see some improvements in his ratios in 2017 he will fall in with the next group (or lower).
The next four players you can probably order to your own preference. Mark Melancon, Craig Kimbrel, Jeurys Familia and Roberto Osuna will each give you solid ratios, strikeouts and save totals. They also have job security which is just as important. Short of an unforeseen injury you will not have to play the dreaded closer carousel.
You should be safe as well with the next six players, though each comes with a question mark. Edwin Diaz, Kelvin Herrera and Seung Hwan Oh could each graduate by this time next year to the upper tier. There is also a chance they could each take a step back. The lack of a major league track record is the only thing standing in their way. Wade Davis has the track record and was a former top-5 closer, but it appears many want to see if he if healthy.
As for Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, it remains to be seen how the Indians will handle their bullpen situation. One thing is clear, though. Whoever ends up as the setup man will still hold value in mixed leagues due to his strikeouts and ratios. This is the exact reason you still see Dellin Betances in our top-20 rankings. He may be setting up for Chapman in New York, but he will rack up 100+ strikeouts while doing so.
David Robertson is the only one with job security and a long leash among the final five players. His ERA may be mediocre, but if he gets the walks back under control you’ll get a solid WHIP along a strikeout an inning and 35+ saves. Alex Colome, Hector Neris and Adam Ottavino should each start the 2017 season as the closer, but there is little guarantee they finish the year with the job. Each team has a number of in-house options. If you own one of the three men above, I suggest you handcuff him to his setup man if possible.
Raisel Iglesias rounds out the top-20 thanks to an aggressive ranking by Josh Coleman. Iglesias did finish the season as the closer which should play in his favor. Unfortunately manager Bryan Price has discussed possibly using Iglesias, Tony Cingrani and Michael Lorenzen in a committee. As of now Price does not want one closer, and that is not what fantasy owners want to hear.
Outside Looking In
There were seven ranked players that did not make the cut. Of those seven, Sam Dyson was the only one to make it on to two sets of rankings. He should be closing things out in Texas, but he is basically a low-end closer option with little job security.
The remaining six players each appeared on one set of rankings. Francisco Rodriguez will close again for the Tigers, but at age 35 he has a limited shelf life. A.J. Ramos should be closing as well, but he could lose his job before the season starts if the Kenley Jansen rumors come to fruition. Even if Jansen doesn’t sign, the Marlins have been looking to replace Ramos since 2015 when Carter Capps emerged. Mauricio Cabrera is a candidate to close in Atlanta, but so is Arodys Vizcaino. We’ll have to wait until spring to see how things shake out here.
Carter Capps and Tyler Thornberg will setup for their current team. Capps is in the best position to take over the closer role. Thornberg will need a Craig Kimbrel injury or implosion to get any saves, but he could be a poor man’s Betances making him still worthy of rostering even in mixed leagues that don’t count holds. Greg Holland is the final man on the list. The former Kansas City closer is returning from Tommy John surgery. If Holland returns even close to form in 2017 he could be a top-12 closing option once again – something to consider if you’re looking to make a trade.
That wraps up our relief pitcher rankings. In two weeks we will close things out with our top-200 for keeper/dynasty leagues. That should take us into the new year where we will begin our 2017 rankings as well as prospect rankings.