2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Closer and RPSporting News — (Matt Lutovsky)
Closer has long been the bane of fantasy baseball owners' existences. Around two-thirds of major league teams change their closer at some point during the season, and with more committees and "openers" becoming en vogue, it's not long before we have no idea what to expect from ninth-inning situations heading into the season, making these rankings even more of an exercise in futility. High-strikeout middle relievers are becoming more than just late-round sleepers, and you should have more than a few circled on your cheat sheet. While you might not draft more than one or two, knowing who can rack up innings and Ks (and possibly wins and saves) while keeping peripherals low is important.
It's important to note that for our rankings below, we rank the projected closers above the projected middle relievers. Josh Hader could easily be more valuable than the majority of the guys ranked above him, but given that saves is its own category in most leagues, the importance of getting guys who contribute in that stat can't be understated (especially H2H leagues). (Update: Hader has been moved up with both Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress injured to open the season, but it's unclear if Milwaukee really wants Hader in the closer's role.) Also, with several teams yet to officially name a closer (and Craig Kimbrel still unsigned), it's fair to say these rankings will undergo quite a few changes before opening day.
Because closer is such a volatile position, rankings can swing wildly from year to year. Save opportunities can dry up, and even just a couple more homers allowed or a little worse batted-ball luck can really inflate ERAs and WHIPs. That's why we're taking a bit of a cautious approach with someone like Blake Treinen, who was dominant last year but hadn't show that level of brilliance at any point in his career. Still, he should have plenty of job security, at least to open the season, which gives him a boost over some other, perhaps more talented, pitchers.
Job security is definitely important but it changes rapidly, so as much as it's valued throughout our preseason rankings, especially early, it isn't everything, especially when you get into the RP2 range.
Drafting at least one secure closer feels like a necessity, although we all know it doesn't mean much over the course of an entire season. Injuries and cold streaks will happen, and you'll definitely be hitting the waiver wire at some point. If you don't overdraft your RPs and get a few high-upside options late in the draft, you can help mitigate the pain. Ultimately, though, you're guessing and hoping on a lot of these guys. Good luck.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2019 cheat sheet
Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Closer and RP
These rankings are for standard 5x5, non-keeper leagues. Eligibility based on Yahoo default settings.
* = closer battle in spring training
**= Not eligible at that position on draft day but expected to play there
|17||Ken Giles||Blue Jays|
|18||Alex Colome||White Sox|
|23||Matt Barnes*||Red Sox|
|42||Jace Fry||White Sox|
|52||Ryan Brasier||Red Sox|
|68||Carl Edwards Jr.||Cubs|
|70||Nate Jones||White Sox|