Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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June Reliever Rankings

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Welcome to the June reliever rankings. Players are ranked based on how I believe they will perform in 5x5 leagues over the remainder of the season. Along with the position rankings, you'll soon find a fully updated top 250 list.

Click to see other June rankings:
Top 250 | SP | RP | OF | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | C | DH

Relief pitcher Rankings

Dropping off: Mariano Rivera (3rd), Brian Wilson (13th), Mark Melancon (33rd), Fautino De Los Santos (40th), Rex Brothers (44th), Fernando Salas (46th)

  • As radically different as the closer list is from the start of the season, one thing hasn't changed; the top is still dominated by NL relievers. Rivera was the only AL closer in the top eight at the beginning of the year, and with him out of the mix, the high AL closer is Joe Nathan at No. 8. Of course, Nathan could be ranked higher, but the injury possibility is still pretty high there, and the Rangers may put Neftali Feliz back in the pen after the All-Star break.


  • The list of sure things in the closer rankings is a very short one. Even Jason Motte, who I have at No. 7, might be a candidate to lose his job with a couple of more shaky outings. His WHIP and strikeout rate are great, but he already has three losses and three blown saves. I'm not at all impressed by the way Jose Valverde is throwing, but he still seems safer than most of the guys below him on the list. Once outside of the top 15, the next 20 or so guys are mostly injury replacements, injured themselves or candidates to be traded.



  • Tom Wilhelmsen has been closing in place of League in Seattle lately, but he didn't make the top 65. League is likely to get the job back within days, and I'm not at all convinced Wilhelmsen will still be the preferred backup by the time League is traded, if League is traded.


  • Likewise the Padres lack a clear backup, particularly now that Andrew Cashner is rotation bound. Dale Thayer isn't at all likely to be the choice. The newly recalled Brad Boxberger is someone to keep an eye on.


  • Wilton Lopez has spent most of the last three years as Houston's best reliever, though that doesn't necessarily mean he'd close if Myers is traded. Brandon Lyon might get the first shot, assuming he isn't traded before Myers.


  • I favor Greg Holland as the Royals' fallback closer, though Aaron Crow is a realistic candidate as well. Tim Collins is throwing better than anyone in that pen right now, but he's still a long shot.


  • The Twins would likely slide Glen Perkins into the closer's role if they find a taker for Capps.

Rank Relief Pitcher Team April
1 Kenley Jansen Dodgers 11
2 Craig Kimbrel Braves 1
3 Aroldis Chapman Reds 27
4 Jonathan Papelbon Phillies 2
5 John Axford Brewers 4
6 Joel Hanrahan Pirates 6
7 Jason Motte Cardinals 5
8 Joe Nathan Rangers 17
9 Addison Reed White Sox 20
10 Jim Johnson Orioles 25
11 Rafael Betancourt Rockies 21
12 J.J. Putz Diamondbacks 14
13 Jose Valverde Tigers 12
14 Heath Bell Marlins 7
15 Santiago Casilla Giants 73
16 Fernando Rodney Rays 221
17 Chris Perez Indians 29
18 Ernesto Frieri Angels 62
19 Brandon League Mariners 15
20 Huston Street Padres 18
21 Brett Myers Astros 26
22 Rafael Soriano Yankees 60
23 Jonathan Broxton Royals 32
24 Alfredo Aceves Red Sox 23
25 Drew Storen Nationals 9
26 Frank Francisco Mets 30
27 Tyler Clippard Nationals 34
28 Ryan Cook Athletics 253
29 Matt Capps Twins 24
30 Casey Janssen Blue Jays 90
31 Scott Downs Angels 56
32 Sergio Santos Blue Jays 8
33 James Russell Cubs 113
34 Vinnie Pestano Indians 35
35 David Robertson Yankees 50
36 David Hernandez Diamondbacks 47
37 Carlos Marmol Cubs 19
38 Andrew Bailey Red Sox 42
39 Sergio Romo Giants 43
40 Jordan Walden Angels 10
41 Sean Burnett Nationals 132
42 Greg Holland Royals 28
43 Matt Thornton White Sox 36
44 Sean Marshall Reds 16
45 Joaquin Benoit Tigers 49
46 Steve Cishek Marlins 74
47 Grant Balfour Athletics 31
48 Kyle Farnsworth Rays 22
49 Mike Adams Rangers 38
50 Wilton Lopez Astros 59
51 Glen Perkins Twins 45
52 Francisco Rodriguez Brewers 41
53 Antonio Bastardo Phillies 48
54 Josh Lindblom Dodgers 109
55 Shawn Camp Cubs 195
56 Brian Fuentes Athletics 82
57 Bobby Parnell Mets 54
58 Jose Arredondo Reds 95
59 Javy Guerra Dodgers 37
60 Jonny Venters Braves 39
61 Aaron Crow Royals 64
62 Pedro Strop Orioles 218
63 Brian Duensing Twins 57
64 Henry Rodriguez Nationals 68
65 Joel Peralta Rays 52

Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot

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