MLB fantasy: Ranking all closers for 2023


With more teams moving to closer committees, picking the right closers has never been more important in fantasy baseball. Here’s a ranking of each team’s likely closer for fantasy baseball as of early February 2023.


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1, Edwin Diaz, Mets

1, Edwin Diaz, Mets

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There’s little debate about the top closer in fantasy baseball entering 2023. Diaz is coming off a historic season with a 1.31 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 118 strikeouts and was easily the top closer in the league last season. An improved Mets roster, led by Justin Verlander, could give Diaz, even more, save opportunities this year.


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2. Emmanuel Clase, Guardians

Emmanuel Clase, Guardians

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Clase has been on a rampage since emerging as the Guardians closer in 2021. He has a sub-2.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP in consecutive seasons and posted an incredible 77/10 K/BB in 72.2 innings last season. The groundball pitcher has limited downside with a triple-digit sinker that provokes continuous soft contact. However, his lack of big strikeout numbers keeps him behind Edwin Diaz in the closer pecking order.


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3. Josh Hader, Padres

Josh Hader, Padres

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Hader is capable of being the top closer in fantasy baseball, as he’s shown in the past, but his erratic command can get him into trouble. The lefty had a 5.22 ERA last season, inflated by eight home runs allowed in 50 innings last season, yet his 14.6 K/9 remained elite. If Hader can keep his mechanics in check, he’s easy money as a top-five closer for the loaded Padres squad.


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4. Devin Williams, Brewers

Devin Williams, Brewers

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Josh Hader’s replacement in Milwaukee is no slouch, stacking three consecutive dominant seasons. He posted a 1.93 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 96 strikeouts and handled the closer job just fine down the stretch after Hader was traded, converting 15 saves. Even with declining fastball velocity last season, Williams was just fine as a result of his unhittable “Air Bender” changeup.


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5. Ryan Helsley, Cardinals

Ryan Helsley, Cardinals

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The Cardinals had almost no choice but to hand Helsley the ninth-inning duties after he showed an uptick in velocity and strikeouts early last season. He finished the year with 19 saves to go along with his 1.25 ERA and 0.74 WHIP, also punching out 94 batters in 64.2 innings. Helsley claimed he was pitching hurt in 2021 and that injury risk, along with the resulting poor control (5.1 BB/9), is the only reason to put him outside the top tier of closers.


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6. Ryan Pressly, Astros

Ryan Pressly, Astros

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There might not be a more efficient closer in the game than Pressly, who converted a career-high 33 saves last season in only 50 appearances. He’s had some small injury issues over the last several seasons but has remained durable overall with elite command with a 2.39 ERA and 5.81 K/BB ratio in five seasons since joining Houston.


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7. Raisel Iglesias, Braves

Raisel Iglesias, Braves

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Atlanta acquired Iglesias from the Angels at last year’s trade deadline in part to be Kenley Jansen’s long-term replacement. The Cuban turned it on after the trade, posting a 0.34 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 26.1 innings with the Braves. He has three 30-plus save seasons under his belt, so there’s no questioning Iglesias’ ability to handle the ninth inning.


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8. Jordan Romano, Blue Jays

Jordan Romano, Blue Jays

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Few relief pitchers have been better than Romano since 2020, with a cumulative 2.03 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He handled closer duties without any issue last season, converting 36 saves and making his first All-Star appearance. The only reason for concern is Romano’s declining strikeout rate, down to 10.3 K/9 last year.


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9. Kenley Jansen, Red Sox

Kenley Jansen, Red Sox

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Is it possible for a closer with 391 saves to not get enough respect? Jansen joined his third team in three years when he signed with Boston after leading MLB with 41 saves last season. The velocity isn’t quite what it used to be for Jansen, but he now mixes his pitches more and still misses bats at a strong clip (12.0 K/9). For all the criticism of Boston’s offseason, they do have a deeper pitching staff that could provide plenty of low-scoring games and saves opportunities.


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10. Felix Bautista, Orioles

Felix Bautista, Orioles

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Bautista came out of nowhere to become an elite closer down the stretch for Baltimore last year, posting most of his 15 saves after Jorge Lopez was traded. He also posted an elite 12.1 K/9 and 2.19 ERA for his rookie season, showing an increase in velocity from most of his minor league time. There should be some concern about Bautista’s late-season shoulder issues and the possibility that he will lose some velocity.


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11. Clay Holmes, Yankees

Clay Holmes, Yankees

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Holmes was a savior for the Yankees after Aroldis Chapman floundered, converting 20 saves with a 2.54 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Still, Holmes struggled late in the year after returning from injury and doesn’t have a closer track record, so there remains some skepticism that he can be an elite closer again. With an extreme groundball rate and strong control since joining the Yankees in 2021, Holmes looks capable.


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12. Daniel Bard, Rockies

Daniel Bard, Rockies

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Bard became more of a groundball pitcher with a dominant sinker last year, and the results were striking. The 34 saves were most valuable in fantasy leagues, but Bard’s 1.79 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with the Rockies was almost unprecedented given the home environment. There’s a lot of risk here with Bard’s lack of track record, age (37), and Coors Field, but he’s one of the last reliable closers on the board.


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13. Camilo Doval, Giants

Camilo Doval, Giants

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Doval finished 2021 as the Giants closer and continued that momentum last year, converting 27 saves with a 2.53 ERA. There remain some significant concerns with Doval’s lack of control (4.0 BB/9) and inability to get lefties out. The latter concern puts some of Doval’s opportunities under threat after the Giants signed left-hander Taylor Rogers.


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14. David Bednar, Pirates

David Bednar, Pirates

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Bednar was one of the best closers in MLB for most of last season, but missed a large chunk of the year due to a back injury. Still, he’s posted a sub-3.00 ERA in back-to-back seasons and enters 2023 as one of the only consistent relief options in the entire Pirates pen. Bednar will be discounted because he’s on a bad team and stands a risk of getting traded, but he’s a solid option for as long as he’s in Pittsburgh.


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15. Alexis Diaz, Reds

Alexis Diaz, Reds

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The younger brother of Mets closer Edwin Diaz, Alexis is showing some of his brother’s ability with a mid-90s fastball and nasty slider that produced an 11.7 K/9. Like his brother, Diaz is erratic at times and still needs to get his control in check (4.7 BB/), but he finished with a 1.84 ERA last season and enters 2023 as the Reds clear closer.


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16. Jhoan Duran, Twins

Jhoan Duran, Twins

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Duran is one of the top relievers in MLB, but he doesn’t have a clear hold on the Twins’ closer role. Rather, he shared duties with Jorge Lopez after the team acquired Lopez from Baltimore at the trade deadline. That arrangement could continue with Minnesota liking to use Duran as a bridge over multiple innings at times. For Duran’s purposes, he showed off his elite ability with a 1.86 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 5.56 K/BB ratio in 67.2 innings last season.


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17. Andres Munoz, Mariners

Andres Munoz, Mariners

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Like Jhoan Duran, Munoz would be a top-tier closer if not for sharing the job. Seattle likes to employ a closer committee, and Paul Sewald was at the head of the group last season. Returning from Tommy John surgery, Munoz was spectacular in 2022 with a 2.49 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 13.3 K/9 in 65 innings, and continued success could force the team to give him more ninth-inning chances.


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18. Scott Barlow, Royals

Scott Barlow, Royals

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Barlow has been KC’s primary closer over the last two seasons, notching 40 saves to go along with his sub-3.00 ERA. He had a career-best 2.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 74.1 innings last season, though Barlow’s declining velocity and strikeout rate (9.3 K/9) is a concern. Perhaps more concerning is the addition of seasoned closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is trying to revitalize his career and will be a major threat to Barlow if he’s successful.


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19. Pete Fairbanks, Rays

Pete Fairbanks, Rays

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Fairbanks recently signed a contract extension with the Rays after showing dominance in 24 appearances late last season, with a 1.13 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, and 14.3 K/9. He finished out the season as the team’s closer and should assume the primary duty this season, but Fairbanks has a long history of arm injuries, including a shoulder issue last season. If you’re looking to employ Fairbanks, be sure to roster Jason Adam as insurance, at the very least.


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20. Jose Leclerc, Rangers

Jose Leclerc, Rangers

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Leclerc re-emerged as the Rangers closer after returning from Tommy John surgery last year, with seven saves down the stretch. His 2.83 ERA and 10.2 K/9 indicated Leclerc was fully healthy, but he also remained erratic with a 4.0 BB/9. Following an offseason spending spree, the Rangers might not be patient if Leclerc falters, and they have some interesting options in waiting, like Brock Burke.


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21. Kyle Finnegan, Nationals

Kyle Finnegan, Nationals

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The Nats haven’t seemed overly impressed with Finnegan, but he keeps them coming back, ending the last two seasons as the team’s closer. He showed improved control last season with a 1.14 WHIP and 3.0 BB/9 to go along with his 3.51 ERA. Washington won’t win many games and will likely want to see what they have in their younger stable of relievers, adding some risk for Finnegan.


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22. Kendall Graveman, White Sox

Kendall Graveman, White Sox

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With Liam Hendriks’ status this season up in the air as he fights cancer, Graveman is the logical next man up. Graveman has converted 16 saves over the last two seasons with Seattle and the White Sox, keeping the ball down and posting more than one strikeout per inning. The depth of the White Sox pen is one of their strengths, with plus arms like Reynaldo Lopez, Aaron Bummer, and Joe Kelly, but Graveman is likely to get first dibs at saves.


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23. Daniel Hudson, Dodgers

Daniel Hudson, Dodgers

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The Dodgers quiet offseason is shocking given their history. They head into 2023 without an accomplished closer, but Hudson has the most experience. He converted five saves last season before suffering a torn ACL and also looked better than normal with a 6.00 K/BB and extreme groundball rate. Assuming health, Hudson should be at the head of the closer committee in LA, though Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol are also worth rostering.


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24. Dylan Floro, Marlins

Dylan Floro, Marlins

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Floro has spent parts of the last two seasons as Miami’s closer, so it would stand to reason that he will earn the most saves this year. He’s far from a closer prototype, without big velocity or strikeout numbers, but Floro has usually gotten the job done. He finished last season with a 3.02 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 10 saves with a clear hold of the closer job. The addition of former Red Sox closer Matt Barnes eliminates Floro’s margin for error.


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25. Craig Kimbrel, Phillies

Craig Kimbrel, Phillies

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The Phils have stated they won’t have one clear closer this season. Still, Kimbrel’s experience in the role likely puts him slightly ahead of Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Jose Alvarado, and others in the committee. The team apparently feels he has something left in spite of declining velocity and a 3.75 ERA with the Dodgers last season.


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26. Trevor May, Athletics

Trevor May, Athletics

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There’s an argument about whether a team set to be as bad as the A’s even need a closer, but May could be the leader for saves if they employ one. He earned $7 million in free agency despite struggling with injuries last year, and has some history in the role with 12 career saves. His career 10.7 K/9 and plus stuff shows potential.


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27. Alex Lange, Tigers

Alex Lange, Tigers

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With the trades of Gregory Soto and Joe Jimenez, the Tigers are left without a closer entering 2023. Among the incumbents, Lange would appear to be the most interesting reliever after posting a 3.41 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 63.1 innings last season. The big concern is his lack of control, with a 4.4 BB/9 and whopping 15 wild pitches last year.


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28. Carlos Estevez, Angels

Carlos Estevez, Angels

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Estevez signed a big free agent contract with the Angels during the offseason, with a supposed promise that he’d be in the running for saves. The Angels didn’t have a primary closer after trading Raisel Iglesias last season, but Estevez has proven experience in Colorado with 25 career saves. Control remains an issue, but getting out of Colorado should be helpful for the hard thrower. He will battle other names like Jimmy Herget and Ryan Tepera.


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29. Brandon Hughes, Cubs

Brandon Hughes, Cubs

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The Cubs haven’t done much to add to their pen, leaving Hughes as the favorite for saves. He finished out the year as the primary closer, converting eight saves in his rookie season. There is reason to believe Hughes will regress after allowing 11 home runs last season and failing to show elite stuff. However, the team doesn’t have much in the way of alternatives, with Brad Boxberger, Adbert Alzolay, and Rowan Wick the most capable.


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30. Kevin Ginkel, Diamondbacks

Kevin Ginkel, Diamondbacks

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Arizona’s bullpen has been left in a tough spot by Mark Melancon’s decline. He was supposed to be the team’s closer for the life of the two-year deal he signed last year, but the veteran was terrible in his first season. Ginkel provides the most intrigue, with a long track record closing in the minors and an increase in velocity last season. Other options include lefty Joe Mantiply and veteran Miguel Castro.

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