What do we want?
When do we want them?
I said when do we want them?
I said when do we want them?
Oh, when it's appropriate value.
The Elite: Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton
The Near-Elite: Mark Melancon, Craig Kimbrel, Wade Davis, Seung Hwan Oh, Edwin Diaz, Roberto Osuna, Jeurys Familia, Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera, Cody Allen
The Next-Best Things: Ken Giles, David Robertson, A.J. Ramos, Francisco Rodriguez
The Fallback Options: Jim Johnson, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, Cam Bedrosian, Hector Neris, Adam Ottavino
The Last Resorts: Neftali Feliz, Brandon Maurer, Raisel Iglesias, Shawn Kelley, Fernando Rodney, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler
The Next in Line: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Huston Street, Joaquin Benoit, Greg Holland, Carter Capps, Michael Lorenzen, Ryan Dull, Addison Reed, Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle
That's right: Nothing but closers here. I understand other roles may also be usable at relief pitcher, but it can vary from format to format. Saves matter to everyone, and I'd hate to convolute things for the majority. So stop complaining already.
The Elite are the closers with steady track records of dominance and no hiccups last year, but any of The Near-Elite could perform at that same level. We've seen it more than once from Kimbrel and Davis, who only fall a tier because of health concerns that popped up last y ear. The cartoonish strikeout rate and WHIP that defined Kimbrel's early career are becoming more and more prevalent in the role as the shutdown reliever becomes one of the game's hottest commodities, and we've reached the point now where they're so high in number that the closers who don't meet that standard are automatically low-end, regardless of their job security or save frequency. In other words, the gap between the haves and have-nots at the position is growing.
This is reflected in the way the tiers are constructed. The Next-Best Things is a tiny tier sandwiched between two large ones, and three of the four players in it -- Giles, Robertson and Ramos -- are potential stud closers coming off shaky seasons. Reliability isn't as important as upside.
It's worth pointing out that these tiers don't really match up with tiers of the same name at other positions. The Elite at all the others, with the exception of maybe catcher, are gone by the end of the third round, but any closer before Round 6 or so is a reach. And chances are at least one of the three will still be available a round or two later.
But honestly, as deep as that next tier is and as thin as the line is between the two, why would you want to extend yourself for any of that first tier? By and large, no closer is worth the reach, in part because so many are so similar and in part because the role is inherently volatile.
That's where the last tier comes in, The Next in Line, which is one you won't find at any other position. I dare say half of these pitchers won't be closing for their respective teams, and certainly some are more predictable than others. For the ones with the least job security, I've listed some backup options here as well as the backup options for some of the more secure closers who are just really high-end themselves (see Miller, Betances).
None of them are must-draft (except maybe Miller and Betances in a Rotisserie league), but any of them are worth drafting as a handcuff option if you play in a league where saves are scarce.