The closer scene has been relatively quiet over the past couple weeks.
No, really. There are always situations in flux and developments to discuss, but it hasn't been complete pandemonium the way it was most of last year. At least two-thirds of the league appears to have settled on one guy -- that is, until he gives his team cause to try out someone knew. Rest assured, if you still haven't secured enough saves yet, the procession of new closer candidates is unending.
Below are the 10 closer situations attracting the most attention right now, though even some of them are nearing a point of stasis.
Note: "Pecking order" refers to rosterability in Fantasy and not necessarily who's first in line for saves (though it's usually one and the same).
It wasn't so surprising given that the former has been knocked around and the latter has been lights out, but did it reflect a legitimate changing of the guard? More left-handed hitters were due up in the eighth, which suggests manager David Bell may have been deploying Garrett situationally, and then there's the small matter of Sean Doolittle, who has looked much improved this year, coming in behind the two in the 10th inning when he had previously been working the earlier innings. Because he, like Garrett, throws left-handed, maybe he's the more logical choice to claim Garrett's save chances, if that's indeed what's happening.
The three seem as close as can be right now, but unlike some of the other closer toss-ups we've seen, with opportunities going every which way, I'm hopeful we'll have clarity here sooner than later.
Before the Athletics signed Trevor Rosenthal this offseason, it sounded like Jake Diekman would get the chance to close, so he seemed like the obvious choice to step in once Rosenthal was lost to thoracic outlet syndrome. But manager Bob Melvin floated the idea of having Lou Trivino share the role, and now ... it just seems to be Trivino. He has worked the ninth inning in four straight games, securing two saves and a win, while Diekman was worked the seventh or eighth in four straight. Maybe if a murderer's row of righties is due up in the eighth, Melvin would flip the script for a day, but this is shaping up to be an open-and-shut case.
Kendall Graveman's first save came in extra innings after Rafael Montero had already blown the lead. His second save came about more conventionally two days later, with Montero setting up for him. At the time, manager Scott Servais said it was a matchups thing, thus indicating he had deployed his closer (Montero) in the higher-leverage situation, but then he used Graveman in the higher-leverage situation Monday, having him enter with two runners on in the seventh and then stay in for the eighth. Montero worked the ninth for his third save, but he didn't make it easy. And with three blown saves for Montero already, I'd say the momentum is all with Graveman.
The Blue Jays never officially declared Julian Merryweather their closer, but just when it became evident to everyone that he was, he suffered a strained oblique, an injury that's expected to sideline him for an extended stretch. So presumably, Jordan Romano, who's due back from his own IL stint for a nerve issue in his right arm, will finally get his chance to step into the role, but because manager Charlie Montoyo has already shown a preference for deploying him situationally, we can't rule out Rafael Dolis claiming the ninth-inning role instead. He was, after all, the Blue Jays closer down the stretch last season, recording five saves.
Emmanuel Clase has been a little shaky lately, allowing a hit in five straight appearances, a run in three of four (albeit all unearned), and even blowing a save Saturday. So that fact he came right back out for a save Sunday, striking out three, may be the strongest endorsement yet that he's indeed the guy. It's worth pointing out, though, that James Karinchak has been lights out in his eighth-inning role, striking out nine while allowing just two baserunners in his past four appearances, so you'll want to keep him close by in case Clase's shakiness continues.
The Diamondbacks went nearly two weeks without a save chance after placing Chris Devenski, author of their first save, on the restricted list, but during that time, Stefan Crichton worked as a closer might, solely appearing in the ninth inning of relatively close games. So it wasn't surprising to see him called in for the save Sunday. He did go 5-for-5 as the team's closer last September, after all. He doesn't have closer stuff and figures to be vulnerable in the role, so you'll want to keep an eye on recently promoted J.B. Bukauskas, who was untouchable this spring, and veteran Joakim Soria, who's expected back soon from a calf strain.
Is manager Mike Matheny finally ready to settle? After three different relievers got a save for the Royals through the first seven games, Greg Holland is responsible for two of the team's last three. That's not a lot to go on, of course, but in between the two saves was another game he finished out and got the win, being used again like a closer typically would. He was the favorite for saves coming into the season and remains so, but the Royals do have pretty good alternatives and a manager who likes to mix things up. You shouldn't presume anything just yet.
Jake McGee blew a save in glorious fashion Saturday and immediately went up on the IL with side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, so it's fair to assume the two were related. He was so bankable up to that point that his job certainly isn't in jeopardy. Still, it's been nice to see Tyler Rogers emerge as the clear next in line, picking up the save Sunday. Of course, then Wandy Peralta got a save Monday, but Rogers had just worked back-to-back days. Apart from Sunday's save, every one of Rogers' appearances this year have had him work the eighth inning, so between him and McGee, the blueprint is clear. Leave it to Gabe Kapler to establish the firmest of bullpen roles!
Gregory Soto still looks like the reliever manager A.J. Hinch trusts most, but that trust is being tested. The left-hander couldn't handle the ninth inning of a tie game Sunday and took the loss. Meanwhile, the team leader in saves is actually Bryan Garcia, who recorded his second about a week ago and hasn't been used since. He hasn't gotten as much high-leverage work as Soto has, but as a right-hander, he's easier to preserve for the ninth inning. Most likely, though, Hinch will continue to mix things up for now.