2023 Fantasy Baseball Closers: Josh Hader, Devin Williams, and More!
Ok, so we’ve covered middle relievers. And we’ve covered how to approach closers in the draft strategy article (spoiler: draft one or two elite closers and then dumpster dive in the middle and later rounds of your draft). But let’s throw some actual names into the mix here.
Who are the elite closers I’m targeting (and avoiding)? Who are the closers I’m looking to grab at the end of my draft? I’ve got a few in mind, so let’s move from theoretical strategy and see if we can build an ideal list for draft day.
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Elite closers to target
With Edwin Diaz likely out for the season, I think Williams might be the prize. He was one of the best setup men in baseball for the past few years and took over the Brewers closer role after Josh Hader was traded. While he’s not quite as proven as Williams, he has a high strikeout rate and should get plenty of save opportunities with Milwaukee.
While Emmanuel Clase and Jordan Romano were also options here, I’m going with The Mountain. Bautista took over as the Orioles closer after Jorge Lopez was traded and never looked back. He, as we’re always looking for, has a high strikeout rate and should get plenty of save opportunities on a pesky Baltimore team. His job is also seemingly quite secure, so I’m happy to lock him in around his ADP of 108.
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Elite closers to avoid
I’m not trying to dump on the guy here, but Hader had an awful 2022 (5.22 ERA) and I’m not trying to pay for his bounceback at an ADP of 68. I love his strikeout rate. I love the team that he’s on. And he might have a great year. But I’ll let someone else pay this steep of a price for it. If you’re going for a closer here, go for Hader’s former setup man in Williams.
Jansen was very good last year. But he’s now 35 years old and will likely be affected by the new pitch clock rule as he was one of the slowest relievers last year (to be fair, Williams was too so I guess I’m being a tad hypocritical here). Anyway, the Red Sox will struggle to win 80 games so that will likely limit Jansen’s save opportunities. I’ll let someone else take on his risk at his ADP of around 115.
I’m also avoiding the guy who is theoretically taking over for Jansen in Atlanta. Iglesias pitched really well as Jansen’s setup man after being acquired from the Angels midseason, but he’s not enough of a sure thing for his ADP of 88. While the numbers are there, the job security just isn’t, well, secure enough for me to take the plunge.
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Mid/late-round targets target
Phillips has a bit of the “prove it” factor missing, but that’s not his fault. He had a fantastic 2022 as a setup man (77 strikeouts with a 1.14 ERA and 0.76 WHIP) and can be had around 172 in drafts. Considering he’s on a Dodgers team that should win over 100 games, Phillips is a must-draft closer for me.
Holmes had a great 2022 season after taking over for Aroldis Chapman and should get plenty of save opportunities on a Yankees team set to win a lot of games. While he doesn’t provide as much strikeout upside as some other relievers, he’s currently a good value in the 145 range.
Jose Lopez" data-toggle="modal" data-target="#player-pop-up" href="/mlb_player_news/Jose_Lopez/">Jose Lopez looms, but Duran seemingly has the job for now, and you can get him around 155 or so in your draft. I’m honestly looking for some semblance of job security at this point in the draft (he has it) combined with a high strikeout rate (he has it). Let’s go!
Munoz isn’t the sure-thing closer on a Mariners team that sometimes goes closer-by-committee, but he has a lot of upside after striking out 96 batters to go with a 2.49 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He should also get plenty of save opportunities on a good Mariners team. He’s currently going around 153.
Is Lange going to get a lot of saves for a bad Tigers team? Probably not. But he’s also dirt-cheap and is a great end-of-draft closer to grab. He seemingly has a hold on the Tigers job for now and produces over a strikeout per inning – which is music to my ears.
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