ADP Trend Analysis: What's Up With the Closers?

The debate is endless and almost tiresome at this point. Do you invest in closers during your draft or do you wait, pick up whatever is out there late in your draft and expect to play the waiver wire all season long? For every point there’s a counterpoint and the bottom line is that no one is going to fully convince the other side that their way is right. Me? I’m all about investing in quality closers. Two, in fact. And maybe I pick up a low-end third option late just for a quick boost in the saves category. Some people think it foolish and I think spending a big chunk of your FAAB budget chasing saves all year is a waste. Tomato, tomah-to.

In any event, regardless of which side of the fence you reside on, it’s always good to know how closers are being valued each year. If you’re a buyer, you need to assess market value and if you’re not, it’s good to see where closers are going and what may fall into your lap in lieu of one. So let’s take a look at the relief pitcher ADP and see what’s going on. Now some of the guys listed here are actually starting but have that delicious dual-eligibility for leagues that differentiate between starters and relievers on the roster. Hopefully you can figure out who’s who, and if you can’t, let’s set up a league together and put a whole lot of money on it!

Rank Player Team Current ADP 1 Week Ago Trend MDC ADP %Diff
1 Craig Kimbrel Atl 47.98 48.17 0.40% 28.06 41.52%
2 Kris Medlen Atl 75.57 75.83 0.34% 79.82 -5.62%
3 Aroldis Chapman Cin 85.73 86.65 1.07% 136.15 -58.81%
4 Jonathan Papelbon Phi 90.97 90.22 -0.82% 78.40 13.82%
5 Jason Motte StL 96.93 96.79 -0.14% 75.09 22.53%
6 Fernando Rodney TB 117.32 118.14 0.70% 88.82 24.29%
7 Rafael Soriano Was 134.83 141.67 5.07% 132.85 1.47%
8 Joe Nathan Tex 135.09 137.96 2.12% 109.20 19.17%
9 Mariano Rivera NYY 137.35 141.48 3.01% 110.02 19.90%
10 Jim Johnson Bal 137.73 139.01 0.93% 134.61 2.27%
11 J.J. Putz Ari 149.78 151.78 1.34% 111.89 25.30%
12 Sergio Romo SF 151.59 159.19 5.01% 120.87 20.27%
13 Joel Hanrahan Bos 155.53 155.78 0.16% 157.76 -1.43%
14 Greg Holland KC 155.75 159.72 2.55% 130.05 16.50%
15 Tom Wilhelmsen Sea 157.25 160.94 2.35% 119.33 24.11%
16 John Axford Mil 161.01 161.77 0.47% 105.01 34.78%
17 Huston Street SD 167.17 169.15 1.18% 190.24 -13.80%
18 Addison Reed CWS 169.86 171.37 0.89% 187.96 -10.66%
19 Kenley Jansen LAD 172.61 170.16 -1.42% 211.61 -22.59%
20 Chris Perez Cle 179.31 178.67 -0.36% 148.85 16.99%
21 Casey Janssen Tor 185.79 186.35 0.30% 238.56 -28.40%
22 Grant Balfour Oak 189.03 189.05 0.01% 145.65 22.95%
23 Glen Perkins Min 189.12 195.81 3.54% 142.84 24.47%
24 Rafael Betancourt Col 191.16 193.77 1.37% 164.61 13.89%
25 Jonathan Broxton Cin 201.22 205.41 2.08% 178.79 11.15%
26 Steve Cishek Mia 204.29 205.62 0.65% 180.98 11.41%
27 Jason Grilli Pit 206.76 216.09 4.51% 172.71 16.47%
28 Brandon League LAD 212.01 213.31 0.61% 211.60 0.19%
29 Ernesto Frieri LAA 224.23 233.93 4.33% 190.24 15.16%
30 Ryan Madson LAA 238.27 229.81 -3.55% 245.09 -2.86%
31 Carlos Marmol ChC 245.14 251.16 2.46% 235.57 3.90%
32 Bruce Rondon Det 246.01 240.53 -2.23% 242.99 1.23%
33 Drew Storen Was 266.04 251.89 -5.32% 240.88 9.46%
34 Kyuji Fujikawa ChC 267.01 270.73 1.39% 219.50 17.79%
35 Shelby Miller StL 270.12 270.68 0.21% 263.67 2.39%
36 Bobby Parnell NYM 283.17 305.41 7.85% 256.72 9.34%
37 Ryan Cook Oak 307.19 312.95 1.88% 285.35 7.11%
38 Jose Veras Hou 329.19 349.21 6.08% 297.79 9.54%
39 Andrew Cashner SD 336.76 344.06 2.17% 285.38 15.26%
40 Dylan Bundy Bal 339.90 342.65 0.81% NL  
41 Wade Davis KC 340.85 346.76 1.73% 252.67 25.87%
42 Frank Francisco NYM 349.13 345.66 -0.99% 285.38 18.26%
43 Vinnie Pestano Cle 352.11 366.23 4.01% 253.33 28.05%
44 Sergio Santos Tor 352.35 370.73 5.22% 291.59 17.24%
45 Brett Myers Cle 354.11 359.77 1.60% 265.74 24.96%
46 David Robertson NYY 362.04 367.65 1.55% 272.98 24.60%
47 David Hernandez Ari 374.85 383.36 2.27% 260.51 30.50%
48 Tyler Clippard Was 376.43 375.76 -0.18% 361.90 3.86%
49 Brian Wilson SF 378.22 370.35 -2.08% NL  
50 Andrew Bailey Bos 382.32 382.47 0.04% NL  

As you can see, whether it’s in the NFBC or on Mock Draft Central, there is a definite drop in where most closers are taken. You’ve got the super-elite in Craig Kimbrel going reasonably early and then there’s nearly a 50-pick differential between him and when the next closer comes off the board. A few more trickle off and not until the middle rounds do you start seeing any sort of a real closer run. Now as much as I love Kimbrel and value closers, I usually bypass him and let someone else make the first move. I know that I can still find quality ninth-inning guys later on, so there’s no need to jump the gun. Trust me…build that offense first.

Now let’s look at who’s trending and in which direction…

Bobby Parnell, NYM (+7.85%) – With Frank Francisco slow to recover from his recent elbow issues, it looks like Parnell could open the season as the Mets new closer. In actuality though, it’s really what the Mets and every fantasy owner in the world wants as Franky Frank, in my opinion, can be a disaster in the ninth. I’m sure he has his merits in some random way or another, but I think Parnell has better stuff and will be more reliable in the long run. He’s jumped almost 20 picks in the past week, so don’t sleep on him for too long.

Jose Veras, HOU (+6.08%) – Ah well, the secret is finally out. For weeks now I was grabbing Veras with my last pick in mocks and in leagues with early drafts. His ratios can be a bear sometimes, but if you’re grabbing him as a third closer, you can withstand him getting hit around a few times, so long as he is garnering saves. He’s jumped 20 picks but still has an ADP sitting in the 300’s in the NFBC, so there’s still not a huge rush on him. But don’t wait too long….20-25 saves in the last couple of rounds is nearly impossible to come by.

Sergio Santos, TOR (+5.22%) – With incumbent closer Casey Janssen slow to recover from his shoulder injury, it looks like Santos, the former closer, could open the season as the Jays’ ninth-inning specialist. Be careful though as Santos is also recovering from a shoulder ailment as well, so he might not be as ready for action as you’d like. Keep Steve Delabar on your radar here. He could be a dark horse candidate in Toronto should injuries keep both expected closer options sidelined.


Drew Storen, WAS (-5.32%) – Watching Storen slide down the ADP rankings is actually nothing new. He’s been heading south from the day Rafael Soriano was signed by the Nationals and it was announced that he [Soriano] would be closing this season. Sure, Storen’s got a shot at vulturing some saves here and there and there’s always the possibility that Soriano struggles, but in reality, Storen is nothing more than a middle reliever whose value is somewhat limited to deep NL-only play and leagues that count holds as a category.

Ryan Madson, LAA (-3.55%) – Again, nothing surprising here as we’ve already learned that Madson will start the season on the DL and Ernesto Frieri is likely to handle the job in the early part of the year. Don’t give up on him though as he is fully expected to assume the ninth inning work once he’s fully recovered.

Bruce Rondon, DET (-2.23%) – Expectations were high during the offseason as Rondon is a guy who consistently hits triple-digits on the gun and was being labeled as the Tigers closer of the future. He was a big part of them letting Jose Valverde walk this past winter. But Rondon has been having command issues and now the Tigers are backing off their stance of having him close no matter what. Don’t get me wrong, the team still very much wants him in the role, but they are willing to go with some bullpen patchwork until he is fully ready to handle the ninth inning. Should he appear to be winning the job over the next three weeks, watch him climb up the ADP rankings fast.

MDC Outliers

Aroldis Chapman, CIN (-58.81%) – He’s going a crazy 50 picks earlier in the NFBC than he is over at Mock Draft Central. It’s hard to make sense out of that though as he’s a fairly well –known commodity and it’s not like people are unaware that he’ll be in the Reds rotation whether Dusty likes it or not. Maybe those in the NFBC just believe in his power arm more and are coveting strikeouts. Either way, he’s definitely a recommended pick-up. There’s been some talk that Dusty wants him back in the pen, but the higher ups are apparently telling him that’s not an option.

John Axford, MIL (+37.48) – Astoundingly, Axford goes earlier than Chapman in drafts over at MDC and to me, that makes no sense whatsoever. What are you thinking, people? You must believe that Axford is untouchable and Chapman is heading to middle relief because that’s the only way I see Axford having more value. He got off to a hot start last year but again ran into some mid-season troubles and was even pulled from the closer’s role at one point. Sure, he may have a decent K-rate, but his ratios take a beating a lot of the time. Personally, if that’s going to happen, I’m looking for Veras about 200 picks down the road.


Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at



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