Unlike starting pitchers there is no reason to draft closers early. As an example over the past two season over 60% of the opening day closers did not hold onto the job past August. Relief Pitchers should provide saves but remember a bad closer can hurt you almost as much as a good one can help you. I keep saying closer but note this position is relief pitchers and we do have a few relief pitchers ranked over a team’s opening day closer due to the upside.
Looking at our rankings there is one guy that is well worth an early round pick and that is Craig Kimbrel. 42 saves is nice but 116 strikeouts in 62 innings is just insane. Kimbrel will help your team in ever pitching category except for wins. If you do not take Kimbrel early it is perfectly fine to wait on getting saves which is much easier heading into this draft season. It seems all teams pretty much have there closer locked down for opening day and there is not too much uncertainly.
Some relief pitchers that do not have the closer duties could end the year as one of the top relief pitchers in the game. Jansen for the Dodgers is a prime example of it, if League stumbles at all and loses the job to him he is Kimbrel 2.0 in the making.
I must highlight Jason Grilli real quick. Grilli came out of nowhere last season to post great stats across the board. Somehow he found the fountain of youth and had 90 strikeouts in 58 innings. Sure, there is certainly a chance he does not pick up where he left off last season but based on how late you can get him we feel he is well worth the risk.
Draft Day Advice
The one fact you must take note of is the fact that most opening day closers will not be the entire season. So this means you can draft one good closer, then a few late, then ensure you play the wire all year and your team should be set in the saves department. Personally, if I do not get Craig Kimbrel I am just waiting till the late middle to late part of the draft to start trying to get saves onto my team.