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2021 Closer Situations: Team-By-Analysis
Arizona Diamondbacks
Current Closer: Tyler Clippard
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
(9/21) Arizona opened 2021 with Stefan Crichton in the closer role, who earned four saves in three months before the team designated him for assignment in late-June due to poor performance. Joakim Soria assumed closing duties in July and earned six saves during the month before the the Diamondbacks capitalized on his pending free-agency and traded him to Toronto. Out of the relievers that remain, Clippard has the most experience with 74 career saves and he has logged five in eight chances since the Soria trade. Ramirez and Wendelken have also earned saves in September, so it's possible this role will be fluid for the rest of the season. Just keep in mind save chances will be hard to come by, as the Diamondbacks have one of the worst records in the majors.
Atlanta Braves
Current Closer: Will Smith
Team: Atlanta Braves
(9/21) Smith has been the Braves' primary ninth-inning option this season with 33 saves in 39 chances. Although the southpaw has struggled recently with a 4.43 ERA, 4.9 BB/9 and six home runs allowed since August 1, only two other Braves relievers have earned a save this season (Martin, Sean Newcomb). The Braves added another high-leverage arm at the trade deadline in Rodriguez, who recorded 14 saves in 17 chances with the Pirates, but he has allowed five home runs over his last five appearances after permitting just three long balls through the first five months of the season. If Smith is unavailable, manager Brian Snitker may ultimately turn to Jackson, who ranks third in the majors with 27 holds. Jackson also has experience in the role after earning 18 saves for Atlanta in 2019.
Baltimore Orioles
Current Closer: Tyler Wells
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Next In Line:  Cole Sulser , Tanner Scott IL-10, Conner Greene
(9/21) Manager Brandon Hyde set expectations prior to the 2021 season that the Orioles would be on a closer-by-committee basis, but Cesar Valdez logged eight of Baltimore's first 11 saves before he was designated for assignment. Since then, Sulser has received the majority of opportunities with 7 saves in 10 chances, but Hyde's ninth inning usage has been fluid with Wells, Scott, Paul Fry and Dillon Tate also getting opportunities. Wells is a rookie reliever and Rule 5 draft pick with promising ratios (4.09 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9) who Hyde appears to trust. Wells has earned three saves in September after Sulser recently blew a couple chances. Unfortunately, Baltimore has one of the worst records in the majors and save opportunities have been very hard to come by.
Boston Red Sox
Current Closer: Adam Ottavino
Team: Boston Red Sox
(9/21) Barnes struggled with consistency and command issues in 2020, but had a dominant first half this season with a 2.61 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 63:11 K:BB over 38 innings. The right-hander is 24-for-30 in save chances overall, but recently returned from the COVID-19 IL and struggled in August (13.50 ERA, 8.1 BB/9 and three home runs allowed over 6.2 innings) before testing positive for the virus. In his absence, Red Sox relievers have struggled in high-leverage events and five different relievers have logged saves in September. Among them, Richards logged the club's most recent save on Sep. 19, while Robles has displayed the best form with a 0.00 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 10:1 K:BB over 6.1 innings this month. Expect manager Alex Cora to continue employing a committee until Barnes shows he regain his form from earlier this season.
Chicago Cubs
Current Closer: Rowan Wick
Team: Chicago Cubs
(9/21) Craig Kimbrel earned 23 saves for the Cubs before the team traded him to their crosstown rivals on Chicago's southside. With Ryan Tepera also joining the White Sox via trade and Andrew Chafin now in Oakland, this bullpen looks a lot different than it did in April. The Cubs varied usage in the ninth inning since the trade deadline was a sign they moved to a full committee, but Wick has been the club's preferred option in the closer role since late August. Wick has allowed six earned runs over his two most recent outings, so there's a possibility manager David Ross may turn to some other options to finish the season.
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Closers in Waiting Ranks
  1. Devin Williams (MIL)
  2. Paul Sewald (SEA)
  3. Craig Kimbrel (CWS)
  4. Tanner Rainey (WAS)
  5. David Bednar (PIT)
  6. Matt Barnes (BOS)
  7. Michael Lorenzen (CIN)
  8. Hector Neris (PHI)
  9. Blake Treinen (LAD)
  10. Diego Castillo (SEA)
  11. Trevor May (NYM)
  12. Kendall Graveman (HOU)
  13. Anthony Bender (MIA)
  14. Chad Green (NYY)
  15. Adam Morgan (CHC)
  16. Hansel Robles (BOS)
  17. Cole Sulser (BAL)
  18. Luke Jackson (ATL)
  19. Josh Staumont (KC)
  20. Sergio Romo (OAK)