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2021 Closer Situations: Team-By-Analysis
Arizona Diamondbacks
Current Closer: J.B. Wendelken
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
(9/14) 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 73 career saves and he has logged four in six chances since the Soria trade. However, manager Torey Lovullo recently indicated Clippard may not be put back in the closer role immediately after the 36-year-old was reinstated to the roster after dealing with flu-like symptoms. Wendelken earned Arizona's most recent save on September 12 and Ramirez has also logged a save during the month of September. Consider this role to be fluid for the rest of the season, although 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
(9/14) Smith has been the Braves' primary ninth-inning option this season with 32 saves in 37 chances. Although the southpaw has struggled recently with a 4.67 ERA, 5.7 BB/9 and five 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 four home runs over his last three 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 second in the league with 26 holds. Jackson 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
(9/14) 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 (3.86 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 1.8 BB/9) who Hyde appears to trust. Wells has earned two 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: Matt Barnes
Team: Boston Red Sox
(9/14) 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 he's currently on 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, Robles is currently in the best form with a 0.00 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and 7:1 K:BB over 4.1 innings this month. Barnes could rejoin the team this weekend against the Orioles, but it's unclear whether or not he reclaims the closer role due to his performance before hitting the IL. Until then, expect manager Alex Cora to continue employing a committee.
Chicago Cubs
Current Closer: Rowan Wick
Team: Chicago Cubs
(9/14) 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.
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Closers in Waiting Ranks
  1. Devin Williams (MIL)
  2. Craig Kimbrel (CWS)
  3. David Bednar (PIT)
  4. Matt Barnes (BOS)
  5. Hector Neris (PHI)
  6. Blake Treinen (LAD)
  7. Diego Castillo (SEA)
  8. Trevor May (NYM)
  9. Kendall Graveman (HOU)
  10. Anthony Bender (MIA)
  11. Tyler Rogers (SF)
  12. Chad Green (NYY)
  13. Cole Sulser (BAL)
  14. Jose Alvarado (PHI)
  15. Luke Jackson (ATL)
  16. Josh Staumont (KC)
  17. Lucas Sims (CIN)
  18. Julian Merryweather (TOR)
  19. Tyler Clippard (ARI)
  20. Sergio Romo (OAK)