According to consensus ADP the top four closers coming off the board in preseason drafts are Devin Williams, Josh Hader, Edwin Diaz, and Emmanuel Clase. Based on this preseason’s draft activity, if you’re looking to roster any one of those top four closers so that you can lock down the saves category, you’re going to need to make your move and draft them by the fifth round. Based on the ATC projection model, some of the closers we’ll talk about in this article are only expected to have between fewer saves than Williams, who’s the presumptive first closer off the board so far this preseason. 

All of the closers we’ll reference have some warts, (some more than others), and except for one, you’re probably not going to want to roster the pitchers discussed in this article as your first closer. However, all of them have a very good chance at opening the season as their respective team’s ninth inning stud. 


Andres Munoz, Seattle Mariners, ADP 115.0

Munoz is the 12th closer coming off the board in preseason drafts but there’s a good chance that his underlying skillset will help him outperform his ADP. He took over as the Mariners’ closer after Paul Sewald was moved at last season’s trade deadline and Munoz converted 11-of-13 save chances. His overall stats were very good, but his 2.94 ERA was almost a half-run higher than his 2022 average and his strikeout per inning rate dropped from 13.3 in 2022 to 12.3 last season. That regression is probably the result of Munoz having spent much of the 2023 season trying to recover from injuries. Offseason ankle surgery delayed his throwing program heading into the 2023 season and he spent nearly two months on the IL due to a shoulder strain. 

After dealing with the aftereffects of his ankle surgery for much of the start of last season, Munoz’s 2023 offseason workouts focused on strengthening the lower half of his body. Munoz has come into camp healthy and strong, and early this spring he hit 101 mph on the radar gun with his fastball. Munoz claims he “just didn’t have that feel” for his slider once he came back from his shoulder strain and he didn’t throw it as much as he had in the past. It was still his best pitch and generated a 48.3 whiff rate but opposing batters hit just .126 against it in 2022 and fared better against it (.230 BAA) last season. He’s throwing it with confidence this spring, reaching 90-92 mph on the radar gun. The fact that Munoz added a sinker to his repertoire last season provides even more optimism for his 2023 outlook. His sinker generated a 27.8% whiff rate and .229 BAA. If Munoz could avoid hitting the injured list, a 30-save season is possible.

Evan Phillips, Los Angeles Dodgers, ADP 115.4

By now you’ve probably heard Dodgers manager Dave Roberts proclaim that Phillips would receive “the brunt” of save chances this season. It’s tough to quantity that term, but with Pecota projecting 101 wins for the Dodgers, Phillips can also have a 30+ save season in his future. He had a fine 2023 season in which he converted 24-of-27 save chances and pitched to a 2.05 ERA. He lowered his BB/9 rate for the fifth straight season to a stingy 1.91 rate and Phillips limited opposing batters to a .174 batting average. It was the second straight season that opposing hitters posted a batting average against him that was south of the Mendoza line. 

Craig Kimbrel, Baltimore Orioles, ADP 144.2

Ageists are probably avoiding Kimbrel this draft season, making him the 19th closer based on his consensus ADP but even at 36 years old he’s still throwing heat, and he’ll be closing out games for an Orioles team that won 101 games last season. Kimbrel’s fastball averaged just a touch under 96 mph last season, but opposing batters were still having trouble catching up to it (.185 BAA). He also showed year-to-year improvement in his K/9, BB/9, ERA and WHIP as evidenced below.
















Adbert Alzolay, Chicago Cubs, ADP 151.4

Alzolay started the season as part of a closer-by-committee and didn’t record his first save until May 6th, but by the end of the season he was the Cubs’ primary closer. He finished the season by converting 22-of-25 save opportunities. Alzolay was at his best in save situations, pitching to a 2.06 ERA and recording a 0.77 WHIP when the game was on the line. Alzolay is a former starter but since being converted to a reliever after the 2021 season he’s added an average of 1.3 mph to his fastball. Despite the velocity increase hitters were getting around on his fastball last season (.302 BAA) so he started throwing his slider (.194 BAA) and sinker a bit more (.184 BAA). Alzolay was extremely effective against right-handed batters (.199 BAA) but lefties had better success against him (.263 BAA). Despite all that, ATC projections expect Alzolay to record 27 saves this season.

Alex Lange, Detroit Tigers, ADP 198.8

Much has been said about Lange’s control issues and overall, it’s true. However, a change in his approach late last season leaves some room for optimism heading into the 2023 season. Sometime around mid-August of last season Lange started throwing his changeup more and while that lowered his strikeout rate it also helped to significantly lower his walk rate. 


Fastball%Changeup %BB/9ERA

Hard Hit %

March 4th – August 12th





August 13th – October 1st





As a result of this new approach opposing batters were swinging at more of his pitches outside the strike zone and although they were making more contact, Lange’s new pitch mix was inducing more ground balls and less hard contact. The average exit velocity on his batted balls dropped by just over two miles per hour and his ERA was down a full run. Per Statcast, Lange had a whiff rate in the 99th percentile. You’re not going to want to roster Lange as your first closer and his home/away splits are concerning (career 2.53 home ERA, 4.86 road ERA), but if the changes he made to his approach late last season carry over to this season, he can outproduce his current ADP. 

Carlos Estevez, Los Angeles Angels, ADP 229.2

Estevez got off to a blistering start last season. Through July 30th he had a 5-1 record and he posted a 1.88 ERA, on his way to recording two holds and converting all 23 of his save opportunities. The rest of his season was brutal as he pitched to an 8.38 ERA and converted just eight of his final 12 save chances the rest of the way. In an attempt to explain his late season swoon Estevez simply said that the physical demands of pitching in the ninth inning all season long caught up to him.  In response, he changed his offseason workout routine and added some interval training which he hopes will better prepare him for the rigors that come with closing out games at the big-league level. 

Estevez has had a good spring, and he’s stated that his “arm feels in better shape” than it usually does this time of year. Unfortunately, the results on the mound so far this spring haven’t been great, but Estevez has said that he’s a “really bad starter in spring training”. He has a 9.00 ERA and 1.67 WHIP and he gave up nine runs and 10 walks last spring. On the plus side, Angels manager Ron Washington has confirmed that Estevez will start the season as his closer and there’s also room for optimism because Estevez recognized that he needed to make adjustments (and he did) after the way his 2023 season ended.

With the Angels having signed free agent reliever Robert Stephenson this offseason they probably won’t wait too long to remove him from the closer’s role if he gets off to a slow start and you definitely won’t want to roster Estevez as your fantasy baseball team’s primary closer. However, Estevez was one of baseball’s best relievers through the first four months of last season and if he gets off to a hot start, he can help you climb up the ranks of your league’s saves category.