Who is baseball's next superstar closer?

Just like the guy who picked up 100 Gregg Jefferies rookie cards because he thought they’d be worth something some day, I like to speculate as well. I speculate on future MLB closers.

I like to have a pulse future closer candidates so I can be ready to stake my waiver claim and rack up cheap saves for my fantasy baseball team. Previously, I wrote about the qualities I look for when scouting future closers: a dominate a fastball, a second pitch that’s just as filthy, and a little pinch of something else that sells me on the idea that the guy can hold on to the job.

Ultimately, it all comes down to opportunity and an open path to a 9th inning job, so I keep a list. Once a month or so I’ll run down this list of potential closers, researching if there have been any organizational changes that might give give him a clearly path toward the job. I’m also double-checking his skill set to double-check my initial assessment.

Closer speculation is serious business for the fantasy baseball obsessed.

Stock up on these guys’ rookies cards, because without further adieu, here’s a look into the future of the closer position:

Arodys Vizcaino

The Cubs are rebuilding their bullpen, this much is clear. Carlos Marmol has been in the doghouse his entire career in Chicago, so there is no chance he’s there in the future. Kyuji Fujikawa closed out games in Japan and looked minted as the heir apparent before injury hit. Kevin Gregg (what’s up with the double-G Greggs?!?!) might get a short term shot because they sure rushed him up, but he’s no long-term solution.

I have my eye on Arodys Vizcaino. Coming over from the Braves, he’s still recovering from TJ surgery, having missed all of 2012.

His fastball has clocked at 101 mph. He also has a nice fastball that the old schoolers might call a slurve. Obviously, the orginal thinking was the starting rotation, but with his injury history and arsenal well suited for relief, it just might be the case that Vizcaino is the future closer for the Cubbies.

Carter Capps

Carter Capps is already throwing heat for the Mariners. Early in his career Capps threw about 99.9% fastballs, which was fine and dandy, considering he could easily blow his 97 mph fastball by just about anyone.

Now he’s down to about 80% fastballs as he’s added a slider to his arsenal, making him even more of a strikeout pitcher. The fact that he was a college closer gives him a reference on his resumé. The only thing in his way is Tom Wilhelmsen a capable and underrated ninth inning arm.

Vinnie Pestano

I always think of My Cousin Vinnie when I think of Vinnie Pestano. I’m a simple-minded man.

For a moment it was near certain that Pestano would take over from Chris Perez, until Perez shockingly decided to stop being so horrible at pitching. Now Pestano’s biological clock is ticking, ticking as he may have missed his window during a slight velocity decrease.

Still, Pestano is crazy hard to hit, which keeps his WHIP low, making him golden in Holds leagues.

Andrew Cashner

Andrew Cashner throws absurdly hard, registering triple digits on a regular basis. Currently he’s stretched out for middle relief and makes spot starts for the Padres. They want him to work his way into the rotation, but his best role might be the ninth inning.

Whether he ultimately lands in the rotation or racks up saves, watch him closely. His 100 mph fastball truly is a thing of beauty. AS he gains command, he’s going to be great.

Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman was closer for Team USA so why is he not already closing for the Blue Jays, our Canadian friends and neighbors? Well, he’s missing a bit of time for a failed drug test (stimulant).

Just 5’9″, Stroman can still generate a ton of velocity on his fastball, reaching the upper 90′s. He’s also known to have the best slider in the Jays organization. That’s closer stuff.

Jake McGee

I was a year too early on Jake McGee. I thought he’d be the Rays closer in 2012, but then Fernando Rodney went out and auditioned for the best pitcher in the world award, nearly winning it. Still in shock from the Rodney resurgence, it’s worth noting McGee’s game because he’s the future.

McGee throws in the 92-94 range, but it’s a fastball with a lot of life to it that both cuts and sinks, making it one of baseball’s best. He also throws a changeup and sliding curve, although neither are as effective.

He’s shown a lack of “it”, that hard to define extra something that would give him an edge. But he’s young yet, and still could pitch his way into the ninth.

Kelvin Herrera

Greg Holland never gives up home runs. Like, never ever. So despite the cries for him to lose KC’s closing duties, he brings a lot to the table.  Also, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow are crazy talented. Actually, what Kansas City has put together for a bullpen is the envy of the league. How often has that been said about anything the Royals have done?

But it’s hard not to imagine Kelvin Herrera in the closer role, considering that Herrera throws the fastest fastball in baseball. In addition, Herrera is learning to harness his 102 mph heater more and more each passing season, making it look even more enticing for him in the 9th innings of ballgames.

Honorable Mentions:

That’s all for now, although Vic Black and Heath Hembree almost made the list. But as I said, I revisit this list often, taking a fresh look at opportunity and skills changes. Who knows who will occupy this list in just a couple months…


Tags: Closer Fastball Holds Jake McGee Relievers Saves Slider Vinnie Pestano

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