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Top 5 National League Closers for the 2022 MLB Season

We bring in this list the five best closers in the old circuit and their expectations for the 2022 campaign.

The closer’s role in baseball is known as the reliever who takes the responsibility of pitching during the ninth inning of a game in a situation where his team is ahead on the scoreboard and the lead is close, usually by one to three runs, or even up to four runs depending on how necessary the victory is. This role was generated during the last decades of major league baseball and has remained in full force to this day, despite all the changes that have been generated over the years in the bullpen management of any major league of MLB franchise.

2021 left a great performance for closers, so making this ranking of only five was not easy but these names are definitely the best currently in the National League.

5.- Edwin Díaz – New York Mets

Best Closers - Edwin Díaz
New York Mets pitcher Edwin Díaz reacts after the final out during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

After having a great season in 2020 where he recovered the elite level that had characterized him when he was with the Seattle Mariners (his previous team), the Puerto Rican had a more than acceptable 2021: reaching 32 saves, with a 3.45 ERA, 5-6 record, 89 strikeouts and WHIP of 1.05 during 62.2 innings pitched.

At 28 years old and starting his seventh season in the big leagues, the Mets invested heavily in free agency and are bound to at least make the postseason. Díaz will have to be ready to show his best performance if he wants to remain in the conversation of the best closers in the MLB.

Diaz’s honors: an All-Star Game selection, Reliever of the Year and save leader in 2018.

4.- Jake McGee – San Francisco Giants

Best Closers - Jake McGee
San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jake McGee works against the Colorado Rockies during the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Denver. The Giants won 7-4. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Since his departure from the Colorado Rockies in the 2020 campaign, McGee has been one of the most dominant arms among all relievers in the majors, and in his only season so far with the San Francisco Giants, he continued the same trend.

3-2 mark, 2.72 ERA, 31 saves, 58 strikeouts and 0.90 WHIP through 59.2 innings completed in the 2021 campaign for the 35-year-old veteran. Starting the second year of his contract with the Giants, the Bay Area franchise will continue to rely on McGee’s performance until his arm proves otherwise.

McGee’s honors: 2020 World Series.

3.- Mark Melancon – Arizona Diamondbacks

Best Closers - Mark Melancon
San Diego Padres pitcher Mark Melancon (33) delivers against the San Francisco Giants during the 10th inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in San Francisco. Melancon got the save in the Padres’ 3-2 victory. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

One of the oldest pitchers currently in the majors, Melancon came to the San Diego Padres at age 36 as a low-risk, high-potential gamble. Ultimately, that risk was almost nonexistent for the National League franchise.

The right-hander’s campaign was spectacular, accumulating the highest mark of saves in all of MLB, with 39. In turn, he added a 2.23 ERA, 59 strikeouts and 1.22 WHIP through 64.2 innings pitched, a performance that would lead to his fourth career All-Star Game selection.

The 37-year-old pitcher signed with the Diamondbacks on a two-year, $14 million pact and will enter 2022 as one of the relievers who could be most in demand at the trade deadline, depending on how the Arizona organization performs.

Melancon’s track record: four All-Star Game selections, 2015 Reliever of the Year, two-time saves leader (2015, 2021) in the majors.

2.- Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers

Best Closers - Kenley Jansen
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen reacts after getting the final out in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of baseball’s National League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 6-5. The Braves lead the series 2-1 games. (AP Photo/Jae Hong)

The perennial member of the Dodgers bullpen had his best season since 2017, managing to rebound from three somewhat inconsistent campaign for the veteran out of Curacao: Jansen finished 2021 with 38 saves, 2.22 ERA, 86 strikeouts, 1.04 WHIP and a record of four wins and four losses in 69 innings pitched.

Jansen is one of the few members of the club of relievers to reach 300 saves and 1,000 strikeouts in baseball history, and his record with the Dodgers has been impeccable, despite health problems and sudden drops in performance that he has always been able to reverse.

In 2022 he will enter his 13th campaign in his career, and at 34 years old, it remains to be seen if Kenley can maintain his elite level for a couple more years to help Los Angeles remain a top contender.

Jansen’s track record: three All-Star Game selections, two Reliever of the Year awards, 2017 saves leader, 2020 World Series.

1.- Josh Hader – Milwaukee Brewers

Best Closers - Josh Hader
Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader throws to a Los Angeles Dodgers batter during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

There is currently no reliever who can compete with Hader’s effectiveness over the last 4 years, and in 2021 he could not have made that clearer, having one of the best seasons of his career.

In his fifth campaign in the big leagues, he earned 34 saves, with a 1.23 ERA, a WHIP of 0.83, a 4-2 record and 102 strikeouts in 58.2 innings pitched, numbers that only corroborate the dominance that the left-hander imposes on any batter he faces. And if the numbers aren’t proof enough, he managed to become the fastest pitcher in history to accumulate 400 strikeouts in his career (234.2 innings).

He was selected to his third All-Star Game and also won his third National League Reliever of the Year award, and at just 27 years old, Hader has many more seasons to become the best reliever and remain among the best closers in all of MLB.

Hader’s track record: three All-Star Game selections, three-time Reliever of the Year, 2020 saves leader.


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