Major League Baseball
Ranking the 10 best closers in MLB 2024
Major League Baseball

Ranking the 10 best closers in MLB 2024

Updated Apr. 3, 2024 3:31 p.m. ET

Of all positions on the baseball field, none are more volatile than relievers. While that can make them tough to evaluate and predict on a year-to-year basis, it also helps the perennially elite closers stand out. 

In addition to swing-and-miss stuff, consistency, reliability, availability and a track record of ninth-inning success all have to be taken into account when considering the best of the best. That's why players such as Tanner Scott, who's coming off a sensational season but has struggled previously with control issues, and Pete Fairbanks, who racks up strikeouts but has struggled to stay on the field, find themselves just outside this list. 

To narrow it down, we'll just focus on the closer position and not all high-leverage relievers (apologies to Houston). Our nine-part position series rankings continue here with the top 10 closers entering the 2024 season.

10 Best Closers in 2024

1. Edwin Díaz, New York Mets
2023 stats: Missed entire season
2024 ZiPS projection: 4-2, 2.62 ERA, 55 IP, 87 Ks, 1.4 fWAR


OK, forget everything I just said. He is the exception. Díaz missed all of last year, but when you do what he did in 2022, running a strikeout rate over 50% with a sub-1.00 FIP, and possess the track record he has, you get the benefit of the doubt. Díaz's injury was a freak deal unrelated to his arm. From 2018 to 2022, only seven relievers threw more innings than him. He might not have been able to single-handedly save the Mets' season last year, but their bullpen and overall struggles accentuated what a lockdown closer can do for a team. If Díaz can even get close to returning to form, he's still the top dog. Cue the trumpets. 

2. Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers
2023: 8-3, 1.53 ERA, 58.2 IP, 36 saves, 87 Ks, 1.8 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 7-4, 3.00 ERA, 57 IP, 83 Ks, 0.7 fWAR

In his first full season as the Brewers' closer, Williams rewarded Milwaukee's belief by taking home NL Reliever of the Year honors. Opponents hit just .129 against him — the lowest mark of any qualified MLB reliever — in his second straight All-Star season. His "airbender" changeup looked as lethal as ever, holding opponents to a .097 batting average and 57 strikeouts. He has thrown more than 50 innings each of the past three seasons and was the only closer last year to convert at least 90% of his save opportunities with a strikeout rate over 35%. 

3. Jhoan Durán, Minnesota Twins
2023: 3-6, 2.45 ERA, 62.1 IP, 27 saves, 84 Ks, 1.0 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 5-3, 2.80 ERA, 641 IP, 85 Ks, 1.1 fWAR

It'd be fair to put Josh Hader in this spot, but Durán gets the slight nod for his wicked stuff and upward trajectory. Durán and Jordan Hicks were the only two pitchers to have thrown a ball at least 104 mph last season. Hicks did it once. Duran did it nine times, including a 104.8 mph pitch that was the fastest of any pitcher in 2023 and set a Twins record. Durán was the only reliever in baseball last year with a groundball rate over 60% and a strikeout rate over 30%. And perhaps most notably, he demonstrated no signs of wearing down in his second major-league season. He had a 1.15 ERA in his final 15 regular-season appearances before dominating in the postseason, where he logged four scoreless outings. 

4. Josh Hader, Houston Astros
2023: 2-3, 1.28 ERA, 56.1 IP, 33 saves, 85 Ks, 1.7 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 4-2, 3.09 ERA, 55.1 IP, 78 Ks, 0.7 fWAR

5. Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Guardians
2023: 3-9, 3.22 ERA, 72.2 IP, 44 saves, 64 Ks, 1.7 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 7-3, 2.88 ERA, 72 IP, 75 Ks, 1.1 fWAR

6. David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates
2023: 3-3, 200 ERA, 67.1 IP, 39 saves, 80 Ks, 2.3 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 4-2, 3.16 ERA, 62.2 IP, 76 Ks, 1.0 fWAR

7. Camilo Doval, San Francisco Giants
2023: 6-6, 2.93 ERA, 67.2 IP, 39 saves, 87 Ks, 1.9 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 7-4, 3.67 ERA, 66.1 IP, 83 Ks, 0.5 fWAR

8. Evan Phillips, Los Angeles Dodgers
2023: 2-4, 2.05 ERA, 61.1 IP, 24 saves, 66 Ks, 1.2 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 4-2, 3.52 ERA, 56.1 IP, 64 Ks, 0.4 fWAR

There are flashier relievers who can generate more whiffs, but the best way to prevent runs late in games is to stop anyone from reaching base. Few can do that better than Phillips, who makes the list for his reliability and consistency. He had the lowest WHIP (0.83) among qualified relievers last season, and that mark was higher than the 0.76 mark he had the season prior. Phillips has logged at least 60 appearances and 60 innings with a sub-1.00 WHIP in each of the past two seasons. No other pitcher can say the same. 

9. Ryan Helsley, St. Louis Cardinals
2023: 3-4, 2.45 ERA, 36.2 IP, 14 saves, 52 Ks, 1.5 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 5-4, 3.46 ERA, 52 IP, 62 Ks, 0.5 fWAR

If this was about pure stuff, Helsley and Fairbanks would each be higher on this list. For both, their health brings questions. While Fairbanks has never thrown 50 innings in a season, Helsley demonstrated two years ago both 1) what he's capable of when healthy and 2) that he is capable of pitching 60 innings in a season. After logging a 1.25 ERA with 19 saves in 2022, 2023 was a struggle for Helsley to stay on the field. But his return from a forearm injury late in the season provided a reminder of what he can do when right. The flamethrower looked like one of the top closers in the game down the stretch, posting a 0.77 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 11.2 innings in September and October. 

10. Raisel Iglesias, Atlanta Braves
2023: 5-4, 2.75 ERA, 55.2 IP, 33 saves, 68 Ks, 1.0 fWAR
2024 ZiPS: 6-3, 3.09 ERA, 55.1 IP, 70 Ks, 0.9 fWAR

Honorable Mentions: Pete Fairbanks (Tampa Bay Rays), Tanner Scott (Miami Marlins), Jordan Romano (Toronto Blue Jays), Andrés Muñoz (Seattle Mariners), Alexis Díaz (Cincinnati Reds), Clay Holmes (New York Yankees), José Alvarado (Philadelphia Phillies), Paul Sewald (Arizona Diamondbacks)

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Rowan Kavner is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the L.A. Dodgers, LA Clippers and Dallas Cowboys. An LSU grad, Rowan was born in California, grew up in Texas, then moved back to the West Coast in 2014. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.


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