Today, we will be breaking down the closing pitchers of the AL East division. The AL East is the division home of the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, and Toronto Blue Jays. The division consisted of three playoff teams and four of the five teams played .500 baseball.
(*Notice* Closing pitchers listed in this article are the projected closers not official)
Breaking Down the AL East Closing Pitchers
Baltimore Orioles – Felix Bautista
Felix Bautista is coming off a very impressive rookie season. He logged a 2.21 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 18 saves in 65.2 IP. The rookie RHP was successful in 2022 because of his fastball which consistently sits at 102 mph along with his splitter which is one of the best splitters in MLB.
The only skill Bautista is currently lacking is location. However, with that being said, the 27-year-old has a lot of time to polish and perfect his craft. Currently, Bautista is dealing with some minor knee and shoulder injuries. The RHP’s spring training appearances are getting delayed but he is consistently throwing bullpens and is on his way to see the mound again.
If Felix Bautista can stay healthy and get right back to where he was in 2022, Bautista can easily be the scariest closing pitcher in baseball.
Boston Red Sox – Kenley Jansen
On Dec 7, 2022, the Boston Red Sox and veteran RHP Kenley Jansen agreed on a two-year $32 million dollar deal.
Jansen spent his 2022 season with the Atlanta Braves and led the National League in saves. Before then, Jansen spent his last 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers where he was very successful and currently has 391 career saves. The Red Sox’s bullpen was the fifth worst bullpen in MLB with a combined 4.59 ERA.
Jansen seems like a great fit for the Red Sox and the RHP is looking to add more saves to his column. The all-star reliever can and will be a huge part of the Red Sox’s success in 2023.
New York Yankees – Clay Holmes
“I would expect (Holmes) to close a lot of games for us. Probably most games, and hopefully a lot of games. But I do see a number of guys getting saves,” Boone said. Clay Holmes was also used in the closer role for the Yankees in the 2022 season. The RHP recorded 20 saves along with a 2.54 ERA in 63.2 IP. Holmes started to see success by utilizing his sinker more in his arsenal.
READ MORE: Why the Yankees will smash the OVER in 2023.
Tampa Bay Rays – Pete Fairbanks
The Tampa Bay Rays are known for never having a set closer. But, if the Rays would turn to one guy in the ninth it would be Pete Fairbanks.
The 29-year-old RHP started his 2022 season off on the IL. After making his season debut in July, he slashed amazing numbers in 2022 recording a 1.13 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and eight saves in 24.0 IP.
Once again, as of now, it doesn’t seem Rays manager Kevin Cash is committing to one reliever to be their closing pitcher as of now. But, Pete Fairbanks seems most likely. Other closing pitcher candidates for the Rays may include relief pitchers Jason Adam or Ryan Thompson.
Toronto Blue Jays – Jordan Romano
After making his MLB debut with the Blue Jays in the 2019 season, Jordan Romano earned his role as the closing pitcher for the Blue Jays in 2021. In the 2022 MLB season, Romano showcased himself as one of the best closers in MLB.
The RHP is coming off an all-star season recording a 2.11 ERA with 36 saves in 42 opportunities along with two AL Reliever of the Month awards. Everything seems perfect for Jordan Romano and Blue Jays fans other than one thing. Romano doesn’t really seem to have a top-tier pitch or pinpoint accuracy. But, how has Jordan Romano had such success without top-tier attributes?
Thanks to his 6-foot-5 frame Romano’s pitches can seem much harder to hit. This shows because his chase rate, strikeout rate, and whiff rate are all in the 80th percentile or higher. Jordan Romano is one of the best closers in MLB right now but will his success continue to rise as of 2023? Most likely not.
Main Image: Brad Penner-USA TODAY