There's a thought around the baseball landscape that anyone can be a closer. While I don't totally agree with that, there are more and more relievers with big time arm talent who could become ninth inning stoppers. Here are six pitchers who will eventually become elite closers.
6. Matt Bush, Texas Rangers
Matt Bush has persevered after having his issues off the field, but he finally reached the big leagues and as it turns out, is a lethal weapon out of the Texas Rangers bullpen. In 58 games last year, Bush went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. Bush has all the makings of a dominant closer, highlighted by his fastball that has been clocked over 100 mph. The Rangers already have a good closer in Sam Dyson, but if he falters, Bush could be in line to take over that role.
5. Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
While the Philadelphia Phillies struggled mightily last season, one reliever that had a great season was setup man Hector Neris. The 27-year-old appeared in 79 games and posted a 2.58 ERA. In 80.1 innings, Neris struck out 102 batters (7th among relievers). Neris has an above average fastball and a nasty splitter. Don't be surprised if you see him closing games for the Phillies as early as next season.
4. Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles
With Zach Britton already in place, it doesn't seem like there's a chance for Brad Brach to become a dynamite closer. However, Britton is eligible to become a free agent in 2019, and if the O's don't think they can sign him long-term, they could trade the dominate closer and give the reins over to Brach. The All-Star setup man appeared in 71 games and posted a 2.05 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and a career-high 10.5 K/9.
3. Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Kelvin Herrera got his feet wet as the Royals closer last year when Wade Davis was out with an injury, and now that he's been traded the job is his going into 2017. The All-Star reliever had career-high's in strikeouts (86), WHIP (0.96) and K/BB ratio (7.17). His fastball has always been a strength, but his breaking stuff is starting to catch up, making it possible he could be even more dominant in years to come.
2. Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins
As early as the 2017 season, Kyle Barraclough could become the Marlins closer and one of the best relievers in the sport. Barraclough, 26, went 6-3 with a 2.85 ERA, and in 72.2 innings, had 113 strikeouts, the third-most among relievers. His fastball sits in the mid-90's and his wipeout slider is second to none. This guy is a stud closer in the making.
1. Mauricio Cabrera, Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves have been looking for a closer to replace the great Craig Kimbrel, and they might have their guy in Mauricio Cabrera, who is essentially Aroldis Chapman from the right side. Cabrera, 23, was promoted from Triple-A and posted a 2.82 ERA in 41 games. His average fastball velocity is 100.6 mph, only behind Chapman, but he does need to work on his control (4.5 BB/9) if he wants to be a reliable late-inning arm.