While there are many approaches to drafting closers, here's the approach I’ve used successfully over the years. First, I like to get a top closer around the 100 mark in the draft. There will be a few closers who go before that but you will still have top tier options available then. Take one.
Remember that only a third to a half of the closers who start the year in that role actually keep the job for the entire year. So it’s important that you get one of the top tier closers to stabilize that part of your roster. After you nail down a top closer, focus elsewhere for several rounds.
Around picks 150-200, you’ll have opportunity to take a tier two closer. Go ahead and take one. Depending upon your strategy, that may be all you want or you may want to take another one late. If you want a third one, closers with lower strikeout rates will typically be available in the low to mid 200’s.
There is never a reason to take four closers unless your league dynamics allow you to exploit the other managers. For example, one of my leagues goes ‘closer crazy’ starting in the 7th or 8th round. Some owners may get caught up short in the draft and only end up with a single closer. The owner with four can then bargain from strength on the trade market. I view this as a rather risky strategy but I have seen it work.
If you’re in a less competitive league, I would recommend taking only two closers in the draft knowing you can nab a third (and possibly fourth) closer sometime during the first couple months of the season. However, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably NOT in a less competitive league, so forget what I said. Get your third closer in the draft. If you’re able to nab another one during the season, you’ve got good trade bait.
But remember, if the draft doesn’t flow right for you in terms of closers, don’t despair. Pick up a set up man or two late in the draft, preferably ones setting up for weaker closers. The set up men will help with ERA, WHIP and K’s. They will also have a good chance of becoming your closer at some point during the season.