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CL Craig Kimbrel, RHP (ATL): 1.21 ERA, 67 IP, 39 H, 20 BB, 98, 50 Sv in 54 chances
SU Kenley Jansen, RHP (LAD): 1.88 ERA, 76.2 IP, 48 H, 18 BB, 111 K, 28 Sv in 32 chances
SU Koji Uehara, RHP (BOS): 1.09 ERA, 74.1 IP, 33 H, 9 BB, 101 K, 21 Sv in 24 chances
MID Joaquin Benoit, RHP (DET): 2.01 ERA, 67 IP, 47 H, 22 BB, 73 K, 24 Sv in 26 chances
MID Grant Balfour, RHP (OAK): 2.59 ERA, 62.2 IP, 48 H, 27 BB, 72 K, 38 Sv in 41 chances
MID Jason Grilli, RHP (PIT): 2.70 ERA, 50 IP, 40 H, 13 BB, 74 K, 33 Sv in 35 chances
LR Edward Mujica, RHP (STL): 2.78 ERA, 64.2 IP, 60 H, 5 BB, 46 K, 37 Sv in 41 chances
The argument for the side that believes that the closer's role is still extremely important just got stronger. All eight division series teams have shutdown closers that have been key to their team's success in 2013.
Where would the Cardinals be without Edward Mujica stepping in and solidifying the closer's role in St. Louis after Jason Motte went down? Ditto Koji Uehara and the Red Sox, who lost Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey to season-ending injuries.
And would the Dodgers have been capable of their amazing run without Kenley Jansen closing out games instead of Brandon League, who he replaced back in June just as the team was beginning to heat up? Think about how much a blown save or two can kill the momentum of a team trying to make up games in a pennant race.
The lone closer to not make this squad is Fernando Rodney, who blew five of his first 14 save attempts before settling in and returning to his dominant form of 2012. There are no left-handers but it doesn't matter. Only Grilli, who allowed a .707 OPS to left-handed hitters, had trouble. As a result, he'd be the designated specialist who would only be called upon to face a tough right-handed hitter or two.
Aside from Mujica, all of them strike out batters at a high rate while the group combined on a 91 percent save rate, which would rank ahead of, arguably, the two greatest closers of all time, Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, who each had an 89 percent save rate during their illustrious careers.
With four starters capable of going seven and eight strong innings every time out, it would be hard to give all seven pitchers regular work. All seven are reliable, although it's hard to argue against Braves pitcher Craig Kimbrel (pictured) getting the ball in the ninth inning.
The 25-year-old Kimbrel already has 139 career saves and a 90 percent save rate to go along with an incredible 15.1 K/9 in 231 career appearances. Rivera didn't reach 139 saves until his 30th birthday. Same with Hoffman. They rank one and two, respectively, on the all-time saves list.