By: Noah Wright
In today’s game, bullpens are becoming more and more prominent, some even being better than the team’s rotation. Lets rank, and analyze all 15 in The AL, from 1 being the best, to 15th being the worst.
1.) New York Yankees
Closer: Aroldis Chapman
Set-up: Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle
Mid-relief: Chasen Shreve, Jonathan Holder
Multi-inning/spot starters: Adam Warren, Chad Green
Even though The Yankees’ bullpen had the 3rd lowest ERA last year, their bullpen had the highest WAR (9) in The AL, and highest K/9 rate (10.93). Plus, they have the most quality depth, with 3 players that would be closers for a handful of other teams. Their deep bullpen also lets their rotation pitch less innings, lessening the risk of an arm injury from being overworked.
2.) Cleveland Indians:
Closer: Cody Allen
Set-up: Andrew Miller
Mid-relief: Nick Goody, Dan Otero, Tyler Olson
Multi-inning/spot starters: Danny Salazar, Zach Mcallister
The Indians rival The Yankees bullpen for the top spot as the best AL bullpen. Last year, The Indians bullpen had the lowest ERA, and FIP of AL bullpens, with the second highest WAR (8.6). Plus, they have one of the best set-up men in Andrew Miller.
3.) Boston Red Sox:
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Set-up: Carson Smith, Joe Kelly
Mid-relief: Tyler Thornburg, Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Matt Barnes
Multi-inning/spot starters: Brandon Workman
On the DL: Eduardo Rodriguez
Red Sox finished with the 2nd lowest ERA, and third lowest HR/9 rate (1) of AL bullpens last year. The pen will be led by one of the best closers in The MLB with Craig Kimbrel, and will have solid set-up men backing him up, with Carson Smith coming off the DL, expecting to play the entire season.
4.) Houston Astros
Closer: Ken Giles
Set-up: Will Harris, Joe Smith
Mid-relief: Chris Devenski, Tony Sipp, Hector Rondon, Buddy Boshers
Multi-inning/spot starters: Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh
Though The Astros’ pen had a combined 4.27 ERA, The Astros have improved their bullpen. After adding Joe Smith, who has been a very consistent relief pitcher over his career, and Hector Rondon, who was a good stopper in the back of The Cubs bullpen but is looking to rebound after a rough 2017, The Astros look to be set in a good spot with their pen.
Also by adding Gerrit Cole to their rotation, they move 2 solid starters to their bullpen as well.
5.) Minnesota Twins:
Closer: Fernando Rodney
Set-up: Addison Reed, Taylor Rogers
Mid-relief: Zach Duke, Ryan Presley, Alan Busenitz, Trevor Hildenberg
Multi-inning/spot starter: Tyler Duffey
After trading all-star closer Brandon Kintzler at the deadline last year, and losing Matt Belisle in free agency, The Twins added some late inning arms with Rodney, Addison Reed, and Zach Duke. Their pen ERA was 4.40 ERA last year
6.) Seattle Mariners:
Closer: Edwin Diaz
Set-up: Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent, James Pazos
Mid-relief: Marc Rzepczynski, Tony Zych, David Phelps, Dan Altavilla
Multi-inning/spot starter: Andrew Moore
The Mariners enter the season with a very underrated bullpen. Behind closer Edwin Diaz, The Mariners added set-up man, Juan Nicasio, who had a career year last year. They also have solid mid-relief, and set-up depth behind their main set-up and closer. Their bullpen ERA last year was 4.08 last year.
7.) Baltimore Orioles:
Closer: Brad Brach
Set-up: Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day,
Middle relief: Richard Bleier, Donnie Hart,
Multi-inning/spot starter: Miguel Castro
On the DL: Zach Britton
Even though The Orioles will be without all-star closer, Zach Britton, for the first few months of the season, their bullpen is solid to say the least. Behind a consistent Brad Brach, The Orioles have submarine pitcher, Darren O’Day, and young, hard throwing righty, Mychal Givens. Last year, The Orioles had a 3.93 bullpen ERA, but limited walks (3.43 bullpen BB/9)
8.) LA Angels:
Closer: Blake Parker
Set-up: Cam Bedrosian, Jim Johnson
Mid-relief: Keynan Middleton, Eduardo Paredes, Jose Alvarez
Multi-inning/spot starter: N/A
Even though they lost a very good utility pitcher in Yusmeiro Petit, they’ve added late inning arm, Jim Johnson (who struggled, but has had recent success), to a very young and homegrown, but unproven, bullpen. Last year, they finished the season with a solid bullpen ERA of 3.92, and the lowest bullpen BB/9 of 2.66.
9.) Toronto Blue Jays:
Closer: Roberto Osuna
Set-up: Ryan Tepra, Seung-Hwan Oh
Mid-relief: Aaron Loup, Danny Barnes
Multi-inning/spot starter: N/A
Super-utility pitcher: Joe Biagini
The Blue Jays enter 2018 with a bullpen holding questions. Though they have a very good closer in Roberto Osuna, they do not have very many proven options behind him. Seung-Hwan Oh had a very good 2016 rookie year, but struggled in 2017 with The Cardinals, and lost the closer job to Trevor Rosenthal. Aaron Loup is coming off a solid season where he recorded a 3.75 ERA, and over a K per inning, but previously had 2 seasons where he recorded an era over 4.50. Super-utility pitcher, Joe Biagini, pitched out of the bullpen, and rotation, but struggled after a very good rookie season, where he saw multiple roles in 2016.
10.) Texas Rangers:
Closer: Alex Claudio
Set-up: Keone Kela
Mid-relief: Jose Leclerc, Jake Diekman, Tony Barnette
Multi-inning/spot starter: Austin Bibens Dirkx, Matt Bush
Undefined role: Tim Lincecum,
The Rangers pen is another pen with many questions entering 2018. After entering the season with Sam Dyson as their closer, he struggled heavily, and was traded to The Giants. After him, Matt Bush was moved to the role, but struggled as well, and will now be a starter/bullpen arm this year. Then, Alex Claudio secured the closer’s role, and recorded 11 saves last year, with a very healthy 2.50 ERA. Keone Kela came off a down, with injuries in 2016, and early in 2017, was optioned to triple-A after clubhouse issues. Though he performed well after being recalled. Diekman will also be a question mark. Diekman will come of a season where he had season ending surgery before the 2017 season. They also signed Tim Lincecum in February, whose role is not completely known yet. Lincecum, a former cy young starter, will start the year out of the bullpen, but could see some starts, along with some late inning work.
11.) Chicago White Sox:
Closer: Joakim Soria/Nate Jones
Set-up: Joakim Soria, Nate Jones
Mid-relief: Luis Avilan, Danny Farquhar, Rob Scahill
Multi-inning/spot starters: Chris Beck
The White Sox will enter the season, still in a rebuilding process. They still have solid late inning arms in Joakim Soria, both who might be traded at the deadline.
12.) Tampa Bay Rays:
Closer: Alex Colome
Set-up: Sergio Romo
Mid-relief: Jose Alvarado, Dan Jennings, Daniel Hudson
Multi-inning/spot starter: Austin Pruitt
Closer, Alex Colome, is the highlight of The Tampa Bay Rays pen. Other than Colome, their other relief pitchers are very unstable, especially Daniel Hudson.
13.) Kansas City Royals:
Closer: Kelvin Herrera
Set-up: Kevin McCarthy, Brandon Maurer
Multi-inning/spot starters: Bryan Flynn, Wily Peralta, Jakob Junis
A bullpen that used to house Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, and Wade Davis, is now a bullpen with Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer, and Kevin McCarthy. Hoping that Kelvin Herrera bounces back, The Royals enter the season with many unanswered questions in the pen.
14.) Oakland A’s:
Closer: Santiago Casilla, Blake Treinen
Set-up: Ryan Dull, Ryan Butcher
Mid-relief: Liam Hendriks, Daniel Coulombe
Multi-inning/spot starter: N/A
Super utility pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit
The A’s have one super unique player in their pen, Yusmeiro Petit. Easily the best pitcher in The A’s pen, Petit could play multiple roles, from spot starter, long relief, or to late inning arm.
15.) Detroit Tigers:
Closer: Shane Greene
Set-up: Alex Wilson
Mid-relief: Daniel Stumpf, Johnny Barbato, Blaine Hardy, Joe Jimenez (possibly)
Multi-inning/spot starter: Chad Bell
The Tigers have the least amount of quality depth behind closer Shane Greene, who had a breakout season in 2017. They quite possibility have the worst bullpen entering 2018 in the MLB.