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Ranking All 30 MLB Bullpens

Allan SmithContributor IIIJanuary 15, 2017

Ranking All 30 MLB Bullpens

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    2012 has been an interesting year in terms of relief pitching. Top closers such as Joakim Soria, Andrew Bailey, Brian Wilson and Mariano Rivera have all been lost for major chunks, or the season as a whole. As a result, many relief pitchers are adjusting to new roles, filling voids left behind by big-name pitchers.

    Over the next slides, I will break down all 30 bullpens in the league by ranking each pitcher currently amongst them as of June 20, 2012 to come up with an overall ranking of each pen.

30. Chicago Cubs

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    Jario Asencio: 4

    Scott Maine: 3

    Casey Coleman: 3

    Manny Corpas: 8

    Shawn Camp: 7

    James Russell: 8

    CP: Carlos Marmol: 5

    Total: 38

    Aside from James Russell and the recent emergence of Manny Corpas, the North-Siders have had a particularly awful year with their bullpen, putting them last in these standings.

29. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Mitchell Boggs: 8

    Sam Freeman: 3

    Victor Marte: 7

    Marc Rzepcynski: 4

    Fernando Salas: 5.5

    Eduardo Sanchez: 5

    CP: Jason Motte: 7

    Total: 39.5

    The Cardinals' near .500 record is well below what the team had in mind coming off of a world championship, and a major reason for it is this porous bullpen.

28. New York Mets

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    Miguel Batista: 7

    Tim Byrdak: 7.5

    Elvin Ramirez: 3

    Jon Rauch: 6

    Jeremy Hefner: 4

    Bobby Parnell: 7

    CP: Frank Francisco: 6

    Total: 40.5

    The Mets have shocked many around baseball by contending in the immensely tough NL East. Yet their pen has been worse than what manager Terry Collins had hoped for. If they want to stay in contention, this bullpen will have to improve.

27. Houston Astros

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    Wesley Wright: 6.5

    Fernando Rodriguez: 4.5

    Fernando Abad: 5

    Xavier Cedeno: 6.5

    Rhiner Cruz: 3

    Brandon Lyon: 8

    CP: Brett Myers: 8

    Total: 41.5

    Minus Lyon and Myers, the Astros bullpen has been pretty atrocious. One of the worst units in the game.

26. Miami Marlins

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    Chris Hatcher: 3

    Chad Gaudin: 4.5

    Steve Cishek: 7

    Randy Choate: 8

    Edward Mujica: 6

    Ryan Webb: 7

    CP: Heath Bell: 6

    Total: 41.5

    The Marlins pen has been fairly average this year, yet with Heath Bell's extreme early season struggles, coupled with weak spots in Hatcher and Gaudin, keep this unit low in the rankings.

25. Minnesota Twins

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    Jeff Manship: 2

    Jeff Gray: 4.5

    Brian Duensing: 6.5

    Alex Burnett: 7.5

    Jared Burton: 7.5

    Glen Perkins: 7.5

    CP: Matt Capps: 7

    Total: 42.5

    The first AL team to appear on the list, the Twins have had a pretty bad year out of the pen so far, which is due to how few strikeouts the group amasses. Burton and Perkins are the only two members of the group with respectable K/9 numbers.

24. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Craig Breslow: 7

    Mike Zagurski: 4

    Bryan Shaw: 7

    David Hernandez: 8

    Josh Collmenter: 5

    Brad Ziegler: 7

    CP: J.J Putz: 5

    Total: 43

    While David Hernandez has been terrific with 44 strikeouts, the numbers of Zagurski, Collmenter and the closer, J.J. Putz, hold back the overall rank of the Snakes pen.

23. San Diego Padres

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    Dale Thayer: 4.5

    Alex Hinshaw: 6

    Brad Boxberger: 6

    Luke Gregerson: 6.5

    Brad Brach: 5

    Joe Thatcher: 7.5

    CP: Huston Street: 9

    Total: 44.5

    In a curious offseason move, the Padres traded for Huston Street at a time where the team obviously needed to start a rebuilding process. While Street has been dominant, the rest of the pen's depth is questionable at best and in need of improvements.

22. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Aaron Laffey: 6

    Luis Perez: 7

    Jason Frasor: 6

    Jesse Chavez: 3

    Robert Coello: 3

    Francisco Cordero: 4.5

    Carlos Villanueva: 7.5

    CP: Casey Janssen: 8

    Total: 45

    The Jays have struggled to find consistency in their pen since closer Sergio Santos was injured. Cordero filled in poorly as closer, and now it's up to Casey Janssen to close games. Look for Cordero and Frasor to pitch much better over the rest of the season.

21. Chicago White Sox

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    Dylan Axelrod: 5.5

    Matt Thornton: 7

    Jesse Crain: 8

    Will Ohman: 5

    Nate Jones: 7

    Hector Santiago: 6.5

    CP: Addison Reed: 6.5

    Total: 45.5

    The White Sox haven't been able to find a consistent closer all season long, and their bullpen will continue to struggle as a result.

20. Cleveland Indians

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    Jeremy Accardo: 7.5

    Nick Hagadone: 5.5

    Tony Sipp: 4.5

    Joe Smith: 6.5

    Esmil Rogers: 3

    Vinnie Pestano: 9

    CP: Chris Perez: 10

    Total: 46

    Aside from Chris Perez, MLB's saves leader, and setup man Vinnie Pestano, the Indians have amassed some of the worst bullpen statistics in the bigs.

19. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Jake Dickman: 6

    Chad Qualls: 5.5

    Joe Savery: 5

    Michael Schwimmer: 4.5

    Raul Valdez: 8

    Antonio Bastardo: 8.5

    CP: Jonathan Papelbon: 9

    Total: 46

    Although offseason acquisition Jonathan Papelbon has pitched excellently and Antonio Bastardo has evolved into an elite left-handed set-up man, the rest of the Phillies pen has been average at best. This has cost the team a few games as a result in the uber-competitive NL East


18. Texas Rangers

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    Scott Feldman: 4

    Michael Kirkman: 6

    Mark Lowe: 8

    Robbie Ross: 9

    Tanner Scheppers: 2

    Mike Adams: 7

    CP: Joe Nathan: 10

    Total: 46

    This group is headlined by a phenomenal comeback by Joe Nathan as the team's closer. Young Robbie Ross is dominating hitters as well at just 22 years of age. Yet pitchers like Scott Feldman and Tanner Scheppers are going to need to step up for the group to be truly elite.

17. Seattle Mariners

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    Shawn Kelley: 6

    Lucas Luetge: 8.5

    Hisashi Iwakuma: 3.5

    Oliver Perez: 6

    Charlie Furbush: 8.5

    Brandon League: 6.5

    CP: Tom Wilhelmsen: 7.5

    Total: 46.5

    Tom Wilhelmsen has taken the closer role away from Brandon League and has been lights-out since. This group should continue to improve as the season goes on.

16. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Tim Dillard: 4.5

    Michael Fiers: 7

    Kameron Loe: 7

    Manny Parra: 5

    Juan Perez: 4.5

    Francisco Rodriguez: 6.5

    Jose Veras: 7

    CP: John Axford: 5

    Total: 46.5

    The Brewers have yet to have any reliever stand up and really perform above the rest, hence why Axford is still the closer. I believe the veteran pieces of this bullpen will improve as the season goes on, yet if they don't, it's going to be a long summer for the Brew Crew, and they will certainly move down this list.

15. Colorado Rockies

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    Matt Reynolds: 7

    Jeremy Guthrie: 3

    Matt Belisle: 8

    Rex Brothers: 6.5

    Adam Ottavino: 7.5

    Josh Roenicke: 8

    CP: Rafael Betancourt: 7.5

    Total: 47.5

    While not as bad as the Rockies rotation, this pen does leave a lot to be desired. Players such as Adam Ottavino, Josh Roenicke and Matt Belisle have pitched very well, but this group is in need of some help. Unfortunately, it's going to be a long summer in Denver no matter what happens with the pen.

14. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Scott Elbert: 7

    Ronald Belisario: 9

    Todd Coffey: 5

    Josh Lindblom: 8.5

    Shawn Tolleson: 5

    Jamey Wright: 6.5

    CP: Kenley Jansen: 9

    Total: 50

    Alas, we have reached the upper-echelon of bullpens. With one of the best strikeout pitchers in Kenley Jansen closing games out and leading the way, the Dodgers have managed to put together one of the better pens in the game.

13. Atlanta Braves

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    Anthony Vervaro: 3

    Todd Redmond: 5

    Chad Durbin: 6

    Victor Marte: 6

    Eric O'Flahery: 7

    Kris Medlen: 6.5

    Jonny Venters: 7

    CP: Craig Kimbrel: 10

    Total: 50.5

    Although closer Craig Kimbrel has pitched lights-out again this year, other parts of the Braves pen have struggled at times. Look for Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty and Christhian Martinez to all lower their ERAs as the season progresses, moving the Braves into the top 10.

12. New York Yankees

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    Cody Eppley: 8

    Clay Rapada: 7

    Cory Wade: 8

    Boone Logan: 8

    Freddy Garcia: 2

    David Robertson: 8

    CP: Rafael Soriano: 10

    Total: 51

    The Yankees have absorbed the loss of Mariano Rivera quite well. Rafael Soriano has done a phenomenal job as closer, with David Robertson, Boone Logan and Cory Wade providing excellent setup work. Look for Robertson to lower his ERA in the second half and for the Yankees to ditch the struggling Freddy Garcia, the weak link pitching his way out of the Bronx.


11. Oakland Athletics

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    Jerry Blevins: 8

    Grant Balfour: 7.5

    Sean Doolittle: 6

    Pedro Figueroa: 8

    Jim Miller: 8.5

    Brian Fuentes: 5

    CP: Ryan Cook: 10

    Total: 52.5

    As always, Billy Beane has constructed a solid bullpen. Ryan Cook looks ready to emerge into super-stardom, and Jerry Blevins, Jim Miller, Pedro Figueroa and Grant Balfour have all been highly effective when called upon.

10. Detroit Tigers

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    Luke Putkonen: 2

    Bryan Villerreal: 9

    Duane Below: 8

    Joaquin Benoit: 9

    Phil Coke: 7

    Octavio Dotel: 6

    Luis Marte: 5.5

    CP: Jose Valverde: 6

    Total: 52.5

    While Valverde has been a bit shaky this season, guys like Bryan Villerreal and Duane Below have stepped up and provided solid pitching alongside phenomenal setup man Joaquin Benoit.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Doug Slaten: 7

    Chris Resop: 6

    Tony Watson: 7

    Jared Hughes: 8

    Juan Cruz: 7.5

    Jason Grilli: 9

    CP: Joel Hanrahan: 9

    Total: 53.5

    The four J's, Jared, Juan, Jason and Joel, have made the Pirates bullpen one of the best in baseball, better than it has been in a long time.

8. Kansas City Royals

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    Kelvin Herrera: 8

    Jose Mijares: 8

    Greg Holland: 7

    Tim Collins: 9

    Ramon Colon: 5

    Aaron Crow: 8

    CP: Jonathan Broxton: 10

    Total: 55

    Broxton has filled in admirably for the injured Joakim Soria. Young arms such as Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland will keep this unit near the top of such rankings for years to come.

6. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Burke Badenhop: 8

    Joel Peralta: 7

    Wade Davis: 8.5

    J.P. Howell: 5.5

    Jake McGee: 9

    Cesar Ramos: 7.5

    CP: Fernando Rodney: 10

    Total: 55.5

    Somehow, some way, the Rays have one of the best pens in the bigs made up by a combination of young pitchers and veteran journeyman castoffs. Look for this overachieving unit to regress in the second half.


7. Los Angeles Angels

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    Hisinori Takahashi: 5.5

    David Carpenter: 5

    LaTroy Hawkins: 8.5

    Jason Isringhausen: 8.5

    Scott Downs: 10

    Jordan Walden: 7.5

    CP: Ernesto Frieri: 10

    Total: 55

    Behind the impossibly good pitching of Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs, the Halos have been able to play a seven-inning game. Have the lead at that point, and no one is scoring off of those two.

5. San Francisco Giants

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    Shane Loux: 6.5

    Jeremy Affeldt: 8

    Clay Hensley: 6.5

    George Kontos: 8

    Javier Lopez: 7.5

    Sergio Romo: 9.5

    CP: Santiago Casilla: 10

    Total: 56

    No Brian Wilson, no problem for these Giants. Santiago Casilla has emerged as one of the top closers in the league, and Sergio Romo has been one of the game's finest setup men.

4. Cincinnati Reds

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    Alfredo SImon: 9

    J.J. Hoover: 8

    Logan Ondrusek: 7

    Jose Arredondo: 8.5

    Sean Marshall: 8

    Sam LeCure: 6.5

    CP: Aroldis Chapman: 9.5

    Total: 56.5

    Chapman has been in a bit of a slump recently after allowing his first run of the season vs. Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago, although his 1.57 ERA and league-leading 59 strikeouts in relief are still phenomenal. Alfredo Simon has also been a surprise this year, starting off strong with a 1.98 ERA.

3. Boston Red Sox

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    Clayton Mortensen: 8

    Mark Melancon: 3

    Vicente Padilla: 6.5

    Andrew Miller: 8.5

    Franklin Morales: 7.5

    Matt Albers: 8.5

    Scott Atchison: 9

    CP: Alfredo Aceves: 6

    Total: 57

    After a rocky start to the season, pitchers such as Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, Matt Albers and Scott Atchison have come up big time and time again. Once Andrew Bailey returns from injury, expect the pen to keep improving, as everyone will be returned to their original roles, with Alfredo Aceves likely being the biggest beneficiary.

2. Baltimore Orioles

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    Dana Eveland: 7

    Kevin Gregg: 5

    Darren O'Day: 9.5

    Troy Patton: 7

    Luis Ayala: 9

    Pedro Strop: 9.5

    CP: Jim Johnson: 10

    Total: 57

    Baltimore's pen has proven to be tops among the American League, with guys like Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala and Darren O'Day shutting down opponents night in and night out, keeping the O's in the thick of the standings.

1. Washington Nationals

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    Mike Gonzalez: 8

    Tom Gorzelanny: 7

    Ryan Mattheus: 8.5

    Craig Stammen: 9

    Ross Detwiler: 7

    Sean Burnett: 9

    CP: Tyler Clippard: 9

    Total: 57.5

    The best and most complete bullpen in the big leagues this year so far has been that of the Washington Nationals. This strong bullpen, coupled with a great rotation, will help the Nats reach the playoffs for the first time in their brief history.

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