You don’t always need big names to get big results out of your bullpen. Sometimes a few unsung heroes will do the trick.
Mariano Rivera may lead the American League with 15 saves, but there are plenty of other relievers out there who are producing big results for their teams while not being household names.
Whether they are racking up saves or getting the job done in the middle innings, those pitchers are providing major relief for their teams.
Here are six under-the-radar relief pitchers who are absolutely filthy.
All statistics via ESPN.
Pittsburgh Pirates closer Jason Grilli may lead the National League with 15 saves, but he has received some serious help from Mark Melancon, who is having a career year.
In 19 innings pitched, Melancon has allowed just one earned run and 12 hits for a 0.47 earned-run average.
Melancon has averaged more than a strikeout per inning, whiffing 20 batters and has walked just one batter. He also has a stellar 13 holds on the season.
It is never easy to pitch in the thin Denver air, but Colorado Rockies middle reliever Rex Brothers has held his own this season.
Brothers has allowed just one earned run in 17.1 innings pitched over 19 appearances for a microscopic 0.52 ERA this season.
He also has struck out well over a batter an inning with 19 strikeouts and has five holds.
Brothers’ one weak spot can be control—he has walked seven batters—but otherwise has been a solid contributor to the Rockies’ relief corps.
He may not be a household name, but manager Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians have relied on Bryan Shaw's hot start.
Shaw has been one of many contributors to the Cleveland Indians’ surprising 21-16 start to the season. He has pitched 17.1 innings in 14 appearances and shut down opposing batters, allowing just two earned runs for a 1.04 ERA.
Opposing batters should take note: While Shaw has walked six, he also has 19 strikeouts.
Jess Crain has provided some major support for Chicago White Sox closer Addison Reed this season.
Crain leads the American League in holds with nine and has made opposing batters look foolish along the way.
Crain has 24 strikeouts in 17.0 innings pitched and has allowed just two earned runs for a 1.06 ERA.
Crain may have walked seven batters, but he also has allowed just 14 hits, serving as one of the few bright spots to the White Sox’s slow start this season.
Opposing batters have had very little luck against Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Kenley Jansen this season.
Jansen has a whopping 27 strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched this year and has allowed just five walks.
Jansen also has allowed just five earned runs and 13 hits on the season for a 2.29 ERA, serving as one of the best relievers for the struggling big-budget Dodgers.
Trevor Rosenthal has been the bridge between the St. Louis Cardinals’ starting pitching and closer Edward Mujica.
Rosenthal has 10 holds on the season, good for third in the National League.
He also has 27 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched this season while demonstrating impeccable control as he has walked just five batters.
Rosenthal has allowed only six earned runs, compiling a 2.84 ERA and playing a crucial role in the Cardinals’ hot start.