Craig Kimbrel and the 7 Best Young Relievers in MLB

Ross DurrenceCorrespondent IISeptember 5, 2011

Craig Kimbrel and the 7 Best Young Relievers in MLB

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    It seems that the stars of Major League Baseball are blossoming earlier and earlier these days, and the story of relievers in 2011 is no different.

    Craig Kimbrel leads the way among young pitchers who make their home in the bullpen, and every name on this list could be around for many years to come.

    Let's take a look at the eight best young relievers* in baseball.


    *NOTE: Players included on this list must be 25 or younger on the last day of the regular season.

Craig Kimbrel

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    Age: 23

    The Braves' closer is easily not only the best young ninth-inning man in the game, but the best overall finisher in baseball.

    Craig Kimbrel leads all closers with 42 saves and an incredible 1.57 ERA. 

    He strikes out nearly 15 men per nine innings and has not allowed a run since June 11th.

Neftali Feliz

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    Age: 23

    Neftali Feliz has done well as the Rangers' closer, notching 26 saves thus far in 2011.

    He leads the team's relievers in appearances and innings pitched and has a solid 2.87 ERA.

    If not for the man on the previous slide, Feliz would still have the rookie record for saves in a season, with the 40 he posted in 2010.

Drew Storen

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    Age: 23

    Drew Storen has had a great year for a struggling Nationals squad.

    He's sixth in the majors in saves with 34 and has an ERA of 2.87.

    Additionally, this young gun has pitched a remarkable 63.2 innings in 2011 and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Josh Spence

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    Age: 23

    The San Diego Padres have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, and the call-up of Josh Spence has only served to bolster their arms.

    He leads the team in appearances since the All-Star Break and has an ERA of 1.93.

    This young gun averages nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings and could be a solid reliever for years to come.

Chris Sale

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    Age: 22

    This lanky reliever leads the White Sox in innings pitched from the bullpen and is yet another young arm with a sub-3.00 ERA (2.63)

    Sale gets great action on the ball from his 6'6" frame and has the potential to be a dominant reliever.

Al Alburquerque

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    Age: 25

    Though Alburquerque is currently on the 15-day-DL, he's been one of the reasons the Detroit Tigers have a six-and-a-half game lead in the AL Central.

    He's logged 37 innings in 2011 and has a 2.19 ERA.

    A strikeout machine, he mows down nearly 14 men per nine innings and has been on a nice hot streak lately—since the beginning of June, his ERA is a masterful 1.40.

Kenley Jensen

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    Age: 23

    Jansen is a big righty who has been a positive for the scuffling Dodgers in 2011.

    He's appeared in nearly 50 innings, and he strikes out nearly 15 batters per nine innings.

    Since the beginning of May, this Dodgers sophomore sensation has a phenomenal 1.60 ERA.

Joe Paterson

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    Age: 25

    Joe Paterson is a left-handed specialist, with south paws hitting a measly .205 against him.

    He's appeared in 56 games for the Diamondbacks and has a nice ERA of 2.53.

    His most impressive stat?

    Paterson hasn't allowed a run in his last 18 appearances, dating back to July 9th.