It's the closers who get all the recognition, but these guys are the ones who keep the leads intact or the games within reach.
I am talking about Middle Relievers. If a pitcher gets knocked out of a game in the sixth, seventh or eighth inning then these are the guys the manager calls on.
It is quite possibly the most underrated statistic in baseball, and yet these pitchers have mastered it—the art of the hold.
The Braves are a team blessed with talented relievers.
Amazingly, Eric O'Flaherty is not even the best reliever on his own team. This season he appeared in 78 games and accumulated 32 holds with an ERA of .98 and 67 strikeouts in 73 innings pitched.
At only 26, he will still be around for years to come.
Adams appeared in 75 games with 32 holds and an ERA of 1.47. His WHIP was .79 and he had 74 strikeouts. Mike Adams was a great pickup by the Rangers and helped to solidify their pitching staff and make them one of the most feared teams in baseball.
His numbers are even more impressive when you consider he pitched for the Padres for half of the season.
Venters and O'Flaherty are quite a setup duo for The Braves. Both are young, hard throwers, who have brilliant careers ahead of them.
I give Venters the edge over O'Flaherty because of his higher total of appearances and strikeouts. Jonny Venters pitched in 85 games and finished with 35 holds, 96 strikeouts, and had an ERA of 1.84.
I hope Atlanta knows how lucky they are.
Sadly, there are many baseball fans who do not even know who Tyler Clippard is. This can be attributed to the Washington Nationals' poor play over the past few seasons and Clippard's role on the team.
Setup men don't get too much ink, especially those pitching for the Nationals. Clippard led all relievers in strikeouts (108) and holds (38). His ERA was 1.83 and he had a record of 3-0.
It is my hope that as Washington improves in the coming seasons, that Clippard will get the recognition he deserves.
The New York Yankees made it a point in the offseason to go out and get a big time relief pitcher.
They signed Rafael Soriano to a multimillion dollar deal, but the best reliever on the team ended up being David Robertson. Robertson was 4-0 this season with 34 holds and had an ERA of 1.08 with 100 strikeouts.
Robertson exceeded all pinstripe expectations and was lights out the entire season. Without him in the bullpen then it's entirely possible that Boston beats New York out off a playoff spot.