2022 Positional Power Rankings: Bullpen (No. 16-30)

© Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we ranked the game’s position players. This week, we turn our attention to the pitchers, starting with the bullpens in the bottom half of the reliever rankings.

As I said last year during this exercise, there are some positions for which an obvious, wide gap exists between the top teams and the bottom, where we can more definitively say that some teams are better than others. For instance, it’s clear the best third base situation belongs to the Guardians because of José Ramírez, and that the Phillies and Dodgers should be near the top of the catcher rankings due to J.T. Realmuto and Will Smith. Relief pitching is not one of those positions. Sure, we have the bullpens ranked, and you can see their statistical projections above and below, but be sure to also notice how thin the margins are here, and consider that relievers are generally volatile. I’ve indicated where I think the projection systems are under- or over-estimating these groups.

2022 Positional Power Rankings – RP 16-30
16. Marlins
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Dylan Floro 56 8.0 3.2 0.8 .295 72.7% 3.73 3.74 0.6
Anthony Bender 63 9.7 3.7 1.0 .293 73.0% 3.81 3.85 0.5
Anthony Bass 63 8.6 3.5 1.2 .290 72.5% 4.24 4.36 0.0
Cole Sulser 62 9.9 3.6 1.4 .287 74.3% 4.08 4.19 0.2
Richard Bleier 61 6.6 1.9 0.8 .299 72.3% 3.55 3.63 0.4
Tanner Scott 60 11.3 4.9 0.9 .301 75.6% 3.64 3.80 0.3
Zach Pop 55 8.5 3.8 1.0 .298 72.2% 4.13 4.30 0.0
Steven Okert 46 9.8 3.3 1.4 .285 73.2% 4.17 4.31 0.1
Louis Head 42 8.8 3.4 1.3 .288 71.9% 4.24 4.35 0.0
Cody Poteet 30 7.9 3.5 1.5 .290 69.9% 4.86 4.85 -0.0
Jordan Holloway 28 8.6 5.6 1.1 .290 71.3% 4.81 4.90 -0.0
Braxton Garrett 26 8.0 3.8 1.2 .298 72.0% 4.51 4.59 -0.0
Edward Cabrera 22 9.9 4.2 1.2 .294 73.2% 4.20 4.28 0.0
Paul Campbell 18 7.1 3.3 1.5 .295 69.9% 4.94 4.96 -0.0
Jesús Luzardo 16 9.0 3.7 1.4 .299 72.9% 4.42 4.51 -0.0
Max Meyer 15 8.1 3.8 1.1 .299 71.8% 4.29 4.30 0.0
Shawn Armstrong 12 9.7 3.4 1.3 .295 73.4% 4.14 4.18 0.0
Tommy Nance 11 8.9 3.9 1.0 .298 72.1% 4.16 4.13 0.0
Sixto Sánchez 10 7.9 2.5 1.0 .295 72.0% 3.81 3.81 0.0
Nick Neidert 8 6.4 3.7 1.5 .292 69.7% 5.18 5.35 -0.0
Sean Guenther 6 7.6 3.0 1.2 .297 72.4% 4.23 4.34 0.0
Total 587 8.8 3.4 1.1 .292 74.3% 3.82 4.01 2.2

The Marlins have made a clear effort to add stable, short-term veterans like Dylan Floro, Anthony Bass, Louis Head, and Richard Bleier while also taking fliers on big velocity closer to their roster’s fringe (Rule 5’ing Zach Pop; signing Anthony Bender, who has become integral; adding Jimmy Yacabonis, Tommy Nance, and Aneurys Zabala). This org has leaned almost completely away from backspinning, carrying style fastballs and into sinkers, with only converted outfielder Sean Guenther and the newly acquired Cole Sulser working with a backspinning heater.

That’s fascinating and also potentially a problem, since pitchers with sinker shape fastballs tend to miss fewer bats than their backspinning counterparts, and arm slot/stylistic diversity would seem to be an advantage for bullpens. Miami lacks this, and will parade heavy fastball after heavy fastball out of their bullpen, though changeup artist Nick Neidert makes for an interesting change of pace option in long relief.

The shape of the movement on Sulser’s breaking ball and changeup both changed in 2021 and he had a career season at age 31. Hard-throwing enigma Tanner Scott, also acquired Sunday, had an ERA over 5.00 last year but his xFIP was closer to 4.00. He’s always going to have issues with walks, but his rare lefty velocity and plus-plus slider give him a shot to have dominant stretches when his delivery is clicking. It feels like he’s been around forever but Scott is only just on the precipice of his arbitration years.

It’s possible that a combination of injuries and team need will lead to one or both of Edward Cabrera and Sixto Sánchez ending the year as Miami’s high-leverage options coming out of the ‘pen. Those two have such incredible stuff that they could be dominant despite their fastballs’ underlying blemishes, and the young Marlins rotation may be tough to crack.

Having swingman Cody Poteet back for the entire year makes Miami’s group of swingman/long relief types deep with homegrown guys who have come up as starters, with Brax Garrett, Neidert, and Jordan Holloway fitting that bill as well.

17. Reds
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Lucas Sims 58 12.9 4.2 1.4 .289 76.4% 3.81 3.88 1.0
Luis Cessa 68 8.2 3.3 1.3 .299 71.1% 4.57 4.44 0.3
Justin Wilson 64 9.0 4.4 1.5 .298 72.1% 4.90 4.96 -0.1
Art Warren 62 11.6 3.9 1.1 .295 75.2% 3.67 3.65 0.7
Hunter Strickland 61 9.0 3.7 1.8 .291 70.8% 5.07 5.06 -0.0
Tony Santillan 61 10.3 4.4 1.5 .295 72.3% 4.72 4.72 -0.0
Jeff Hoffman 56 10.4 4.4 1.5 .300 72.9% 4.62 4.58 0.0
Dauri Moreta 46 8.7 3.2 1.5 .295 71.0% 4.69 4.64 0.0
Ryan Hendrix 36 9.8 4.8 1.4 .303 71.7% 4.88 4.80 -0.0
Alexis Diaz 32 9.8 4.9 1.3 .296 72.0% 4.67 4.70 0.0
Buck Farmer 27 8.8 4.1 1.7 .298 71.3% 5.23 5.27 -0.0
Kyle Zimmer 23 9.1 5.3 1.4 .298 72.2% 4.91 4.96 -0.0
Reiver Sanmartin 20 7.9 2.9 1.4 .303 72.0% 4.46 4.50 0.0
Joel Kuhnel 16 8.5 3.8 1.7 .299 71.1% 5.16 5.12 -0.0
Trey Wingenter 12 11.9 4.9 1.5 .290 74.2% 4.44 4.45 0.0
Riley O’Brien 8 8.7 4.4 1.7 .298 70.3% 5.29 5.29 -0.0
Graham Ashcraft 4 8.3 3.6 1.3 .303 70.9% 4.68 4.61 0.0
Total 571 10.0 4.0 1.5 .296 73.5% 4.48 4.52 2.0

This group is both extremely right-handed and in flux as the Reds rebuild. Lucas Sims has found consistency in the Reds ‘pen with his reworked arm action. His set a career-high in fastball velocity, slider usage, and strikeout rate last season. Luis Cessa was a middle-inning stalwart in New York for a long time and should be a four-to-six out option here. Jeff Hoffman is the higher-variance version of that multi-inning relief profile. The Reds gave Hoffman a slider in lieu of his curveball when they acquired him from Colorado, and his strikeout rate increased last year, but he still walks too many guys.

Justin Wilson had shoulder and hamstring issues in 2021 and had his worst season. He’s had injuries limit him to fewer than 40 innings in each of the last two complete seasons.

Watch Art Warren here. After dealing with many injuries and velo fluctuations in Seattle, he seems to have stabilized and was dominant across a small sample in the big leagues last year. He sits 95 mph and has a plus slider, which he throws nearly 60% of the time.

The Reds are Hunter Strickland’s seventh org since 2019, and his once prodigious velocity is now closer to average.

Tony Santillan and Ryan Hendrix are both mid-90s with a slider types. Young Dauri Moreta is a little athletic guy who fills the zone. Trey Wingenter looks svelte and sat 97-99 mph in my live looks at him this spring, but his command is all over the place. Reiver Sanmartin is more likely to pitch in the rotation than work out of the bullpen, unless some of the younger prospects bubble up through the system throughout the year.

18. Tigers
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Gregory Soto 68 10.9 5.0 1.0 .295 74.3% 3.90 3.93 0.7
Andrew Chafin 60 8.7 3.2 1.0 .290 71.7% 3.98 3.95 0.6
Michael Fulmer 63 8.8 3.0 1.2 .299 72.7% 4.06 4.09 0.6
José Cisnero 61 9.3 4.4 1.1 .292 72.8% 4.21 4.33 0.3
Alex Lange 61 8.6 4.7 1.1 .300 70.8% 4.66 4.60 -0.0
Kyle Funkhouser 54 8.5 4.9 1.2 .299 71.4% 4.73 4.76 -0.1
Joe Jiménez 52 10.5 4.4 1.4 .290 71.8% 4.53 4.58 0.0
Tyler Alexander 44 7.6 2.5 1.4 .295 71.1% 4.53 4.53 0.0
Jason Foley 38 7.3 4.4 1.2 .300 70.2% 4.83 4.92 -0.1
Rony García 34 7.9 3.8 1.8 .294 69.7% 5.41 5.38 -0.1
Jacob Barnes 32 8.7 3.6 1.2 .301 72.8% 4.36 4.35 0.0
Bryan Garcia 28 6.9 4.4 1.5 .296 69.6% 5.38 5.43 -0.1
Drew Hutchison 24 7.2 3.7 1.4 .297 70.2% 4.90 4.91 -0.0
Wily Peralta 22 6.7 3.9 1.3 .295 70.2% 4.87 4.95 -0.0
Miguel Del Pozo 18 9.0 4.3 1.3 .299 71.4% 4.63 4.60 0.0
Ricardo Pinto 14 6.6 3.6 1.3 .299 69.8% 4.90 4.90 -0.0
Miguel Diaz 10 8.9 4.5 1.4 .291 70.7% 4.85 4.75 -0.0
Elvin Rodriguez 8 7.1 3.7 1.6 .293 68.5% 5.41 5.36 -0.0
Alex Faedo 4 8.5 2.6 1.6 .293 72.5% 4.59 4.69 -0.0
Total 601 8.6 3.9 1.2 .295 72.5% 4.36 4.45 1.9

While he obviously has closer-quality stuff, can Gregory Soto execute with the consistency of a contending team’s closer? I’m skeptical. Alex Lange is a dark horse candidate to supplant him by the end of the year. While his fastball doesn’t miss a ton of bats, both of Lange’s secondaries generated swinging strike rates in excess of 22% last year. If any of Kyle Funkhouser (16% BB% last season), Joe Jiménez (nearly 17% BB%) or José Cisnero (12% BB%, has dealt with elbow issues this spring) progress from a strike-throwing standpoint, they’re all candidates to be the first bullpen banana by the end of the year, as they all have huge stuff. For this relief corps to hang with those of the true contenders, several of them would need to take that step.

Andrew Chafin, who signed with Detroit in March, has been a steady primary lefty option out of big league bullpens since 2014 and is coming off a career-high innings total and career-low ERA. He’ll begin the season on the IL with a groin injury, but isn’t expected to be out for long. After he had dealt with consistent injury, Michael Fulmer’s arm strength seemed to be all the way back last year, as he sat 95.7 mph, up nearly three ticks from his 2020 fastball velo. He’s been averaging only about 92 so far this spring, though.

While the Tigers have built good-looking starter depth such that they can deal with the typical rate of injury while keeping pace with the other American League Central teams, that depth doesn’t seem to exist in their bullpen.

19. Mariners
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Paul Sewald 67 11.7 3.2 1.4 .286 75.1% 3.78 3.69 0.9
Drew Steckenrider 66 8.4 3.0 1.5 .280 71.9% 4.37 4.55 0.1
Diego Castillo 65 9.6 4.0 1.2 .288 74.7% 4.00 4.24 0.2
Anthony Misiewicz 60 8.8 2.7 1.4 .295 73.2% 4.22 4.30 0.1
Sergio Romo 60 8.7 3.3 1.5 .288 72.1% 4.49 4.56 0.0
Andrés Muñoz 56 12.3 4.7 1.3 .291 76.3% 3.82 3.99 0.2
Erik Swanson 52 9.3 2.8 1.6 .285 72.3% 4.42 4.46 0.0
Justus Sheffield 42 8.1 4.1 1.2 .300 72.6% 4.53 4.69 -0.1
Ken Giles 40 10.8 3.0 1.3 .287 75.9% 3.69 3.73 0.1
Yohan Ramirez 32 10.9 5.9 1.2 .283 74.0% 4.38 4.65 0.0
Devin Sweet 24 8.4 3.0 1.5 .291 72.7% 4.55 4.69 -0.0
Wyatt Mills 22 9.3 3.5 1.1 .294 74.3% 3.88 4.01 0.0
Matthew Festa 18 8.5 3.7 1.4 .291 72.7% 4.55 4.74 -0.0
Matt Brash 15 9.0 4.0 1.3 .288 72.4% 4.35 4.50 -0.0
Nick Margevicius 14 7.4 2.8 1.4 .295 70.9% 4.63 4.64 -0.0
Roenis Elías 12 8.1 3.4 1.4 .285 73.2% 4.38 4.65 -0.0
Joey Gerber 10 8.8 4.2 1.3 .291 73.8% 4.41 4.62 -0.0
Penn Murfee 8 8.8 3.4 1.3 .294 72.5% 4.25 4.34 0.0
Total 554 9.7 3.3 1.3 .286 75.4% 3.95 4.17 1.8

The Mariners’ combination of depth and high-end options might suffice to come away with enough tightly contested games to contend for their division crown, though we probably shouldn’t expect them to quite replicate last year’s 33-19 record in one-run games. Paul Sewald was still only sitting 91-92 mph in my live looks this spring, but the angle of his fastball and Sewald’s command of it make his power pitcher rebirth a viable mode of operation. Diego Castillo and Drew Steckenrider have upper-90s heat and late-inning experience, while Andrés Muñoz has been pumping 99-101 mph this spring and might be the best weapon in this bullpen by the end of the year if he can harness his slider.

Maybe some of Sergio Romo’s legendary slider command will rub off on Muñoz. The 39-year-old vet is still a viable middle-inning option and will present an awkward mid-game change of pace to opposing hitters. His addition here is a sign Wyatt Mills isn’t quite ready.

Anthony Misiewicz (pronounced mih-SEV-itch) is an athletic, multi-pitch lefty with a great arm action. He, Justus Sheffield, and Erik Swanson (Misiewicz is easily the best athlete of those three) all have starting experience but Sheffield is the one most likely to work multiple innings in relief. Matthew Festa has bounced back a bit and was sitting 90-92 mph during the spring.

20. Guardians
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Emmanuel Clase 68 10.6 2.7 0.6 .296 77.5% 2.71 2.71 1.9
Bryan Shaw 72 8.2 4.3 1.3 .297 71.6% 4.69 4.72 -0.3
Nick Sandlin 64 11.2 4.8 1.1 .290 75.1% 3.92 4.14 0.3
Anthony Gose 62 11.0 7.9 1.4 .295 69.4% 5.91 5.58 -0.8
Trevor Stephan 60 10.2 4.0 1.6 .296 72.4% 4.65 4.64 -0.0
James Karinchak 56 13.3 4.5 1.0 .288 77.7% 3.34 3.34 0.5
Sam Hentges 48 8.6 4.3 1.4 .302 71.8% 4.81 4.82 -0.0
Logan Allen 44 7.7 3.8 1.4 .301 70.7% 4.86 4.87 -0.1
Konnor Pilkington 36 8.9 4.0 1.3 .296 72.6% 4.42 4.53 -0.0
Nick Mikolajchak 32 9.4 3.3 1.6 .291 73.4% 4.48 4.57 -0.0
Enyel De Los Santos 28 9.8 3.7 1.5 .298 72.9% 4.46 4.49 0.0
Ian Gibaut 25 8.9 4.1 1.2 .300 72.1% 4.46 4.51 0.0
Eli Morgan 20 8.1 2.8 1.8 .291 70.1% 5.09 5.08 -0.0
Cody Morris 14 9.3 3.3 1.3 .296 72.9% 4.17 4.17 0.0
Adam Scott 12 8.5 3.6 1.6 .292 72.3% 4.79 4.96 -0.0
Justin Garza 8 8.4 5.0 1.7 .294 69.8% 5.52 5.50 -0.0
Total 556 10.0 4.3 1.2 .295 74.1% 4.21 4.29 1.6

The Guardians feel as though they’re ranked too low relative to the quality of their stuff. Emmanuel Clase agreed to a five-year extension over the weekend. His 100 mph cutter is an elite, unique weapon, and Clase is the most electric of a very entertaining group in Cleveland.

James Karinchak and Nick Mikolajchak (if you pronounce it like “Michael Logic,” then you’re pretty close) each have fastballs with gigantic carry, though Karinchak’s stuff was less explosive after sticky stuff enforcement picked up last year. Young Mikolajchak has a chance to be a late-inning weapon thanks to his fastball’s riding action and his plus-plus slider.

Converted outfielder Anthony Gose also has premium stuff if we’re looking at fastball velocity and breaking ball shape, but he’s never commanded either pitch well enough to establish himself since he made the switch to the mound five years ago. Submariner Nick Sandlin was a starter in college and adds to this relief corps’ fun factor. Power lefty Sam Hentges might break out in a relief role, as he’ll be allowed to inelegantly bully hitters with his upper-90s gas.

Cutter maestro Bryan Shaw is in year two of his second tour of duty with Cleveland and still performs like a stable middle relief piece. Former Rule 5 pick Trevor Stephan is a traditional mid-90s/slider sixth- or seventh-inning type.

21. Cardinals
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Giovanny Gallegos 76 10.8 2.7 1.2 .276 74.8% 3.45 3.50 1.3
Génesis Cabrera 68 10.3 4.3 1.2 .284 74.7% 3.93 4.22 0.3
Ryan Helsley 64 9.2 4.6 1.3 .286 73.1% 4.41 4.59 -0.1
Nick Wittgren 60 8.6 3.0 1.3 .288 73.1% 4.16 4.36 -0.0
T.J. McFarland 56 5.8 3.0 1.1 .295 71.6% 4.31 4.54 -0.1
Jordan Hicks 55 9.9 5.0 0.9 .290 73.6% 3.88 4.06 0.1
Aaron Brooks 55 7.1 2.9 1.4 .292 71.0% 4.61 4.75 -0.1
Drew VerHagen 54 7.2 3.2 1.3 .292 71.4% 4.50 4.69 -0.1
Alex Reyes 40 11.6 5.3 1.1 .283 75.3% 3.93 4.09 0.1
Kodi Whitley 37 9.0 3.9 1.3 .286 72.8% 4.28 4.44 -0.0
Jake Woodford 26 6.8 3.7 1.6 .286 70.4% 5.10 5.35 -0.1
Blake Parker 22 8.4 3.3 1.3 .289 71.8% 4.29 4.36 0.0
Johan Oviedo 18 7.9 4.4 1.2 .294 71.8% 4.59 4.81 -0.0
Junior Fernández 15 8.7 4.5 1.0 .291 72.4% 4.18 4.38 -0.0
Connor Thomas 13 7.0 2.7 1.0 .297 72.6% 3.99 4.18 0.0
T.J. Zeuch 12 6.3 3.1 1.3 .293 70.5% 4.64 4.79 -0.0
Dakota Hudson 8 6.5 3.9 1.0 .288 71.1% 4.38 4.67 -0.0
Angel Rondón 4 7.2 3.0 1.4 .289 72.1% 4.49 4.73 -0.0
Total 546 8.7 3.5 1.2 .285 74.8% 3.87 4.19 1.6

There’s talent and volatility to the extreme in this group, such that I would not be surprised if it was one of the best five bullpens in baseball when the year concludes. All of Ryan Helsley, Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Hicks, Génesis Cabrera, and even a healthy, in-shape Kodi Whitley have closer-quality stuff, but all of them have dealt with injury or fluctuations in that stuff. If this entire group is banging on all cylinders, it will be a contender-quality bullpen, though it has already taken a hit, as Reyes has a frayed labrum and was just put on the 60-day IL.

Gallegos’ velocity dipped in the middle of last year, when he was part of ongoing trade rumors, then resurged toward the end of the season; he again finished with a FIP under 3.00. Cabrera has three plus pitches and 30-grade control. Helsley and Hicks have each dealt with myriad injuries throughout their careers, but look healthy this spring. Hicks was only sitting in the mid-90s during the 2021 Fall League, but he’s been sitting 99-101 mph as he tunes up in Eastern Florida; Helsley has been sitting 95-98. Both sinkerballers figure to work late innings here, and the hard-throwing hydra of Gallegos, Cabrera, Helsley and Hicks has the feel of a contender’s late-inning contingent.

Whitley or Junior Fernández could conceivably join that group. Whitley has only been sitting 91-94 mph this spring but his fastball’s carry and angle allow him to pump it past hitters at the letters, and his changeup is plus, as is Fernández’s.

Buttressing that group are the steady Nick Wittgren and T.J. McFarland. McFarland is the Platonic ideal of the second bullpen lefty, while Wittgren is an efficient, strike-throwing middle-inning option. Aaron Brooks and Drew VerHagen are the latest in a streak of Cardinals signed out of pro ball in Asia. Brooks (coming back from the KBO’s Kia Tigers) has a four-pitch mix and can really spin it, but he lost a tick of velo from 2020 to ’21. VerHagen’s delivery changed in Japan and he’s projected to open the season in the rotation, but could work a few innings in relief if Jack Flaherty comes back from injury in short order.

22. Giants
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Tyler Rogers 77 6.1 2.6 0.9 .300 70.7% 4.12 4.16 0.2
Camilo Doval 67 11.0 5.1 0.8 .297 74.3% 3.75 3.83 0.4
Jake McGee 66 9.1 2.4 1.4 .289 72.5% 4.08 4.10 0.4
Dominic Leone 62 9.9 4.1 1.2 .295 72.5% 4.30 4.20 0.1
Jarlín García 66 8.3 3.1 1.1 .287 71.9% 4.08 4.12 0.1
Zack Littell 54 9.0 3.6 1.3 .294 72.6% 4.30 4.34 -0.0
José Álvarez 52 7.1 3.3 1.0 .299 71.9% 4.11 4.17 0.1
Jakob Junis 47 8.7 2.6 1.4 .302 71.5% 4.40 4.30 0.0
Matthew Boyd 42 9.8 2.5 1.4 .296 73.0% 4.07 4.00 0.1
Kervin Castro 40 8.6 3.9 1.1 .298 71.9% 4.30 4.27 0.0
Carlos Martínez 36 7.2 3.6 1.2 .305 70.0% 4.70 4.65 -0.0
John Brebbia 27 10.2 3.2 1.4 .294 74.9% 4.10 4.13 0.0
Tyler Beede 22 8.7 5.0 1.3 .302 70.6% 4.98 4.94 -0.1
Sammy Long 18 8.5 3.5 1.3 .295 71.8% 4.42 4.46 -0.0
Patrick Ruotolo 11 9.3 3.5 1.2 .292 72.4% 4.17 4.18 0.0
Trevor Hildenberger 8 8.0 4.2 1.2 .306 70.0% 4.90 4.68 -0.0
Gregory Santos 4 9.3 3.8 1.1 .299 71.2% 4.22 4.12 0.0
Total 569 8.7 3.1 1.1 .295 73.8% 3.92 4.01 1.5

If the sidewinding Camilo Doval can continue to locate his slider with the consistency he found late last year, he’ll be one of the best relievers in baseball. That was not a feature of his skillset until crunch time in 2021.

Skee-Ball style righty Tyler Rogers is the most important pitcher in the game for your casual baseball-watching friends and family to see, as he defies all convention. As baseball becomes more fixated on low release heights, will we see more pitchers who use this style of bowling? And if we do, will hitters start to become more comfortable against them? In any event, Doval, Rogers, and 35-year-old Jake McGee (in year two of his deal, with a club option for 2023) figure to work in the back of this bullpen.

Like chunks of their big league roster, the Giants relief corp features several pieces who were squeezed off other clubs’ rosters. Veteran journeyman Dominic Leone’s fastball averaged a career-high 95 mph last year, and the same was true for former Twin Zack Littell. Former Marlin Jarlín García finally started leaning on his changeup (which was projected to be his best pitch while he was a prospect) in 2021 and posted a career-high strikeout rate. Groundball machine José Álvarez started using his changeup more often while he was with the Phillies, a trend which has continued with San Francisco.

New names here include Matthew Boyd (from Detroit) and Jakob Junis (from Kansas City). Junis’ repertoire shifted to include more cutters last year, and he had a career best season. Boyd will start the year on the IL. Converted catcher Kervin Castro made his debut last year, and sat 94-95 mph with a big curveball again this spring.

23. Cubs
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Rowan Wick 64 9.9 4.3 1.2 .294 74.3% 4.08 4.19 0.3
Chris Martin 63 7.9 1.9 1.3 .301 73.1% 4.05 4.05 0.4
Mychal Givens 63 10.4 4.3 1.4 .289 72.0% 4.49 4.43 0.1
David Robertson 56 9.9 3.8 1.1 .300 71.7% 4.20 3.93 0.4
Daniel Norris 55 9.2 3.5 1.2 .298 73.7% 4.09 4.15 0.2
Jesse Chavez 52 8.3 2.9 1.5 .292 72.4% 4.43 4.52 -0.0
Scott Effross 48 7.7 2.8 1.4 .301 70.4% 4.70 4.64 -0.0
Keegan Thompson 38 8.5 4.2 1.6 .296 71.1% 5.03 5.07 -0.1
Michael Rucker 32 8.7 3.3 1.4 .302 71.3% 4.65 4.57 -0.0
Steven Brault 30 7.5 4.3 1.4 .297 70.3% 5.01 5.12 -0.1
Manuel Rodríguez 28 8.4 4.5 1.2 .297 72.0% 4.49 4.64 0.0
Justin Steele 26 8.9 4.2 1.3 .297 72.2% 4.55 4.68 -0.0
Alec Mills 24 6.6 2.8 1.6 .300 69.3% 5.15 5.15 -0.0
Brad Wieck 18 11.2 4.3 1.4 .289 73.5% 4.37 4.33 0.0
Ethan Roberts 16 8.4 3.3 1.1 .301 71.8% 4.24 4.18 0.0
Drew Smyly 14 8.5 3.2 1.7 .298 71.7% 4.91 4.86 -0.0
Ben Leeper 12 10.1 3.8 1.2 .298 73.4% 4.16 4.15 0.0
Cayne Ueckert 10 8.3 4.8 1.2 .298 70.7% 4.87 4.83 -0.0
Adbert Alzolay 8 9.2 3.2 1.5 .296 71.3% 4.57 4.47 0.0
Robert Gsellman 6 6.9 3.2 1.3 .301 69.6% 4.86 4.85 -0.0
Mark Leiter Jr. 4 8.7 2.9 1.5 .299 71.3% 4.54 4.49 0.0
Total 569 8.9 3.4 1.3 .296 73.3% 4.28 4.35 1.3

During their rebuilding phase, the Cubs have targeted bullpen consistency rather than play strike-throwing roulette with young flamethrowers who theoretically have more ceiling. Former Brave Chris Martin has the third-lowest walk rate among relievers with at least 150 innings pitched since 2015 at a minuscule 4%. Jesse Chavez, Steven Brault (who, in true baseball rat fashion, was randomly hanging out at an ASU game earlier this spring), Daniel Norris and several others lower down the depth chart have starting experience and could provide multiple innings out of the bullpen, which is extremely valuable early on as starters continue to get their feet under them after an abbreviated spring training.

David Robertson leaned into his fastball’s cut action and looked good down the stretch for the Rays last year. Rowan Wick and Mychael Givens are both converted position players. Wick, 29, has had trouble staying healthy for an entire season. Givens, who has one of the more entertaining deliveries of this century, doubled his changeup usage in 2021 and remains effective even though his velo has been slipping.

While these familiar names are the bedrock of the bullpen for now, several fresh-faced prospects will start to trickle in throughout this season and become the core of the next competitive Cubs contingent. Manuel Rodríguez and his upper-90s fastball arrived last year. Ben Leeper will likely be the first 2020 undrafted free agent to reach the big leagues, while Cayne Ueckert and Ethan Roberts, the latter of whom has elite curveball spin, are both potential long-term fits in the North Side ‘pen. Michael Rucker and Keegan Thompson are long relief/swingman types, with Thompson potentially vying for a rotation spot throughout the summer.

24. Nationals
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Kyle Finnegan 66 9.4 4.2 1.1 .303 73.0% 4.20 4.17 0.5
Steve Cishek 70 7.9 4.5 1.1 .293 71.4% 4.56 4.79 -0.0
Tanner Rainey 62 12.3 5.9 1.4 .294 73.3% 4.55 4.53 0.2
Will Harris 60 9.1 3.0 1.1 .299 72.9% 3.99 3.87 0.6
Sean Doolittle 56 9.1 3.2 1.7 .286 72.9% 4.70 4.88 -0.0
Austin Voth 53 8.8 3.3 1.7 .297 71.4% 4.90 4.86 -0.1
Patrick Murphy 48 8.4 3.8 1.2 .300 70.8% 4.51 4.46 0.0
Tyler Clippard 42 8.4 3.1 1.9 .280 71.2% 5.09 5.25 -0.1
Andres Machado 35 7.7 4.1 1.6 .296 70.1% 5.24 5.28 -0.1
Sam Clay 32 7.2 4.4 0.9 .309 70.9% 4.54 4.55 0.0
Mason Thompson 26 7.8 4.5 1.3 .305 71.3% 4.97 5.00 -0.0
Erick Fedde 22 7.6 3.3 1.4 .303 70.5% 4.85 4.77 -0.0
Paolo Espino 18 7.6 2.6 1.9 .296 68.9% 5.30 5.15 -0.0
Hunter Harvey 16 7.8 3.2 1.6 .297 71.1% 4.83 4.94 -0.0
Francisco Perez 15 9.7 4.4 1.2 .296 72.8% 4.37 4.37 0.0
Seth Romero 13 9.1 4.1 1.2 .298 72.6% 4.42 4.43 0.0
Aaron Sanchez 12 6.3 4.4 1.4 .303 68.0% 5.59 5.53 -0.0
Josh Rogers 12 5.6 2.9 2.0 .297 67.5% 5.91 5.90 -0.0
Gabe Klobosits 10 7.5 4.2 1.5 .294 69.9% 5.22 5.30 -0.0
Jace Fry 8 9.7 5.0 1.0 .300 72.9% 4.19 4.26 0.0
Gerardo Carrillo 6 7.5 4.6 1.3 .299 70.1% 5.04 5.10 -0.0
Total 559 8.7 3.8 1.4 .296 73.0% 4.50 4.62 1.1

Sean Doolittle and Tyler Clippard are back for a bespectacled epilogue to their Nationals careers after having previously spent almost 11 combined seasons in D.C., with three combined All-Star appearances between them. Doolittle had a velo rebound in 2021 after a rough, shortened 2020 campaign during which he lost three ticks from the prior season. Clippard’s arm strength has been slowly seeping away since (checks) wow, 2012, dwindling into the upper-80s for the last few seasons. He’s 37 now and is near the end of an incredible 15-year big league career. Will Harris (age 37) and low-slot slingin’ Steve Cishek (35) each have merely a decade of experience under their belts. Cishek remains a middle-inning weapon against righties (opposing right-handed hitters have slashed .210/.278/.305 throughout his career) while Harris has only thrown 23 innings combined over the last two seasons.

Austin Voth moved to the bullpen in 2021 and picked up two ticks of velo. He’ll provide multiple innings in relief. So, too, could 24-year-old Francisco Perez (acquired last year from Cleveland), veteran Paolo Espino, or Aaron Sanchez, all of whom have experience starting.

The Nationals have a half-dozen hard-throwing enigmas in their mid-20s who have a chance to grow into true late-inning options. Finnegan was signed as a minor league free agent a couple of offseasons ago and established himself in a middle-inning role before closing several Nats games late last year. He sits 95 mph, but his splitter and slider miss bats more frequently than his heater. Patrick Murphy and Hunter Harvey have premium stuff but lost huge chunks of their tenures with their previous teams (Harvey mostly with Baltimore, Murphy with Toronto) to injury, and so has mercurial lefty Seth Romero. Tanner Rainey probably has the best pure stuff in this entire group but was extremely wild when he was healthy last season. Mason Thompson, 24, was acquired from San Diego for Daniel Hudson last year and sits 96-99 mph with a plus slider, but tends to be very wild.

25. Pirates
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Chris Stratton 76 8.9 3.6 1.3 .301 71.4% 4.49 4.28 0.4
David Bednar 64 10.7 3.5 1.1 .293 74.0% 3.69 3.62 0.8
Heath Hembree 62 10.7 3.9 1.5 .289 73.0% 4.45 4.41 0.2
Anthony Banda 70 7.7 3.7 1.3 .299 71.4% 4.69 4.77 -0.1
Duane Underwood Jr. 58 8.3 3.8 1.4 .301 71.4% 4.72 4.68 -0.1
Sam Howard 56 10.8 4.9 1.4 .293 74.2% 4.40 4.57 0.0
Dillon Peters 48 7.6 3.1 1.4 .299 70.4% 4.77 4.74 -0.0
Wil Crowe 44 7.9 4.0 1.5 .300 69.9% 5.20 5.15 -0.1
Aaron Fletcher 40 6.8 3.5 1.1 .301 71.2% 4.52 4.61 -0.0
Hunter Stratton 36 8.6 5.5 1.2 .292 70.6% 5.01 5.02 -0.1
Jerad Eickhoff 33 7.3 2.9 1.7 .296 69.4% 5.23 5.20 -0.0
Miguel Yajure 30 7.3 3.3 1.4 .295 69.8% 4.85 4.86 -0.0
Blake Cederlind 28 8.6 4.5 1.1 .301 70.9% 4.57 4.44 0.0
Zach Thompson 26 7.7 3.3 1.3 .295 70.9% 4.63 4.64 -0.0
Austin Brice 24 8.1 4.1 1.4 .292 71.1% 4.77 5.03 -0.0
Nick Mears 21 9.2 4.4 1.4 .297 71.6% 4.71 4.72 -0.0
Max Kranick 15 7.0 3.2 1.4 .298 70.0% 4.90 4.89 -0.0
Mitch Keller 10 8.1 3.9 1.3 .310 71.0% 4.81 4.69 -0.0
Total 607 8.6 3.7 1.3 .296 72.8% 4.43 4.51 1.0

Chris Stratton, a converted starter, had been an ultra-consistent middle-inning option for the last few years, and moved into the Pirates closer role very late in 2021. David Bednar, the older brother of 2021 College World Series Most Outstanding Player and Giants prospect Will Bednar, has more traditional closer’s stuff, pumping gas at 96 mph while both his curveball and splitter generate plus swinging strike rates.

Heath Hembree is on a one-year deal coming off a career season during which he scrapped his curveball and had a little velo bump, leading to a personal best strikeout rate. His 5.59 ERA in 2021 was a mirage.

This site was skeptical of Duane Underwood Jr. as a prospect, and while he hasn’t hit what his proponents hoped his ceiling would be, he has performed pretty well relative to the non-first round high school pitchers who were picked in his draft year, insofar as he’s had a multi-year big league career. He doubled his career innings total last season.

Anthony Banda, once a Top 100 prospect, struggled with injuries for several years just as he was on the precipice of the big leagues. He was claimed off waivers from San Francisco last season and made a change from a slider to a curveball immediately after the move, so maybe that pitch will progress this year. He is one of several lefties in the mix for big league reps next to the Allegheny. Aaron Fletcher (who has been traded a few times) lost velocity last year, but at peak he has worked in the mid-90s with sink and tail, and a big, sweeping slider. Sam Howard sits 93 mph and has a good slider, while Dillon Peters has a bevy of fringe pitches.

Blake Cederlind and Nick Mears have huge arm strength. Miguel Yajure hasn’t pitched yet this spring due to a lingering back issue. Injuries have now defined his last several seasons.

26. Diamondbacks
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Mark Melancon 65 7.4 3.2 0.8 .307 71.9% 3.95 3.90 0.5
Ian Kennedy 64 9.7 2.9 1.6 .293 73.1% 4.39 4.36 0.3
Caleb Smith 66 9.9 4.2 1.7 .281 71.8% 4.88 4.92 -0.2
Noé Ramirez 60 8.8 3.3 1.4 .289 70.7% 4.61 4.60 0.1
J.B. Wendelken 58 8.6 3.9 1.3 .298 71.2% 4.60 4.51 0.1
Sean Poppen 52 8.6 3.9 1.1 .309 71.4% 4.44 4.33 0.1
Joe Mantiply 46 8.6 3.3 1.1 .302 73.0% 4.16 4.12 0.0
Humberto Castellanos 42 7.2 2.8 1.5 .296 69.6% 4.84 4.82 -0.1
Taylor Widener 36 9.2 4.1 1.6 .294 70.8% 4.99 4.99 -0.1
Oliver Pérez 30 8.7 2.9 1.2 .297 72.6% 4.01 4.10 0.0
Keynan Middleton 24 9.0 4.4 1.2 .296 71.1% 4.67 4.51 -0.0
Chris Devenski 22 8.0 3.0 1.8 .295 69.7% 5.13 5.07 -0.0
Keone Kela 21 10.4 3.3 1.4 .295 73.6% 4.08 4.00 0.0
J.B. Bukauskas 18 8.7 4.9 1.2 .299 71.2% 4.78 4.79 -0.0
Corbin Martin 16 8.1 4.6 1.6 .301 69.8% 5.42 5.33 -0.0
Matt Peacock 14 5.9 3.5 1.2 .308 69.6% 4.87 4.81 -0.0
Luis Frías 12 8.6 3.9 1.2 .295 71.4% 4.44 4.40 0.0
Ryan Weiss 11 8.2 3.5 1.2 .300 71.4% 4.38 4.31 0.0
Caleb Baragar 10 7.7 4.6 1.6 .289 69.6% 5.50 5.57 -0.0
Dan Straily 8 6.7 3.4 2.0 .294 68.5% 5.85 5.79 -0.0
Edwin Uceta 7 9.4 4.0 1.3 .298 71.4% 4.53 4.41 0.0
Humberto Mejía 6 7.7 3.1 1.5 .299 70.2% 4.85 4.75 -0.0
Kyle Nelson 4 8.7 4.9 1.3 .298 72.1% 4.76 4.87 -0.0
Total 569 8.6 3.4 1.3 .296 72.7% 4.38 4.42 0.8

The 37-year-old Mark Melancon (on a two-year pact), prodigal son Ian Kennedy (one year with a mutual option for 2023) and 40-year-old lefty Oliver Pérez will all try to stabilize a D-backs bullpen that is in the midst of significant turnover. Given how effectively he varies the cadence of his delivery, it’s no wonder that Pérez, who on Saturday faced a lineup of Padres prospects literally half his age, has been able to cheat Father Time to this point. Melancon’s cutter was only sitting 88 mph at the end of March, which is four ticks below his 2021 level of velocity. Kennedy’s fastballs, sitting 92 mph, are down merely two ticks from 2021. It’s early… right?

Night owl baseball fans will recognize J.B. Wendelken and Noé Ramirez, who have been middle-inning stalwarts in Oakland and Anaheim, respectively, for most of their careers, and are now occupying the middle innings in the desert.

Looking for breakout candidates here? Sean Poppen, who couldn’t quite crack the Twins pitching staff and has since bounced around Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and now Arizona, has a great slider and his fastball has been peaking in the 96-97 mph area this spring, sitting 94. Young Luis Frías, in his second option year, has plus arm strength and a deep enough repertoire that he has been developed as a starter so far, though he may debut in the bullpen.

This is Joe Mantiply’s third year with Arizona, where he enjoyed a two-tick fastball velocity increase in his first season, and a return to emphasis of his changeup in his second.

Taylor Widener, Caleb Smith, and Edwin Uceta all have starter pedigrees and should provide multiple innings in relief. Keynan Middleton once looked like a set-up type reliever before settling into fringe 40-man territory coming off of a 2018 Tommy John.

27. Athletics
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Lou Trivino 70 8.7 4.2 1.1 .286 72.7% 4.22 4.40 0.0
Domingo Acevedo 62 9.3 3.1 1.3 .287 74.2% 4.06 4.19 0.2
A.J. Puk 60 9.2 3.7 1.2 .295 74.3% 4.01 4.19 0.3
Sam Moll 56 8.9 4.6 1.1 .291 73.2% 4.22 4.42 -0.1
Dany Jiménez 52 10.7 4.4 1.1 .288 75.6% 3.85 4.05 0.2
Kirby Snead 48 9.6 3.6 1.0 .294 75.5% 3.64 3.83 0.3
Justin Grimm 44 9.6 4.2 1.4 .287 72.0% 4.55 4.61 -0.0
Adam Kolarek 36 5.8 3.3 0.9 .296 71.0% 4.16 4.36 0.0
Jacob Lemoine 32 6.9 4.4 1.2 .295 70.7% 4.81 4.97 -0.1
Sam Selman 28 9.1 4.6 1.3 .279 71.8% 4.52 4.77 -0.0
Zach Jackson 24 8.5 4.8 1.2 .291 71.9% 4.62 4.76 -0.0
Paul Blackburn 22 6.4 2.5 1.3 .300 69.9% 4.58 4.56 -0.0
Brent Honeywell Jr. 20 6.9 3.0 1.5 .294 70.5% 4.86 4.95 -0.0
Austin Pruitt 18 7.2 2.4 1.2 .294 71.0% 4.24 4.22 0.0
Deolis Guerra 14 8.9 3.0 1.3 .288 72.0% 4.26 4.32 0.0
Miguel Romero 12 6.8 3.8 1.3 .293 70.1% 4.86 4.99 -0.0
Zach Logue 10 7.7 2.8 1.5 .287 71.5% 4.53 4.68 -0.0
Adam Oller 8 7.8 3.7 1.4 .293 70.6% 4.75 4.80 -0.0
Wandisson Charles 6 10.3 5.7 1.3 .287 72.7% 4.65 4.81 -0.0
Parker Dunshee 4 7.7 3.3 1.6 .287 71.0% 4.93 5.07 -0.0
James Kaprielian 3 8.9 3.3 1.6 .286 71.8% 4.67 4.74 -0.0
Grant Holmes 3 7.6 3.9 1.3 .293 70.8% 4.75 4.84 -0.0
Total 560 8.6 3.7 1.2 .289 73.8% 4.11 4.32 0.8

The shape of the movement of Trivino’s cutter and curveball became more distinct from one another in 2021, and it was the second consecutive year in which he spread his pitch usage more evenly across his four offerings. He’s an eventual trade candidate, but until then, he’s a steady, if unspectacular, closer option for the A’s.

Guerra arrived in Oakland last year on his seventh org since 2014 and had a career season amid similar changes to his pitch usage. He has an unpredictable four-pitch mix headlined by his excellent changeup.

Leviathan righty Domingo Acevedo — 6-foot-7, 240 pounds — fell off the Yankees roster after years of inconsistent, sometimes electric performance, and landed with the A’s on a minor league deal. He posted a dominant 32 innings at Triple-A last year before getting a cup of coffee late in September and October. His velo was down (92 mph) late in the year compared to while he was in Vegas (94 mph), but Acevedo also has good secondary stuff (both his slider and changeup) and could probably get by with fringe relief velo, but be really good if he ever sustains the mid-90s peaks he’s shown in the past. He’s a high-variance 28-year-old. So, too, are former Rule 5 pick (a couple of times) Dany Jiménez and two-down NFL linebacker Wandisson Charles, both of whom throw hard but have consistency issues.

Brent Honeywell and A.J. Puk are both former top prospects whose careers as mid-rotation starters were derailed by injury. Southpaw Sams Selman and Moll are part of a deep group of fringy lefties that also includes Adam Kolarek and the recently-acquired Kirby Snead.

28. Orioles
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Dillon Tate 66 7.5 3.2 1.1 .296 71.6% 4.28 4.43 0.4
Jorge López 64 8.5 3.2 1.4 .303 71.1% 4.57 4.53 0.2
Paul Fry 60 9.8 5.1 0.9 .298 72.9% 4.08 4.18 0.5
Felix Bautista 58 9.5 6.2 1.5 .289 70.6% 5.42 5.54 -0.4
Cionel Pérez 56 9.3 4.9 1.2 .295 73.7% 4.43 4.63 0.2
Joey Krehbiel 52 8.5 4.0 1.8 .291 71.2% 5.16 5.26 -0.1
Mike Baumann 48 7.5 4.3 1.5 .296 70.4% 5.12 5.15 -0.1
Travis Lakins Sr. 44 8.1 4.3 1.4 .295 72.0% 4.85 5.03 -0.1
Kyle Bradish 42 9.2 4.2 1.4 .297 71.7% 4.66 4.66 0.0
Bryan Baker 38 9.3 5.3 1.5 .293 71.4% 5.07 5.14 -0.0
Alexander Wells 32 6.5 2.4 1.8 .293 69.9% 5.20 5.30 -0.0
Tyler Wells 28 9.7 2.8 1.8 .284 71.2% 4.82 4.73 0.0
Isaac Mattson 22 8.5 4.2 1.6 .288 71.1% 5.00 5.13 -0.0
Dean Kremer 18 8.1 3.6 1.7 .297 69.9% 5.27 5.22 -0.0
Logan Gillaspie 14 7.1 3.2 1.4 .295 71.1% 4.80 4.92 -0.0
Marcos Diplán 12 8.8 4.8 1.5 .290 72.0% 4.94 5.08 -0.0
Spenser Watkins 8 6.2 3.2 2.1 .298 68.1% 6.08 6.09 -0.0
Conner Greene 6 8.0 4.8 1.7 .296 70.1% 5.51 5.65 -0.0
Total 585 8.5 4.1 1.4 .294 72.3% 4.72 4.87 0.7

Former top five pick Dillon Tate has had velo increases each of the last two seasons and is once again working in the 94-97 mph range from his prospect peak. His heater doesn’t miss bats, but both his changeup and slider do at plus-plus rates, which are up across the board since the new Orioles regime has taken root.

Lefty Paul Fry has a plus slider, which he locates with much more consistency than his fastball. Hard-throwing Cuban southpaw Cionel Pérez, still only 25, is reunited with Mike Elias (Pérez originally signed with Houston) in Baltimore. Jorge López has long had tantalizing stuff and issues with walks, and yet he’s been continuously miscast in a starting role for almost his entire career. If he moves to the bullpen full-time, there’s a small chance he has a breakout season.

Several relief prospects bubbling up here now. Bryan Baker was drafted by the Rockies and traded to Toronto as the PTBNL in the Seunghwan Oh 오승환 deal. He had brief big league time with the Jays late last year but was squeezed off the roster and claimed off waivers by Baltimore in November. He throws really hard, sitting 96-97 mph and touching 99, which is up two ticks from 2019 when he was only sitting 94. Felix Bautista is also in that vein, sitting 97-99 with 20-grade command. Logan Gillaspie was a high school catcher who has already had quite a baseball journey and will soon be a big leaguer. Signed out of Indy Ball, Gillaspie was sitting 94-97 last Fall, and has a four-pitch mix. Mike Baumann’s vicious slider will likely find it’s way to Camden Yards, and Kyle Bradish (who a scout source raved about this spring) is starting to feel more likely to debut as a starter.

29. Rangers
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Joe Barlow 64 9.7 5.0 1.3 .283 71.6% 4.67 4.74 -0.1
Garrett Richards 66 8.1 3.4 1.3 .299 72.3% 4.44 4.48 0.1
Brett Martin 62 7.4 2.9 1.0 .305 72.8% 4.02 4.06 0.3
Josh Sborz 60 10.5 4.0 1.3 .296 73.1% 4.23 4.12 0.3
Albert Abreu 56 9.4 5.2 1.4 .295 71.1% 5.04 5.08 -0.3
Dennis Santana 55 9.0 4.7 1.3 .298 70.6% 4.80 4.75 -0.1
Matt Bush 54 8.8 4.4 1.7 .300 68.5% 5.47 5.27 -0.1
John King 48 7.9 3.0 1.1 .302 72.2% 4.13 4.18 0.1
Spencer Patton 44 9.1 3.8 1.3 .292 71.5% 4.47 4.42 0.0
Brock Burke 42 8.8 3.4 1.3 .299 72.4% 4.34 4.34 0.0
José Leclerc 36 11.6 4.5 1.2 .285 74.5% 3.91 4.02 0.1
Nick Snyder 34 9.0 4.5 1.3 .295 72.4% 4.67 4.75 -0.0
Jonathan Hernández 32 8.7 4.1 1.3 .301 71.3% 4.63 4.56 -0.0
Kolby Allard 28 7.8 2.9 1.6 .295 69.5% 4.93 4.80 -0.0
Greg Holland 24 9.2 4.5 1.3 .296 72.3% 4.64 4.68 -0.0
Demarcus Evans 14 10.1 5.1 1.5 .290 72.2% 4.88 4.95 -0.0
Spencer Howard 12 8.9 3.7 1.4 .299 70.6% 4.69 4.55 0.0
Justin Anderson 12 10.2 5.4 1.1 .295 72.7% 4.48 4.48 0.0
Brandon Workman 10 9.2 5.2 1.3 .293 72.9% 4.64 4.83 -0.0
Dan Winkler 8 9.1 5.1 1.3 .290 71.0% 4.88 5.10 -0.0
Glenn Otto 6 8.9 3.9 1.2 .303 71.2% 4.57 4.44 0.0
Taylor Hearn 4 8.5 4.1 1.6 .294 70.1% 5.11 5.06 -0.0
Total 615 9.1 3.9 1.3 .295 73.3% 4.34 4.43 0.3

The Rangers bullpen is comprised of a bevy of 20-somethings — some homegrown, some acquired by the pro scouting department — who might establish themselves as integral parts of the long-term relief corps, with a few seasoned vets on short-term deals sprinkled in.

The veterans are Garrett Richards and Greg Holland, who combine for three decades in pro ball. Richards should provide valuable length out of the ‘pen, which will be especially important early in the season due to the short runway for starters to get ready. He’s on a one-year deal with a 2023 option. Holland, on a straight one-year deal, will look to continue his career’s improbable, post-surgery second act. Either of them could end the summer on a contender if they pitch well.

Of the relievers in their prime, former college swingman Josh Sborz had a velo spike, added a curveball, and established himself as a core Ranger reliever last year. Joe Barlow ended the 2021 season as the club’s closer, though Chris Woodward told MLB.com last week that he’d prefer Barlow not close to start the year. By far the most consistent strike-throwing in Barlow’s career came during his combined 50 IP between Triple-A and the majors in 2021. He may be due for a regression in that area, but he does have good stuff. Slider monster Glen Otto, who came over from New York in the Joey Gallo deal and was among the swinging strike rate leaders in the upper levels of the minors last year, is the most likely to join Sborz as the bedrock of Woodward’s bullpen. Albert Abreu, acquired from the Yankees in a smaller deal just before the season, will show you three plus pitches and 30 control. He’s out of options.

Other young relievers who might find another gear in the big leagues include Demarcus Evans (whose fastball has huge carry, though he lacks a second good pitch), Nick Snyder (who has premium velocity), and shooting star prospects Spencer Howard and Ricky Vanasco, who have had their young careers stalled by injury. Vanasco looked great last fall coming off of surgery.

Until that group steps up, veteran Spencer Patton (in his second season back from Japan) and three-pitch lefty Brett Martin figure to be the more reliable middle-inning guys. Dennis Santana (like Sborz, a former Dodgers prospect) and John King have missed fewer bats than expected during their prospect days. Former first overall pick (as a shortstop) Matt Bush will continue his second act as a big league reliever.

José Leclerc and Jonathan Hernández had Tommy John in March and April of last year, respectively, and could be back in the middle of the 2022 season, potentially before the trade deadline. That’s more relevant for backfield rehab scouting target Leclerc, who has a pair of team options in 2023 and ’24. Hernández has the stuff to be an impact late-inning arm if he can harness it.

30. Rockies
Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Alex Colomé 70 7.6 3.3 1.3 .310 70.0% 4.83 4.60 0.1
Daniel Bard 66 10.1 4.5 1.3 .312 72.1% 4.61 4.49 0.4
Carlos Estévez 63 8.9 3.3 1.6 .314 70.8% 5.03 4.70 0.0
Robert Stephenson 62 10.1 3.8 1.5 .303 71.1% 4.80 4.53 0.1
Jhoulys Chacín 62 7.6 3.8 1.5 .306 67.8% 5.44 5.09 -0.2
Tyler Kinley 58 9.2 4.5 1.6 .301 69.4% 5.33 5.03 -0.1
Lucas Gilbreath 48 8.3 5.0 1.4 .314 69.2% 5.49 5.18 -0.1
Justin Lawrence 42 7.8 5.8 1.2 .316 68.3% 5.67 5.28 -0.1
Ashton Goudeau 34 6.4 3.3 1.7 .310 67.2% 5.79 5.45 -0.1
Jordan Sheffield 28 8.4 5.2 1.5 .302 69.3% 5.56 5.31 -0.0
Ty Blach 24 5.7 2.8 1.5 .324 65.9% 5.80 5.14 -0.0
Ben Bowden 20 10.0 4.9 1.6 .310 71.2% 5.26 5.02 0.0
Julian Fernández 16 8.2 4.1 1.6 .307 69.4% 5.39 5.13 -0.0
Chad Kuhl 14 8.2 4.3 1.7 .311 68.9% 5.68 5.40 -0.0
Scott Oberg 12 8.5 3.3 1.1 .306 70.9% 4.41 4.15 0.0
Ryan Feltner 10 6.9 4.0 1.6 .312 67.6% 5.82 5.47 -0.0
Peter Lambert 6 6.4 3.3 1.7 .317 66.5% 6.00 5.53 -0.0
Ryan Rolison 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .000 100.0% 0.00 3.17 0.0
Total 583 8.4 4.1 1.5 .311 69.8% 5.20 4.91 0.1

Alex Colomé, who is on a one-year deal, rode his cutter and a straight fastball to a half-decade of rock solid eighth inning duty. His velocity has been trending down for the last few years and has lost about a tick-and-a-half from its peak.

The 6-foot-6, 277-pound Carlos Estévez’s release point changed throughout the 2019 season, and his fastball has featured more sink since then. In 2021, his arm strength climbed back to its pinnacle throughout the season, peaking in the 99-101 mph range late in the year. He’s also upped his changeup usage in two consecutive seasons and now has three pitches generating something close to the league-average swinging strike rate. He’s out of the gate sitting 93-95 mph early in the spring of 2022.

Daniel Bard has come into spring training with his usual upper-90s gas, sitting 97 mph at age 36. He’s upped his slider usage year-over-year for the last three seasons and is now at the point where he is using it about as often as his fastball. All three of Bard, Estévez, and Colomé are in their contract years and are candidates to move at the deadline, making all three key evaluation targets for contending teams.

Robert Stephenson came over from Cincinnati as part of a fairly sizable trade centered around him and Jeff Hoffman, and enjoyed a huge velo spike. He had become extremely slider-heavy with the Reds but returned to a more even fastball/slider split, and reintroduced the occasional curveball and changeup to his repertoire. He’s come out pumping 96-97 mph this spring.

Veteran Jhoulys Chacín will provide valuable length out of the bullpen, and it seemed as though the same might be asked of lefty Ty Blach, he of local powerhouse high school Regis Jesuit. The Rockies stretched Blach out to three innings early in the spring before deploying him in single-inning outings more recently. He is coming off of TJ.

Most of the rest of this bullpen is full of pitchers who either don’t miss as many bats as you might guess given their velocity and the visual explosiveness of their stuff (Tyler Kinley, Julian Fernández, Jordan Sheffield, Justin Lawrence), or have been unable to sustain impact arm strength for extended periods (Ben Bowden, Lucas Gilbreath). Gilbreath was a 2020 instructs breakout lefty who sat 93-96 mph that fall, but he’s been more 90-93 since. Lawrence is one of the hardest throwing sidearmers in the league, sitting 97 mph. Gilbreath, Sheffield, and Lawrence are the three guys most likely to be in Denver for the long haul as all of them only have a year or less of service time. Lefty Helcris Olivarez, 21, is also on the 40-man and is in his second option year. He’s so raw as a strike-thrower that he may be ‘penned at some point this year and end up getting a late-season cup of coffee.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Left of Centerfield
5 months ago

Cleveland: The team whose “big” free agent signing is projected for negative WAR. Yeah!!!

Doug Lampertmember
5 months ago

Relief pitcher WAR is (IMAO) broken.

The replacement level is set far too high to reflect modern usage. The increased number of roster spots, and increased ease and speed of swapping out players using the DL or just sending them to the minors mean that teams have far more relievers pitching far more innings than was the case for the time-period for which replacement level was calculated for relievers, and changed utilization changes replacement level.

That said, having your big signing projected for -0.3 WAR is still pretty bad, as regardless of replacement, that’s well below average.

Left of Centerfield
5 months ago
Reply to  Doug Lampert

Interesting point and I think there may be some truth to what you’re saying. But replacement level is set based on a team record of 48-114. There’s no replacement level for individual positions/roles. So I’m not sure how you’d fix that. Baseball-Reference does adjust based on the RA/9 difference between starters and relievers; no idea if Fangraphs does the same.

Anyway, I’m not against Cleveland bringing back Shaw given how young and inexperienced the bullpen is. And he’ll likely be better than some of the other options: Allen, Hentges, etc. But I’m not sure they needed to pay him $3 million to bring him back. Kind of feels like they were bidding against themselves.

Doug Lampertmember
5 months ago

Replacement for starters and relievers is based on different values for how good a replacement pitcher is, you can adjust this ratio so that the penalty for relievers is smaller without changing the total WAR given to pitchers. If relievers are undervalued by WAR, then starters are at least slightly overvalued. There have been a number of studies over the last decade or so showing that teams pay more for reliever WAR than for other WAR, which only makes sense if front offices think relievers are undervalued by WAR.

Left of Centerfield
5 months ago
Reply to  Doug Lampert

Did some digging and turns out that you’re correct (at least for Fangraphs). Found a 2012 article titled WAR for Pitchers written by Piper Slowinski. This is what the article says:

“In other words, you want 0.03 times the share of your games that took place as a reliever plus 0.12 times the share of your games that took place as a starter. If the pitcher was a reliever only, replacement level is 0.03. If the pitcher was a starter only, the replacement level is 0.12. You only need the formula if they split time between both roles, and even then, it makes more sense to simply calculate their WAR separately as a reliever and starter and add them together at the end.”

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say how these numbers were derived or what they even represent.

This, by the way, is one of the reasons why I’ve generally preferred Baseball Reference’s WAR. Sure it has its’ flaws, but I find BR WAR ro be more straightforward and easier to understand.

TJmember
5 months ago

They need to ensure their argument that ‘spending money in free agency is inefficient’ remains true.

sadtrombonemember
5 months ago
Reply to  TJ

They’re right about that, but the problem is that they won’t do anything else either. If you don’t sign anyone, don’t trade for anyone, and only trade away your best players once they only have one year left on their contracts, then the outcome is going to be one big shrug emoji.