MLB Handicapping and Betting: The Bullpen Report
by Aaron Smith - 9/3/2013
While starting pitchers get most of the attention, ask any insider in the big leagues and they’ll tell you a reliable bullpen is an important of an asset as any team can have. Most bullpens have one or two top pitchers, but the best bullpens have a plethora of guys they can turn to in difficult spots.
Atlanta has led the way at top of the MLB Bullpen Report all year long, and it shouldn’t be any big surprise to anyone that the Braves have the best record in baseball. When you have a top-ranked bullpen shutting down opponents on a consistent basis, you are going to win most of your close games.
Doc’s Sports is always looking to give you extra information to help you win. This MLB Bullpen Report will allow us to take a look at the best and worst bullpens in the majors so far in 2013. We’ll take a look at the best and worst bullpens every couple weeks this year. Please note that statistics used in this report are for games played between March 31 and Sept. 2.
Top Five Bullpens (Listed by ERA)
-Atlanta Braves (2.36 ERA) Can anyone argue with the fact that Craig Kimbrel is now the best closer in baseball? He has 43 saves on the year, and he has a spectacular 0.95 ERA on the season. He has gotten better each season in his young career. Luis Avilan and Jordan Walden have done a brilliant job as the team’s primary setup men. Opponents are hitting just .215 against the Braves bullpen in 2013.
-Kansas City Royals (2.53 ERA) Not many people are surprised by the fact that the Braves are No. 1 on this list, but most honest observers would say they didn’t expect the Kansas City Royals to be No. 2. Kansas City has climbed back into AL wild card contention largely because of the terrific work of this bullpen. Greg Holland has saved 37 games while blowing only two all season. Add in Luke Hochevar and Aaron Crow, and the Royals are well-stocked with hard-throwing relievers.
-Pittsburgh Pirates (2.77 ERA) The Pittsburgh Pirates are just two wins away from finally reaching that winning season, but they have much loftier goals in 2013. The Pirates pitching staff leads the majors with a 3.18 ERA (Atlanta is second at 3.19), and the Pittsburgh bullpen has been solid all year. Jason Grilli is still on the disabled list, and the team needs him back to have the closer role locked down. Pittsburgh’s bullpen has thrown the third-most innings of any bullpen in baseball, so we’ll have to see if they can stay fresh down the stretch.
-Texas Rangers (2.93 ERA) The Rangers bullpen has been one of the best in baseball all year despite playing in a hitter-friendly park for half of their games. This bullpen got a huge boost earlier this week when Neftali Feliz rejoined the team. Feliz looked very sharp in his first game back from a serious injury. If he becomes a consistent contributor in this bullpen, the Rangers are going to be a really tough out.
-Minnesota Twins (3.11 ERA) Minnesota passed up the Milwaukee Brewers in the past couple weeks to take over the fifth spot. The Twins bullpen has racked up 419 strike outs this season. Glen Perkins has been one of the biggest surprises in baseball as the Twins closer this year. He has 32 saves and only three blown saves. Rookie left-hander Caleb Thielbar has a terrific 1.29 ERA for the team as well.
Bottom Five Bullpens (Listed by Worst ERA)
-Houston Astros (5.30 ERA) Who else would it be? If you’ve followed this bullpen report at all this year, you know that Houston has easily been the worst in the league all year long. The fact that the Astros bullpen has an ERA of almost a full run worse than the second-worst bullpen in baseball tells you all you need to know about how awful things have been for this group in 2013. No wonder the Astros are 45-92 this year!
-Seattle Mariners (4.41 ERA) Seattle has a couple of top-notch starting pitchers in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, but they haven’t found the winning combination in the bullpen just yet. Tom Wilhelmsen is back in the majors, and he’ll likely get another shot at the back of the bullpen. Brandon Mauer and Carter Capps have both been hit around pretty hard of late.
-Philadelphia Phillies (4.30 ERA) The Phillies bullpen has given up 188 free passes this year, which is third-worst in the majors. Opponents are also hitting .258 against this group. If the Phillies are going to contend in the coming years, they are going to have to upgrade this bullpen in a big way.
-Los Angeles Angels (4.28 ERA) The Los Angeles Angels don’t have a single guy in the bullpen with an ERA below 3.32. They have a couple guys in the bullpen with an ERA of right around 6.00. It’s been a really long season for the Angels overall, and their bullpen certainly hasn’t been helpful.
-Chicago Cubs (4.16 ERA) This bullpen has a combined record of 17 wins and 25 losses, and they have blown 25 saves already this season. Kevin Gregg has actually been pretty good at the back of the bullpen, but filling in the gap between the starters and the closer has been a major problem for the Cubs all season long.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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