MLB bullpens have seen increased workloads with the season now in its third month and the dog days of summer approaching. Therefore it's probably no coincidence that two of the hottest teams in the bigs--the Blue Jays and Rangers--also produced the best relief pitching during the past seven days. At the other end of the spectrum, there are the lowly Padres. San Diego had one of the most epic bullpen meltdowns of all time last week. They are joined by the Angels and Phillies with faltering bullpens.
Hottest Bullpens in MLB (5/30 through 6/5)
Toronto Blue Jays
12 IP, 3.75 ERA, 3 HLD, 3 SV, 0 BLSV
The Blue Jays have gone 9-2 over the past 11 games to pull to within 2.5 games of Baltimore and Boston in the AL East. The bullpen is a big reason why. Set-up man Drew Storen appears to have righted the ship after some early-season struggles, and closer Robert Osuna (1.71 ERA) added two more saves last week to give him 13 for the season. The Blue Jays also bolstered the 'pen by acquiring veteran Jason Grilli, who immediately paid dividends with two holds last week.
This week the Blue Jays play three in Detroit and host Baltimore for four.
17 ⅓ IP, 3.64 ERA, 3 HLD, 3 SV, 0 BLSV
The Rangers have also gone 9-2 over their past 11 games while opening a three-game lead on the Mariners in AL West. Sam Dyson took over closer duties last week from Shawn Tolleson, who was on the bereavement list, and he responded with two saves while lowering his ERA to 1.95. Cesar Ramos (3.58 ERA) also pitched five innings and picked up a save.
The concern is Tolleson (11 SV). He has a 10.13 ERA and blew three of his six save chances last month. However, he was excellent a season ago. Perhaps the time away will get him on track. If so, the Rangers will be well-armed in the 'pen.
Next up for Texas is four at home against Houston and three in Seattle.
27.1 IP, 2.67 ERA, 3 HLD, 3 SV, 0 BLSV
It has been a rough start to the season for the Diamondbacks, and things haven't been better of late as they went 2-6 last week. While high-priced starters Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller have been major disappointments, the bullpen has at least been doing its job of late. Arizona has converted 81.3 percent (13 of 16) of save opportunities, which is the second-highest success rate in the bigs. Closer Brad Ziegler (3.00 ERA) had two more saves last week to give him 11 for the season.
Next up for Arizona is three games in Colorado and a four-game set with the Giants at home.
Coldest Bullpens in MLB (5/30 through 6/5)
San Diego Padres
24 IP, 9.38 ERA, 2 HLD, 1 SV, 1 BLSV
Then there's the Padres. San Diego has blown 9 of 22 save chances this year, but none was as egregious as what happened last week. Trailing by 10 runs, the Mariners put up 12 runs in two innings off the Padres relief staff to come roaring back for the win. The San Diego bullpen now has the third-highest ERA in the majors at 4.95 ERA.
The Padres go on the road this week for three against the Cubs and a three-game set against the Brewers.
Los Angeles Angels
15 ⅓ IP, 5.87 ERA, 0 HLD, 3 SV, 2 BLSV
The Angels (26-30) took two of three from both the Tigers and Pirates last week despite a shaky bullpen. Set-up man Fernando Salas blew a save against Detroit on Tuesday and then gave up four runs in ⅔ IP in a loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. It was a week to forget for the usually-reliable Salas was 5-2 with 61 holds and a 4.24 ERA last year. The Angels also got a boost last week with the return from injury of closer Huston Street. He provided an immediate boost. Street had a save and didn't give up a run in two appearances to lower his ERA to 0.90.
Next up for the Angels is a four-game set at the Yankees followed by three against Cleveland at the Big A.
22 IP, 5.32 ERA, 1 HLD, 1 SV, 1 BSV
After a surprisingly good start to the season, reality appears to have set in for the young Phillies. They are 2-7 over their last nine games to dip below .500 (28-29) and fall six games out of the NL East race. Hector Nerris, who shares set-up duties with Brett Oberholtzer, had two losses and a blown save in four appearances last week. It was excellent pitching that got the light-hitting Phillies off to their good start, but this is likely to be more the norm moving forward.
Next up for the Phillies are three in Atlanta followed by three at home against the Reds.
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