This week's look at MLB's hottest and coldest bullpens has an interesting twist. The "hot list" for the past week is dominated by American League clubs, while the "cold list" has a decided senior circuit flavor. As is usually the case, these performances had a strong correlation to wins and losses.
Hottest Bullpens in MLB (5/17 through 5/23)
Detroit Tigers (17 ⅔ IP, 3.05, 3 HLD, 3 SV, 0 BS)
The Tigers have climbed back into the AL Central race by winning seven of their last eight, with the bullpen being a big reason why. Closer Francisco Rodriguez pitched perfect ninth innings while tallying three saves last week to give him 13 on the season. Set-up man Mark Lowe also didn't give up a run in four one-inning appearances last week, which resulted in a pair of holds.
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This week the Tigers host the Phillies for three and travel to Oakland for a three-game weekend set.
Kansas City Royals (26 IP, 1.38 ERA, 8 HLD, 3 SV, 0 BS)
The defending World Series champs have won five of their last seven to pull to within three games of the AL Central-leading White Sox. Closer Wade Davis continued his dominance with three more saves in three perfect innings, which gives him 11 on the season. Meanwhile, set-up men Luke Hochevar and Kelvin Herrera combined for seven holds while not giving up a run in 9 IP.
The Royals are in Minnesota for three this week followed by a big four-game set at home against the White Sox.
New York Yankees (17 IP, 1.58 ERA, 3 HLD, 3 SV, 0 BS)
The Yankees were seemingly left for dead, but now with their projected strength entering the season--the relief staff--performing to expectations, they have won five in a row. New York possesses a wicked three-headed monster in Dellin Betances (2.21 ERA, 11 HLD), Andrew Miller (0.96 ERA, 5 HLD, 6 SV) and the just-returned All-Star Aroldis Chapman (1.29 ERA, 6 SV). You don't want to fall behind to these guys.
This week the Bombers host Toronto for three and travel to Tampa for a three-game weekend set.
Other hot MLB bullpens: Boston Red Sox (13 ⅓ IP, 2.70 ERA, 3 HLD, 2 SV, 0 BS), Chicago Cubs (23 ⅓ IP, 0.77 ERA, 1 HLD, 1 SV, 0 BS), Chicago White Sox (22 IP, 2.45 ERA, 6 HLD, 2 SV, 0 BS)
Coldest Bullpens in MLB (5/17 through 5/23)
Cincinnati Reds (25 IP, 6.84 ERA, 1 HLD, 0 SV, 2 BS)
The Reds rank dead last in bullpen ERA (6.47), and the relief staff has been particularly dreadful during a current eight-game losing streak. Closer Tony Cingrani--who leads the Reds with just three saves on the season--blew two more opportunities last week. According to reports, you can look for the Reds to start shaking things up down in the 'pen soon.
This week Cincinnati plays three against the Dodgers and three against the Brewers, all on the road.
Los Angeles Dodgers (27 IP, 3.33 ERA, 2 HLD, 0 SV, 3 BS)
The up-and-down Dodgers endured a four-game losing streak last week, with two of the losses coming as a result of blown saves by the usually-reliable Kenley Jansen (1.50 ERA, 13 SV). Apparently manager Dave Roberts is scrambling to find the right mix in the bullpen as nine different pitchers saw relief duty last week for the Dodgers. However, other than Jansen's rare failures, the rest of the relief staff performed OK. Jansen's struggles were more likely a bump on the road rather than any kind of emerging trend.
This week the Dodgers host the Reds for three and then travel for a three-game weekend series with the Mets.
Other cold MLB bullpens: Minnesota Twins (23 ⅓ IP, 6.55 ERA, 0 HLD, 1 SV, 1 BS), San Diego Padres (32 ⅔ IP, 3.58 ERA, 2 HLD, 0 SV, 2 BS), Arizona Diamondbacks (12 IP, 6.00 ERA, 2 HLD, 2 SV, 0 BS)
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