The Baltimore Orioles roster, along with the rest of the AL East, encompass some of the best relief pitchers in baseball.
Other mesmerizing closers in the AL East include Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Alex Colome and Roberto Osuna. Only Osuna has never been an All-Star. Add in setup men like Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, Tyler Thornburg, Carson Smith (if he can ever get healthy), Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, Brad Boxberger, JP Howell and Jason Grilli, and you can see how good it is.
This means that the rankings will include a look at the depth, while also considering the quality of these players in their roles. For example, Boxberger has never spent a full season as a setup man, while Brach and O’Day have. Colome has never been appointed a closer before (winning the job in 2016 when Boxberger was hurt and ineffective).
A reminder, with the quantity of players, this is a high-level overview ranking the relief corps.
In 2016, the end of year rankings was:
5. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
1. Baltimore Orioles
5. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have often used their bullpen as the place to send their starters who either aren’t cutting it or struggled in the minors. It used to be a revolving door, often with new faces all the time. That appears to be changing.
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Most of these guys are returning to the Rays, minus the ones at the end of the list, which include some non-roster invitees.
Colome is back as closer, with Boxberger likely to fill a set-up role. Ramirez was a spot starter/successful bullpen piece last year. What the team has a lot of are middle relievers, with few back-end relievers. My guess is that Cedeno may also be a set-up man.
The Rays’ bullpen has the potential to be pretty good. Colome was an All-Star last year. Boxberger was an All-Star previously. If he can rebound to pre-2016 form, the back end will look pretty good. The names aren’t as well-known as the rest of the division, but that doesn’t mean this bullpen is terrible. I’m not sure they are good either, but we will find out.