Baltimore Orioles relievers Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Brad Brach and Darren O’ Day have helped the Orioles bullpen become one of the most prominent in baseball.
Some teams, like the Baltimore Orioles, view a strong bullpen as a luxury, but most of the teams in the American League East know that you cannot get by without one.
A noticeable shift has occurred in the game of baseball. Starting pitchers don’t go as deep as they used to.
To some crowds, this is a sign of over-managing, of weak players, etc.
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Or, maybe it is a sign that a pitcher throwing one inning at his best is better than a tired pitcher throwing his seventh inning.
Regardless, when you are thinking of top closers in the American League, many of the names are in the American League East.
Aroldis Chapman, possibly the most feared closer…yep.
Craig Kimbrel, who was arguably the best closer in the game in 2017. Yes.
Zach Britton, the best closer in the game in 2016, and possibly 2015 too. He’s in the AL East as well.
Alex Colome, the Rays’ closer, was an All-Star in 2016.
Roberto Osuna, the Blue Jays’ closer, was an All-Star in 2017.
You can see the star power. And, while we could rank just the closers, it is important to remember that the bullpen needs to be looked at in its entirety.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
Other than Colome, the Rays have next to nothing in the bullpen.
Romo used to be solid, of course. Last year, he split his time between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Rays. For LA, he had a 6.12 ERA in 30 games, and for Tampa, a 1.47 ERA in 25 games.
Which Romo the Rays get as their setup man will be an interesting question, but this is a former All-Star with a 2.69 career ERA in 570 games, with 84 saves.
As for the rest of the names on this list, it isn’t pretty. Roe has bounced from team to team, Alvarado has a live arm, but has control issues.
Andriese will be the long man, and potential fifth starter, which is even more alarming, that the Rays may have to take from this part of their team to help a rotation without a fifth starter.
It may be a long year for the Rays.