Biggest Surprise: Richard Bleier
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Richard Bleier has been one of the best relievers in the game of baseball in 2018. He currently has a WAR of 1.1, which is 10th among pitchers. It is also first among relievers, tied with Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell and Bartolo Colon.
Despite his inclusion on this list, this shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise.
Bleier had an ERA of 1.96 in 23 games for the New York Yankees in 2016.
They had a roster crunch, and DFA’d him. The Orioles traded for him, and in 2017 he went 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 57 games. Larger sample size, numbers still quite good.
This year, Bleier is already 2-0 with a 0.54 ERA in 12 outings covering 16.2 innings. He is tied for the team lead in wins with Kevin Gausman.
Bleier doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but his 0.840 WHIP is elite, and his 1.6 walks per nine innings are also pretty darn good.
This move was widely overlooked last year, but Bleier has been essential for the Orioles, especially as Brad Brach and Mychal Givens struggle.
As Zach Britton prepares to return within the next month, the back end of the bullpen with Britton, O’Day, Brach, Givens and Bleier is shaping up to be quite good.