Countdown to Spring Training: Day 23
With 23 days remaining until spring training begins, rankings for the top MLB bullpens have emerged.
Here are the top three:
1. Atlanta Braves
The Braves have been known for constantly being one of the best teams in the NL, and they are now being known as one of the teams with the best bullpens in the league.
In 2013, the Braves had a 2.46 ERA and .222 BAA with a 1.14 WHIP, which was the second-lowest in the league. What helped make these statistics possible was the fact that the Braves bullpen pitched the fewest in the National League. This helped to keep arms fresh and allowed for the best closer in baseball, Craig Kimbrel, to dominate.
Helping to keep the pressure off Kimbrel, Luis Avilan stepped up and really turned things up for the Braves. In 65 innings of work, Avilan had a 1.69 ERA and .98 WHIP; not too shabby for a guy who has only appeared in 106 career games.
2. Kansas City Royals
Living in the shadow of the Tigers in the AL Central, the Royals had a successful run in 2013, finishing up with a 86-76 record. Their humble success was owed much in part to their starting rotation and bullpen pitching.
Greg Holland was the key for the bullpen’s success last season. He gave the team needed stability on humid afternoons as he maintained a 1.21 ERA and recorded 47 saves.
Luke Hochevar was also a key part to the team’s success. Hochevar was originally a starting pitcher. After a few seasons of failing, he finally found peace in the bullpen last season in limited action. Hochevar thrived in the pen, owning a .82 WHIP.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays will be an interesting team to watch in 2014 mainly because of their new additions. Last season, the Rays had a 3.59 ERA and held opponents to just .221 at the plate.
While only blowing 18 saves, the Rays needed to make some moves in the offseason, especially with the uncertainty of Fernando Rodney‘s contract.
Last season Rodney had 48 saves and a killer .60 ERA, easily one of his best years. To compliment Rodney (if he returns) the Rays obtained Heath Bell, formerly with the San Diego Padres.
The Rays also signed Grant Balfour. Last season Balfour had a 1.18 WHIP and 38 saves for the A’s.
With the additions of Bell and Balfour, the Rays seem ready for success regardless of what happens with Rodney. While they have a solid rotation of relief pitchers, the Rays also have some of the best arms in the league.
For more on this story visit: Dominic Alessi, Rant SportsCountdown to Spring Training: Day 23 by Amanda Borges