Baseball comes down to the last nine outs. Can your relievers shut the door after the starters give their team six innings of quality? There have been plenty of changes this year to bullpens but let’s break it down and find the best bullpens via projected FIP, ERA and WAR.
The Yankees jump off as the best bullpen in the MLB. They’re likely going to be the best American League team and that’s due to resurrecting their bullpen a bit.
The Yankees will use closer Aroldis Chapman and they’ll also have Zack Britton returning. Chapman appeared in 13 games last year and just 11.2 innings pitched but still had 22 strikeouts and allowed four earned runs in those games. Chapman’s WHIP was .86 and his ERA finished at 3.09 but the Yankees certainly hope they can get him pitching more this season.
FanGraphs has projected Chapman to throw 63 innings this season. They have him striking out 14.1 batters per nine innings and allowing .9 hits per nine innings. With that said, he would have an FIP of 2.94 and a WAR of 1.9, which would lead the MLB in WAR for a reliever, tied with Mets’ closer Edwin Diaz.
FanGraphs projects other major contributors for the Yankees including Chad Green who threw 22 games last year and finished with a 3.51 ERA along with a WHIP of .82. He struck out 32 batters and walked just eight batters on the season and looked very solid.
Again, FanGraphs believes Green will be an important piece to the Yankees and project his WAR to be 1.4 with an FIP of 3.53 along with an ERA of 3.40.
Newly acquired reliever Justin Wilson should make a real impact for the Yankees as a lefty. He’s projected to have a WAR of .7 in 63 innings. The bullpen also includes Darren O’Day, Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa to name a few.
New Closer in Chi-Town
The White Sox would be the next on the list in the American League and are contenders in their division. They’ve added former Athletics closer Liam Hendriks who is projected to have a WAR of 1.9 for the White Sox.
Last season, Hendriks was a monster for the A’s playing in 24 games and contributing 14 saves and just one blown save on the year. His ERA was 1.78 and his WHIP was incredibly low at .67. Hendriks was a big get for the White Sox in their bullpen.
They’ll also have Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall in the back end of the bullpen. Bummer is projected by FanGraphs to have an ERA of 3.40 and an FIP of 3.66 while Evan Marshall is projected to throw 60 innings and have an ERA of 3.85 with an FIP of 4.03.
Those guys aren’t heavy strikeout pitchers but Garret Crochet and Jace Fry, when inserted in the game, will be those big strikeout pitchers that have incredibly nasty stuff. This bullpen is filthy with Hendriks and Chicago will surely get attention on MLB picks.
Rays Still Dangerous
Lastly, we can’t forget about the Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays love their bullpen and we all saw it during the World Series last year. We’ll see what they can do in their division.
They take pride in building that bullpen up and have Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks all projected to have a WAR of one or more. This team also has Ryan Thompson and Chaz Roe returning along with a newcomer in Collin McHugh.
This Rays team has plenty of depth in their bullpen and use that staff at the highest rate. They have 11 projected players that should produce positive WAR in the bullpen. That, of course, makes the Rays just as dangerous even without high-end names in the bullpen.