Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — June 19 Team Rankings, 1–30

Alexis Diaz, whose Cincinnati Reds jumped six spots in the latest reliever rankings and bullpen rankings
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — June 19 Team Rankings

We are in the 12th week of the season. We’ve seen some movement in the team bullpen/reliever/relief corps rankings, but the teams toward the top have not changed.

These rankings are not interested in what some guy in the minors did back in April before he was sent down. We want to see whose current relief roster is the toughest. That will be most useful when watching and analyzing games.

Rankings are split into the following categories. These categories encompass what a relief pitcher’s jobs are and are weighted according to importance. We don’t want to get bogged down, so we’ll keep it brief. (Author’s Note: For full details, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to get back to you.)

Clutch (45% of score) — How well they perform in late innings either while the game is tied or while holding a narrow lead.

Run Prevention (35%) — How well they keep runs off the board, including inherited runners.

Baserunner Prevention (13%) — Who has the best WHIP.

Command (7%) — Who has the best strikeout percentage minus walk percentage (K–BB%).

The total score in each category is based on the league average. Zero points equals the league average. Positive scores are better than league average; negative scores are worse. The farther their score is from zero — either positive or negative — the farther they are from the league average.

(Note: Due to weighting each score, adding the four categories together won’t equal the total score.)

For a full breakdown of each category’s score formula, click here.

Team Reliever / Bullpen Rankings Table, June 19

June 19 Team Reliever and Bullpen Rankings

The Elite

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (55.9, First in NL), No Change from Last Week

115.8 Clutch, 9.5 Run Prevention, 5.5 Baserunners, -3.0 Command

The top relief corps in the National League is also the top relief corps in the majors, and while it isn’t as large a margin as it was last week, it’s still sizeable. In the late innings of close or tie games, forget it — the Brewers are virtually automatic. Devin Williams did not break an egg or blow a save all season until this past week. They keep runs off the board, with a 79.0% scoreless percentage. They’ve improved to the best in the NL when it comes to keeping inherited runners from scoring. Their ERA-minus is the fourth lowest, as is their WHIP. They need to improve their K–BB%, which is a tick below the league average.

Better Take an Early Lead…

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (33.0, Second in NL), No Change from Last Week

63.9 Clutch, 6.0 Run Prevention, 7.7 Baserunners, 16.5 Command

Can’t go wrong with David Bednar, one of the top closers in baseball. Dauri Moreta is continuing to pitch well. Colin Holderman is now on the IL, and the Pirates will definitely miss him in his absence. The Pirates’ active-roster scoreless percentage is still the highest in the NL, despite the Holderman injury, but their inherited runners percentage has climbed to sixth highest. But the Pirates still rank highly in reliever WHIP — third lowest in the NL — and are now first in the NL in K–BB%.


  1. Seattle Mariners (32.1, First in AL), No Change from Last Week

61.4 Clutch, 7.2 Run Prevention, -1.0 Baserunners, 29.9 Command

The Mariners still have the top AL ratings in clutch and command. And also like last week, they are the AL leaders in scoreless percentage but suffer from a relatively high inherited runners scored percentage. Their WHIP has remained stable at a tick higher than the AL average. Gabe Speier’s scoreless percentage has climbed past 90%. Justin Topa and Paul Sewald continue to be tough in setup and closing, respectively.


  1. Miami Marlins (27.2, Third in NL), No Change from Last Week

54.1 Clutch, 4.8 Run Prevention, 1.5 Baserunners, 13.4 Command

The Marlins are fifth in the NL in K–BB%, more than two percentage points higher than the NL average. Their WHIP is better than league average but is toward the middle of the pack. Run prevention is still strong, as they are fourth in the NL in scoreless percentage and fifth in the NL in ERA-minus. They need to improve their inherited runners percentage, as they are middle of the pack in the NL. But in clutch, they continue to dominate, coming in third in the NL behind the Brewers and Pirates. Dylan Floro, Tanner Scott, and A.J. Puk are as tough a trio as any.


The Very Good

  1. Detroit Tigers (16.8, Second in AL), +2 from Last Week

42.2 Clutch, -7.2 Run Prevention, 3.4 Baserunners, -1.9 Command

The Tigers still get the heavy boost from their late-game clutch, holding steady as the second highest in the AL. Alex Lange and Jason Foley continue to shut opponents down late. Run prevention still hurts their score, although their inherited runner percentage improved from third highest to fourth highest. Their K–BB% has improved from 13th in the AL to eighth. These improvements moved them up two spots in the overall rankings.


  1. San Francisco Giants (16.2, Fourth in NL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

28.9 Clutch, 5.0 Run Prevention, 7.9 Baserunners, 6.1 Command

Their run prevention rating improved, but everything else dropped a bit. Tyler Rogers is continuing his run as one of the top setup men in baseball. Camilo Doval is slightly below average in clutch, something that must improve if the Giants want to catch the Diamondbacks.

  1. Baltimore Orioles (12.7, Third in AL), +1 from Last Week

20.7 Clutch, 4.6 Run Prevention, 2.1 Baserunners, 21.7 Command

The Orioles have not slipped in late-inning clutch, with Yennier Cano and Felix Bautista remaining among the league’s best. They are still slightly better than average in Reliever WHIP and have not slipped in Command. They improved their inherited runners percentage, which is the main reason they moved up on this list.


  1. Cleveland Guardians (10.3, Fourth in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

16.1 Clutch, 9.8 Run Prevention, 2.7 Baserunners, -10.8 Command

The Guardians had a tough week, slipping in every category. Trevor Stephan and Emmanuel Clase are still their top performers both in Clutch and Run Prevention.


  1. Toronto Blue Jays (9.5, Fifth in AL), +1 from Last Week

15.8 Clutch, 1.7 Run Prevention, -0.3 Baserunners, 26.1 Command

The Blue Jays slipped in every category. Despite that, they climbed by one spot due to others slipping by a greater magnitude. Clutch and Command continue to be their strengths. Erik Swanson and Jordan Romano remain as their top performers.


  1. New York Yankees (9.4, Sixth in AL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

20.7 Clutch, 1.0 Run Prevention, 1.9 Baserunners, -7.0 Command

The Yankees still struggle with Command, although that is the only category where their score did not decrease from last week.

Slightly above Average

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks (6.5, Fifth in NL), +1 from Last Week

13.5 Clutch, 2.3 Run Prevention, -2.3 Baserunners, -1.8 Command

The Diamondbacks’ clutch improved, with their score more than doubling. This caused their overall rating to increase despite their score falling in every other category.


  1. Los Angeles Angels (4.2, Seventh in AL), +1 from Last Week

10.8 Clutch, -1.1 Run Prevention, -0.5 Baserunners, -3.2 Command

Their clutch and run prevention have improved over last week. Baserunner prevention and Command fell. Their overall score improved due to the heavier weight of the former two categories. Chris Devenski and Carlos Estevez are still carrying the torch for this relief corps.


  1. Cincinnati Reds (2.0, Sixth in NL), +6 from Last Week

2.0 Clutch, 1.7 Run Prevention, 5.4 Baserunners, -2.4 Command

The Reds are one of the three biggest climbers this week, moving up six spots in the list. Their score dropped in Command, the category with the lowest weight. But they improved in everything else, especially in Clutch. Consequently, their team is among the hottest in baseball and has blazed its way to first place.


The Average

  1. Philadelphia Phillies (0.9, 7th in NL), +6 from Last Week

1.1 Clutch, -1.3 Run Prevention, -1.8 Baserunners, 14.6 Command

The Phillies slipped slightly in run prevention. However, they have improved greatly in every other category, prompting their climb in the rankings. This means they have moved from “Below Average” to “Average.” This is not where they want to be yet, but it’s progress.


  1. Atlanta Braves (0.7, Eighth in NL), ▼ -4 from Last Week

2.7 Clutch, -6.4 Run Prevention, 4.2 Baserunners, 15.9 Command

The roller coaster continues. Two weeks ago — the week before this column debuted — they were 17th. Last week, they were 11th. Now they’re 15th. The reason? Their clutch fell due to the Jesse Chavez injury. Once he returns to the active roster, their rating should climb again.


  1. New York Mets (0.2, Ninth in NL), No Change from Last Week

-6.7 Clutch, 3.5 Run Prevention, 11.1 Baserunners, 8.5 Command

The Mets continue to struggle with clutch, as their score has dropped another point since last week. Everything else improved, significantly in some cases. This improved their overall score despite their place on the leaderboard staying put.


  1. San Diego Padres (-1.0, 10th in NL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

-1.3 Clutch, -1.4 Run Prevention, 2.7 Baserunners, -3.7 Command

The Padres do very well at keeping runners off base and at keeping them from scoring. However, their K–BB% is strongly negative due to being fourth lowest in the NL. They also need to improve their clutch, which is close to league average. Nick Martinez and Josh Hader have been their most clutch performers. Those two, plus Steven Wilson and Tim Hill, have excelled in run prevention. Tom Cosgrove has also been a welcome addition.


The Below Average

  1. Chicago White Sox (-1.5, Eighth in AL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

0.7 Clutch, -4.0 Run Prevention, -0.3 Baserunners, -5.1 Command

The White Sox slipped a bit after trending upward. Their clutch increased slightly, but everything else went down. Keynan Middleton and Kendall Graveman continue to be their top performers.


  1. Boston Red Sox (-1.8, Ninth in AL), ▼ -5 from Last Week

-6.4 Clutch, 2.8 Run Prevention, 5.3 Baserunners, -8.9 Command

The Red Sox remain above average in Run Prevention — especially in stranding inherited runners — and in WHIP. Their Clutch, however, has dropped, and their command remains fourth lowest in the American League. Like last week, Josh Winckowski is their most clutch performer, although his scoreless percentage needs improvement. Also like last week, Kenley Jansen leads the team in scoreless percentage, followed closely by Chris Martin.


  1. Minnesota Twins (-2.4, 10th in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

-13.9 Clutch, 5.1 Run Prevention, 6.8 Baserunners, 16.6 Command

The Twins continue to trend in the wrong direction when it comes to clutch. They still do decently in every run prevention, however. In addition, their baserunners and command have shown strong improvement. Unfortunately for their rankings, those two categories carry the lowest weight, and it was not enough to keep them from falling.

  1. Tampa Bay Rays (-4.8, 11th in AL), +3 from Last Week

-10.5 Clutch, 7.9 Run Prevention, -3.7 Baserunners, -33.8 Command

The return of Pete Fairbanks has helped the Rays’ ranking, but this is still the Achilles heel on the best team in baseball. On the positive side, their scores have improved in every category, but they still have a long way to go in clutch and command, both being significantly lower than the AL average.


Lots of Work to Do

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (-8.4, 11th in NL), +3 from Last Week

-16.1 Clutch, -0.2 Run Prevention, -6.4 Baserunners, -3.0 Command

The Dodgers improved in both WHIP and K–BB% since last week. As predicted, it has helped their clutch. Run prevention dropped, but their improvements in the other categories have helped them climb three spots in the rankings. They still have a long way to go to fully right the ship, but this is a start.


  1. Chicago Cubs (-8.7, 12th in NL), +6 from Last Week

-19.3 Clutch, -0.7 Run Prevention, -5.4 Baserunners, 14.0 Command

The Cubs have greatly improved in every category and are 14 percentage points above the league average in Command. Like the Dodgers, they still have a long way to go, but their performance over the last week has been a giant step in the right direction.


  1. Texas Rangers (-8.8, 12th in AL), +3 from Last Week

-26.1 Clutch, 2.9 Run Prevention, 13.0 Baserunners, 3.2 Command

The Rangers also have shown tremendous improvement over the past week, and this is not solely due to the return of Joe Barlow. Josh Sborz has also pitched better over the past week. If they keep climbing, watch out, for they won’t have to continue relying on blowout wins.


Stock up on Tums

  1. Houston Astros (-12.0, 13th in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

-22.3 Clutch, 0.9 Run Prevention, -3.2 Baserunners, 13.4 Command

Hector Neris continues to carry this group. The return of Ryne Stanek should have helped, but the rest of the ‘pen (other than Neris) declined in performance over the past week. We know they’re capable, given that they set a Wild Card Era record for lowest postseason ERA last fall, which makes their performance even more frustrating to watch.


  1. Colorado Rockies (-12.4, 13th in NL), No Change from Last Week

-17.8 Clutch, -4.4 Run Prevention, -8.4 Baserunners, -25.0 Command

The Rockies have improved in three of the four categories since last week, with Command being the only one to decline. The score improvement, however, has not been enough for them to move in the standings. Daniel Bard continues to shine in middle relief, with his scoreless percentage sitting at 90.5%. This is nice to see after the way his spring went.


  1. Kansas City Royals (-13.6, 14th in AL), ▼ -5 from Last Week

-23.4 Clutch, -10.6 Run Prevention, -6.3 Baserunners, 21.0 Command

The Royals fell five spots in the standings despite improving in three of the four categories. This is because their Clutch performance plummeted. As predicted last week, both Scott Barlow and Aroldis Chapman’s names are starting to surface in trade rumors. The rumors will only intensify over the coming six weeks.


Pray for a Blowout Win

  1. Washington Nationals (-19.2, 14th in NL), No Change from Last Week

-26.1 Clutch, -8.3 Run Prevention, -6.6 Baserunners, -29.9 Command

The Nationals’ scores did not change much over the past week, which is more than we can say about the next team on the list…


  1. St. Louis Cardinals (-19.5, 15th in NL), ▼ -8 from Last Week

-33.5 Clutch, -8.7 Run Prevention, -8.8 Baserunners, -3.7 Command

This group, like the rest of the team, is a disaster. Their scores dropped in every category over the past week, with Clutch falling like it was connected to an anvil. These are troubling times in St. Louis, and the Cardinals relief corps has been just as guilty as the rest of the team. Let’s not kick them any further while they’re down.


  1. Oakland Athletics (-25.8, 15th in AL), No Change from Last Week

-29.0 Clutch, -18.0 Run Prevention, -20.5 Baserunners, -54.8 Command

They aren’t in last by as big of a margin as last week, so at least they’re improving.


Full Score Explanation

For clutch, we will use both the Goose Egg total (33%) and the ratio of Goose Eggs to Broken Eggs (67%) due to the major flaws in Saves and Holds. Full details about Goose Eggs are here. Otherwise, here’s the elevator speech.

A Goose Egg is like a save, except more restrictive. Here are the main points…

  • It’s done inning by inning, starting in the seventh.
  • Maximum of a two-run lead, not three, but it also includes tie games. Like the save, exceptions are made if the tying run is on base or at bat. (Not on deck, however.)
  • Run Breakdown:
    • No run of any kind — earned, unearned, or inherited — scores, it’s a goose egg (GE).
    • Earned run charged to the pitcher, it’s a broken egg (BE).
    • Any other run scores, it’s neither.
    • Earned run scores in an inning where he closes out the victory, it’s also neither.
    • Starts the inning and gives up no runs, but doesn’t finish the inning, it’s also neither.
  • He must finish the inning while recording the following number of outs:
    • No one on when he starts the inning — all three;
    • One on — at least two;
    • Two or three on — at least one.
  • Any time it’s “neither,” it’s called a “Meh,” as in “nothing special.” They’re like a stalemate in chess and count as nothing, so we really don’t talk about them.
  • Most important is the ratio of GE to BE (GE/BE). The historical average, dating to 1921, is 3.0, or 3-to-1.

Here are the latest totals of each.

For run prevention, we will use a mixture of the Scoreless Outing Percentage (Earned Runs only), Inherited Runners Scored Percentage (IS%), and ERA-minus. ScOtg% is 75% of the score, IS% is 15%, and ERA-minus is 10%.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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