Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 13 (June 26 to July 2) Team Rankings, 1–30

Paul Sewald, whose Seattle Mariners are number two in the Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza Week 13 team rankings.
(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 13 (June 26 to July 2) Team Rankings

We are in the 13th week of the season. The leader of the team bullpen/reliever/relief corps rankings has remained the same, but we have seen movement in nearly every other position in the rankings. One top performer had a dreadful week and plummeted on the leaderboard.

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 lowest WHIP and lowest home run percentage (HR%). WHIP is 85% of the Baserunner Prevention score, and HR% is 15%.

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 bullpen/reliever/relief corps rankings for Week 13, June 26 to July 2, 2023

Week 13 (June 26 to July 2) Team Reliever and Bullpen Rankings

The Elite

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (44.2, First in NL), No Change from Last Week

91.8 Clutch, 9.2 Run Prevention, 3.6 Baserunners, -11.6 Command

The reign as the top relief corps in both the National League and the majors continues. With the Brewers struggling so much offensively, the relief corps is one of the biggest reasons they are contending for first place, since they don’t lose leads often. As mentioned before, in the late innings of close or tie games, forget it — the Brewers are virtually automatic. Devin Williams has one broken egg (and one blown save) all season, and it did not happen until two weeks ago.

The Brewers keep runs off the board, with a 78.1% scoreless percentage. They’re second best in the NL when it comes to keeping inherited runners from scoring. Their ERA-minus is second lowest, and their WHIP is third lowest. They still need to improve their K–BB%, which has fallen to third lowest in the NL.

Better Take an Early Lead…

  1. Seattle Mariners (26.5, First in AL), +1 from Last Week

49.8 Clutch, 6.8 Run Prevention, 0.8 Baserunners, 22.2 Command

The class of the AL is now number two in the majors. For the third straight week, the Mariners have the top AL ratings in clutch and command. They continue to lead the AL in scoreless percentage while getting their inherited runner percentage under control. Their WHIP has dropped below the AL average, improving their baserunner prevention score. Adding home run percentage to the baserunner prevention category did not hurt the Mariners, as they are slightly better than league average at keeping the ball in the yard. Gabe Speier’s scoreless percentage is no longer above 90%, but 85% is still mighty impressive. Justin Topa and Paul Sewald are still all but automatic in setup and closing, respectively.

  1. Miami Marlins (20.6, Second in NL), +1 from Last Week

38.4 Clutch, 5.1 Run Prevention, 3.6 Baserunners, 15.2 Command

Well, well, well, look who now leads the NL in active reliever K–BB%! They are also tied for fourth in the NL in baserunner prevention. Run prevention has improved as well, as they are tied for third in the NL in scoreless percentage and are fourth in ERA-minus. They have climbed to sixth in the NL in inherited runners percentage. In clutch, they continue to dominate, coming in second in the NL behind the Brewers. Dylan Floro, Tanner Scott, and A.J. Puk are as formidable a three-headed monster as any in today’s game.

The Very Good

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  1. Cleveland Guardians (17.8, Second in AL), +4 from Last Week

33.4 Clutch, 8.9 Run Prevention, 3.3 Baserunners, -11.1 Command

The Guardians recovered nicely after struggling the week before. Emmanuel Clase and Trevor Stephan continue to dominate the end of close games, but Enyel Del Los Santos has also developed into a valuable weapon over the past month. If they can improve their command, they will climb even higher in the rankings and be poised to take over the wide-open AL Central.

  1. Detroit Tigers (15.2, Third in AL), No Change from Last Week

38.7 Clutch, -6.2 Run Prevention, 0.0 Baserunners, -1.2 Command

The Tigers are second in the AL in late-game clutch, due largely to the consistently stingy Alex Lange and Jason Foley. Run prevention, however, knocks them below the Guardians in the overall score, thanks both to a low scoreless percentage and a high inherited runners scored percentage. Their baserunner prevention is average, and their command is slightly below average, also reducing their overall score.

  1. Toronto Blue Jays (15.0, Fourth in AL), +3 from Last Week

25.4 Clutch, 6.7 Run Prevention, -5.8 Baserunners, 29.0 Command

The Blue Jays continue to excel in both clutch and command. They have improved in run prevention but declined in the baserunner category. This came because of the addition of home run percentage to the calculation. The active Blue Jays relievers have the highest team home run percentage in the AL — 3.0%, the only AL team rate that starts with a three. However, run prevention carries a much larger weight, so that more than offsets the baserunner setback. Setup man Erik Swanson has their best clutch and run prevention numbers, followed by closer Jordan Romano.

  1. San Francisco Giants (13.1, Third in NL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

28.5 Clutch, -3.0 Run Prevention, 4.7 Baserunners, 10.4 Command

The Giants relief corps, despite their scores slipping in everything except command, is continuing to pitch well. They climbed one spot in the NL rankings but slipped to seventh overall due to the rise of the Guardians and Blue Jays. Setup man Tyler Rogers continues to dominate in the clutch, while closer Camilo Doval has recovered well from a shaky start to the season.

  1. Baltimore Orioles (13.0, Fifth in AL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

24.0 Clutch, 1.6 Run Prevention, 2.4 Baserunners, 18.5 Command

The Orioles improved their late-inning clutch score and have slightly improved their baserunner score. In run prevention and command, their scores have dropped. Danny Coulombe has been sensational over the past month, with 15 of his 16 appearances being scoreless. Setup man Yennier Cano and closer Felix Bautista continue to be as clutch as they come.

Slightly Above Average

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  1. New York Yankees (8.9, Sixth in AL), +1 from Last Week

15.3 Clutch, 3.2 Run Prevention, 9.0 Baserunners, -3.7 Command

The Yankees continue to see their clutch score drop. However, every other score has increased since last week. While their position on the AL leaderboard has not changed since last week, their overall rank has increased by one. The decline in their clutch score has not been due to closer Clay Holmes, however. In his 22 appearances since May 3, 20 have been scoreless — 18, if also counting inherited runners.

  1. Cincinnati Reds (7.2, Fourth in NL), +3 from Last Week

13.1 Clutch, 1.1 Run Prevention, 7.3 Baserunners, -0.6 Command

The surging Reds have climbed three more spots since last week. Their score dropped slightly in run prevention. It increased in everything else, doing so by a large amount in clutch. Setup man Lucas Sims is tough enough to face, but closer Alexis Diaz is lights out. His only broken egg, as well as his only loss, came nearly three months ago, on April 8. For those who prefer saves, he has yet to blow one this season.

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (5.8, Second in NL), ▼ -9 from Last Week

15.0 Clutch, -2.0 Run Prevention, -3.7 Baserunners, 3.0 Command

Talk about a nosedive. Their clutch — 45% of their overall score — plummeted from 63.9 to 15.0. Everything else fell as well.

Not coincidentally, the Pirates have lost 12 of their past 13. David Bednar is still as dominant as he’s been all season, but the rest of the ‘pen has played a role in this skid. Dauri Moreta, for example, has given up runs in each of his last three appearances. Prior to that, he was 24-for-30 (80%) in scoreless outings.

Needless to say, unless the Pirates snap out of this tailspin, expect general manager Ben Cherington to receive a torrent of Bednar trade proposals between now and the trade deadline.

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (2.2, 11th in NL), +10 from Last Week

4.8 Clutch, 1.5 Run Prevention, -1.3 Baserunners, -4.3 Command

We said they had a long way to go to fully right the ship and boy, did they make strides. Command dipped, but every other category increased, significantly in the case of clutch. Caleb Ferguson and Evan Phillips are their two strongest performers, both in clutch and run prevention. Phillips is starting to look like he did in 2022, when he led the NL in scoreless outing percentage.

  1. Atlanta Braves (2.1, Eighth in NL), +2 from Last Week

6.2 Clutch, -6.0 Run Prevention, 2.8 Baserunners, 14.6 Command

The Braves climbed two spots over the past week. They’ll climb even more when Jesse Chavez returns.

The Average

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  1. Minnesota Twins (1.0, Seventh in AL), +6 from Last Week

-4.3 Clutch, 4.0 Run Prevention, 7.6 Baserunners, 7.4 Command

The Twins took significant steps in the right direction after two straight weeks of trending downward. This was mainly due to their improvement in clutch. It’s still a negative overall score, meaning that they’re below league average, but -4.3 is not nearly as bad as -13.9. Their command dropped, but with that category carrying the lowest weight, it did not hurt them all that much.

Setup man Brock Stewart, who has only been charged with an earned run once out of 25 appearances, and closer Jhoan Duran anchor this unit.

  1. New York Mets (0.9, Eighth in NL), +1 from Last Week

-1.1 Clutch, 2.3 Run Prevention, 1.2 Baserunners, 5.5 Command

The struggling Mets have not been good in the clutch, but they’re above average in every other category. Their best performers have been setup man Brooks Raley and closer David Robertson. Newcomer Vinny Nittoli is 2-for-2 in scoreless outings, but little else warrants mention.

  1. Philadelphia Phillies (-0.1, Ninth in NL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

-0.4 Clutch, -1.6 Run Prevention, -2.6 Baserunners, 14.0 Command

The Phillies declined in every category, leaving Command as the only one where they are better than league average. Their top performers have been setup men Gregory Soto and Jose Alvarado, along with closer Craig Kimbrel. However, their numbers have all been in the category of “above average.”

  1. Boston Red Sox (-0.5, Eighth in AL), +2 from Last Week

-7.5 Clutch, 6.4 Run Prevention, 6.8 Baserunners, -3.7 Command

Little has changed for the Red Sox in the past week despite climbing two spots in the rankings. They remain above average in run prevention — especially in stranding inherited runners — and in WHIP. Their clutch has dropped some more, and their command is fourth lowest in the American League for the third week in a row. They have, however, improved in run prevention and baserunners. Their best performers right now are setup man Chris Martin and closer Kenley Jansen, although Jansen’s clutch numbers are below average.

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks (-0.8, 10th in NL), ▼ -7 from Last Week

-3.2 Clutch, 1.5 Run Prevention, -1.6 Baserunners, 4.3 Command

Tough week for the Diamondbacks, who took a nosedive in the ratings. They wrapped up a 10-game, three-city, no-day-off, coast-to-coast road trip Sunday in San Francisco. This capped off a stretch of 17 games in 17 days. They have not had many chances to improve their late-inning clutch, as nearly every game has either seen them trailing from the seventh inning onward or holding too large a lead to qualify for the clutch stats.

Of particular concern for the team is Joe Mantiply. In 2022, he was their lone All-Star. As late as June, he was over 90% in scoreless outings, consistently remaining in first or second place among NL relievers. Since then, he slipped but still finished the season in the top ten. This season, he has struggled both to stay healthy and to find his previous form. His scoreless percentage is in the low 60s. This is a player the Diamondbacks depend on, so they need him to get back to his dominant ways soon.

The Below Average

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  1. Chicago White Sox (-1.6, Ninth in AL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

-3.5 Clutch, -1.5 Run Prevention, 2.2 Baserunners, 2.5 Command

The White Sox improved in three of the four categories over the past week. Unfortunately for their overall score, the category where they declined was clutch, which carries the most weight. Their top performers have been setup man Keynan Middleton, setup man Joe Kelly, and closer Kendall Graveman, although Kelly has been below average in clutch late-inning situations.

  1. San Diego Padres (-3.1, 11th in NL), ▼ -3 from Last Week

-11.4 Clutch, 5.1 Run Prevention, 4.3 Baserunners, -4.3 Command

The Padres saw marked improvement in run prevention and baserunners. However, their command declined a bit and their clutch plummeted, sending them down three spots. This is overshadowing yet another great year from closer Josh Hader.

  1. Los Angeles Angels (-5.0, 10th in AL), ▼ -9 from Last Week

-5.9 Clutch, -7.3 Run Prevention, 3.5 Baserunners, -3.7 Command

The Angels showed strong improvement in baserunners, but they declined everywhere else. They saw an especially sharp drop in clutch, which was the main reason for their anvil-like drop on the leaderboard. Chris Devenski had a tough week, but closer Carlos Estevez is still performing well.

Lots of Work to Do

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  1. Tampa Bay Rays (-5.8, 11th in AL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

-12.1 Clutch, 5.8 Run Prevention, -4.1 Baserunners, -26.5 Command

Middle reliever Jake Diekman, setup man Colin Poche, setup man Jason Adam, and closer Pete Fairbanks are carrying this group on their backs. The rest of the pen has struggled mightily. The main reason for the Rays being this low on the leaderboard is their clutch. Their ratio is below the league average, and the sheer lack of close games gives them few chances to improve.

  1. Texas Rangers (-8.2, 12th in AL), +1 from Last Week

-26.0 Clutch, 2.6 Run Prevention, 17.6 Baserunners, 4.9 Command

The Rangers saw their clutch and run prevention scores stay virtually the same since last week. Their baserunner and command scores have both improved, leading to a one-spot bump in the rankings. Setup man Joe Barlow, setup man Josh Sborz, and closer Will Smith are all having great seasons, but the Rangers will need more than three tough relievers to compete down the stretch and into October.

  1. Chicago Cubs (-9.6, 12th in NL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

-23.8 Clutch, -0.1 Run Prevention, 1.7 Baserunners, 14.0 Command

Over the past week, the Cubs have remained top-notch in command and improved in both run prevention and baserunners. Their clutch score declined by 4.5 points, leading to their drop on the leaderboard. Setup men Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. are both pitching well, and the Cubs should receive some enticing offers for them as the trade deadline nears.

Stock Up on Tums

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  1. Houston Astros (-10.4, 13th in AL), No Change from Last Week

-22.3 Clutch, -0.9 Run Prevention, -7.0 Baserunners, 12.3 Command

Setup man Hector Neris is having a great season. Fellow setup man Ryne Stanek, made famous for his ejection after a crucial balk against the Dodgers last week, is having a good season. Middle reliever Phil Maton is having a pretty good season. Closer Ryan Pressly, along with the rest of the corps, is struggling. If the Astros are to have any chance of catching the Rangers, this needs to turn around.

  1. Colorado Rockies (-13.1, 13th in NL), No Change from Last Week

-17.0 Clutch, -7.2 Run Prevention, -10.8 Baserunners, -21.3 Command

Very little change with the Rockies since last week. The run prevention score took a hit after their 25–1 shellacking by the Angels, but it did not change their overall rating. Daniel Bard is continuing to shine in a setup role. Closer Justin Lawrence only seems to give up runs when the game isn’t close. The rest of the ‘pen, well…moving on.

  1. Kansas City Royals (-14.7, 14th in AL), No Change from Last Week

-26.4 Clutch, -8.6 Run Prevention, -9.3 Baserunners, 20.4 Command

Well…their command score is good!

And as mentioned last week, Aroldis Chapman and Scott Barlow will have their names lighting up the trade rumor boards over the next month as the deadline approaches.

Pray for a Blowout Win

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  1. Washington Nationals (-15.3, 14th in NL), No Change from Last Week

-26.1 Clutch, -0.4 Run Prevention, -5.9 Baserunners, -32.9 Command

The Nationals’ command score took a hit, but they improved the other three categories. Having said that, they’re still either below or way below average in everything.

  1. St Louis Cardinals (-19.7, 15th in NL), No Change from Last Week

-35.7 Clutch, -7.8 Run Prevention, -4.6 Baserunners, -4.3 Command

There will be a host of offers made for setup man Giovanny Gallegos and closer Ryan Helsley over the next month as the deadline approaches. They’re having very good seasons despite being on the worst relief unit in the National League. Now imagine what will happen to the Cardinals’ scores if those two are traded away. (Thinks a minute, cringes.) On second thought, no. Don’t. Moving on…

  1. Oakland Athletics (-29.7, 15th in AL), No Change from Last Week

-36.6 Clutch, -19.2 Run Prevention, -21.7 Baserunners, -53.7 Command

Nothing really to say here. The worst team in baseball has the worst ‘pen. Surprise, surprise.

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%.

Back to the rankings.

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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.

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2 thoughts on “Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 13 (June 26 to July 2) Team Rankings, 1–30

  1. Looking at the Brewers bullpen you would think they would be running away with the Central. Thier hitting is last in the NL so that must be the reason they are just a .500 team. I hope they can start winning, that division can be won easily with a nice streak of games won.

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