Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 14 (July 3 to July 9) Team Rankings, 1–30

Will Smith, whose Texas Rangers made the first big reliever trade of the season and have improved by three spots in the Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza Week 14 team rankings.
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 14 (July 3 to July 9) Team Rankings

We are in the 14th week of the season. The leader of the team bullpen/reliever/relief corps rankings has remained the same but has widened its lead by a significant margin. The team that plummeted on the leaderboard two weeks ago got a key performer back from injury and has leapt back to second place. And, as usual, there has been some shuffling toward the top and the middle.

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 14, July 3 to July 9, 2023
Complete Leaderboards for Week 14. American League (left) is in red and National League (right) is in blue.

Week of July 3 Team Reliever and Bullpen Rankings

The Major Outlier

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (160.6, First in NL), No Change from Last Week

348.8 Clutch, 10.4 Run Prevention, 5.5 Baserunners, -11.0 Command

The Brewers’ lead has reached a ridiculous level. With the optioning of Peter Strzelecki to Triple-A and designation of Matt Bush for assignment, Brewers relievers now have two broken eggs total. (Bush and Strzelecki had a combined total of six.)

The Brewers keep runs off the board, with an 80.6% scoreless percentage — tops in the NL. They’re also best in the NL when it comes to keeping inherited runners from scoring and in ERA-minus. Their WHIP is tied for the lowest. They still need to improve their K–BB%, which has fallen to fifth lowest in the NL. But it obviously hasn’t hurt them, as they are automatic late in close games.

Better Take an Early Lead…

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (28.9, Second in NL), +9 from Last Week

60.5 Clutch, 1.7 Run Prevention, 4.5 Baserunners, 6.7 Command

The timely return of setup man Colin Holderman from the injured list has vaulted the Pirates back to second place. He and closer David Bednar are among the best one-two punches in all of baseball, forcing opponents to take their leads in the first seven innings. Unfortunately for the Pirates, their starting pitching has left much to be desired in recent days, but Holderman’s return may give them a shot in the arm.

And they need one badly. If they don’t go on a long winning streak some time in July, they’re going to be getting some enticing trade offers for Bednar and Holderman. But their seven-game road trip this week, with four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and three against the Arizona Diamondbacks, does not offer much hope for a winning streak.

  1. Miami Marlins (21.8, Third in NL), No Change from Last Week

41.5 Clutch, 4.1 Run Prevention, 4.5 Baserunners, 16.0 Command

The Marlins have climbed to second in the NL in run prevention and remain fourth in baserunner prevention. They are second in the NL in K–BB%. Dylan Floro, Tanner Scott, and A.J. Puk remain tough, although Floro and Scott are starting to show that they’re human.

  1. Seattle Mariners (20.4, First in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

35.8 Clutch, 5.2 Run Prevention, 4.4 Baserunners, 26.5 Command

The Mariners continue to lead the AL, although their lead has narrowed significantly due to the surge of the next team on this list. While they continue to lead the AL in scoreless percentage, their inherited runner percentage has swelled, as has their ERA-minus. Consequently, they have fallen from second to fifth in the AL in run prevention. Their baserunner prevention score still hovers near the league average. They remain strong in command, trailing only the Toronto Blue Jays on the AL leaderboard.

In addition to Gabe Speier, Justin Topa, Matt Brash, and Paul Sewald, Andres Munoz — who missed roughly seven weeks due to a strained muscle in his shoulder — has been terrific. He does not yet have enough appearances (14) yet to qualify for the leaderboards (min. 20), but we still can’t ignore his 92.9% scoreless percentage. And Penn Murfee, who has allowed an earned run in one out of his 16 appearances, is still on the injured list. Imagine how scary this unit will be once they get him back in middle relief.

The Very Good

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  1. Baltimore Orioles (19.5, Second in AL), +3 from Last Week

32.1 Clutch, 6.3 Run Prevention, 10.1 Baserunners, 22.2 Command

The Orioles improved their late-inning clutch score even more and have quintupled their baserunner score. In run prevention and command, their scores have also improved. Danny Coulombe is cementing his place as one of the top middle relievers in the AL, with 17 of his last 18 appearances (dating back to May 15) being scoreless. Setup man Yennier Cano and closer Felix Bautista protect narrow leads as well as anyone, and both greatly deserve their All-Star nods.

  1. Cleveland Guardians (15.3, Third in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

28.2 Clutch, 7.7 Run Prevention, 4.3 Baserunners, -9.3 Command

The Guardians took a tumble in both clutch and run prevention while improving in baserunner prevention and command. Their command is still below league average, yes, but they are not as far behind this week. Closer Emmanuel Clase is more effective when the games are close. On Sunday, he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth with a four-run lead and lost it before the inning ended. The Guardians won the game, yes, but still…

  1. San Francisco Giants (15.2, Fourth in NL), No Change from Last Week

35.8 Clutch, -5.1 Run Prevention, 1.4 Baserunners, 9.8 Command

The Giants saw their scores slip in three of the four categories. However, in clutch — which has the highest weight — their score jumped. Tyler Rogers continues his reign as one of the top setup men in the NL. His twin brother, Taylor Rogers, has been highly effective in middle relief as well. Closer Camilo Doval had a rough April, which is deflating his overall stats. But from May 1 onward, 23 of his 27 appearances have been scoreless. And for those who prefer the save, he has converted 21 of 22 chances since May 1. In other words, take the lead against the Giants before the seventh inning.

  1. Toronto Blue Jays (10.9, Fourth in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

17.5 Clutch, 5.4 Run Prevention, -5.8 Baserunners, 27.8 Command

The Blue Jays are still tops in the AL in command. They are still below average in baserunners, keeping the same score as last week in that category. But in both clutch and run prevention, their scores have fallen, leading to their two-spot drop on the leaderboard.

Erik Swanson has given up runs in three of his last four appearances, ending a 12-for-13 scoreless outing stretch. Jordan Romano has also given up runs in three of his last four appearances.

  1. New York Yankees (10.9, Fifth in AL), No Change from Last Week

17.2 Clutch, 5.0 Run Prevention, 11.0 Baserunners, 0.0 Command

The Yankees improved their score in every category since last week, but their overall position did not change due both to the decline of the Detroit Tigers and being leapfrogged by the Pirates.

Ian Hamilton and Nick Ramirez have been effective in middle relief. Wandy Peralta has also done well in a setup role. Clay Holmes only pitched once last week, but he put up another zero. In his 23 appearances since May 3, 21 have been scoreless — 19, if also counting inherited runners.

(Note: Rounding gives the Blue Jays and Yankees the appearance of a tie, but the Blue Jays are indeed ahead, 10.92 to 10.90.)

  1. Detroit Tigers (10.7, Sixth in AL), ▼ -5 from Last Week

34.9 Clutch, -9.4 Run Prevention, -8.7 Baserunners, -7.4 Command

The Tigers are still second in the AL in late-game clutch, due largely to the consistently stingy Alex Lange and Jason Foley. But their scores in every other category are negative, indicating that Lange and Foley are carrying this unit on their backs.

Slightly above Average

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  1. Cincinnati Reds (6.8, Fifth in NL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

15.2 Clutch, 1.2 Run Prevention, -0.1 Baserunners, -6.1 Command

The Reds have cooled off, sliding down one spot on the leaderboard. They are high in clutch but at or below average in everything else, something that must improve down the stretch as they contend for the NL Central crown.

Despite breaking an egg/blowing a save last week, only the second of the former and first of the latter all season, he is still among the best closers in the majors. Lucas Sims continues to be lights-out in setup. But two pitchers cannot continue to carry this group.

  1. Atlanta Braves (5.4, Sixth in NL), +1 from Last Week

11.3 Clutch, -3.1 Run Prevention, 2.5 Baserunners, 15.3 Command

The Braves stayed close to the same in baserunner prevention and improved in everything else. Closer Raisel Iglesias has done well, and Nick Anderson has been decent in setup. The return of lights-out setup man Jesse Chavez, which should happen any day now, will make a scary team even scarier.

  1. Philadelphia Phillies (5.2, Seventh in NL), +3 from Last Week

6.5 Clutch, 0.3 Run Prevention, 2.4 Baserunners, 26.4 Command

The Phillies had a great week, improving in every category. This includes command, where they hold a (Roger Moore head turn) commanding…lead…over the second-place Marlins. The Phillies’ setup men — Gregory Soto and Jose Alvarado — are their two best relievers, with closer Craig Kimbrel doing an above-average job.

The Average

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  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1.7, Eighth in NL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

0.8 Clutch, 3.7 Run Prevention, 0.9 Baserunners, -1.2 Command

Caleb Ferguson and Evan Phillips have been great so far. Brusdar Graterol has been okay. That’s about it.

  1. Boston Red Sox (0.2, Seventh in AL), +2 from Last Week

1.3 Clutch, -1.4 Run Prevention, 2.2 Baserunners, -3.1 Command

The Red Sox showed marked improvement in clutch and slight improvement in command. They dropped greatly in rum prevention and baserunners. Setup man Chris Martin is having a nice season. Closer Kenley Jansen is having an okay season. Not much else to say.

  1. Los Angeles Angels (-0.8, Eighth in AL), +5 from Last Week

1.3 Clutch, -4.0 Run Prevention, 2.0 Baserunners, -3.7 Command

The Angels continue their climb up the leaderboard, due largely by their significant improvement in clutch. Closer Carlos Estevez has reached “pretty much automatic” level, with a 20–3 (6.7-to-1) goose egg-broken egg ratio and a perfect 21-for-21 save conversion rate.

 The Below Average

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  1. Arizona Diamondbacks (-1.8, Ninth in NL), +1 from Last Week

-6.9 Clutch, 2.5 Run Prevention, 2.1 Baserunners, 3.1 Command

The bend-but-don’t-break trend continues for the Diamondbacks, who sent struggling middle reliever Joe Mantiply to Triple-A to get his groove back. They are second in the NL in scoreless outing percentage but fourth from the bottom in inherited runners scored percentage. Middle reliever Austin Adams has been a great addition to the corps, going 12-for-14 in scoreless appearances.

What is hurting them is clutch, and this is mainly because they have three setup men and no closer. In lieu of a closer, the setup men — Andrew Chafin, Miguel Castro, and Scott McGough — are used from the seventh inning onward on a most-favorable-matchup-with-that-third-of-the-opposing-lineup basis. The trio has been slightly above average by the numbers. In order to compete down the stretch, they must trade for a closer.

The 1999 team also needed a closer. When they traded for Matt Mantei in early July, he was the missing piece. They rode his success to the only 100-win season in franchise history. This year’s team seems to be in the same boat.

  1. New York Mets (-3.4, 10th in NL), ▼ -3 from Last Week

-8.2 Clutch, 0.6 Run Prevention, 0.3 Baserunners, 1.2 Command

The struggling Mets’ tailspin continues. Their best performers have been setup man Brooks Raley, middle reliever and closer David Robertson. Grant Hartwig is off to a good start in middle relief. They made a trade with the Mariners early Monday for Trevor Gott, but if his Seattle numbers are any indication, he’ll be decent and little else. Given how much of a mess this group has been, however, “decent” will be a welcome sight.

  1. Chicago White Sox (-3.5, Ninth in AL), No Change from Last Week

-4.6 Clutch, -3.5 Run Prevention, -1.1 Baserunners, -1.2 Command

The White Sox declined in every category. Their top three — setup man Keynan Middleton, setup man Joe Kelly, and closer Kendall Graveman — are performing slightly above average. There is little else to say about this group, so let’s move on.

Lots of Work to Do

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  1. Texas Rangers (-5.8, 10th in AL), +3 from Last Week

-26.0 Clutch, 6.4 Run Prevention, 17.6 Baserunners, 20.4 Command

The addition of Aroldis Chapman via trade with the Kansas City Royals should give this group quite a boost. He will join fellow setup man Josh Sborz and closer Will Smith to give the Rangers a formidable back-end trio. Expect to see their scores continue to improve.

  1. Minnesota Twins (-5.8, 11th in AL), ▼ -7 from Last Week

-15.3 Clutch, 0.7 Run Prevention, 6.6 Baserunners, -0.6 Command

The Brock Stewart injury was a terrible blow to this relief unit and is the main reason for its nosedive. Jhoan Duran is a formidable closer, but he can’t do it all by himself.

(Note: The Rangers and Twins are not tied — they only appear to be due to rounding. The Rangers’ score is -5.75 and the Twins’ score is -5.81.)

  1. Houston Astros (-5.9, 12th in AL), +3 from Last Week

-15.4 Clutch, -0.4 Run Prevention, -1.3 Baserunners, 19.8 Command

Setup man Hector Neris is having a great season. So is middle reliever Phil Maton. Closer Ryan Pressly, along with the rest of the corps, is struggling. They are, however, slowly improving, but unless they go on a big hot streak, they will have a tough time catching the Rangers or holding off the Angels.

  1. Tampa Bay Rays (-6.0, 13th in AL), ▼ -1 from Last Week

-11.1 Clutch, 4.7 Run Prevention, -5.0 Baserunners, -28.4 Command

Positives: middle reliever Jake Diekman, setup man Colin Poche, setup man Jason Adam, and closer Pete Fairbanks. Negatives: the collective performance of everyone else. Don’t be surprised if they make some trade deadline moves. They will have to if they want to avoid another premature postseason flameout.

Stock Up on Tums

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  1. Chicago Cubs (-11.5, 11th in NL), No Change from Last Week

-28.6 Clutch, -0.5 Run Prevention, 4.9 Baserunners, 12.9 Command

Setup men Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. are both going to be hot commodities as the trade deadline nears.

  1. Washington Nationals (-12.8, 12th in NL), +3 from Last Week

-17.8 Clutch, -4.4 Run Prevention, -9.8 Baserunners, -27.6 Command

Kyle Finnegan is going to be in high demand as the trade deadline nears. He’s quietly putting together a nice season. Hunter Harvey also might be going elsewhere, although he’s struggled with clutch as of late.

  1. Colorado Rockies (-13.0, 13th in NL), No Change from Last Week

-15.8 Clutch, -7.1 Run Prevention, -11.5 Baserunners, -26.4 Command

The Rockies are holding serve. Like last week, Daniel Bard is doing well in a setup role. Closer Justin Lawrence only seems to give up runs when the game isn’t close. The rest of the ‘pen is a work in progress.

Pray for a Blowout Win

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  1. San Diego Padres (-15.9, 14th in NL), ▼ -7 from Last Week

-32.4 Clutch, -1.9 Run Prevention, 1.9 Baserunners, -12.3 Command

Even with the return of Tom Cosgrove, the Padres are in a freefall, having dropped every week since these rankings were first published. This is despite the stellar numbers closer Josh Hader has put up this season. With his impending free agency and the Padres’ disappointing play, it is looking more and more likely that he’ll change clubhouses for the second trade deadline in a row.

  1. St Louis Cardinals (-19.3, 15th in NL), +1 from Last Week

-32.5 Clutch, -7.1 Run Prevention, -10.2 Baserunners, -11.7 Command

Setup man Giovanny Gallegos and closer Ryan Helsley are prime Trade Deadline candidates. Setup man Jordan Hicks, who is also putting together a decent campaign, will probably come up as well. The rest of this unit…moving on.

  1. Kansas City Royals (-22.3, 14th in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week

-40.2 Clutch, -7.2 Run Prevention, -13.3 Baserunners, 0.0 Command

Their scores in every category dropped, mostly due to Aroldis Chapman being traded to the Rangers. Next on the rumor mill, Scott Barlow.

  1. Oakland Athletics (-24.9, 15th in AL), No Change from Last Week

-31.6 Clutch, -15.1 Run Prevention, -16.8 Baserunners, -45.7 Command

They’re still in last place, but on the bright side, their scores improved in every category.


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.

Also See:

Week 13 RankingsWeek 12 Rankings, Week 11 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.

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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