Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 20 Individual Rankings

Felix Bautista of the Baltimore Orioles, the top AL closer in the August 23 Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza Individual Rankings
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Reliever Roundup & Bullpen Bonanza — Week 20 Individual Rankings

We are near the end of Week 20 of the season. Here are the top ten individual relievers in each league. But these rankings take it to a different level than the other reliever rankings you’ve seen. We will separate our rankings by closers, setup men, and middle relievers. (We’re not going to worry about ranking long relievers.)

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, including the full leaderboards, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to get back to you.)

Setup Men and Closers

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%).

Middle Relievers

Run Prevention (60%), Baserunner Prevention (26%), Command (14%)

Totaling Up the Scores

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.

In addition, a player must have at least 20 relief appearances to qualify for these rankings.

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

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

Week 20 Individual Reliever Rankings

AL Middle Relievers

*26.9 with TB and -11.2 with PIT.

Shawn Armstrong of the Tampa Bay Rays takes over the top ranking with an overall score of 42.3. The injured Brock Stewart of the Minnesota Twins is in second with an overall score of 37.2. Third place goes to Tim Mayza of the Toronto Blue Jays, with a score of 28.9. Gabe Speier of the Seattle Mariners and Tyler Holton of the Detroit Tigers are fourth and fifth with scores of 27.3 and 25.8, respectively. Coming in sixth is Danny Coulombe of the Baltimore Orioles with a score of 25.5. Seventh and eighth place go to Nick Pivetta of the Boston Red Sox and Ian Hamilton of the New York Yankees. Their scores are 22.2 and 21.9, respectively. Robert Stephenson of the Rays — who began the season with the Pittsburgh Pirates — and Trevor Richards of the Blue Jays round out the top ten. They came in at 15.71 and 15.68, respectively, both rounded to 15.7.

AL Setup Men

*80.0 with KCR and 58.1 with TEX.

Matt Moore of the Los Angeles Angels leads the AL setup men with an overall score of 162.9. Runner-up Erik Swanson of the Blue Jays is second with an overall score of 147.7. Another Oriole, Yennier Cano, holds third place with a score of 140.8. Aroldis Chapman of the Texas Rangers, who began the season with the Kansas City Royals, is in fourth with a combined total of 138.1 between his two teams. Fifth place is Jason Foley of the Tigers (126.4). In sixth is Chris Martin of the Red Sox with 120.3. Coming in seventh is Justin Topa of the Mariners, scoring 119.7. Hector Neris of the Houston Astros, Trevor Stephan of the Cleveland Guardians, and Matt Brash of the Mariners round out the top ten. Their scores are 109.0, 105.5, and 90.1, respectively.

AL Closers

*Paul Sewald had 149.9 with SEA before being traded to ARI 7/31.

The leading closer is Felix Bautista of the Orioles, who scored 243.5. Number two is Alex Lange of the Tigers, who scored 148.4. Will Smith of the Rangers and Carlos Estevez of the Angels are third and fourth with scores of 102.9 and 101.7, respectively. Emmanuel Clase of the Guardians rounds out the top five with a score of 97.8. In sixth is Jhoan Duran of the Twins (97.5), followed by Clay Holmes of the Yankees (93.4). Ryan Pressly of the Astros, with a score of 90.3, is in eighth. Kenley Jansen of the Red Sox and Jordan Romano of the Blue Jays finish off the top ten. Their scores are 90.1 and 78.7, respectively.

NL Middle Relievers

Of NL middle relievers with at least 20 appearances, Ryan Brasier of the Los Angeles Dodgers comes in first with a score of 37.5. Andrew Nardi of the Miami Marlins (26.4) comes in second. Third and fourth belong to the injured Jesse Chavez (26.3) of the Atlanta Braves and Angel Perdomo of the Pirates (24.5). Jordan Weems of the Washington Nationals (22.3) rounds out the top five. Another Marlin, Steven Okert (21.5), is in sixth, while Jeff Hoffman of the Philadelphia Phillies (21.4) is narrowly in seventh. Taylor Rogers of the San Francisco Giants is in eighth with a score of 19.1. A.J. Puk of the Marlins (18.2) and Matt Koch of the Colorado Rockies (18.0) complete the top ten.

NL Setup Men

Joel Payamps of the Milwaukee Brewers leads all eligible NL setup men with a score of 158.1. Tyler Rogers of the Giants — twin brother of Taylor — is in second (129.0). Tanner Scott of the Marlins is third with 107.4. Fourth and fifth are Lucas Sims of the Cincinnati Reds and Mark Leiter Jr. of the Chicago Cubs, with scores of 98.7 and 82.2, respectively. Caleb Ferguson of the Dodgers is sixth, scoring 74.6. At seventh and eighth are Colin Holderman of the Pirates and Hunter Harvey of the Nationals. Their scores are 71.7 and 65.4, respectively. Gregory Soto of the Phillies and Brusdar Graterol of the Dodgers finish off the top ten with scores of 61.3 and 58.3, respectively.

NL Closers

The highest-scoring closer in the NL by a wide margin is Devin Williams of the Brewers, with a score of 301.3. Alexis Diaz of the Reds is the runner-up, with 171.7, while Raisel Iglesias of the Braves is third, scoring 166.0. David Bednar of the Pirates is fourth, with Paul Sewald of the Arizona Diamondbacks in fifth. Their scores are 147.4 and 143.6, respectively, with Sewald’s total including the points he earned with the Mariners before the July 31 trade. In sixth and seventh are Kyle Finnegan of the Nationals (122.0) and Josh Hader of the San Diego Padres (118.6). Giovanny Gallegos of the St. Louis Cardinals is eighth (117.4). Rounding out the top ten are Camilo Doval of the Giants and Evan Phillips of the Dodgers. Their respective scores are 107.1 and 106.6, respectively.

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.

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%.

Click here for the full database of these stats.

League Averages for This Week

At the end of play Wednesday, July 26, AL averages were 3.0 GE/BE, 3.8 (rounded) GE, 71.2 ScOtg%, 32.5 IS%, 97 ERA–, 1.303 WHIP, 2.7 HR%, 14.3 K–BB%.

NL averages were 3.2 GE/BE, 3.6 (rounded) GE, 71.9 ScOtg%, 30.5 IS%, 96 ERA–, 1.320 WHIP, 2.7 HR%, 13.9 K–BB%.

Click here to return to the rankings.

Full Leaderboards

Full Board of AL Middle Men. Minimum 20 relief appearances.
Full board of AL Setup Men, min. 20 relief appearances.
Full board of AL Closers, min. 20 relief appearances.
Full board of NL Middle Men, min. 20 relief appearances.
Full board of NL Setup Men, min. 20 relief appearances.
Full board of NL Closers, min. 20 relief appearances.
AL Middle Men who have played for more than one team. Min. 20 relief appearances, must be on the current roster of an AL team.
NL Middle Men who have played for more than one team. Min. 20 relief appearances, must be on the current roster of an NL team.
AL Setup Men who have played for more than one team. Min. 20 relief appearances, must be on the current roster of an AL team.
NL Setup Men who have played for more than one team. Min. 20 relief appearances, must be on the current roster of an NL team.
NL Closers who have played for more than one team. Min. 20 relief appearances, must be on the current roster of an NL team. (Note: There aren’t any multi-team closers currently on an AL team.)

Also See:

Week 16 Individual Rankings, Week 19 Team Rankings (Midweek Update), Week 18 Team Rankings, Week 16 Team Rankings (Midweek Update), Week 15/All-Star Break Team Rankings

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

Share "Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 20 Individual Rankings" on social media:
More General Baseball News
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.

Order Evan's book at
Follow Evan on Twitter: @evan_m_thompson
Support Evan on Patreon:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *