Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza, Ep. 5 — April Awards

A mosaic of the March & April Reliever / Bullpen Awards winners as named by Sport Relay
(Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 30: Brock Stewart #61 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Kansas City Royals on March 30, 2024 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 19: Kirby Yates #39 of the Texas Rangers smiles during batting practice before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on April 19, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images) NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: Mason Miller #19 of the Oakland Athletics in action against the New York Yankees during a game at Yankee Stadium on April 25, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Bottom Row, L to R — NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 16: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Reed Garrett #75 of the New York Mets in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field on April 16, 2024 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Pirates 3-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 29: JoJo Romero #59 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the eighth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Kyle Finnegan #67 of the Washington Nationals pitches during a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on April 25, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 9: David Bednar #51 of the Pittsburgh Pirates walks to the dugout after being removed in the ninth inning during the game against the Detroit Tigers at PNC Park on April 9, 2024 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Ber

Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — April 2024 Awards

Welcome to the first monthly awards edition of Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza! These awards are for March and April of the 2024 season. We’ve had some expected results and some surprises. Some key injuries have thrown relief units into disarray. There have been newcomers rising to the top. Seasoned veterans have continued excellence, while some others have appeared to be long in the tooth.

Statistics are from the beginning of the season through the end of play Tuesday, April 30 and exclude position pitchers. To qualify for the leaderboards and for any awards, a pitcher must have at least eight relief appearances. Also, whenever we refer to “April” in this column, it includes March.

Context

To avoid confusion, here is some vital info for context. A Goose Egg inning is seventh inning or later, maximum two-run lead or a tie game. Holding the opponent scoreless yields a Goose Egg (GE); allowing an earned run while not closing out a win gives a Broken Egg (BE). Doing neither yields a Meh (M). When listed together, it is either in the format GE–BE–M or GE–BE. GE/BE = GE per BE.

Additionally, here are league averages for the main statistics.

AL — 1.253 WHIP, 2.8 HR%, 14.4 K–BB%, 72.9% Scoreless Outing Percentage (ScOtg%), 3.5 GE/BE.
NL — 1.302 WHIP, 2.6 HR%, 13.1 K–BB%, 70.9 ScOtg%, 3.0 GE/BE.
These scoreless outing percentages only count a run against a pitcher if it is an earned run.
K–BB% = Strikeout percentage minus walk percentage.

Now, before we get into the rankings, let’s hand out the awards!

Sport Relay Team Reliever and Bullpen Awards, March & April 2024

Relief Corps of the Month (AL), March/April

Oakland Athletics
6.0 GE/BE (24–4), 75.3 ScOtg%, 1.047 WHIP, 1.5 HR%, 18.1 K–BB%

Shakiest Relief Corps of the Month (AL), March/April

Los Angeles Angels
2.2 GE/BE (13–6), 66.7 ScOtg%, 1.393 WHIP, 3.5 HR%, 10.0 K–BB%

Relief Corps of the Month (NL), March/April

New York Mets
6.0 GE/BE (24–4), 77.1 ScOtg%, 1.111 WHIP, 1.5 HR%, 20.0 K–BB%

Shakiest Relief Corps of the Month (NL), March/April

Miami Marlins
1.3 GE/BE (10–8), 65.7 ScOtg%, 1.516 WHIP, 2.1 HR%, 11.4 K–BB%

Sport Relay Individual Reliever and Bullpen Awards, March & April 2024

AL Middle Reliever of the Month, March/April

Justin Slaten, Boston Red Sox
Slaten made 10 relief appearances in April, holding opponents scoreless in nine of them. Additionally, he had a 0.577 WHIP, a 20.0 K–BB%, and did not allow a home run.

NL Middle Reliever of the Month, March/April

Reed Garrett, New York Mets
Garrett did not allow an earned run in eight of his nine April appearances (88.9%). He added a 0.957 WHIP, a 34.4 K–BB%, and stranded all five baserunners he inherited.

AL Setup Man of the Month, March/April

Brock Stewart, Minnesota Twins
No runner crossed the plate with Brock Stewart on the mound during the entire month. He was a perfect 12-for-12 in scoreless outings and stranded all three of his inherited runners. In Goose Egg innings, he was a perfect 8–0–0. Throw in a 1.054 WHIP, no home runs allowed, and a 22.9 K–BB%? You have a lights-out setup man and the AL Setup Man of the month.

NL Setup Man of the Month, March/April

JoJo Romero, St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals struggled through March and April (14–16), but JoJo Romero did not. He was 6–0–0 in Goose Egg innings and held opponents scoreless in 12 of his 14 appearances (85.7%). In addition, he had a 26.9 K–BB% and an eye-popping 0.545 WHIP.

AL Closer of the Month, March/April

Kirby Yates, Texas Rangers
The AL had a few stellar closers in April, but Yates was the best of them all. He was a perfect 11-for-11 in scoreless outings, 11–0–0 in Goose Egg innings, and stranded all six inherited runners. Additionally, he had a 26.2 K–BB% and 0.500 WHIP.

NL Closer of the Month, March/April

Kyle Finnegan, Washington Nationals
Despite a higher-than-average home run percentage (4.3%), Kyle Finnegan was the NL Closer of the Month for April. He had a 0.973 WHIP, was 12-for-13 in scoreless outings (earned runs only, 92.3%), and — most importantly — was 9–1–1 in Goose Egg innings for a 9.0 GE/BE ratio.

Biggest Positive Surprise, March/April

Mason Miller, Oakland Athletics Closer
Initially, Craig Kimbrel of the Baltimore Orioles was in the running for this with his “Hey, what a bounceback!” start to the season. But in the last few games, he came crashing back to Earth, so this award goes to Mason Miller.

Miller was a starter when the Athletics called him up in 2023. The fireballer (100-mph guaranteed) made six starts before going on the injured list with a strained UCL. When he returned, the Athletics made him their closer, and it has worked out splendidly. Miller made 11 appearances in April, putting up a zero on the scoreboard in 10 of them. He was a perfect 8–0–0 in Goose Egg innings and had an 0.825 WHIP. Most impressive, however, were his strikeouts. In 13 1/3 innings, he has faced 51 batters. Of the 51, 28 struck out — a mind-boggling 54.9%. He has only walked four, making for a 47.1 K–BB%. That isn’t even fair.

Biggest Negative Surprise, March/April

David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates Closer
Bednar spent the entire 2023 season at or near the top of the NL Closer leaderboard. For the first month of 2024, however, he has been at the very bottom. He had more appearances (12) than innings pitched (10), something that is never good for a closer. Only half of his appearances were scoreless, well below average (70.9% for the NL) and miles away from a top closer. His WHIP (1.600) is 300 points higher than the league average. Goose Egg innings? 2–4–0, a ratio of 0.5 Goose Eggs to Broken Eggs. His home run percentage is also concerning: a whopping 6.0%.

Sport Relay Reliever and Bullpen Rankings, March & April 2024

Brief Rankings Explanation

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.)

Team Rankings, 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. (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. We will begin with the team rankings.

Overall leaderboards, Mar and Apr 2024. AL (red) on the left; NL (blue) on the right.

Team Reliever and Bullpen Rankings, March & April 2024

The Elites

1. New York Mets (44.7, First in NL)
72.3 Clutch, 11.5 Run Prevention, 19.2 Baserunners, 52.9 Command
2. Oakland Athletics (32.3, First in AL)
50.2 Clutch, 10.5 Run Prevention, 19.3 Baserunners, 31.9 Command
3. Detroit Tigers (30.8, Second in AL)
53.6 Clutch, 8.6 Run Prevention, 12.2 Baserunners, -4.9 Command

Better Take an Early Lead…

4. San Diego Padres (27.70109, rounded to 27.7, Second in NL)
53.3 Clutch, 1.3 Run Prevention, 4.1 Baserunners, 3.1 Command
5. Cleveland Guardians (27.66957, rounded to 27.7, Third in AL)
34.2 Clutch, 17.1 Run Prevention, 19.8 Baserunners, 52.2 Command
6. New York Yankees (25.8, Fourth in AL)
48.3 Clutch, 3.7 Run Prevention, 14.3 Baserunners, -21.8 Command
7. Milwaukee Brewers (25.6, Third in NL)
45.7 Clutch, 6.0 Run Prevention, 4.4 Baserunners, 3.7 Command

The Very Good

8. St Louis Cardinals (19.6, Fourth in NL)
33.6 Clutch, 2.2 Run Prevention, 2.6 Baserunners, 35.6 Command
9. Seattle Mariners (18.2, Fifth in AL)
21.8 Clutch, 11.2 Run Prevention, 17.3 Baserunners, 33.0 Command
10. Chicago Cubs (17.4, Fifth in NL)
39.4 Clutch, -3.3 Run Prevention, -1.3 Baserunners, -20.1 Command
11. Tampa Bay Rays (15.4, Sixth in AL)
44.2 Clutch, -8.7 Run Prevention, -20.5 Baserunners, -33.6 Command

Slightly above Average

12. Kansas City Royals (5.4, Seventh in AL)
4.8 Clutch, 15.3 Run Prevention, -3.4 Baserunners, -41.0 Command
13. Washington Nationals (2.4, Sixth in NL)
5.8 Clutch, 1.4 Run Prevention, -6.2 Baserunners, -7.7 Command

The Average

14. San Francisco Giants (1.9, Seventh in NL)
14.8 Clutch, -13.0 Run Prevention, -6.2 Baserunners, -7.6 Command
15. Atlanta Braves (1.8, Eighth in NL)
-9.7 Clutch, 12.3 Run Prevention, 8.5 Baserunners, 30.1 Command
16. Los Angeles Dodgers (–0.5, Ninth in NL)
-3.8 Clutch, 0.9 Run Prevention, 10.4 Baserunners, 1.7 Command
17. Texas Rangers (–2.1, Eighth in AL)
-3.3 Clutch, -1.7 Run Prevention, 0.6 Baserunners, 2.7 Command

Slightly Below Average

18. Philadelphia Phillies (–2.4, 10th in NL)
1.5 Clutch, -8.8 Run Prevention, -8.7 Baserunners, 15.4 Command
19. Minnesota Twins (–3.8, Ninth in AL)
-11.9 Clutch, -2.9 Run Prevention, 6.8 Baserunners, 49.8 Command
20. Boston Red Sox (–5.1, 10th in AL)
-11.9 Clutch, -1.0 Run Prevention, 3.1 Baserunners, 18.6 Command
21. Toronto Blue Jays (–5.3, 11th in AL)
0.2 Clutch, -7.3 Run Prevention, -16.8 Baserunners, -22.9 Command

Lots of Work to Do

22. Cincinnati Reds (–7.1, 11th in NL)
-23.1 Clutch, 11.6 Run Prevention, 0.7 Baserunners, 6.5 Command
23. Pittsburgh Pirates (–7.5, 12th in NL)
-18.9 Clutch, 3.3 Run Prevention, 2.6 Baserunners, 10.2 Command

Stock Up on Tums

24. Baltimore Orioles (–11.5, 12th in AL)
-28.4 Clutch, 1.3 Run Prevention, 4.1 Baserunners, 35.5 Command
25. Colorado Rockies (–12.1, 13th in NL)
-8.9 Clutch, -9.3 Run Prevention, -18.3 Baserunners, -52.1 Command
26. Arizona Diamondbacks (–18.9, 14th in NL)
-26.6 Clutch, -9.4 Run Prevention, -0.3 Baserunners, -45.2 Command

Pray for a Blowout Win

27. Houston Astros (–24.1, 13th in AL)
-41.3 Clutch, -4.6 Run Prevention, -15.0 Baserunners, -7.9 Command
28. Chicago White Sox (–27.2, 14th in AL)
-36.2 Clutch, -13.3 Run Prevention, -23.7 Baserunners, -42.4 Command
29. Los Angeles Angels (–27.5, 15th in AL)
-39.5 Clutch, -13.6 Run Prevention, -16.0 Baserunners, -26.8 Command
30. Miami Marlins (–32.2, 15th in NL)
-55.9 Clutch, -7.3 Run Prevention, -10.3 Baserunners, -13.1 Command

Category Boards

Clutch leaderboards, Mar and Apr 2024. AL (red) on the left; NL (blue) on the right.
Run Prevention leaderboards, Mar and Apr 2024. AL (red) on the left; NL (blue) on the right.
Baserunner prevention leaderboards, Mar and Apr 2024. AL (red) on the left; NL (blue) on the right.
Command leaderboards, Mar and Apr 2024. AL (red) on the left; NL (blue) on the right.

Sport Relay Individual Reliever and Bullpen Rankings, March & April 2024

Top Ten/Top Five Lists

Middle Relievers (AL), top ten, for March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Setup Men (AL), top ten, for March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Closers (AL), top five, for March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Middle Men (NL), top ten, for March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Setup Men (NL), top ten, for March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Closers (NL), top five, for March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.

Full Leaderboards

Closers (AL), full leaderboard, March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Setup Men (AL), full leaderboard, March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Middle Relievers (AL), full leaderboard, March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Closers (NL), full leaderboard, March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Setup Men (NL), full leaderboard, March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.
Middle Relievers (NL), full leaderboard, March / April 2024. Minimum of 8 total relief appearances.

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 don’t really 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%.

Back to the rankings.

Also See:

Week 4 Individual Rankings, Week 5 Individual Rankings.

Main Photo:

The main photo is a mosaic of the following images.

Top row, L to R:

Embed from Getty Images
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Bottom row, L to R:
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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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