Every year the MLB Network has a Top Ten Right Now series at every Position and here I will breakdown my top 10 at every position. Some you may agree with and some you might not everyone’s list would probably be different in some way shape or form and that’s the beauty of baseball always something to debate. The game is going to the bullpen and so will I my list for the Top 10 Relievers Right Now.
#10 DELLIN BETANCES
Dellin had an up and down season in 2017 but his “stuff” is undeniable. Betances’ slider is his best pitch and he used it a lot nearly 54% of the time. Betances through his career has had some control issues as evidenced by his 6.64 BB/9 (Walks per 9 innings) in 2017. Betances is a strong candidate to have a bounce back lock down season in 2018 and as a Yankee fan I’m looking forward to watching him work the high leverage outs in 2018.
#9 AROLDIS CHAPMAN
Up next the flame throwing lefty Chapman, like Betances did have a bit of an up and down season in the Bronx in 2017. Even to the point of losing his closer role late Summer. However, down the stretch Chapman regained his momentum and helped the Yankees get within 1 game of the World Series. 2018 looks to be no different for Chapman and his 100MPH+ fastball.
#8 TOMMY KAHNLE
So if you haven’t figured it out by now the New York Yankees have an amazing bullpen. So as a Yankee fan I watched a lot of this bullpen coming down the stretch and into the playoffs, and the guy that I’m very curious to see for a full season is Kahnle. Kahnle pitched too the tune of a 2.70 era, and had a LOB% of 81.5%, meaning people were not scoring on Kahnle. Tommy will have a rover type role in 2018 and in working those high leverage situations Kahnle will be able to get crucial outs for the Yankees
#7 PAT NESHEK
Neshek the “Side Arm Slinger” had a very impressive year for the Phillies and Rockies in 2017. Neshek posted an era of 1.59 with a 1.86 FIP. Neshek resigned on with the Philadelphia Phillies and will be a big part of a developing team. Neshek will help a young Philly bullpen mature into Major League Relievers.
#6 DAVID ROBERTSON
Yes another Yankee, David Robertson of as he is affectionately known in the Bronx “Houdini”, Robertson had an incredible LOB% of 89.4. Nearly 90% of runners do not come around to score on Robertson. Robertson has been everything for the Yankees over his two stints in the Bronx, from middle relief to setup to closer and now much like Kahnle will have more of a rover role and deal with high leverage. Something that “Houdini” knows just how to deal with
#5 COREY KNEBEL
Corey Knebel the unknown man in the bullpen had an outstanding season in 2017. The Brewers were in the hunt of a playoff spot for a majority of the season thus giving Knebel a bit more spotlight. Knebel had an era of 1.78, a K/9 of 14.92, and a LOB% of 91.9. That’s real run prevention. Knebel will now be playing with a much better defense behind him after the acquisitions of Christian Yellich and Lorenzo Cain. So Knebel’s 2018 #’s might be even better.
#4 CHAD GREEN
Yup one more, Chad Green had an inconceivable season that came literally out of nowhere. Green was set to begin the 2017 Spring Training battling for the 5th starter job. Eventually his spring didn’t turn out that well and thus found himself in the bullpen. And boy how fortuitous a move it would be. Green had a era of 1.61, a FIP of 1.75, a K/9 of 13.43, a K% of 41%, a LOB% of 85.6% and among qualifying relievers the 5th best ERA+ of 37. Green will go into 2018 Spring Training again as a potential “Starter” but his greatness from last season can not be undersold.
#3 ANDREW MILLER
Miller has been a beast in the bullpen the last few years and though 2017 he dealt with some injuries Miller was still dominate. An era of 1.44 and a LOB% of 87% Miller did extremely well in preventing runs. In 2018 Miller looks to be healthy and that doesn’t bode well for batters in the American League.
#2 CRAIG KIMBREL
Kimbrel has been on of my favorite relievers since he came into the league with Atlanta. Kimbel has had some ups and downs and battle with injuries in his career but there is no denying that when healthy he can be one of the best in the game. In 2017 Kimbrel lead all relievers in K/9 with 16.43 K/9, that is 1.35 K/9 per than the second place reliever (Dellin Betances) in that category. Kimbrel also had the second best reliever era in 2017 with a 1.43 era and had a strikeout percentage of 49.6%. Kimbrel gets them K’s.
#1 KENLEY JANSEN
And my number one reliever in the game is Kenley Jansen. Jansen had the lowest era of 1.32. Jansen also had a K/9 of 14.36 while amassing a BB/9 (Base on Balls/ per 9 innings) of .92. Jansen also sports the best strikeout to walk rate (K/BB) for all relief pitchers in 2017 with a 15.57 K/BB. Jansen has proven to be durable and capable of pitching across multiple innings if needed and still dominating.