Every offseason, MLB Network runs through a series of programming. One such show is about the Top 10 Right Now at each position. And as we have done in both 2018 and 2019, we will go over our Top 10 Relief Pitchers Right Now.
Just a quick note about this list, it is a personal list, and everyone will value different things from each position. So I encourage you to make your own list and see who makes the cut on your list.
10. Nick Anderson- Tampa Bay Rays
In researching this list, a name continued to pop up that I was surprised by Nick Anderson. Using a filter of 65 innings pitched over the last two seasons (using FanGraphs), Anderson’s name was among the top in several categories. The Rays’ road just became easier as the Red Sox shipped Mookie Betts away. But regardless, Tampa’s postseason efforts will be pushed forward by Nick Anderson.
9. Liam Hendriks- Oakland Athletics
Liam Hendriks is one of the relief pitchers that I will be paying close attention to in 2020. The Australian born Right-Hander has been in the Major League for nine seasons. But it was in 2019 that Hendriks indeed established himself. An ERA of 1.80 and a FIP not too far behind (1.87), Hendriks would be one of the more reliable Relief Pitchers in baseball. The Oakland A’s have made the AL Wild Card game in both of the past two seasons. And Liam Hendriks was a big part of both. In 2017, Liam served as the A’s Opener. Oakland will look to capitalize in the AL West, and Liam Hendriks will play a significant role.
8. Edwin Diaz- New York Mets
When the Mets acquired Edwin Diaz, it seemed as if the Mets were primed to make a serious postseason run. But in 2019, Diaz took a step back from his monstrous 2018 campaign. Edwin Diaz would still maintain an insane Strikeout per 9 rate of 15.4 by striking out 99 batters in just 58 innings of work. Diaz has the potential to bounce back and pitch more like 2018 than 2019, and that bodes well for the Mets.
7. Dellin Betances- New York Mets
Dellin Betances dealt with a lost season in 2019. And going into the 2020 season, Betances will still be recovering from an Achilles injury. But that won’t negate the fact that when healthy and pitching, Betances is among the best relievers in baseball. During Dellin’s eight-year Major League career, Betances has struck out 621 batters in 381.2 with an ERA of 2.36. Dellin is likely going to miss a chunk of the season, but when he returns is going to be a game-changer for the New York Mets.
6. Adam Ottavino- New York Yankees
Adam Ottavino revitalized his career just a couple of seasons ago. And that change, lead Ottavino to the Bronx. In 2019, Ottavino would turn in an ERA of 1.90 with a Left on Base Percentage (LOB%) of 87.8%. For Adam, the change would turn him into a dominant relief pitcher who’s ERA+ would be 235. Now the walk total & percentage for Ottavino would be high, and that keeps him outside of the Top 5 Relief Pitchers Right Now. But Adam Ottavino is among the ten 10 without question.
5. Chad Green- New York Yankees
Quietly, amongst the well-known names in the Yankee bullpen, Chad Green has been an unsung hero. Chad Green has been a solid contributor for a consistent postseason contender in the New York Yankees. Over his four-year career, Green has produced an ERA of 3.16 across 259.1 innings of work (split between relieving and “opening.”) Green has also struck out 347 batters in those 259.1 innings of work. There’s little doubt that the Yankee bullpen has been a strength, and Chad Green has contributed to that in a significant way over the past several seasons. And 2020 is likely to be no different for the Yankee right-hander.
4. Kirby Yates- San Diego, Padres
A name that casual fans may not even be aware of because he pitches in San Diego is Kirby Yates. Yates has been on a steady incline when it comes to his talents as a reliever. Since joining the San. Diego Padres, Yates, has lowered his ERA and his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) every season. Kirby Yates would also save a National League best 41 Saves in 2019 while being named an All-Star for the first time. The 2020 season begins Kirby Yates will be among the Top 10 Relief Pitchers Right Now.
3. Zack Britton- New York Yankees
Zack Britton was seen only as a groundball sinker type pitcher. But over his year and a half in New York, Britton has developed into more. Zack Britton has been one of the more steady relievers over the years. And in 2019, Britton produced an ERA of 1.91 in 61.1 innings of work. As 2020 nears, Britton will be the primary setup man for the Yankees. And with that will come many opportunities for Britton to demonstrate his abilities.
2. Aroldis Chapman- New York Yankees
The Yankees closer comes in at number two on my list of Top 10 Relief Pitchers Right Now. Aroldis Chapman has been a standout amongst Relief Pitchers throughout much of his decade long Major League career. The Cuban Missile is consistently above 100 mph with his fastball. And even though there are now a plethora of Relief Pitchers that reach over 100 mph, Chapman’s fastball remains different. Chapman is getting older, and with that aging comes the potential for regression. In 2019, however, Aroldis showed no signs with an ERA of 2.21, a FIP of 2.28, and 85 Strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. And there’s little reason to believe 2020 will be hugely different for this reliever.
1. Josh Hader- Milwaukee Brewers
This leads us to the number one reliever in the game today, Josh Hader. Josh Hader is going into his age 26 season. And over his 3-Year Major League career, Hader has been downright filthy. 349 batters struck out in only 204.2 innings pitched. Add in that over those 3 years, Hader’s ERA has never been more than 2.62 and increased his strikeouts per 9 every season. (Year ~ K/9, 2017 ~12.84, 2018 ~15.82, 2019 ~16.41.) Josh Hader also proved incredibly valuable as he left an astounding 93.2% of batters on base last season. All of these numbers paint the picture that Josh Hader is the number one among the Top 10 Relief Pitchers Right Now in MLB.