Over the last few years, more emphasis has been placed on bullpen performance than ever before in baseball. You can’t win without a productive offense. You won’t contend for a World Series without solid starting pitching. However, even with those two elements you still need a shutdown group of relievers if you are going to win at the highest level. The majority of teams with bad bullpens have learned that the hard way this season. However, there is one team in particular that has managed to persevere for the most part despite a brutal relief staff. Here is a look at the worst bullpens in baseball so far this season.
The Nationals own the best record in the National League East despite owning the worst bullpen ERA in the majors. Washington’s 5.20 ERA is the worst mark recorded by a group of relievers in all of baseball this season. Shawn Kelly struggled in the closer role. Koda Glover wasn’t much better. Matt Albers clearly wasn’t the answer either. The Nationals took a shot on Francisco Rodriguez with the hope that he could finally solidify the closer role but even then they still need a ton of help. Washington has the offense and starting pitching to contend for a World Series title. However, they won’t win a championship until they shore up the worst bullpen in the majors. The Cubs made their move to acquire Jose Quintana. We’ll see if the Nats counter by finding someone to shore up the late innings. They need a couple of quality arms.
Detroit has failed to live up to expectations as a potential contender in the American League this season for several different reasons. One of the worst bullpens in the majors has definitely been part of the problem. The Tigers bullpen has produced a 5.04 ERA, which is the second-worst in baseball behind only Washington. Justin Wilson has been solid in the closer role and Shane Greene has been great as a setup man. However, the rest of their core group has really struggled including Alex Wilson, Chad Bell and Blaine Hardy. Detroit could be close to blowing things up for a total rebuild. Eventually, they will need to improve their bullpen.
New York Mets
The Mets bullpen is right behind Detroit as one of the worst in the majors with a 5.03 ERA this season. Losing closer Jeurys Familia to injury has been a big part of the problem. Addison Reed has been solid in the closer role, but the depth behind him is thin. New York won’t contend for a playoff spot in 2017. They will need to make improvements for 2018 even with Familia expected to be back in the fold.
There are several reasons why the Athletics have one of the worst records in the majors and a terrible bullpen is one of them. Oakland’s relievers have produced a 4.97 ERA that is the fourth-worst mark in the majors this season. Santiago Casilla has struggled with consistency in the closer role. However, he has still been the best option in a thin group. The Athletics should be major players before the upcoming MLB trade deadline. They will eventually need to address a bullpen group that isn’t good enough for a team that wants to get back to the playoffs in 2018.
The fact that the Twins are just 2.5 games back of the Cleveland Indians for the AL Central lead is a testament to how terrible the division has been this season. Minnesota owns a minus-60 run differential at the All-Star Break. Their pitching staff ranks 27th in the majors with a 4.89 ERA. The bullpen in particular has been terrible as the relievers have produced a 4.83 ERA so far this season. There is a good chance that the Twins falter over the second half and eventually fall below the .500 mark. With one of the worst bullpens in the majors, Minnesota is still far from contending for a playoff spot despite its position in the AL Central.
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