Relievers’ year-to-year inconsistency makes bullpen projections quite difficult, but here we go anyways.
Chicago has plenty of talented pitchers throughout its ‘pen, and all are capable of getting big outs, but they do lack a frontline closer. President Theo Epstein let Wade Davis walk to the Rockies this offseason and replaced him with righty Brandon Morrow. Morrow was very effective as the Dodgers’ set-up man last year, but has been injury prone and inconsistent over the years. Can he hold up over a full season as he approaches his 34th birthday?
The Dodgers figure to have another nasty pen, even without Morrow. Kenley Jansen is consistently one of the three best relievers in baseball, and the Dodgers always manage to support him with plenty of live arms.
The Brewers and Rockies enter 2018 with two of the more interesting pens in the NL. Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel finished with a 1.78 ERA last year and led the NL with nearly 15 strikeouts per nine innings. Bridging the gap between the starters and Knebel are several interesting arms, including fire-breathing lefty Josh Hader, who threw his fastball over 81 percent of the time in 2017.
Colorado, meanwhile, hopes their bullpen is more than interesting after dumping $106 million on the last three innings of games. Davis was effective in 2017, but not nearly as dominant as he was from 2014-16 with Kansas City. Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw, Adam Ottavino, and Mike Dunn form a solid set-up crew at their best, but all four have flaws and are over 30 years old. The pieces are there, but it could blow up just as easily.
And in Washington, the Nationals enter the season with one of their more settled bullpens in recent memory. No Drew Storen drama, no major offseason transactions, no spring training closer battles. The Nats figure to ride the Sean Doolittle–Ryan Madson–Brandon Kintzler trio of last season, with a mix of Joaquin Benoit, Enny Romero, Koda Glover, Shawn Kelley, and Sammy Solis filling out the rest of the group. Not necessarily a dynamic crew, but certainly potent enough to survive the regular season crawl and hold down leads in October.
|Los Angeles||3.66 ERA|
|San Fran.||3.69 ERA|
|St. Louis||3.82 ERA|