As teams plan out their post-lockout needs, most are probably looking to the bullpen as an area that could use further help. With the number of relievers clubs deploy throughout a season, essentially all of them could be well-served to stockpile depth in the middle innings.
The most straightforward path to doing that is via free agency, and there are still a number of options from which to choose. Using MLBTR’s free agent list, we find 58 available arms who tossed at least 20 innings of relief last season. Some, like longtime Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, are notable enough to command a significant multi-year guarantee. Many others figure to settle for one-year deals with a low base salary or perhaps minor league contracts with a Spring Training invite.
Who should be priority targets coming out of the transactions freeze? As we did with rotation options last week, we’ll sort the remaining free agent relievers by various metrics of 2021 performance to identify some of the top arms. There are obviously other factors for teams to consider — quality of raw stuff, pre-2021 track record, the player’s injury history, etc. — but a brief snapshot on the top bullpen arms by last year’s performance should provide a decent starting point. (All figures cited, including league averages, are looking solely at pitchers’ outings as relievers).
ERA (league average — 4.17)
- Andrew Chafin (LHP), 1.83
- Collin McHugh (RHP), 1.90
- Jimmy Nelson (RHP), 1.98*
- Jesse Chavez (RHP), 2.03
- Kenley Jansen (RHP), 2.22
- Juan Minaya (RHP), 2.48
- Hunter Strickland (RHP), 2.61
- Ryan Tepera (RHP), 2.79
- Ross Detwiler (LHP), 2.82
- Joe Kelly (RHP), 2.86
Strikeout Rate (league average — 24%)
- Jimmy Nelson, 38%
- Heath Hembree (RHP), 34.2%
- Jake Diekman (LHP), 31.7%
- Brad Boxberger (RHP), 31.2%
- Kenley Jansen, 30.9%
- Ryan Tepera, 30.8%
- Collin McHugh, 30.1%
- Jesse Chavez, 29.5%
- Ross Detwiler, 28.2%
- Jeurys Familia (RHP), 27.5%
Strikeout/Walk Rate Differential (league average — 14.2 percentage points)
- Jimmy Nelson, 27.8 points
- Collin McHugh, 24.8 points
- Heath Hembree, 24.3 points
- Ryan Tepera, 22.9 points
- Jesse Chavez, 21.9 points
- Brad Boxberger, 21.8 points
- Ian Kennedy (RHP), 19.7 points
- Joe Kelly, 19.2 points
- Ross Detwiler, 19.1 points
- Jake Diekman, 18.7 points
Ground-ball Rate (league average — 43.1%)
- Joe Kelly, 58.9%
- Brandon Kintzler (RHP), 58.5%
- Archie Bradley (RHP), 55.7%
- Alex Colomé (RHP), 53.7%
- Juan Minaya, 53%
- Alex Claudio (LHP), 52%
- Jeurys Familia, 51%
- Steve Cishek (RHP), 49.7%
- Edgar Santana (RHP), 49.6%
- Robert Gsellman (RHP), 49.4%
FIP (league average — 4.17)
- Jesse Chavez, 1.75
- Jimmy Nelson, 1.82
- Collin McHugh, 2.29
- Ryan Tepera, 2.73
- Andrew Chafin, 2.98
- Joe Kelly, 3.08
- Kenley Jansen, 3.08
- Ross Detwiler, 3.28
- Conner Greene (RHP), 3.46
- Chris Martin (RHP), 3.47
- Yusmeiro Petit (RHP), 78
- Hansel Robles (RHP), 69
- Kenley Jansen, 69
- Andrew Chafin, 68 2/3
- Steve Cishek, 68 1/3
- Alex Colomé, 65
- Brad Hand, 64 2/3
- Brad Boxberger, 64 2/3
- Richard Rodríguez (RHP), 64 1/3
- Adam Ottavino (RHP), 62
* Nelson underwent season-ending elbow surgery last August; his health status for 2022 remains unclear.
Hopefully someone forwards this to Dave Dombrowski……
Historically the Phillies have not been in the postseason consistently. They had two solid runs that both resulted in two pennants and a World Series title (1976-1983 and 2007-2011) but otherwise it has just been random, stand-alone years.
@48-team MLB Sorry. What does this have to do with the price of fish? I mean it’s 100% accurate (I’ve suffered through it), but has little to do with the fact that the Phillies need relievers.
@VonPurpleHays, I often find people who are the first reply to the first comment have no interest in the topic being discussed, but instead want to make some other point and make the post about themselves. It’s the narcissist’s position in the thread.
Beyond that, the one consistent weakness in DD’s career has been building bullpens. It mattered less years ago, but having a strong bullpen is critical to any team that wants to succeed today.
You mean like you just did? DD is not mentioned in this post anywhere.
That said… I will be surprised if Kelley Jansen is on any other roster than the Dodgers.
DD was mentioned by the first comment. That’s why @RobM is discussing him.
Historically, I have been following the Phillies since kindergarten @1975 and you are correct. And I lived through the late 80’s until 2000 as well, Greg Jefferies I am looking at you…..
It has been a semi-painful experience…..still wouldn’t trade it to be born in a different city……
This Dude abides….
You were born in 75 and lived through the 80s? No way!!!!
While most positions have a lot of their big name players already signed, there are still a lot of quality relief pitchers available. Jansen, Chafin, McHugh, Tepera, and Kelly to name a few. Can’t wait for this lockout to end and the signing freeze to be lifted to see where these guys end up! And as a Red Sox fan, as I said on a previous post, I’m really hoping Bloom signs both Chafin and Tepera.
I agree that the Sox need to add at least two solid relievers. Chafin and Tepera won’t be cheap though, and Bloom doesn’t seem to love giving multi-year commitments to RPs. I’m a pretty big McHugh fan, as his career numbers as a reliever are borderline elite, but I don’t see the Sox bringing him back. A reunion with Joe Kelly doesn’t seem completely impossible though.
lumber and lighting
I’ll take Tepera,Rodriguez,& Mr.Hand for 18 million a yr.Pay Story & lite up that halo!Angels could go in a bunch of different ways.Concentrate on dealing with the Reds for Castillo,Gray or Mahle for controllable major leaguers.See what Bean can fleece us for some of that talent they can no longer afford.
Can someone who understands FIP better than me please explain how Conner Greene’s FIP is possible given his walk rate and BAA plus roughly one K per inning?
Well FIP is Fielding Independent Pitching, so it’s based on just the three true outcomes. So batting average aganist is irreleveant to it. Here’s the link to FanGraphs’ explaination, as well as the formula used to calculate it: https://library.fangraphs.com/pitching/fip/
Guys who are really good at limiting home runs are loved by FIP and since he only allowed 1 with more strikeouts than innings pitched, then he had a low FIP, despite his less than ideal walk rate.
Yeah, I wonder if multiplying HR by 13 is too much. Or perhaps walks should be multiplied by a factor greater than 3.
It just seems that FIP weights the long ball too heavily and the walk too lightly to me.
Yeah, FIP isn’t my favorite stat, but it’s okay to just see how good a pitcher is when you isolate their performance to the three-true-outcomes.
Ross Detwilers stats are all wrong there. His ERA is over 4.00 and not even correct with time with the Padres. And then his FIP his over 4 with the Marlins and over 7 with the Padres.
Granted his time with the Marlins wasn’t as bad as it seems because whenever they didn’t have a starter they threw him out there to just get shelled. He had plenty of good one inning outings.
(All figures cited, including league averages, are looking solely at pitchers’ outings as relievers).
Although TB doesn’t need it, they should sign McHugh
Expect even the bad teams to fish in these waters. Case in point, the Dbacks. More than a few analysts believe the disastrous Dbacks bullpen succeeded in dragging down a respectable starting rotation, not the other way around. I don’t expect the Dbacks to fish at the top of this group, but I look for the Dbacks to sign 2 of these relievers—a LHP and a RHP. My prediction: Hunter Strickland and Brad Hand.
Brad Hand (LHP)
Hunter Strickland RHP
Wow, Detwiler, as a releiver, was really good this year. Nearly half of the earned runs he gave up all came as a starting pitcher and in just 7.2 innings.
I’d absolutely love to add Collin McHugh to the Angels.
Detwiler as a reliever had a really nice year. He’ll be an interesting addition for somebody, and I wouldn’t mind him being here.
Really, at this point I’m far more worried about SS and bullpen than anything else.
Angels & NL West
I was hoping the Angels might sign Tepara and/or McHugh on short contracts. I now see they had much better years than I thought suggesting plenty of competition for their services and contracts longer than one year in length. Nonetheless, both would be welcomed in Orange County.
Jimmy Nelson hasn’t been the same since his baserunning injury. His ‘effectiveness’ is due to throwing hard with bad control. Sorry Jimmy
Jesse Chavez is likely to accept a one year contract and put up solid numbers. Could be a nice add to a young staff like Detroit.
Would you give Janssen a sizable multi-year deal? He was good last year after three consecutive seasons of decidedly eh. He’s going to be 34. If you thought he could repeat 2021, sure, but, it’s just as possible he reverts
He did change his delivery and reliance on the cutter last year. He looked like a different pitcher, compared to the prior two years.
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