Welcome to the third edition this season of my reliever rankings. As a reminder, these are not based on current role, but on skills, stats, and how close the game is when they come in to pitch (using leverage index). For more details, check out my last edition of the rankings here.
I'm trying something new this month, so bear with me. Instead of the usual HTML table, I'm going to embed a Google Sheet. I hope. This should allow you to look at the complete list, not just the top 50 and it's got more color! Also, I've added some columns for previous rank (their rank last month) and change in rank. Positive change indicates a player has moved up the rankings (gotten better) since last time. As always, I use a 10 inning minimum to catch the newer relievers and all stats are from the always reliable FanGraphs.
Note 1: I highlighted some of the biggest climbers with orange highlights in the change column.
Note 2: Bryan Shaw and Xavier Cedeno didn't really climb 150+ spots since last month. There was a mistake that I just now caught in those rankings that caused them to be dead last, when they should have been somewhere in the middle.
Thoughts/Discussion on Biggest Climbers
First off, we all knew the Yankees bullpen was great, but dang. They have held the 2-4 spots for two straight months on these rankings. There was barely any change at the top. Britton continues to be #1 and you have to go all the way to #23 to find anyone that moved more than one spot.
There you will find Luke Gregerson, who just lost the closer job he managed to win this spring. He doesn't have elite velocity and he has been hit hard, but everything else looks very good. His FIP and xFIP are both still under 3, so don't be shocked if he gets his job back at some point. However, you will notice that his competition, Ken Giles, Michael Feliz, and Will Harris sit at 27, 12, and 14, respectively. That is a very good bullpen, despite the recent turmoil.
Gregerson will have a hard time standing out from that crowd, so maybe he won't get a full time job back. If we only knew what A.J. Hinch was thinking. Because all four (!) guys are so talented, this is going to be a very hard bullpen to figure out. These rankings and the eye test say Feliz and Harris are the two best they have, but they have little-to-no closing experience and skills are no guarantee of a closer job.
Felipe Rivero also moved up quite a bit. He seems to have settled into the setup role in Washington behind a very shaky Papelbon (145). Rivero is just nine spots ahead of Shawn Kelley, though, so he doesn't have that star setup role to himself, necessarily. Blake Treinen (45) also lurks in this 'pen. Dusty Baker is even harder to figure out than Hinch, so if Papelbon starts to blow a few saves with his very diminished stuff, it's tough to know who would be first in line. Rivero seems like the first choice if I had to guess.
Who knew Gavin Floyd could be a great reliever? He's been poor as a starter most of the time, so it's nice to see him find success in a bullpen searching for a setup man. Drew Storen (163) and "Uncle" Jesse Chavez (124) have tried their best, but Floyd looks to be the best setup guy they have. If something happens to Osuna, Floyd could be their closer, despite the high ERA. He has pitched better than that ERA makes it look (3.18 SIERA).
Johnny Barbato has also pitched much better than his ERA indicates, but he's stuck behind that three-headed monster in New York. If Chapman and Miller get traded, though, he could see some high leverage innings and maybe even some saves if things break right. For next year, keep in mind that Chapman's a free agent after this year even if they keep him, so that should free up one spot.
Trevor May is yet another guy that has pitched much better than his ERA shows (2.59 SIERA). He's currently recovering from an injury, but once he's back (assuming he beats Perkins back), he should replace Jepsen as closer. However, Jepsen has managed to hold off May and his 13.7 K/9 so far somehow, so maybe Jepsen will be the closer until Perkins gets back. May might just be the best reliever they have, but they might not realize it soon enough to do much for your fantasy team.
One last guy I want to touch on from this list is Liam Hendriks. He has pitched to a 2.75 FIP and 2.76 xFIP this year before hurting his elbow. He's still recovering, but is apparently feeling much better and could be back soon. He's stuck behind two other guys higher on this list, though, so maybe the fantasy upside isn't great there.
Feel free to explore the full table at your leisure. There's lots of data in there and over 200 relievers. Check back next month for another update. Tschus!