We’re fresh off another postseason that emphasized the importance of a good bullpen. Consider the Houston Astros, whose two most important World Series relievers might have been … Charlie Morton and Brad Peacock. All right, so the Astros kind of turned the tables. They went so far as to avoid using closer Ken Giles, who had a wonderful regular season. The World Series Astros showed off the significance of a talented and deep starting rotation.
But the Astros wouldn’t have gotten that far had it not been for their bullpen. I mean, look — there’s nothing to question here. Every team that hopes to contend needs a good bullpen. There’s arguably no such thing as having too many quality relievers. Starters are throwing fewer innings than ever, putting more of the burden on the relievers, and those relievers are frequently getting the most critical outs. Pitching staffs need to be good from the front, but they also need to be good in the back, lest all the hard work go for naught.
Some solid teams’ bullpens are already in good shape. The New York Yankees, for example, don’t have to do anything. Included here is a list of teams that could stand to make some major bullpen upgrades in the weeks and months ahead. Through free agency or the trade market or elsewhere, the following teams could use some late-inning help.
Every team in baseball will look for bullpen help — they always do — so I’ve limited my list to six teams. The Astros could use a lefty, but they aren’t desperate. The Dodgers could use a bridge to Kenley Jansen, but they’re also not desperate. For the following teams, there’s more urgency, and I’m recommending a few specific fixes. Every team in baseball would be improved by adding Wade Davis or Mike Minor. I’m not avoiding naming them because I hate them. But for the following clubs, I’ve tried to remain realistic.