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How does the Cleveland Indians bullpen compare with the rest of the AL Central?

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With the rotation complete, we move onto the final positional group, the bullpen. Will the Tribe bullpen look great or poor compared to their divisional rivals?

Will Cody Allen lead teh Tribe bullpen to the top of the division?
Will Cody Allen lead teh Tribe bullpen to the top of the division?
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Similar to the back end of the rotation, it is really tough to pinpoint who actually will be in a bullpen for the full season. Usually the closer and a few guys are core high leverage pitchers. But the rest of the bullpen is usually a mix of has-beens trying to recover glory, young guns trying to prove their mettle, or injured players getting back into the flow.

For this post, I will try to focus on the four players who are likely to see the most innings and then summarize the rest of the totals for everyone else.

Cleveland Indians

Cody Allen has been stellar the past two seasons and is projected to be so again this season again. Look at those outrageous K-rates from Steamer and ZIPS although I am not sure of the big WAR disparity. I think Allen outperforms them this year, but only slightly. All three systems don't like Bryan Shaw this year. Could be all that extra work he has done the last three seasons. Zach McAllister is projected to be the next best reliever, but ZIPS has him much higher because they believe he'll get some starts which won't really happen.

The back end of the bullpen is slated to led by Jeff Manship. Also, per the announcements this week,, Dan Otero Joba Chamberlain and Ross Detwiler will round out the pen. Other than Manship (who is below) the rest are projected at about 0.5 WAR. However one of them will likely be sent down when Tommy Hunter is recovered. He projects at about 0.3 WAR between the two systems.

Cody Allen

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

11.17

3.22

2.78

3.05

0.9

ZIPS

70.7

12.10

3.18

2.80

2.65

1.3

Marcel

67.0

10.5

3.1

3.09

Bryan Shaw

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

7.34

3.00

3.83

4.02

0.2

ZIPS

68.7

8.13

2.75

3.67

3.66

0.5

Marcel

65.0

7.8

2.8

3.32

Zach McAllister

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

9.26

2.46

3.16

3.29

0.6

ZIPS

108.7

8.12

2.82

4.06

3.70

1.5

Marcel

76.0

8.5

3.0

4.03

Jeff Manship

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

7.56

3.10

3.78

3.95

0.2

ZIPS

56.3

8.15

3.20

3.67

3.88

0.2

Marcel

48.0

7.3

3.0

3.75

Chicago White Sox

As good as Allen looks above, both Steamers and ZIPS actually like David Robertson more. He really solidified the closer spot for Chicago last season. It was difficult to actually ascertain who the setup men for Robertson are going to be though. MLB has Jake Petricka and Zach Duke highest in the pecking order, but ZIPS and Steamer prefer Nate Jones and Zach Putnam. If you take the average of the below four, the projections like them better than the Indians pen right now.

I left Petricka off the below list. But he will be there opening day. Likely joining Petricka are Dan Jennings and Matt Albers. Those three are projected to bring in another 0.7 WAR. That would be a very solid bullpen for the White Sox.

David Robertson

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

10.98

2.83

2.93

2.90

1.1

ZIPS

60.3

12.38

2.54

2.83

2.57

1.3

Marcel

63.0

10.4

2.7

3.43

Nate Jones

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

10.57

3.32

3.06

3.14

0.8

ZIPS

54.3

10.44

3.15

3.48

3.12

0.8

Marcel

34.0

9.0

2.9

3.97

Zach Duke

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

8.97

3.78

3.59

3.65

0.5

ZIPS

547.7

10.21

3.95

3.79

3.96

0.3

Marcel

61.0

8.9

3.4

3.69

Zach Putnam

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

9.36

3.70

3.72

3.70

0.4

ZIPS

55.0

3.98

3.76

3.44

3.46

0.6

Marcel

55.0

8.8

3.4

3.76

Detroit Tigers

If there has been one major flaw in how the Tigers have been constructed over the past few seasons, it has been their bullpen. The closers have been awful and the rest of the 'pen has been less than adequate. That's why this season, the bullpen is almost all brand new.

In comes Francisco Rodriguez to close. He was far a dominant closer for the Brewers the past few seasons, but should be better than what the Tigers have had to put up with in recent seasons. Also acquired this offseason were Mark Lowe, who rediscovered something last season and earned a good contract, and Justin Wilson, who was plucked from the Yankees. If each of those three pitchers play as well as they are projected, Tiger fans will be ecstatic.

The rest of the pen though is still a mixed bag. It appears that Drew VerHagen, Blaine Hardy, Alex Wilson, and Kyle Ryan will be the others on Opening Day. They are projected to be at around 0.7 WAR.

Francisco Rodriguez

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

8.06

2.68

3.75

3.82

0.3

ZIPS

48.7

8.88

2.03

3.33

3.44

0.5

Marcel

60.0

8.9

2.6

3.30

Mark Lowe

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

9.03

2.98

3.46

3.54

0.6

ZIPS

53.7

9.06

2.68

3.69

3.58

0.4

Marcel

53.0

8.5

2.9

3.40

Justin Wilson

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

9.03

3.56

3.43

3.59

0.4

ZIPS

62.0

8.71

3.63

3.63

3.60

0.5

Marcel

61.0

8.6

3.2

3.54

Drew VerHagen

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

45.0

6.00

3.06

4.08

4.20

0.0

ZIPS

61.3

5.58

3.82

4.40

4.32

0.0

Marcel

40.0

7.2

3.4

3.60

Kansas City Royals

Now we come to what has been the top bullpen in the division, if not the league, the past few seasons. However, 2016 will be a much different season for the Royals. Closer Greg Holland went down with Tommy John last October and won't be around this year at all. That will push Wade Davis, the best set-up man in 2016 into a closing role. He should be fine, but a repeat of his amazing 2015 is highly unlikely. Kelvin Hereera is also back. He has been dominant the past two years. The likely other new setup man is Joakim Soria who did well last year with the Tigers and Pirates.

Luke Hochevar looks to be the best of the rest and appears to have found a home after many years of trying to make it as a starter. Joining Hochevar is probably Danny Duffy, Dillon Gee and Chien-Ming Wang. It is really hard to gauge what their projected WAR will be for 2016 as all three systems still project each of them as starters, at least part time. If I had to make a guess due to reduced innings, they'll generate about 0.7 WAR as well.

Wade Davis

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

10.55

2.87

2.55

2.84

1.1

ZIPS

66.0

11.45

3.14

2.32

2.47

1.4

Marcel

68.0

9.5

3.0

2.91

Joakim Soria

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

8.37

2.74

3.24

3.56

0.5

ZIPS

49.0

9.18

2.57

3.12

3.40

0.5

Marcel

63.0

8.4

2.7

3.43

Kelvin Herrera

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

9.18

3.31

3.22

3.35

0.5

ZIPS

72.0

9.63

3.13

2.88

3.06

1.0

Marcel

67.0

8.3

3.1

3.09

Luke Hochevar

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

8.53

3.08

3.44

3.83

0.2

ZIPS

45.3

8.54

2.98

3.77

4.02

0.1

Marcel

50.0

8.5

2.9

3.78

Minnesota Twins

Glen Perkins appears to be the closer with the most seniority in the division now. But he has tailed off from his extraordinary 2013 season, dropping down to just 0.5 WAR last year. Kevin Jepsen was an excellent deadline addition last year. But Casey Fien might be the other setup man and he just does not strike out enough guys. But he also does maintain a very low walk rate. I listed Trevor May in the fourth spot, but I think that may actually go to Ryan Pressly.

Pressly will probably have Ryan O'Rourke and Michael Tonkin with him in the bullpen. Those three are expected to generate about 0.3 WAR, which is the worst of the bullpens listed here.

Glen Perkins

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

8.81

2.38

3.26

3.57

0.5

ZIPS

54.7

9.38

1.98

3.46

3.19

0.7

Marcel

60.0

8.6

2.3

3.60

Kevin Jepsen

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

65.0

8.39

3.38

3.70

3.76

0.4

ZIPS

61.3

8.66

3.52

3.67

3.70

0.4

Marcel

66.0

8.3

3.3

3.27

Casey Fien

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

7.31

2.10

3.67

3.97

0.2

ZIPS

59.3

7.58

1.67

3.79

3.54

0.5

Marcel

63.0

7.3

2.0

3.86

Trevor May

IP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

Steamer

55.0

9.03

2.50

3.30

3.43

0.5

ZIPS

124.0

8.06

3.12

4.57

3.97

1.5

Marcel

101.0

8.5

2.7

4.46

My take

I like the Indians bullpen for 2016. There are a lot of power arms. But I think the lack of left-handed arms will end up hurting them for stretches at a time. But I'll have to stick with the Royals first here. Am putting the White Sox third with the Tigers a surprising fourth.

  1. Kansas City
  2. Cleveland
  3. Chicago
  4. Detroit
  5. Minnesota

Please post your rankings in the comments.

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