It is now May and the good teams are showing themselves. But even the top of the MLB has weaknesses.
We are close to 40 games into the 2019 MLB season, and the good teams are separating themselves, while the teams that are going to be sellers at the deadline are starting to be revealed as well. The one thing that is certain is that any team in the playoff race by the time July 31 rolls around is going to be looking for bullpen help.
Of the six division leaders, only half of them have a bullpen ERA in the top 10, only three of the teams in the top 10 are above .500 and teams including the Brewers, Yankees, Twins, Dodgers and Braves are in the middle of the pack and aren’t necessarily trending upwards.
That being said, it’s feasible to say that the Brewers and Yankees will right their ships with the talent they have in their bullpens. The Yankees are going to get Dellin Betances and Ben Heller back from injury and the Brewers simply need to pitch better; the return of Jeremy Jeffries is going to help with that.
It looks like the Twins may be here to stay as they still lead the AL Central even with the Indians breathing down their neck. The only thing that is concerning for the Twins is the sustainability of their pitching given the lack of talent and their 18th-ranked bullpen ERA, but they should benefit from the the Indians losing Corey Kluber for an extended period of time.
The Tampa Bay Rays are still leading the AL East as they try to hold off the Yankees, who are 17-8 since getting swept by the Astros in Houston back on April 12. The bad news for the Rays is that the Yankees are starting to get healthy. Aaron Hicks is set to return, presumably on Monday, with Giancarlo Stanton hopefully not too far behind. Once Aaron Judge returns and the pitching staff gets to full strength, the Yankees are going to be in a good spot.
Wrapping up the American League, the West is fairly cut and dry. The Mariners had a good run to start the season, but they’ve started to come crashing back down to earth. They have the league’s 25th-ranked bullpen ERA and 16th-ranked overall ERA, and both are starting to cost them games. It looks like the Astros could finish this division off before the All Star break.
In the National League East, the Phillies are currently four games up on the competition simply because the Braves and Mets refuse to fix their bullpens, while the Nationals are inexplicably losing games given the talent on their roster. In the case of the Mets, they’ve also decided to stop scoring runs and Pete Alonso alone can’t carry this team to October. He’s a stud, but they don’t have anybody else to help him out.
In the NL Central, the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals are going to duke it out for all 162 games this season, and whoever gets one of two things is going to win the division: good pitching from their bullpen or MVP-caliber performances (looking at you Christian Yelich) from their best players. Putting either or both together is going to lead one of these teams to take home this division.
Finally, in the NL West, it seems that the only way the Padres are winning the division is if they say screw it on Chris Paddack’s innings limit, jump on his back and let him carry them to the finish line. They’re only three games behind the division-leading Dodgers, and have far and away the best bullpen in the West.
Winning teams are built through the bullpen, and it’s going to show this season. Those who are lacking pitching depth are going to find themselves on the outside looking in very quickly.