Official K-Zone Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking Guti’s Ranking
1. Andrew Miller (CLE) Andrew Miller (CLE) Andrew Miller (CLE)  Andrew Miller (CLE) Andrew Miller (CLE)
2. Pat Neshek (PHI) Dellin Betances (NYY) Dellin Betances (NYY) Pat Neshek (PHI) Chad Green (NYY)
3. Chad Green (NYY) Pat Neshek (PHI) Addison Reed (MIN) Chad Green (NYY) Pat Neshek (PHI)
4. Addison Reed (MIN) Chad Green (NYY) Chad Green (NYY) Tommy Kahnle (NYY) Ryan Madson (WSH)
5. Ryan Madson (WSH) Addison Reed (NYM) Pat Neshek (PHI) Addison Reed (MIN) Addison Reed (MIN)
6. Dellin Betances (NYY) Nate Jones (CWS) Ryan Madson (WSH) Will Harris (HOU) Tommy Kahnle (NYY)
7. Anthony Swarzak (NYM) David Robertson (NYY) Will Harris (HOU) Ryan Madson (WSH) Anthony Swarzak (NYM)
8. Will Harris (HOU) Ryan Madson (WSH) Anthony Swarzak (NYM) Anthony Swarzak (NYM) Dellin Betances (NYY)
9. Nate Jones (CWS) Kyle Barraclough (MIA) David Robertson (NYY) Nate Jones (CWS) David Robertson (NYY)
10. Tommy Kahnle (NYY) Carl Edwards Jr. (CHC) Nate Jones (CWS) David Roberston (NYY) Nate Jones (CWS)
Sleeper Adam Morgan (PHI) Carson Smith (BOS)

Carter Capps (SD)

 Scott Alexander (LAD)

Dellin Betances (NYY)

Tony Cingrani (LAD)

Josh Hader (MIL)

 

It’s a shame that middle relievers don’t get the attention they deserve, after all, their role is equally important to that of the closer. They have the power to lead to a win or loss of each game, and some middle relievers are particularly good at leading to the wins. Andrew Miller was the consensus #1 choice, as his services have been invaluable to Cleveland since they paid a king’s ransom for him a couple years ago. The bearded southpaw threw 63 innings of 1.44 ERA ball in 2017, which was the first year since 2012 that his K/9 dipped below 14, and the first since 2013 that his xFIP fell below 2.10. Phillies’ reliever Pat Neshek ranks second overall after pitching 1.59 ERA ball last year with a 1.86 FIP, less than one walk per nine innings, and less than one home run per eighteen. Breakout Yankees’ reliever Chad Green takes over the #3 spot after tossing 69 innings of 1.75 FIP ball with 13.43 K/9. Green is a flyball pitcher, but he still kept his SIERA as low as 2.03. Addison Reed thought he had secured the Twins’ 2018 closer job until the team signed veteran arm Fernando Rodney, pushing Reed into setup. Addison allows few walks and is assisted by a 40% ground ball rate. Reed is generally consistent, although his 1.97 2016 ERA makes his 2017 2.84 total look like a failure. Ryan Madson, also, at one point thought he may have a closer job under control, until teammate Sean Doolittle took it from him. Madson put up 10.22 K/9, 1.37 BB/9, 0.31 HR/9, and 54.7% GB% in 2017, totaling up to a 1.99 FIP. Dellin Betances was perhaps the most controversial of the rankings, placing a solid #2 in two writers’ books, while ranking 8th on another and not making the list at all for a fourth. Once thought to be a bona fide future superstar, a 16.9 BB% has ruined his reputation to some. 15 K/9 two years in a row has saved his numbers (2.87 2017 ERA), but I’m sure he hopes as much as any Yankee fan that he can decrease the walks while maintaining the whiffs. Anthony Swarzak, another 2017 breakout, threw 77 innings of 2.33 ERA ball while striking out 10.59 per 9. He had a reasonable HR/FB, and his BABIP looks sustainable. Will Harris is sometimes overshadowed by the rest of the excellent Astros bullpen, but he’s put up great numbers in recent years. Harris recorded 10.32 K/9 in 2017 with a 2.94 xFIP. He might even improve in the coming year when he experiences positive regression on the home run rate. Nate Jones enters 2018 in competition for the White Sox closer job, but probably in second place to Joakim Soria. His ERA has been below 2.31 for two years in a row now, and it’s backed by strong peripherals in strikeouts and home runs. However, if he wants to take another step forward, he will have to bring back his 2016-level command. Tommy Kahnle, the third Yankee on the overall list and the fourth ranked by any writer (if you doubt the Yankees’ superpen, read this), enjoyed a 1.83 FIP in 2017 thanks to 13.79 K/9 and 2.44 BB/9. His outcomes are backed up a 2.25 SIERA.

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Sources:
Fangraphs
Baseball Reference

Images Attributed to:
USA Today
Newsday
Waiting for Next Year

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