Ranking contenders' bullpens
Here we are a week into August, and National League starters have thrown 31 complete games this season. Only three more and they'll pass Robin Roberts' total of 33 with the 1953 Philadelphia Phillies.Think bullpens rank low on the priority list for general managers these days? You must not have been monitoring the trade-deadline buzz last week when executives for contending clubs scrambled to add pieces for the stretch drive. As it turns out, only the Diamondbacks (Jon Rauch), Marlins (Arthur Rhodes) and Yankees (Damaso Marte) succeeded in their missions. Assuming no other impact relievers switch teams this season, which contending clubs' bullpens are poised to pitch the best in August and September? We factored in depth, health, balance, experience and previous workload -- along with the results from the talent and swimsuit competitions -- and ranked the bullpens thusly in this week's installment
of Starting 9.
The contenders: ML bullpen ranks
Honorable mentionFlorida Marlins: Closer Kevin Gregg heads an underrated bullpen with some live young arms. Although the addition of Arthur Rhodes will help, the Marlins' bullpen leads the National League in walks and ranks second to Pittsburgh in innings pitched. That workload could take a toll in September. Minnesota Twins: Joe Nathan is as good as it gets, but the Twins really miss Pat Neshek in the eighth inning. And we said that before the bullpen coughed up leads in back-to-back losses in Seattle. Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. His book "License To Deal" was published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.
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