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2021 MLB Rankings: Relievers 15-1

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30 days of 2021 MLB rankings! In this series, we will be ranking every projected starting player for the 2021 season at each in position, each in three parts. On day 27 of this series, we will be ranking top 15 relief pitchers in MLB.

Check out the previous rankings from this 2021 MLB Rankings series:

Catchers 30-21 | Catchers 20-11 | Catchers 10-1| First Base 30-21| First Base 20-11 | First Base 10-1| Second Base 30-21| Second Base 20-11| Second Base 10-1| Shortstop 30-21| Shortstop 20-11| Shortstop 10-1| Third Base 30-21| Third Base 20-11| Third Base 10-1| Left Field 30-21| Left Field 20-11| Left Field 10-1| Center Field 30-21| Center Field 20-11| Center Field 10-1| Right Field 30-21| Right Field 20-11| Right Field 10-1Designated Hitter 15-1| Relief Pitcher 30-16

2021 MLB Rankings: 15-11

15. Trevor Rosenthal, Oakland Athletics 2020: NR

2020: 23 games, 23.2 IP, 1.90 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 38 Strikeouts, 11 Saves

After looking like he may not get another shot to make an MLB roster, Trevor Rosenthal completely revamped his career with Kansas City and San Diego in 2020. Now replacing Liam Hendricks in Oakland, Rosenthal could be in for a big year in 2021. 

14. Archie Bradley, Philadelphia Phillies 2020: NR

2020: 16 games, 18.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 18 Strikeouts, 6 Saves

The Philadelphia Phillies arguably had the worst bullpen of all time in 2020, but the addition of Archie Bradley should help them this season. Bradley yields a ton of ground balls and has experience at being a closer over the past two seasons.   

13. Will Smith, Atlanta Braves 2020: 9

2020: 18 games, 16.0 IP, 4.50 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 18 Strikeouts, 0 Saves

Despite an underwhelming first season in Atlanta, Will Smith remains one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball. Smith has a nasty slider but got hurt by the long ball as he allowed seven home runs in 16 innings last season.  

12. Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels 2020: NR

2020: 22 games, 23.0 IP, 2.74 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 31 Strikeouts, 8 Saves

After somewhat of a down year in 2019, Raisel Iglesias reminded everyone why he is a reliable closer with Cincinnati in 2020. Now with the Los Angeles Angels, Iglesias is projected to be the team’s closer in 2021. 

11. Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros 2020: NR

2020: 23 games, 21.0 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 29 Strikeouts, 12 Saves

With Roberto Osuna likely needing Tommy John surgery, Ryan Pressly is set to be the Astros’ closer heading into 2021. Pressly has swing-and-miss stuff but needs to limit baserunners if he wants to crack the top ten.  

2021 MLB Rankings: 10-6

10. James Karinchak, Cleveland Indians 2020: NR

2020: 27 games, 27.0 IP, 2.67 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 53 Strikeouts, 1 Save

With only 32 MLB games under his belt, James Karinchak has already established himself as a top-10 MLB reliever. Look no further than his 17.7 K/9 rate, as he struck out 53 batters in 27 innings last year. 

9. Alex Colome, Minnesota Twins 2020: 14

2020: 21 games, 22.1 IP, 0.81 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 16 Strikeouts, 12 Saves

While he attracts little to no attention, Alex Colome deserves to be on your radar as he was one of the best relievers in baseball in 2020. Now with Minnesota, Colome should be the Twins closer in 2021, alongside Taylor Rogers.  

8. Brad Hand, Washington Nationals 2020: 12

2020: 23 games, 22.0 IP, 2.05 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 29 Strikeouts, 16 Saves

One of the most dependable relievers in MLB, Brad Hand had another great season with Cleveland in 2020, as he led the AL with 16 saves. Now in Washington, Hand, a left-handed pitcher, should be the Nationals’ closer in 2021.  

7. Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers 2020: 11

2020: 27 games, 24.1 IP, 3.33 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 33 Strikeouts, 11 Saves

While he struggled mightily in the playoffs, Kenley Jansen had a solid season in 2020 and is back in the top ten for 2021. If Jansen can regain his all-star form, it will go a long way for this team, but he needs to work on his command. 

6. Giovanny Gallegos, St.Louis Cardinals 2020: 10

2020: 16 games, 15.0 IP, 3.60 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 21 Strikeouts, 4 Saves

After a breakout year in 2019, Giovanny Gallegos had another great season in 2020, despite dealing with COVID-19. Gallegos has an absolutely filthy 12-6 curveball and does a great job at limiting baserunners and home runs.  

2021 MLB Rankings: 5-1

5. Edwin Diaz, New York Mets 2020: 18

2020: 26 games, 25.2 IP, 1.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 50 Strikeouts, 6 Saves

After a horrendous year in 2019, Edwin Diaz re-proved to the baseball world why he is still one of the best relievers in baseball. His fastball-slider combination is nasty, as he struck out 50 batters in 25.2 innings of work last season. 

4. Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees 2020: 3

2020: 13 games, 11.2 IP, 3.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 22 Strikeouts, 3 Saves

Despite dealing with injuries for most of the season and having his annual playoff collapse, Aroldis Chapman remains one of the best relievers in baseball. At full strength, Chapman’s a flamethrower, with a nearly unhittable slider.  

3. Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays 2020: 22

2020: 19 games, 16.1 IP, 0.55 ERA, 0.49 WHIP, 26 Strikeouts, 6 Saves

After a breakout year in 2019, Nick Anderson took his game to a new level and was the best relief pitcher in baseball in 2020. His fastball-curveball combination is untouchable, and if he can replicate those numbers in a full season, Anderson will earn the number one spot. 

2. Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox 2020: 6 

2020: 24 games, 25.1 IP, 1.78 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 37 Strikeouts, 14 Saves

Having been one of the best relievers in MLB the past two seasons with Oakland, Liam Hendriks heads to Chicago, where he will be the White Sox closer in 2021. Hendriks’ stuff is untouchable, and he does an elite job at limiting baserunners and walks.  

1. Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers 2020: 1

2020: 21 games, 19.0 IP, 3.79 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 31 Strikeouts, 13 Saves

Despite a down year for his standards in 2020, Josh Hader remains the best relief pitcher in all of baseball. As a southpaw, Hader’s slider is arguably the best pitch in the league, but he needs to limit home runs to regain his all-star form in 2021. 


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