Three of the MLB’s scariest relief pitchers
Relief pitchers are becoming a highly prized commodity. With those starting games often struggling to work deep into their outings, relievers are entering contests early and handling heavy responsibilities. In the offseason, free agent money thrown at these weapons will validate this recent trend. In light of their importance, here’s a look at three of the MLB’s scariest relief pitchers and what makes them dominant.
There are relief pitchers with more saves and innings, but none are scarier than Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds. With a fastball well over 100 mph coming from a left-handed angle, teams have difficulty picking up Chapman’s level of nastiness. He struck out 106 batters in 54 innings during 2014. That’s nearly an astonishing two full strikeouts per inning. Other fear-inducing numbers include a mere 21 hits allowed in 54 innings. He’s also a passionate competitor willing to pitch inside to hitters, giving him extreme intimidation points. Even the thought of facing Chapman in the ninth inning is a scary one.
Describing the New York Yankees’ setup man as intimidating would be an understatement. A towering figure with size fit for an NBA career, Betances has the look of a pitching nightmare. In 2014, his near 100 mph heater and disgusting breaking ball helped him total 135 strikeouts in 90 innings. His ERA was 1.40 and opponents only managed to hit .149 against him. With this being his first full season in the big leagues, there’s reason to believe Betances will grow throughout his career. His slider, curveball hybrid will evolve as his control over it sharpens. For opponents, hopefully the growth of Betances won’t be literal.
There isn’t a relief pitcher in baseball with a more intriguing journey than Davis. From failed starter and Tampa Bay Rays’ throwaway to Kansas City Royals’ eighth inning weapon, Davis has emerged as the strongest setup man in the game. He didn’t allow a home run throughout the entire 2014 season. To match his 1.00 ERA in significance, he also posted 109 strikeouts and 33 holds. The financially limited Royals picked up his $7 million option for a reason. That’s a large figure for a relief pitcher in a small market, but his value is immense. Teams cringe at the thought of Davis and crumble at his criminally efficient pitches.
-Tyler Birss (@tybirss)