Michael Fulmer has put together a great first half of the season, picking up where he left off last year as he transitioned to a full time bullpen role. That said, I do have some concerns and doubts about him being able to sustain this success. The K rate (just 25%) is interesting as he is getting plenty of Whiffs (31.6%) but he’s really struggling to get hitters to chase out of the zone (21.5%) which is a bit worrisome given his 63% slider usage and 12.1% BB rate. While things are going great for Fulmer now, we could see some negative second half regression, especially if Fulmer finds himself in a new environment come August.
- Andrés Muñoz is showing everyone why he was such an exciting relief prospect and it’s awesome to see the team put their trust in him with consistent holds chances as of late. Over his last 11.1 IP, Muñoz has an absurd 23/3 K/BB rate to go with four holds while allowing no runs on just four hits. He may have the most upside of anyone on this list outside of Devin Williams.
- I don’t think anyone had Evan Phillips as the Dodgers top reliever for the 2022 season back in March but here we are. Even after Blake Treinen returns (throwing off a mound now), expect Phillips to see plenty of hold chances as the teams secondary set up option, that is unless the team goes out and adds a big time reliever at the deadline.
- Wil Crowe Medicine Show keeps on rocking as the Pirates top set up option, pulling ahead of the rest of this bullpen by a wide margin despite a rough patch over the second half of June. The strikeouts have slowed down, but his Seth Lugo-esque pitch mix has resulted in just a 21.8% Hard Hit rate and a 50% groundball rate.
- Tyler Matzek returned to the Braves bullpen this past week, and has a chance to move back into as setup role despite Kenley Jansen potentially returning next week. Command has been an issue for Matzek this season (and in the past) so he’ll have to limit the walks (10/10 K/BB ratio over 11.2 IP this season) to earn the teams trust again as long as A.J. Minter and Will Smith are pitching well.
- I’m encouraged by A.J. Puk’s recent strikeout barrage, as the talented lefty has struck out eight batters over his last 4.1 IP while not walking anyone. The A’s still have issues at the back end of their bullpen so Puk should continue to have opportunities to work in high leverage situations as the teams top left handed, and possibly overall, reliever.
- It’s been a rough year for Joe Kelly who has made multiple trips to the Injured List and currently sports a 9.49 ERA and 2.27 WHIP over 12.1 innings this season. With Liam Hendriks back in the closer role, Kelly gets bumped down as Kendall Graveman slides back into his typical set up role, leaving the seventh inning up for grabs.
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)