There's definitely a surprise in the MLB bullpen standings to start the 2016 Major League Baseball Season. Some teams that aren't supposed to have good bullpens have been solid in the first few weeks of the season. Bullpens are a tricky thing. They don't mean a lot when deciding on a starting pitcher for your daily Fantasy Baseball Team.
But, if you've got some guys in your line-up who end up facing a sketchy bullpen, you could pick up hits, RBIs, sometimes even late inning home runs. That's always a good thing when you're playing Fantasy Baseball. Then again, if you're expecting a late inning surge from a couple of your players and they're taking on a top notch bullpen, you could be in some trouble. Take a look below at 3 teams whose bullpens have really surprised so far. All stats listed are as of April 19.
Early Season MLB Bullpen Surprises
Baltimore Orioles – For a baseball team, the bullpen is all about wins and losses. ERA means a lot, but ERA only means something if it translates to wins. If you're bullpen can bail you out, you're awfully happy as a manager. The O's bullpen is 3 and 1 on the season. That's 3 and 1 in 12 games. Baltimore's bullpen has a 2.09 ERA. Teams bat .217 against the Orioles. They've allowed 10 earned runs, only 2 home runs and a total of 34 hits. Baltimore bullpen pitchers have thrown 45 strikes to 16 balls.
In 5.1 innings pitched, set-up man Darren O'Day has allowed 5 hits, he's struck out 9, and his ERA is 0.00. In 5 innings pitched, closer Zach Britton has recorded 7 strikeouts with an ERA of 1.80. Brad Brach has an ERA of 0.00, a WHIP of .85, and 10 strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched. Dylan Bundy's ERA is 2.08. T.J. McFarland and Vance Worley could cause problems since both have posted 5.00 ERAs. But, if O'Day, Brach, Bundy and Britton keep it up, the Orioles may not look back in the race to the AL East Division crown.
Chicago White Sox – The 9 and 5 White Sox have been terrific on the mound. Ace Chris Sale is 3 and 0 with a 2.35 ERA. Mat Latos is 3 and 0 with a .49 ERA, 11 strikeouts and a .60 WHIP. The bullpen is only 1 and 0. What it means is that outside of Sale and Latos, the White Sox are having issues with the rest of their starting staff.
If the White Sox can find that third starter, they'll be in the AL Central race all season long versus the defending champion Kansas City Royals. Why? Because the bullpen is stellar with an overall ERA of 1.60. Opposing teams are batting only .181 against the White Sox bullpen. The bullpen has given up 7 earned runs this season. That's tops in MLB. They've also given up only a single home run. That ties the White Sox with the Yankees. 34 strikes to only 10 balls means that manager Robin Ventura can rely on the bullpen if they've got the lead going into the later innings.
Chicago Cubs – Everybody knew that the Cubs were going to be good. Did any of us know that the Cubs were going to be this good? They're 11 and 3. At the top of he rotation, Jake Arrieta, 3 and 0 with a 1.23 ERA and a .77 WHIP, John Lester, 1 and 1 with a 2.21 ERA and a .84 WHIP, and John Lackey, 3 and 0 with a 3.66 ERA, have been terrific.
The bullpen is 1 and 1. The ERA is 2.18. Opposing teams are batting .162, best in the Majors, against the Cubs' bullpen. The Cubs' bullpen has given up 8 earned runs and only 2 home runs. 39 strikes to 9 balls makes the Cubs' BP one of the best early season units in Major League Baseball.
Will the White Sox, Cubs and Orioles keep up their excellent bullpen play? Since it's so early in the season, there's no telling what might happen. But until they prove it otherwise, pay attention when picking batting line-ups with players that oppose the White Sox's, Cubs' and Orioles' bullpens.