Roy Gilbert

Monsters of middle relief: Best bets from October bullpens

1of3Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader throws in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in Cincinnati.Photo: John Minchillo, AP It’s been three years since Andrew Miller led the Cleveland Indians to the brink of a World Series championship by coming out of the bullpen early and often, and bulk work from relievers has been an October staple since. Whether it’s Brewers All-Star Josh Hader stretching out for three innings or Astros ace Justin Verlander moonlighting in middle relief, aggressive bullpen management has become standard postseason practice. As the calendar flips, a look at the best relief options — for the biggest outs, and for a bunch of them — for each of the 10 playoff clubs. NEW YORK YANKEES For The Big Out: In baseball’s deepest bullpen, the difference maker is Aroldis Chapman. The 31-year-old left-hander has lost some steam — he averaged about 98 mph on his fastball this year, down from 101 at his peak in 2016 — but he’s made up for it with an improved slider that he’s throwing more than ever. Although he famously blew a lead for the Cubs in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, Chapman has been fantastic in October, posting a 2.30 ERA with seven saves in 27 appearances. Man In The Middle: CC Sabathia impressed last week in the first regular season relief appearance of his career, and he and J.A. Happ will both be in the bullpen. The […]

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