February 24, 2020
Houston Astros — It’s been a nice, quiet offseason in Houston, and not much has changed at the back of the bullpen. The ninth belongs to Roberto Osuna, and Ryan Pressly is likely to own the eighth if he can overcome his knee troubles and revert to the amazing form he showed early last season. It’s not yet clear who will be second in line, with Brad Peacock, Joe Smith, and Chris Devenski all in the mix. Josh James could bring his 100 mph stuff to a setup role if he doesn’t get the nod as the team’s fifth starter. Another future starter who could get high-leverage work this season is 22-year-old Bryan Abreu.
Starting 2020 hierarchy: Osuna | Pressly | Smith.
Holds candidates: Pressly, Peacock, Smith, Devenski.
Los Angeles Angels — Hansel Robles should return to the closer role for LA, with Ty Buttrey recovering from an intercostal strain and expected to be healthy and in the setup role by Opening Day. The rest of the Angels bullpen will look familiar too, with perennial “future closers” Cam Bedrosian and Keynan Middleton the top two options for the seventh inning.
Starting 2020 hierarchy: Robles | Buttrey | Middleton.
Holds candidates: Buttrey, Bedrosian, Middleton, Noe Ramirez.
Oakland A’s — Breakout star Liam Hendriks will try to keep things rolling the same way in 2020, backed up by the same pair of 35-year-olds: Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria. Jake Diekman and Lou Trivino round out the A-team.
Starting 2020 hierarchy: Hendriks | Petit | Soria.
Holds candidates: Petit, Soria, Diekman.
Seattle Mariners — The Mariners have a ton of young arms filling out their bullpen, but the closer role is a two-man race between last year’s top dog, Matt Magill, and free agent signee Yoshihisa Hirano, who has several years of closing experience in Japan. Magill is dealing with shoulder tenderness, which probably gives Hirano the edge. Carl Edwards, Jr. and Sam Tuivailala are also in the high-leverage mix. One impressive rookie this spring has been Yohan Ramirez.
Starting 2020 hierarchy: Hirano| Magill | Edwards.
Holds candidates: Magill, Edwards, Tuivailala, Brandon Brennan.
Texas Rangers — Jose Leclerc will be back to close out games for the Rangers this year, with Rafael Montero reprising his setup role. There are a lot of options for middle relief, but no really good ones, so it’s worth noting that Cody Allen is at training camp as a non-roster invitee. For now, Jesse Chavez and Nick Goody are better bets.
Starting 2020 hierarchy: Leclerc | Montero | Chavez.
Holds candidates: Montero, Chavez, Goody.