Starting 2012 bullpen hierarchies. Visit our main page for bullpen tables and more information.
Baltimore Orioles- Jim Johnson remains the closer after taking the job from Kevin Gregg last season. Gregg is being actively shopped by the O’s, but for now remains the setup man. Matt Lindstrom, acquired in the offseason via a trade with the Rockies, is expected to be the 7th-inning man. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Jim Johnson, Set-up- Kevin Gregg, 2nd in line- Matt Lindstrom.
Boston Red Sox- After losing closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies, the Red Sox acquired Andrew Bailey, but late in spring training, he succumbed to a thumb injury and will miss much of the year. Manager Bobby Valentine said that Alfredo Aceves will start the season at closer, though Mark Melancon will get a look if he struggles. Vicente Padilla could also be in the mix for saves. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Alfredo Aceves, Set-up- Mark Melancon, 2nd in line- Vicente Padilla. Aceves begins the season on the Hot Seat.
New York Yankees- Mariano Rivera enters what he says will be his last season. Rafael Soriano will pitch the 8th inning to start out, but if he struggles, David Robertson could re-assume the role he thrived in last season. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Mariano Rivera, Set-up- Rafael Soriano, 2nd in line- David Robertson.
Tampa Bay Rays- Joe Maddon’s 2012 group looks much like the 2011 version of the bullpen – and that’s a good thing for the Rays. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Kyle Farnsworth, Set-up- Joel Peralta, 2nd in line- Fernando Rodney.
Toronto Blue Jays- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos continued to make positive moves for the team’s bullpen, trading for White Sox closer Sergio Santos, who will take over as closer in Toronto. The team also signed former Reds closer Francisco Cordero, who will serve as the primary setup man. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Sergio Santos, Set-up- Francisco Cordero, 2nd in line- Casey Janssen.
Chicago White Sox- The White Sox traded away closer Sergio Santos in the offseason and moved Chris Sale to the rotation. Manager Robin Ventura has not declared a closer yet but Matt Thornton and Jessie Crain are the early favorites with Thornton likely to get the first crack at it. Prospect Addison Reed might be the best arm in the bullpen so don’t be surprised if he is the closer before the end of the season. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Matt Thornton, Set-up- Jesse Crain, 2nd in line- Addison Reed.
Cleveland Indians- Chris Perez is injured and may miss the start of the season. Vinnie Pestano could see some saves early in the season but there is no doubt that Chris Perez will be the closer when healthy Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Chris Perez, Set-up- Vinnie Pestano, 2nd in line- Tony Sipp.
Detroit Tigers- The Tigers enter 2012 with a stable bullpen hierarchy. Newcomer Octavio Dotel will be used in a 7th inning role. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Jose Valverde, Set-up- Joaquin Benoit, 2nd in line- Octavio Dotel.
Kansas City Royals- Joakim Soria is out for the year, meaning Greg Holland and Jonathan Broxton will fight it out in the early season for save opportunities. The Royals have not declared a closer yet, but Holland has the early edge based on how they’ve been used in spring training. Should they both falter, Aaron Crow will get a shot. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Greg Holland, Set-up- Jonathan Broxton, 2nd in line- Aaron Crow. Holland begins the season on the Hot Seat.
Minnesota Twins- Joe Nathan signed with the Rangers so the Twins re-signed Matt Capps and he will start the year as the closer. If Capps falters as he did last year then Glen Perkins may see some saves. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Matt Capps, Set-up- Glen Perkins, 2nd in line- Alex Burnett.
Los Angeles Angels- Young fireballer Jordan Walden continues to anchor the Angels bullpen, with steady Scott Downs setting up. The 7th inning role is not well defined yet, but in the event of injuries to Walden and Downs, Latroy Hawkins would be the likely candidate to close. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Jordan Walden, Set-Up- Scott Downs, 2nd in line- LaTroy Hawkins.
Oakland A’s- Grant Balfour has been declared the closer to start the season following the departure of Andrew Bailey. Brian Fuentes will get first crack at saves if Balfour falters. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Grant Balfour, Set-up- Brian Fuentes, 2nd in line- Fautino De Los Santos.
Seattle Mariners- Brandon League will be the closer, with Tom Wilhelmsen returning as the setup man for now. Seattle also brought in George Sherrill as a possible 7th-inning reliever. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Brandon League, Set-up- Tom Wilhelmsen, 2nd in line- George Sherrill.
Texas Rangers- Neftali Feliz has moved to the rotation and Joe Nathan will take over as closer. Mike Adams, acquired from San Diego at the trade deadline last year, will return as setup man. Koji Uehara remains the 7th-inning reliever. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Joe Nathan, Set-up- Mike Adams, 2nd in line- Koji Uehara.
Atlanta Braves- The Braves had, unquestionably, the best trio of relievers in the game last year, and their 2012 roles are clearly defined after their season of dominance. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Craig Kimbrel, Set-up- Jonny Venters, 2nd in line- Eric O’Flaherty.
Miami Marlins- The new-look Miami (Vice) Marlins made a lot of offseason noise, including in the bullpen, signing Padres closer Heath Bell. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Heath Bell, Set-up- Edward Mujica, 2nd in line- Steve Cishek.
New York Mets- The Mets completely overhauled their bullpen in the offseason, acquiring three pitchers, Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, and Ramon Ramirez, who they will immediately plug in to their late inning roles. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Frank Francisco, Set-up- Jon Rauch, 2nd in line- Ramon Ramirez.
Philadelphia Phillies- The Phillies made the biggest bullpen splash in the offseason, signing Jonathan Papelbon in the early days of free agency. Jose Contreras, one of the bullpen holdovers, is hurt and will likely return in late April. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Jonathan Papelbon, Set-up- Antonio Bastardo, 2nd in line- Chad Qualls.
Washington Nationals- The job is his when he returns, but Drew Storen will miss a few games early this season. Surprisingly, manager Davey Johnson has said that Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez will close in his place. Tyler Clippard is clearly the Nats’ second-best bullpen arm, but Johnson said he’s too valuable in his 8th inning role. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Brad Lidge, Set-up- Henry Rodriguez, 2nd in line- Tyler Clippard. Lidge begins the season on the Hot Seat.
Chicago Cubs- Although Carlos Marmol has struggled in spring training, his position as the team’s closer remains secure. Kerry Wood is the clear first setup man, but with Jeff Samardzija likely headed to the rotation, it appears that young Rafael Dolis will be next in line in the Chicago pen. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Carlos Marmol, Set-up- Kerry Wood, 2nd in line- Rafael Dolis.
Cincinnati Reds- With Ryan Madson out for the year, the Reds will turn to Sean Marshall to close out games. His injury might force Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen for another year, with Masset picking up the scraps when he is back healthy. Should the Reds make a playoff run, they could deal for an established closer if any of these guys struggle. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Sean Marshall, Set-up- Aroldis Chapman, 2nd in line- Nick Masset.
Houston Astros- Brett Myers was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen after the trade of Mark Melancon and will start the season as the closer. Brandon Lyon, who started the season as the closer last year, figures to the get the first shot at closing if Myers struggles. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Brett Myers, Set-up- Brandon Lyon, 2nd in line- Fernando Rodriguez.
Milwaukee Brewers– The Brewers re-signed Francisco Rodriguez in the offseason but John Axford is without question the closer for the Brewers. If Axford is injured, K-Rod would immediately step in as closer. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- John Axford, Set-up- Francisco Rodriguez, 2nd in line- Jose Veras.
Pittsburgh Pirates- The Pirates bullpen remains largely unchanged from last year. Joel Hanrahan will close, with Evan Meek filling in on off nights. Jason Grilli was used as a spot closer down the stretch last year, and will be the top option if Hanrahan and Meek are not available. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Joel Hanrahan, Set-up- Evan Meek, 2nd in line- Jason Grilli.
St. Louis Cardinals- The Cardinals will stick with Jason Motte as their closer, while Fernando Salas, who started 2011 as the closer, will step in quickly if Motte struggles. Scott Linebrink was added as a veteran relief pitcher and would likely take over if both Motte and Salas struggle. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Jason Motte, Set-up- Fernando Salas, 2nd in line- Scott Linebrink.
Arizona Diamondbacks- The top relievers in the Diamondbacks bullpen remain unchanged, with David Hernandez backing up JJ Putz. Recently acquired Takashi Saito could also be a longshot for saves in the event of injuries. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- JJ Putz, Set-up- David Hernandez, 2nd in line- Takashi Saito.
Colorado Rockies- With Huston Street gone, Rafael Betancourt is firmly entrenched in the closer role. Rex Brothers will likely get first crack at saves should Betancourt struggle. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Huston Street, Set-up- Rex Brothers, 2nd in line- Matt Belisle.
Los Angeles Dodgers- Javy Guerra will start as the closer based on last year, but he’ll be looking over his shoulder at fireballer Kenley Jansen, who is a strong candidate to close soon. Scott Elbert picked up the odd save chances for the Dodgers last year, and with no major additions, he could assume the role if Guerra and Jansen go down. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Javy Guerra, Set-up- Kenley Jansen, 2nd in line- Scott Elbert.
San Diego Padres- The Padres acquired Huston Street in the offseason, and Luke Gregerson, one of the few established arms in San Diego’s bullpen, will likely get first crack at saves if he falters. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Huston Street, Set-up- Luke Gregerson, 2nd in line- Andrew Cashner.
San Francisco Giants- Brian Wilson heads the list of SF bullpen arms, based more on reputation than his 2011 statistics. Both Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla filled in as the closer towards the end of last season with Wilson on the DL, and they’ll see save chances if Wilson gets hurt. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Brian Wilson, Set-up- Sergio Romo, 2nd in line- Santiago Casilla.