Top Five Bullpens So Far in the 2024 MLB Season

At the end of a game, these five teams can count on a dependable bullpen to keep things close or seal a victory.

Edwin Diaz #39 of the New York Mets exits the game during the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres in game two of the Wild Card Series at Citi Field.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: Edwin Diaz #39 of the New York Mets exits the game during the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres in game two of the Wild Card Series at Citi Field on October 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Contending teams typically have one thing in common: a great bullpen.

But bullpens can also be pretty fickle, even for the sturdiest units. They often vary year-to-year, whether in terms of the personnel or individual player performances, leaving many teams in search of that ideal late-game combination come October.

That’s why these five teams, in particular, have a distinct advantage so far in the 2024 season: Each of their bullpens has performed well through the first month-plus of game action. Whether they can maintain their respective levels of production going forward, though, is another question.

Nevertheless, let’s list out the top five bullpens in MLB to this point (in no particular order).

Ad – content continues below

Stats and rankings updated prior to first pitch on May 10.

New York Yankees

Another season, another strong bullpen for the New York Yankees.

New York’s AL squad holds the lowest relief ERA in baseball (2.25) through 39 games. That shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve been watching the Yankees under Brian Cashman’s leadership, though.

The Bronx Bombers have consistently made the bullpen a priority over the years, whether it was the great Mariano Rivera, his protege David Robertson and yes, even Aroldis Chapman.

Now, Clay Holmes closes out games for the Yankees, and he’s pretty good too.

Holmes isn’t doing it all by himself, however. Setup man Ian Hamilton (2.89 ERA) and long-man Luke Weaver (2.70 ERA) have proven effective, as have lefties Caleb Ferguson (3.95 ERA) and Victor Gonzalez (2.84 ERA).

Ad – content continues below

And to top it all off, the Yankees have reinforcements on the way, including Tommy Kahnle, Scott Effross and Lou Trivino. This unit is deep and talented, which is what we’ve come to expect from Bronx bullpens over the years.

Cleveland Guardians

If the Cleveland Guardians hit as well as they pitched, they’d be a perennial force in the American League.

Every season, Cleveland ranks near the top of MLB in most major pitching statistics, and their bullpen is a big reason why.

Led by star closer Emmanuel Clase (0.47 ERA in 2024), the Guardians rank second in all of baseball in reliever ERA (2.44), trailing only the aforementioned Yankees. Clase has been one of the top closers in baseball since being traded from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Corey Kluber in 2020; he recorded back-to-back 40-plus save seasons in 2022 and ’23.

It truly takes a village when it comes to the bullpen, and Cleveland is just fine bridging the gap to Clase thanks to strong early performances from setup men Hunter Gaddis (2.41 ERA) and Scott Barlow (2.45 ERA).

Furthermore, Cleveland sits in first place in the AL Central as of May 10, even as the Minnesota Twins have stayed red hot and the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers have held their own. The Guardians’ current place at the top has a lot to do with their elite bullpen holding down the fort at the end of games.

Ad – content continues below

Detroit Tigers

All the hype surrounding the Detroit Tigers‘ pitching staff seems centered around the emergence of potential AL Cy Young candidate Tarik Skubal, but don’t sleep on Detroit’s bullpen.

The Tigers have climbed up to fourth in MLB in relief ERA (2.81), which is a big reason why they’ve been playing above .500 early in 2024.

Closer Jason Foley leads the way with a 2.51 ERA, but he has help behind him, with Alex Lange and his microscopic 0.64 ERA and the veteran lefty Andrew Chafin (1.93 ERA) providing a sturdy bridge to the end of games.

Beyond Foley, Lange and Chafin, Detroit has also received early production from southpaw (and failed starter) Joey Wentz (0.61 ERA) as well as fellow one-time starter Alex Faedo (2.35 ERA).

Overall, it remains to be seen just how trustworthy this group really is. But for now, they’ve been answering the call as the Tigers look to make noise in the AL Central in 2024.

Minnesota Twins

Sticking with the AL Central theme, no team in baseball (besides maybe the Philadelphia Phillies) has been hotter as of late than the Minnesota Twins, who have won 15 of their last 17 games.

Ad – content continues below

Minnesota has done everything well over this hot stretch, including closing out games with a bullpen that ranks among the top 10 in MLB by ERA (3.51). The relief corps is led by closer Jhoan Duran, who just returned from a stint on the injured list to begin 2024.

But even in Duran’s absence, the Twins fared well thanks to the likes of righties Griffin Jax (2.70 ERA) and Cole Sands (2.76 ERA), as well as Steven Okert (3.97 ERA). And we haven’t even mentioned Brock Stewart, who is recovering from an injury of his own after starting the season with a 0.68 ERA out of the bullpen.

Ditto righty Justin Topa, whom Minnesota acquired from the Seattle Mariners for second baseman Jorge Polanco. Topa had a 2.61 ERA in 69 relief innings last season, which should only bolster the Twins’ bullpen if he’s able to bounce back from a knee injury.

In general, Minnesota’s bullpen looks to be in pretty decent shape, even when you account for injuries. And they’re only going to improve with Duran and his filthy stuff back in the mix.

New York Mets

Surprised? This is kind of David Stearns’ thing.

Stearns, now the Mets’ president of baseball operations, was a champion of strong bullpens during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers, paving the way for Josh Hader and Devin Williams to dominate at the end of games. And the Mets already had an established closer in place before Stearns arrived, thanks to Edwin Díaz‘s triumphant return from a devastating ACL injury.

Ad – content continues below

Díaz and his 2.45 ERA in 2024 are leading the way for a Mets bullpen that ranks fifth in all of baseball (first in the NL) with a combined 2.88 ERA.

New York also brought back Adam Ottavino for a third season in 2024 after two very solid campaigns in 2022 and ’23. That move looks to be paying early dividends (he has a 3.14 ERA), as do the signings of Jorge López (2.04 ERA) and southpaw Jake Diekman (3.86 ERA).

Don’t forget about the emergence of journeyman Reed Garrett, whose 0.47 ERA in relief has been a major addition to this already solid unit.

Put all of this together, and the Mets have one of baseball’s best bullpens to begin 2024.

Honorable Mentions

The five bullpens mentioned above earned early-season praise for their performance over the first six weeks, but how about two more units that also deserve their props?

Oakland Athletics

How can we talk about bullpens and not mention the Athletics, who have been shockingly competitive through the season’s first month-plus?

Ad – content continues below

This has a lot to do with Mason Miller, the young fireballer who has elevated his game since being moved into a high-leverage relief role this season.

Miller and teammate Lucas Erceg make up the tandem that is most responsible for Oakland’s 3.47 bullpen ERA (ninth in MLB) so far in 2024. But just Miller’s dominance alone (1.10 ERA, 18.2 K/9) merits a shoutout on any bullpen list right now.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners arguably have baseball’s best starting rotation, but their bullpen is worthy of a mention, too.

Even after shutting down right-hander Matt Brash, Seattle has plenty of depth to leverage, and it starts with closer Andrés Muñoz (1.88 ERA). Behind him are veterans Ryne Stanek (3.09 ERA), Gabe Speier (2.31 ERA) and Trent Thornton (2.30 ERA), all of whom have been productive to start 2024.

It’s no surprise, then, that the Mariners rank third in all of baseball in relief ERA (2.79) to this point. And with their offense struggling to find consistent form, they’ll likely need to continue relying on their pitching to remain in the playoff conversation through the summer.