Here’s are five under-the-radar relief pitchers who are doing everything possible to lock down an integral bullpen role for their respective team in 2016 …
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
Don’t let his poor outing on Friday (IP, 4 ER, 5 H) fool you. Over his previous 16 appearances, the right-hander had allowed just one unearned run and 10 hits over 21.2 innings pitched with two walks, 24 strikeouts and seven holds. With Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee in the mix, the path to a closing gig isn’t clear. Colome’s emergence, however, could make it easier to trade one of the three during the offseason.
Keone Kela, Texas Rangers
The rookie right-hander might be the most underrated component of the Rangers’ 2nd half resurgence. Shawn Tolleson has been a savior in the closer’s role, but Kela is the much more uncomfortable at-bat for hitters and could force the team into flip-flopping their roles sometime in ’16.
Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles
It took a couple years for Givens, a converted shortstop, to throw strikes consistently, but he’s been in control in 2015 and the results are what would be expected from someone with a deceptive delivery and command of a mid-90’s fastball. His presence gives the team a solid backup plan should primary setup man Darren O’Day depart as a free agent after the season.
Hansel Robles, New York Mets
With Jenrry Mejia lost to another suspension, Bobby Parnell struggling to return to his pre-injury form and Jerry Blevins out for the season, it’s been Robles to the rescue for the Mets’ bullpen. He should be first in line to replace Tyler Clippard as Jeurys Familia‘s primary setup man in 2016.
Liam Hendriks, Toronto Blue Jays
Closer Roberto Osuna has been the story out of the Blue Jays’ bullpen, but Hendriks’ conversion from journeyman back-of-rotation hopeful to dependable reliever who can throw in the mid-90’s should not go unnoticed. He’s not getting the ball in high leverage situations because there are currently several reliable options ahead of him, but that could change next season, especially if the Jays give Aaron Sanchez another shot in the rotation.