Last week, I ranked the playoff rotations. I came to this conclusion: the Cardinals were easily in the best position as far their rotation was concerned -- while the Yankees, Angels and Rockies were at something of a comparative disadvantage. To repeat the exercise with the bullpens, let's look at who's done best in terms of season-long performance (through Sunday's games):
Overall, the season-long and team-wide WXRL (wins over replacement-level pitcher) numbers confirm a lot of what you'd expect at first glance. The Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox have three of the best closers in the land in Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Broxton and Jonathan Papelbon -- and the Twins aren't too far behind with Joe Nathan shutting things down. The Phillies and Brad Lidge? Well, that's a Halloween-appropriate scare. However, when you get into the brass tacks of how the bullpens have performed on the basis of what they've done with the runners they've inherited and what they've allowed opposing hitters to do via Fair Run Average, you get a slightly different picture. Lidge's regular deliveries of bad news in the ninth aside, the Phillies look pretty good. The Cardinals get some props and the Red Sox come down a few pegs. Maybe that Theo Epstein character knew what he was doing adding Billy Wagner at the last instant after all.
For more detail on who has the best pen among the postseason-bound teams -- including some thoughts on a reason that the Cardinals, while strong, could implode -- you must be an ESPN Insider.