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ESPN Ranks 7th, 8th Inning Relievers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jim Bowden, former Reds and Nationals GM and ESPN/Sirius baseball analyst recently put together his list of top bullpens in baseball in regards to getting the ball to the closer — in other words, the seventh- and eighth-inning guys who are far more important to a good baseball team than they get credit for.

    Talk to any baseball "expert" and they'll tell you those relievers are just as important as a team's closer because they pitch in more leverage situations — one-run leads or tie games — than do closers, who only pitch in the ninth and can have up to a three-run lead with three outs to get, and often go up against batters who are pressing.

    In ranking those guys that lead up to the closer, the best in the National League and in all of baseball, according to Bowden, is the Cincinnati Reds, who bolstered their late-inning relief when they acquired Jonathan Broxton and have Sean Marshall as their set-up man leading up to fireballer Aroldis Chapman.

    In the AL, the Rangers are ranked No. 1, to no surprise with Robbie Ross (who's now on the DL) and Alexi Ogando in the seventh and Mike Adams in the eighth with his newly found curveball to add to his repertoire off hard sliders and cutters.

    The Rangers are ranked ahead of the free-falling New York Yankees, the Detroit Tigers and the resilient Oakland A's.