Strong bullpen bigger priority for recent AL champs

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The Red Sox entered play Friday leading the majors with a 2.90 ERA from their bullpen — paced by the 1.48 mark of closer

The Red Sox entered play Friday leading the majors with a 2.90 ERA from their bullpen — paced by the 1.48 mark of closer Craig Kimbrel (above). But is a dominant bullpen really crucial to make a run at the pennant?

The Sox had a dominant closer in Koji Uehara when they last won it all in 2013, but it was a below-average bullpen overall. It wasn’t until 2014, when the Kansas City Royals helped revolutionize baseball with their three-headed monster of Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland, that bullpens were made a higher priority by most teams. Including those Royals, the last three American League champs have been built from the back.

Here’s a look at how the bullpens of the last five AL champions have fared, both in ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio:

2016 INDIANS
• ERA: 3.49, 2nd in AL
• K/BB: 2.71, 8th in AL

2015 ROYALS
• ERA: 2.72, 1st in AL
• K/BB: 2.63, 7th in AL

2014 ROYALS
• ERA: 3.30, 5th in AL
• K/BB: 2.62, 9th in AL

2013 RED SOX
• ERA: 3.70, 10th in AL
• K/BB: 2.68, 6th in AL

2012 TIGERS
• ERA: 3.79, 10th in AL
• K/BB: 2.47, 5th in AL

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    Article Strong bullpen bigger priority for recent AL champs compiled by www.bostonherald.com

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