Emmanuel Clase

Ranking the 10 Best Relief Pitchers in MLB Ahead of the 2024 Season

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Before the new MLB season gets underway, we wanted to take a close look at the top relief pitchers in 2024. Given how erratic relievers can be, this was hard to do.

Even if we look closely at the track record of pitchers, it’s tough to project who will be among the best relief pitchers in 2024 and who will be a disappointment. Some of these pitchers could end up among the greatest relief pitchers in MLB history while others could quickly fade into the background.

Best MLB Relief Pitchers Ahead of the 2024 Season

While we recognize we could end up being wrong, we still wanted to highlight who we think will be among the top relief pitchers in 2024.

Some of this is based on their track record and some of it is based on hunches we have about who will succeed and fail this year. With that in mind, here is our ranking of who we think will be the 10 best relief pitchers in 2024.

10. Yennier Cano

Last year, Felix Bautista of the Orioles was the best relief pitcher in MLB. But with Bautista requiring Tommy John surgery, Yennier Cano will have a chance to step up into a bigger role in the Baltimore bullpen. He saved just eight games last season while posting a 2.11 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.

       

With Craig Kimbrel coming to Baltimore, it remains to be seen if Cano will be the closer or not. But even if he’s not the main closer for the Orioles, he’ll still be among the top relievers in the league.

9. Jordan Romano

With 36 saves in back-to-back seasons, Jordan Romano has surely moved himself into elite company among closers.

He’s had three straight great seasons and been rewarded with an all-star selection in each of the past two seasons. There’s not much else the Blue Jays can ask of the Ontario native other than to keep doing what he’s been doing because the results speak for themselves.

8. Camilo Doval

After being the co-leader in saves in the National League last season and earning an all-star invitation, there are high hopes for Camilo Doval in 2024.

The 26-year-old has accumulated 66 saves over the past two seasons and is one of the hardest-throwers in baseball. While his 2.93 ERA last year wasn’t among the best in baseball, Doval has room to grow and the talent to be an elite closer.

       

7. Alexis Diaz

The Reds have a promising young core, and Alexis Diaz is a big part of that. He notched 37 saves for Cincinnati in 2023 while striking out 86 batters in 67.1 innings. Less than two years after his MLB debut, he’s entrenched as the closer for a team that’s hoping to contend.

That indicates that Diaz is still on an upward trajectory with room to improve on his already impressive resume.

6. David Bednar

Since he plays for the Pirates, most fans don’t know just how good David Bednar is. But playing for the Pirates didn’t stop him from leading the National League in saves last year or from being an all-star in back-to-back seasons. Bednar doesn’t have the flashiest stuff, nor has he ever posted an ERA under 2.00.

But his level of consistency and reliability over the last three years helps him to stand out from the pack.

5. Bryan Abreu

For the last two seasons, Bryan Abreu has arguably been Houston’s best and most important reliever. He hasn’t been the team’s full-time closer, but he’s been instrumental to their success. Abreu has had back-to-back seasons with an ERA under 2.00 and struck out 100 batters last year over just 72 innings.

He also held batters to a .177 average, which is no joke. Other than not being a closer who collects a lot of saves, there is no difference between Abreu and the best relief pitchers in baseball.

4. Edwin Diaz

The Mets would love nothing more than for Edwin Diaz to pick up where he left off at the end of 2022. He was sensational that season, earning him a five-year, $102 million contract, making him the highest-paid reliever in baseball history.

Of course, that freakish knee injury during the WBC ended his 2023 season before it began. However, if he’s healthy, there’s no reason that Diaz can’t get back to being an elite closer.

3. Emmanuel Clase

In 2024, Emmanuel Clase will begin his fourth season as Cleveland’s closer. That alone is a tremendous accomplishment for a 26-year-old. Despite a somewhat disappointing 3.22 ERA last year, Clase racked up over 40 saves in each of the past two seasons.

He also had an ERA under 1.50 and a WHIP under 1.00 in both 2021 and 2022. Clase is the real deal and is more than capable of becoming the best closer in baseball this season.

2. Josh Hader

Things went south for Josh Hader in 2022, but he bounced back nicely last year to remind everyone why he’s an elite reliever. The lefty posted a 1.28 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP while saving 33 games for the underachieving Padres.

It was more than enough to earn him a massive five-year, $95 million contract from the Astros. Despite already being a five-time all-star, Hader won’t turn 30 until April and should have no problem continuing to perform like a top-flight reliever.

1. Devin Williams

For the last handful of seasons, Devin Williams has been among the best relief pitchers in baseball, and there is no reason to think that will change in 2024. He’s been an all-star in back-to-back seasons, pitching to an ERA under 2.00 in both years.

Williams was also the National League’s Reliever of the Year last season, just as he was in 2020. Whether he racks up a lot of saves for the Brewers or not, Williams is in line to be MLB’s top reliever this season.

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