The Cleveland Indians All-Decade Team: The Bullpen
Long Reliever: Danys Baez. Younger fans may not remember Baez, but the Tribe’s former swingman won 17 games and notched 31 saves with a 3.92 ERA while moving from reliever to starter to closer in 2001-3.
Middle Reliever: Paul Shuey. Shuey’s days as an Indian were numbered by the dawn of the new millennium, but he posted a 2.65 ERA in 86 appearances before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002 and accumulated 3.1 WAR in less than two years—not an easy feat for a reliever.
Lefty Specialist: Ricardo Rincon. Rincon posted a 3.61 ERA in 113 appearances between Opening Day 2001 and his trade to the Oakland Athletics in 2002 (as documented in Moneyball). Good though he was, he makes this team over David Riske only because everyone else in the bullpen is right-handed.
Seventh-Inning Man: Rafael Betancourt. Few outside Cleveland noticed when the Tribe sent Betancourt to the Colorado Rockies in July 2009, but Indians fans knew that they had lost the best reliever they’d had in years. In seven seasons with Cleveland, he posted a 3.25 ERA, a 3.8 K/BB ratio, and 8.4 WAR.
Eighth-Inning Man: Chris Perez. Perez’ numbers might not have looked pretty when he first joined the back of the Indians’ bullpen, but he has since emerged as one of the best closers in baseball. At age 25, he’s got a 2.64 ERA and 24 saves in an Indians uniform under his belt.
Closer: Bob Wickman. Who else could it be? In five seasons with the Tribe this decade, Wickman saved 125 games and earned an ERA of just 3.21. He’s the easy choice for this team’s top fireman.
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