Cleveland Indians (+14)
A staple of the Indians’ recent stretch of success has been their pitching — both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. Manager Terry Francona‘s club still took home the American League Central title last season, but it was surprising to see his relievers produce among the worst in baseball.
Part of that had to do with the disappointing seasons from Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, but the bullpen overall took a step forward following the All-Star break. Cleveland posted a 5.28 bullpen ERA and -0.6 fWAR in the first half, but their second-half numbers improved to 3.75 and 1.1, respectively.
Seeing this as an obvious weakness, Cleveland acquired Adam Cimber and Brad Hand from the San Diego Padres prior to the non-waiver trade deadline last July, which helped. Hand was worth 0.5 fWAR in 27.2 innings, which was nearly what he did in San Diego in almost half the work (0.7 fWAR in 44.1 frames).
He’s been a steady contributor since becoming exclusively a reliever in 2016. After never posting an ERA below 3.00, a strikeout rate above 20.0%, or an fWAR better than 0.2, he’s enjoyed three straight years of a sub-3.00 ERA, 30.0%-plus strikeout rate, and at least 1.2 fWAR.