Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/12/12
Over the past two decades or so in Major League Baseball, roles in the bullpen have become much more defined in years’ past. Closers, set-up men and specialty men have become the norm in every bullpen throughout MLB. Closers oftentimes are now groomed in the minors, but often times closers can also graduate into the position through their performance in the middle of the bullpen as well. Here are five current relievers who could easily become top MLB closers in the near future. 1. Robbie Ross: Texas Rangers All season long, 23-year-old Robbie Ross has acted as a bridge to closer Joe Nathan for the Texas Rangers, and he has absolutely excelled in the role. Ross is 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA in 53 appearances through early September, and features a nasty three-pitch repertoire that would serve him well as a closer in the future. 2. Pedro Strop: Baltimore Orioles The current set-up man for closer Jim Johnson for the Baltimore Orioles, Pedro Strop is a big reason why the Orioles have been one of the best teams in baseball holding a lead in late innings. Strop has a 1.83 ERA in 59 appearances through Sept. 5, and could easily ascend to the closer’s role should Johnson either get hurt or move on to another team. 3. Jose Arredondo: Cincinnati Reds Part of the strength of the Cincinnati Reds in the 2012 has been a stellar bullpen, with ‘Cuban Missile’ Aroldis Chapman and his 100 MPH-plus fastball, crafty southpaw Sean Marshall and hard-throwing 28-year-old Jose Arredondo. Arredondo has excelled as a seventh-to-eighth inning option for manager Dusty Baker in 2012, with a 3.00 ERA in 58 appearances through Sept. 5. Arredondo features a mid-90s fastball, a hard-breaking slider and a split-fingered fastball which acts as a changeup, confusing hitters with its late-breaking downward plane. 4. Sean Burnett: Washington Nationals Washington Nationals left-hander Sean Burnett has come into his own in the 2012 season, posting a 2.49 ERA in 61 appearances through Sept. 5. Working primarily as a left-handed specialist and late-innings guy, Burnett gives Nationals manager Davey Johnson a terrific option along with Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen. While Storen and Clippard are the go-to guys for the Nationals in the ninth inning, Burnett could easily take over and handle closing duties as well. 5. Eric O’Flaherty: Atlanta Braves One would be hard-pressed to find a better or more consistent late-innings reliever than Eric O’Flaherty of the Atlanta Braves. After posting a stellar 0.98 ERA in 78 appearances last season, O’Flaherty has followed up with an outstanding 2012 season as well. Through early September, O’Flaherty features a 2.09 ERA in 53 appearances. With Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters firmly implanted as the closer and set-up man, O’Flaherty’s route to the closing role is blocked in Atlanta, but the stuff is clearly there for O’Flaherty to shine in that role sometime in the future.   This is a guest post submitted by Ally Silva. Ally played all kinds of sports growing up and adamantly follows everything sports now, particularly Chicago sports. She works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wood bats for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Ally loves writing on different sports topics and is very grateful to be able to contribute here.
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