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Ranking baseball's best bullpens from 1 to 30

Craig Kimbrel headlines a Red Sox pen that regularly delivers good news for Boston fans. Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports

If you asked fans of 30 teams how they feel about their team's bullpen, you'd probably get 25 or so responses indicating how much better their teams would be without those bums in the pen. People instinctively remember those games lost in the ninth inning far more than those games that were over in the first, and far more often than not, it means it's the bullpen left holding the bag.

While a team's starting rotation and lineup will have more of an effect on the playoff hopes than the bullpen, there's no denying that the crew of long relievers, setup men and closers are present during the highest-leverage situations. Even the most sabermetrically inclined teams will overpay for a top reliever at times, such as when the Cubs brought in Aroldis Chapman down the stretch in 2016 for a package highlighted by Gleyber Torres, who already appears to be a star in the majors.

As we head toward the halfway point of the season, we start to think about trades, and even in slow deadline years, a lot of relievers move to new digs. To this end, here is how all 30 bullpens rank in MLB, according to the ZiPS projection system. For each team, I'm listing the team's bullpen ERA to date and their ERA projection for the rest of the season, as well as their bullpen's projected likelihood to help (or hurt) their playoff odds compared to an "average" bullpen to help provide a sense of who could use some help to boost their postseason bid, and who owes how much of their shot to the relievers they have. Teams are ranked by their projected bullpen WAR over the rest of the season.

30. Miami Marlins
So far: 5.49 | Rest of 2018 projection: 4.32
Projected added playoff odds:
0.0 percent

The Marlins have a solid record of all-around lousiness, with the bullpen ranking as one of the top contributors there. In this case, it's not even a case of the team's cupboard being emptied by salary dumps. Veterans Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa have combined for a 7.74 ERA and 11 home runs allowed so far, earning Tazawa his release and Ziegler a demotion from the closer's role.

29. Kansas City Royals
So far: 5.48 ERA | Rest of 2018 projection: 4.51
Projected added playoff odds:
0.0 percent

Kansas City is not contending so there should be little question about Kelvin Herrera being traded. Having a bounce-back season, Herrera's strikeout rate isn't quite where it should be, but his plate-discipline stats against suggest that number should tick upward. Herrera still hasn't allowed a single walk.

28. New York Mets
So far: 4.55 ERA | Rest of 2018 projection: 4.11
Projected added playoff odds:
minus-0.9 percent (an average pen would get them to 1.9 percent odds)

The Mets have lost games at a 100-loss pace since their season-opening 11-1 hot fortnight. Honcho Sandy Alderson has publicly trashed the concept of the Mets doing a full teardown, so I wouldn't expect much selling in July. The unknown returns of Jeurys Familia and AJ Ramos and the question of how much Seth Lugo will be needed as a starter -- when he's been the team's most dependable reliever -- give this pen some downside.