Being a relief pitcher in baseball has to be the greatest job in the world. Observing the action from the bullpen, you have one of the best views in sports to watch the greatest game ever created.
Despite that, it comes with a high price as the pressure is on 100 percent, the second you enter the game.
After just the first half of the season, a few of our MLBbro relievers have become diamonds under the pressure.
Here is my #HighFive list of a few current black relievers and how they have fared this season.
Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers
The 2020 National League Rookie of the Year got off to a slower start than expected this season after posting a 0.33 ERA in 2020, but has recently stemmed the tide and appears to be back to his dominant self. He currently has a 3.55 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 25 innings.
In six appearances during June, he has only given up one run while striking out 11. He also has only given up more than two hits in an appearance three times this year and has not allowed a home run since April 24.
The Brewers are tied for first place in the NL Central. Williams will need to continue to lock the 7th and 8th innings down in order to get the ball to Brewers’ closer Josh Hader who is one of the filthiest in all of baseball.
David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers
Black Ace Club Member, five-time All-Star, Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion David Price is taking on a new challenge this season as he is coming out of the bullpen for the Dodgers for the first time since his World Series run during his rookie year with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Price is one of the most accomplished Black starters in the history of baseball and for sure in the current generation. His 20-win season in 2012 gave him the green light to enter the Black Ace fraternity but with the Dodgers being loaded with pitching options it was thought that Price would be best used out of the bullpen.
His first two outings this year were a little shaky, but we’ll take that as time spent getting used to his new role. After giving up five runs in his first two starts, only four runners have scored in 14 appearances.
Price has an ERA of 3.74 with 24 strikeouts and a 2-0 record, his most recent win coming on Monday after 0.2 innings of scoreless baseball. He is no longer using speed to blow batters away, rather movement and ball placement have led to many ground balls and fly ball outs for him.
Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds
Amir Garrett is literally the biggest reliever in the game. He stands 6-foot-5, 239 pounds, and was suspended earlier this season for seven games after being involved in a benches-clearing brawl against the Chicago Cubs in the beginning of May.
Amir Garrett strikes out Anthony Rizzo, words are exchanged and then both benches clear during the Reds and Cubs game. pic.twitter.com/dGX508V2Gh
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) May 1, 2021
He saw struggles before his return, but when he arrived he came with a vengeance, allowing only three runs in eight appearances and 10 strikeouts for the rest of May.
After a bump in the road to start June, Garrett has still been a great anchor for the Reds’ bullpen. In his last four games, he has given up one run in three innings and has struck out six. It may take a while to bring his 8.34 ERA down to more of a respectable number. He’ll need to stay dominant and keep his focus on one start at a time.
Taylor Hearn and Demarcus Evans, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are the only bullpen in baseball with multiple Black relievers. One throws for the left side and the other the right, but both get it done by throwing flames in Texas’ heat.
Hearn made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and has had a Jekyll and Hyde beginning to the first three months of the season. After a few April struggles, he seemed to turn it around in May as he posted a 1.93 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 14 innings.
As the calendar turned to June, Hearns arrow shifted in a downward direction. He has given up six runs in six innings, three of them being home runs.
Evans made his MLB debut May 25 and has instantly become one of the team’s best relievers. He won the team’s Minor League Reliever of the Year award for two straight seasons and he’s showing the batters in the Majors are not much tougher. In 8.1 innings, he has only given up two runs and has 11 strikeouts with a 2.16 ERA.
Resilience is the common characteristic found in the makeup of strong MLB relievers. Evans has that. He’s got guts too.
With the Rangers appearing to be in seller mode as the trade deadline inches closer, Hearn and Evans have the chance to showcase their abilities to be stable pieces in the bullpen for years to come.
Demarcus Evans and Jason Martin forced their way onto the Texas Rangers’ big league roster after dominating during their first few weeks of the minor league season.
Now, they’ll look to prove they belong after a few injuries will give them a chance at earning major playing time.
These two MLBbros will have to answer to high expectations from Rangers’ fans. Both were called up from Triple-A last week after the team lost pitcher Kyle Gibson and outfielder David Dahl.
Black Arm On The Rise
Evans literally started his career off with a bang in September of 2020. He gave up home run number 662 to the great Albert Pujols and then beaned fellow MLBbro Justin Upton in the head before retiring the sides. He didn’t give up another run that season in four total innings pitched.
So far this season, he’s duplicated his 2020 stats, allowing one run in his four innings of work, while his strikeouts have increased. And he will have many more innings pitched this season if he continues to deal.
Evans has been schooling his opponents since being drafted out of Petal High School in Petal, Mississippi in the 25th round of the 2015 draft.
He was named the Rangers 2018 minor league Reliever of the Year after going 4-1 with a 1.77 ERA while striking out 103 batters in just 56 innings for the Hickory Crawdads in Class A South Atlantic League.
In 2019, he was called up to Double-A to play for the Frisco Roughriders. There, he went 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA and 60 strikeouts in just under 38 innings. That earned him the 2019 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year award as well as winning the Rangers minor league Reliever of the Year award for the second season in a row.
Evans is an MLBbro that’s on the verge of breaking out.
Jason Martin Is Up Next
To keep it simple, if Jason Martin can hit, Rangers’ manager Chris Woodward will have no problem keeping him in the lineup. And really, Martin’s been mashing since Spring Training.
He continued to punish baseballs in the 15 games he spent in Triple-A Round Rock. Martin hit seven home runs and drove in 16 runs while having a .755 slugging percentage and.413 on base percentage.
Martin originally was drafted by the Rangers’ Silver Boot Rival Houston Astros in the 8th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. During the 2018 offseason, he was involved in the trade package that sent him and a few others to Pittsburgh in exchange for Gerrit Cole.
Jason made his Major League debut for the Pirates on April 5, 2019. He singled in his first career at-bat and with his performance in that game joined Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata as the only Pirates since 1948 to record a hit, a run and steal a base in their Major League debut.
After shoulder surgery held him to only appearing in seven games in 2020, Martin became a free agent and signed with the Rangers on December 14th, 2020. He recorded his first hit and stolen base of the season while pinch-hitting in the 8th inning of Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Mariners.
With Dahl out for the foreseeable future and Kris “Krush” Davis struggling early, Martin can earn a spot on a Rangers’ roster that is full of young yet unestablished talent.
Evans and Martin join California-born left fielder Willie Calhoun, flame-throwing reliever Taylor Hearn and Davis as MLBbros on the active roster for Texas.
You can watch them this week play a three-game set against interleague rivals, the Colorado Rockies.
MLB Bros were lighting it up on offense and on the mound on Thursday. Taylor Hearn, one of a few Black relievers in the sport, got his first career win for Texas. Melanated Mound Mauraders, T-Eazy and Taijuan Walker, had shut em’ down performances and Marcus Semien made his old team pay dearly.
The 26-year-old has been up and down this season, but on Thursday he earned a career milestone.
Congratulations Ranger Reliever Taylor Hearn on earning his first win today! Hearn threw 2 innings allowing no runs or hits as the #Rangers beat the #Twins in extras. https://t.co/ZtzgxQptVB
After lasting just two innings and surrendering five runs to the Chicago White Sox on May 1, Triston McKenzie rebounded on Thursday with an outing fit-for-framing. The young Black Knight handcuffed Kansas City by tossing five shutout innings with five K’s and just two hits surrendered. He had everything in the tank cooking today and seems to be putting it all together with each start.
Walker came into KC like Bumpy Johnson taking over Harlem and laid the Cardinals down on some NLE Choppa-type of electricity. Walker hasn’t given up more than 4 runs in a start this season.
The Mets pitching staff will keep them in the NL East race all season.
Marcus “Don’t Sleep” Semien
Marcus Semien has been steady all season for the Toronto BlueJays, but on Thursday he had his best offensive explosion of 2021 against his former Oakland A’s squad. The free agent infielder gave Blue Jays fans a sample of the damage he can cause when he’s hot with the wood.
An exclamation point on his return to Oakland. Today Marcus Semien was 4-6 with 3 RBI and this home run in a 10-4 Blue Jays victory #MLBBroshttps://t.co/thWUL9Blq3