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NO BULL

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THE KEY
ALL SYSTEMS GO
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STICK WITH THE STARTER

1. ANGELS
K-Rod is on a record pace, and Scot Shields is back to being a dominant setup man. But this pen takes the top spot because it's October-tested and will be rested and ready. What the Angels lack, again, is a shutdown lefty who can match up with David Ortiz or Carlos Peña.
TELLING STAT: K-Rod and Shields have 57 K's in 49 postseason innings.
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2. CUBS
Forget about Kerry Wood's injury history: He's been lights-out as closer, striking out almost 11 hitters per nine innings. And if Wood's blister comes back, Lou Piniella can turn to Carlos Mármol (12 K's/9) or rookie Jeff Samardzija (1.13 ERA).
TELLING STAT: The Cubs are first in the NL in K's per 9 IPs (8.58).
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3. PHILLIES
Brad Lidge has bounced back from a cranky shoulder, and Chad Durbin has impressed with his work in the seventh and eighth. But J.C. Romero, Rudy Seanez and Scott Eyre can be wild. "They've had to rely heavily on those guys, and you wonder if they'll hold up," says a scout.
TELLING STAT: Philly relievers have allowed the fewest homers in the NL.
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4. DODGERS
This pen is too deep for Joe Torre to burn out. Ex-starter Hong-Chih Kuo has a 1.72 ERA as a reliever. Jonathan Broxton, filling in for closer Takashi Saito (elbow), has dominated righthanded hitters (.176 BA). "He's physically ready for the job; we'll see if he's mentally ready," says a scout.
TELLING STAT: Their WHIP (1.24) ranks among the lowest in baseball.
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5. WHITE SOX
They added free agents Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel, while banking on comebacks from the likes of Matt Thornton. But Linebrink has missed time (shoulder), so Thornton, Dotel and D.J. Carrasco have had to carry a heavy load.
TELLING STAT: Through late August, closer Bobby Jenks had allowed just two runs since the All-Star break.
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6. RAYS
As Troy Percival struggles with his balky right knee, the Rays must rely on Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour, who have 36 career saves between them. But there's surprising depth, with both J.P. Howell and postdeadline pickup Chad Bradford having exceptional seasons.
TELLING STAT: No other relief corps has held opponents to a lower BA (.217).
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7. YANKEES
No worries in the ninth with Mo Rivera. But since Joba Chamberlain was shifted into the rotation and Kyle Farnsworth was traded, the middle innings have been more iffy than ever. Chamberlain might return to the pen, if and when he comes back from his shoulder injury.
TELLING STAT: Yankees relievers have the most K's per 9 IPs in the majors (8.63).
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8. RED SOX
Hideki Okajima was arguably the greatest pitching find of 2007, confusing hitters with his off-speed stuff and setting up Jonathan Papelbon. But Okajima has struggled at times this year, and the middle relief roles are unsettled. Rookie Justin Masterson could be a difference-maker.
TELLING STAT: Masterson has a 9:1 K-to-BB ratio as a reliever.
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9. TWINS
Their attempted waiver deal for Jarrod Washburn, which would have allowed them to shift a starter into middle relief, tells you how worried they are. Joe Nathan is among the best closers in the game, and Dennys Reyes has been effective, but help is needed.
TELLING STAT: The bullpen ERA through June was 3.59. For July and August, it's 4.61.
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10. D-BACKS
In the NL, only Milwaukee's bullpen has worked less, and Arizona just added depth in Jon Rauch. If erratic closer Brandon Lyon and setup man Chad Qualls get hot, this bunch could be very good. "Qualls is key," says a scout. "He's got Lidge-type stuff, but he doesn't have drop-dead command."
TELLING STAT: Lyon has a 12.27 ERA in the second half.
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11. BREWERS
CC Sabathia averaged 113 pitches in his first nine starts with the club, in part because Ned Yost doesn't trust his pen. Eric Gagné's replacement as closer, Salomon Torres, is pitching well, but … "He's having a great season—for him," says a scout. "But I don't think he's mentally tough."
TELLING STAT: Torres has allowed only three homers in 56 games.
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12. METS
Billy Wagner has a bum elbow, and his absence leaves Jerry Manuel playing Russian roulette with the erratic Aaron Heilman and retreads Luis Ayala, Pedro Feliciano and Duaner Sánchez, whose velocity is plummeting. It's going to be a bumpy ride.
TELLING STAT: Heilman's ERA in his first seven outings after Wagner got hurt was 8.22.
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13. CARDINALS
The Cards have held six-inning leads more often than any other team, only to see the relief corps collapse. The emergence of rookie Chris Perez as closer has helped, and Kyle McClellan is capable of big-time stuff. It's possible, too, that Adam Wainwright will shift into the pen.
TELLING STAT: Their .772 opponents' OPS is worst among the contenders.
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14. MARLINS
Kevin Gregg is a lot like Joe Borowski and Todd Jones as a closer: relentless but hittable. "If he can command hissplitter, he can be pretty good," says a scout. And when he can't? "Lots of problems." Fireballer Matt Lindstrom and setup man Renyel Pinto have underwhelming K totals.
TELLING STAT: Only three teams have more relief innings.
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