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Kirby Yates named second-best relief pitcher in MLB

MLB: San Diego Padres-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the resumption of the MLB season is right around the corner, ESPN’s Buster Olney is ranking players by position. Most recently, Olney took to ranking the top-10 relief pitchers in the NFL and there’s a familiar face at the #2 spot.

Kirby Yates, one of the Padres’ most-reliable veterans, was listed only behind Josh Hader of the Brewers in Olney’s latest rankings.

“He is 33 and, typically, when closers are that age and pitching for a struggling team, the club will look to cash in on value,” says Olney. “But Yates has been so good for the Padres they have come to see him as an important element in the climb they’ll try to make this summer.”

Yates had his fair share of time spent with other teams prior to landing with the Padres over three years ago. Per Olney, everything clicked for Yates in the second half of the 2017 season. He has pitched 179 13 innings on the west coast and has recorded an insane 278 strikeouts. Yates was named an All-Star in 2019 where his adjusted ERA was 358. Per Olney, that wad higher than all but one of Mariano Rivera’s seasons in the majors.