Watch these setup guys down stretch

Astros reliever Octavio Dotel is one of the top five setup guys to watch in the race for October.

Originally Published: September 12, 2003
By Tom Candiotti | Special to ESPN Insider
As the pennant and wild-card races reach fever pitch, closers will be in the spotlight, as usual. But the setup guys, while not as well-known, are equally important. And setup guys will have an equally vital impact on who ends up playing in October.

Managers in a pennant race and in the postseason are more apt to go to the bullpen more quickly to get the matchups they want. In the regular season, managers tend to give starters more rope when they get in trouble. But in September and October, they'll use a quicker hook. Unless a team's ace is on the mound, a skipper will call for a fresh arm out of the bullpen.

This is especially true in September with the expanded rosters (remember Francisco Rodriguez with the Angels last year?). It seems that every club brings up a lefty from the minors for situational use. So expect to see early maneuvering with righty-righty and lefty-lefty matchups. With that in mind, here are the top five setup guys (or setup committees) to watch in the race for the postseason (listed in alphabetical order by team):

Tom Candiotti provides analysis for select ESPN Major League Baseball coverage, working at various games throughout the season. Candiotti joined ESPN's baseball coverage team in 2001, shortly after closing the door on his 17-year pitching career.