The Los Angeles Angels 2021 player review series continues, shifting from young starters to young relievers. On Friday, we took a look at three young starting pitchers who got their first real chance with the Angels this season. Now, we take a look at Austin Warren, Jimmy Herget, and Oliver Ortega.
Warren, Herget, and Ortega are young relievers who showed some promise towards the end of the 2021 season. Perhaps no unit on the Angels saw more influx than the bullpen, as it was an already weak group marred by injury and inconsistent production.
Like Reid Detmers, Janson Junk, and Packy Naughton — who were covered on Friday — it’s unclear if any of these three will get a chance to play with the Major League team in 2022, but that doesn’t mean their 2021 seasons can’t be celebrated.
Ortega was signed by the Angels as an international amateur free agent in 2014. After six seasons in the team’s minor league system, he finally got a chance to play in the Majors, making his debut on Sep. 8, 2021.
Ortega made eight appearances over his month with the Angels, pitching a total of 9.1 innings. His 4.82 ERA and 1.500 WHIP left something to be desired, giving up 12 hits on the season. It’s rare that a bullpen arm is such a prototypical “pitch-to-contact” player, but that’s exactly how Ortega can be described.
To start 2022, it’s likely that he’s back in the Minors. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him getting another shot during the year.
The Angels signed Herget in August after he was released by the Texas Rangers. He’s the only player in today’s review that did not make his MLB debut in the 2021 season, as he’s been around since 2019.
But in 14 appearances and 14.2 innings this season, he was a relatively consistent and reliable presence. He held a 4.30 ERA and a 1.295 WHIP, with his big issue being base hits. He allowed 15 hits and seven earned runs, but zero home runs.
He made up for this by putting together dazzling strikeout numbers. In 14.2 innings, he K’d 18 while walking only four. Herget is still only 27, meaning it may behoove the Angels to keep him around in 2022.
Warren is just 25 years old and made his MLB debut in July of 2021. However, you would never know it based on his relative dominance throughout the final months of the season. A bout with COVID-19 knocked him out for nearly a month, but he still managed an incredible debut season.
In 20.1 innings over 16 appearances out of the bullpen, Warren impressed with a 1.77 ERA, a 1.033 WHIP, a 4.00 K-to-BB ratio, and an 80th percentile exit velocity against. Of the three players being reviewed today, he is the only one that should undeniably be on the Opening Day roster in 2022.
In fact, Warren’s 2021 performance has set himself up to be a high-leverage reliever in 2022. If the Angels invest most of their money into starters, it’s players like Warren that will make that decision pay off.
Obviously, relievers are notoriously volatile, but for him to come out and be so strong right at the start of his career should inspire confidence that he can be a factor moving forward.