The Los Angeles Angels made the decision to option reliever Andrew Wantz to Triple-A and activated Ryan Tepera to take his spot in the bullpen on Tuesday, but this decision was less about performance and everything to do with a simple roster crunch.
Heading into play on May 5, the Angels possess a top-5 bullpen in Major League Baseball with a 2.97 ERA, they’ve converted 12 of 19 save opportunities and have a handful of arms putting up solid seasons. But Wantz has been the odd man out because he has Minor League options remaining on his contract, making him a moveable piece for general manager Perry Minasian.
Wantz currently holds a 0.79 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched, but Minasian has maintained that the Angels are focused on retaining the core of the roster as they look towards a deep run, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“It’s a long season,” Minasian said. “We want to keep as many players as we can over the course of the year. We make tough decisions. That’s the decision we made.”
Contractual obligations to other relievers make them difficult to cut ties with, and Minasian isn’t inclined to move anyone if he can play the game provided to him within a player’s contract. With Tepera ready to come off the injured list, Wantz was the obvious choice to head to Triple-A with the Salt Lake Bees.
Losing José Quijada for the season and right-hander Austin Warren, who the Angels figure to be without for a few weeks, made the need for arms a priority for Minasian. But Matt Moore, Carlos Estévez, Jaime Barría, Tucker Davidson, Chase Silseth and veteran Chris Devenski have been very solid in the early part of the season.
Deeper look into Andrew Wantz
On the surface, Wantz may appear as if he’s one of the Angels’ best relievers with a 0.79 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 12 punchouts over 11.1 innings, but his warts come into play when brought in with runners on base.
He’s having a career-best start, and his advanced metrics all back that up, but of the 12 runners Wantz has inherited when brought into a game, he’s allowed nine of them to score. Wantz has been a clear beneficiary of earned runs being charged to the pitcher he’s relieving and his ERA isn’t a clear indicator of his true success early on in 2023.
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