Andrew Wantz was not particularly close to making the Los Angeles Angels big league roster when the COVID-19 pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020. He had come off of a season in Double-A in which he posted a 7.13 ERA, and was ultimately not invited to the summer training camp that season.
Flash forward to today, and Wantz has been a consistent part of the Angels bullpen for the better part of a year. And quietly, he is playing some of the best baseball of his career since July 3. He has posted a 2.08 ERA in 16 appearances since that date, and has retired 11 of his last 12 batters faced.
Much of that can be credited to the cutter he learned with a friend during the pandemic, and to Angels reliever Ryan Tepera for helping to further craft that pitch into what it is today, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“I was just kind of getting bored doing the same pitches every day and I was like, you know I’m just gonna mess around, gripped it kind of a like a football,” Wantz said. “My friend was like, ‘That is late and nasty.’ I brought it to spring training 2021. That definitely got me to the bigs.”
Wantz said Tepera added another piece to the development of the pitch because he realized it had a similar grip and action to his slider.
“I talked to him about it, ‘What’s your thought process? How do you approach hitters with it? What are you looking at, what’s your target?’” Wantz said. “Working with him has definitely helped.”
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin is also aware of the impact that cutter has had on Wantz’s career.
“It’s on the same plane as his fastball, just kind of makes a little bit of a left turn late, and he’s got good ride on his fastball that he continues to work on,” Manager Phil Nevin said. “The cutter has been a big, big pitch for him.”
Wantz, 26, has a 3.06 ERA in 35.1 innings this season. The spin on his fastball is in the 87th percentile in MLB, and while his cutter is his third-most frequently thrown pitch, it is his most-used put away pitch. He uses a cutter on 22.2% of those types of pitches, compared to 18.9% and 17.6% on his fastball and slider.
Reid Detmers struggles in recent start
Sometimes, it’s just not a pitcher’s best day. That’s how Reid Detmers explained a difficult outing against the Detroit Tigers in which he gave up four runs on 10 hits in a losing effort.
“I was just having a hard time settling in,” Detmers said. “The stuff wasn’t coming out great. I didn’t have a really good feel for anything. That’s pretty much that.”