Since trading Raisel Iglesias at Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Los Angeles Angels have attempted to figure out who their closer will be for the remainder of the season. It may be closer by committee to start, but eventually, the hope is that someone separates themselves from the pack.
On Friday night against the Seattle Mariners, the Angels had the perfect opportunity to test some of their relievers out, as they held a 1-0 lead when Patrick Sandoval was removed from the game in the sixth inning, and held a 3-0 lead in the ninth inning.
Aaron Loup started strong in the sixth, pitching 1.2 scoreless and hitless innings, walking just one batter in the process. He passed the baton to Jose Quijada for the eighth inning, and he kept things rolling with a perfect frame that included two strikeouts.
Then Jesse Chavez got the first save opportunity in the ninth with the Angels leading 3-0. Chavez struck out the first batter he faced, then he walked Jesse Winker and gave up a single to Jake Lamb. He got to two outs when Jarred Kelenic fouled out with runners on first and second.
However, Adam Frazier then doubled to make it 3-1 and put two runners in scoring position, before a weak, up the middle single by Ty France tied the game up. Chavez blew the save, but wound up with the victory as the Angels scored in the 10th frame for as 4-3 win.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin discussed the decision to go with Chavez in the ninth and what went wrong for him, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“He’s a veteran guy who’s done this before,” Nevin said. “He’s gonna pitch some big innings late. And really he gets the ground ball there. It just got through.”
Eventually, it was Jimmy Herget who landed himself the save in the 10th inning. He recorded outs against Carlos Santana, J.P. Crawford, and Cal Raleigh to keep the ghost runner from scoring and secure a win for the Angels.
It was certainly disappointing to see the way Chavez’s save attempt went. Although Chavez is not a career closer by any stretch, a three-run lead should have been enough for him to keep the Mariners at bay. Of course, Nevin defended Chavez post-game, but it’s fair to question if he’ll get another save opportunity down the line.
Between Herget, Quijada, Loup, and even Ryan Tepera, the Angels have plenty of solid options to choose from. Obviously, no one would be as reliable as Iglesias, but this was part of the calculation when they sent him to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday afternoon.
Jared Walsh temporarily dropped in batting order
Nevin assured Walsh that it would only be a temporary switch, but for now, the Angels left-handed first baseman is batting towards the bottom of the order. Amid a recent slump, the Angels interim manager felt it was best to move him to the No. 6 spot in the lineup to figure things out.