Los Angeles Angels interim manager Phil Nevin knew he had a tall task ahead of him when the team traded Raisel Iglesias to the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline. With no true lock-down closer on the roster, Nevin decided to employ a closer-by-committee system.
This system included three closers on rotation, with Aaron Loup, Jose Quijada, and Ryan Tepera shifting between closer and set-up depending on the situation and recent performance. Overall, this plan has not worked exactly as Nevin had hoped.
Between the Iglesias trade and Sunday, the Angels had more blown saves (10) than completed saves (9). However, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s games against the Seattle Mariners saw all Loup, Tepera, and Quijada all close successfully.
So even with the stats in favor of a true closer, Nevin can see positives in the situation they have in Anaheim, according to J.P. Hoornstra of The O.C. Register:
“We’ve been able to piece it together,” Nevin said. “We’ve got guys that are all capable. Loupy’s done it before. Tep’s down it before. (Jaime) Barría’s had some saves. Quijada. Those guys are capable of getting the last 3 outs. When it matches up the way we have it, it makes you think a little more in the dugout, play out the games.
“Either way as long as we’re winning the game it doesn’t matter to me.”
At times since the Iglesias trade, all three have shown the ability to be a closer as Nevin says. But all three have also shown why they’re usually slotted in other roles within their bullpen. In fact, all three have — at times — taken a back-seat to Jimmy Herget.
Despite Nevin hinting that Loup, Tepera, and Quijada would be the leaders in the clubhouse for the closer role, it’s Herget that has had the most statistical success in the role. He has five saves, compared to Quijada’s three, Tepera’s three, and Loup’s one.
If the Angels are attempting to figure out their 2023 closer right now, they are quickly running out of time. They have just 16 games to decide between four contenders, all of whom should be on the 2023 roster given their contract situations.
Perhaps the battle will continue into Spring Training or even the regular season. Or someone, like Herget, will separate themselves in the final three weeks of the season.
Nevin once again endorses Ohtani for MVP
While uncertainty still surrounds the closer role, one thing Nevin is undoubtedly sure of is the American League MVP race. Aaron Judge is still the presumptive leader, but Ohtani has made it a fascinating conversation with his elite two-way play.
Nevin firmly believes that Ohtani should be the MVP so long as he continues to dominate on both sides of the ball the way he has been.