After the Los Angeles Angels got swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, there was rightful concern that their bullpen may simply not be what they thought it could be. However, Joe Maddon never lost faith in his relievers, and they came through in a big way in the Angels win over the L.A. Dodgers on Sunday afternoon.
After a rollercoaster of a night on Saturday — a 14-11 loss that almost saw one of the greatest comebacks ever — it would have been easy for the Angels pitching staff to simply roll over and accept the loss. The bullpen responded in the opposite fashion, putting together one of their best collective outings of the season.
Maddon gave praise to the whole Angels roster for fighting back after an exhausting Saturday night game and turning things around for a 2-1 victory against reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
“Emotional game yesterday, day game after a night game, very good [opponent] with a great starting pitcher on the mound — and we won,” manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s the kind of stuff you really appreciate about your group.”
The bullpen was worthy of even further praise. The Angels used five relief pitchers on the night, a majority of the staff that has been among the worst in the Major Leagues in several categories. For Maddon, he sees the light at the end of the tunnel for his group.
“It’s all there,” Maddon said of his bullpen, which entered Sunday with the third-highest ERA in the majors (5.32) since April 21. “We just got to get their confidence built up, keep continuing to put them out there at the right time.”
Sunday was an excellent start for building confidence. Aaron Slegers, Alex Claudio, Tony Watson, Mike Mayers, and Raisel Iglesias — who have all struggled with consistency this season — combined for 5.0 scoreless innings. In those innings, they allowed two hits and two walks. The peak of the afternoon came when Mayers struck out the side and pumped his fists as he strutted off the mound.
This was a big moment for an Angels bullpen that just needed something to go their way after a series against the Rays that was filled with troubling outings. Perhaps the lowest point came when Mayers, Slegers, Flex Pena, and Steve Cishek blew a dominant 6.2-inning start from Andrew Heaney in a loss earlier this week.
Now, the Angels tough stretch of schedule continues with three-game sets against the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians. It will be interesting to see how much confidence the bullpen carries to begin this gauntlet.
Heaney says bullpen struggles are a part of baseball
After the Angels relief crew caused a loss after Heaney’s incredible performance, the starting pitcher remained composed. He did not place any blame anywhere, saying that there have been times where he’s struggled and the bullpen has needed to come save him. He can’t be upset when the opposite happens.