During the 2021 season, the bullpen was a weak point for the Los Angeles Angels. Outside of an elite season from Raisel Iglesias, there was little support from a relief crew that routinely blew leads and wasted quality outings from starters.
The Angels made measures to address this in the offseason, with their biggest move being to bring Iglesias back on a four-year, $58 million deal. They also brought in Aaron Loup after a dominant 2021 season with the New York Mets, and they figure to continue scouring the relief pitcher market.
But Iglesias and Loup should serve as the anchors for the Halos in 2022. And it’s a great spot for the Angels to be in, as Iglesias and Loup were ranked the No. 5 and No. 9 best relievers in baseball by ESPN’s Buster Olney:
5. Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels
His repertoire is highly unusual for a short reliever. Some bullpen guys rely on one pitch, some succeed with two. But Iglesias has three really good pitches — a fastball he deploys at the top of the zone, a changeup at the bottom, and an excellent breaking ball. This made him almost equally effective against right-handed and left-handed batters.
9. Aaron Loup, Los Angeles Angels
The Angels paid him very well earlier this offseason, a two-year, $17 million contract, because he mitigates damage. Loup allowed just two extra-base hits in the 93 plate appearances he faced lefties, and he wasn’t bad against righties, either: Right-handed hitters mustered just a .257 slugging percentage against him, with zero homers in 125 plate appearances.
Iglesias ranked behind Liam Hendriks, Josh Hader, Emmanuel Clase, and Blake Treinen and took the slot for the fifth-best reliever in Major League Baseball. Loup ranked No. 9 behind Ryan Pressly, Devin Williams, and Jonathan Loaisiga. Edwin Diaz rounded out the top 10.
The Angels were one of just two teams to have two relievers in the top 10. The Brewers — with Hader at No. 2 and Williams at No. 7 — were the only other team to do so. Olney also ranked the 10 best starting pitchers, but zero Angels made that list.
While the Angels still have some work to do with their bullpen, it’s mainly with regard to depth. The top of their relief crew is as good as any in all of baseball, a drastic departure from years past.
Ty Buttrey coming out of retirement
Nothing has been finalized amid the ongoing lockout, but Angels reliever Ty Buttrey revealed that he plans to come out of retirement for the 2022 season. Buttrey was one of the Angels’ best relievers in 2018 and 2019 before seeing a sharp decline in 2020.
Buttrey retired in 2021, saying that the 2020 season saw him lose his love for the game. If he can return to 2019 form, the Angels bullpen could see itself skyrocket towards the top of the league.