The Los Angeles Angels banked on Carlos Estévez and his second-half success this past season as the incentive to offer him a two-year contract. However, poor results this spring have raised some questions about the right-hander.
General manager Perry Minasian watched on as the Angels bullpen was unable to withstand not only injuries to veteran relievers but the underwhelming performance of them as a unit. Ryan Tepera, Aaron Loup, Jimmy Herget, newly acquired Matt Moore, and Estévez are tasked with being the top targets for save opportunities.
With no established closer among them, the competition is wide open. Minasian inking Estévez to a $6.5m AAV contract hints that the club would prefer it to be him, and after a second half in which he pitched like a top-five reliever, he’s justified in his belief.
Unfortunately for Estévez, he’s posted a 12.71 ERA in seven appearances (5.2 innings pitched) this spring, allowing 10 walks with just eight total strikeouts. The right-hander has struggled, but the team isn’t overly concerned, via Sam Blum of The Athletic:
The 30-year-old has been working on evolving his repertoire this spring. And he said experimenting with new pitches and strategies outweighs getting outs when the games don’t count:
“(These changes) do make sense, and that’s why I’m trying them,” Estévez said. “I’ve been pitching a certain way in the big leagues. It’s not like I’m going to change just to get worse.”
Nevin and other members of the Angels coaching staff have worked with Estévez to find consistency and don’t put to much stock into Spring Training numbers:
“He’s trending in the right direction,” said Angels pitching coach Matt Wise. “High-velocity guys, as you’re working through spring — it’s a little bit difficult at times to maybe throw as many strikes as you’d like.”
Estévez has pitched in Major League Baseball for seven seasons and as he enters his eighth, his confidence in himself is on par with his career norms:
“This doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter,” Estévez said. “It’s (about) getting ready. My arm is good. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling healthy.
“Once the lights are on, I’m a different guy. This is not the first time I’ve pitched really bad in spring.”
If Estévez continues to falter because of a lack of rhythm and positive results, the Angels have enough comparable options in their bullpen to weather the storm until the power righty finds himself.
Angels shut down José Marte to evaluate elbow injury
After a difficult season filled with injuries on all fronts of their roster and this year, the club is already dealing with one as José Marte has stopped throwing due to right elbow trouble.
The absence of the 26-year-old reliever won’t leave a gaping hole in their depth, but his upside and potential are brought to a halt. The injury is going to keep him out for at least a couple of months.
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