The Los Angeles Angels landed in the upper echelon of blown saves last season, but with the offseason additions to their bullpen, manager Phil Nevin discussed what the backend of games will be like for his club in 2023.
A season lost because of injuries and underperformance from numerous players on their roster all stuck out on the list of things to point at, but the bullpen continued to be an issue in 2022.
With a combined ERA of 3.95, 4.31 FIP, and a 27th-ranked 1.23 HR/9, general manager Perry Minasian needed to shuffle the deck and explore some free-agent options to make a dent.
After committing cash to Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup, neither of whom were able to grab a stranglehold of a consistent spot in the bullpen. Minasian banked on upside this offseason, signing Carlos Estévez to a multi-year contract after a fantastic second half last season.
Nevin has high hopes for the 30-year-old reliever, but also explained he liked the bullpen prior to the signing and any reinforcements will only make it that much better.
“I liked them before, and anything we can add to it,” Nevin said. “Nice having a big arm down there that’s pitched the back end of games. Big dude. Proven to be durable over his career. So, exciting. Anytime we can add big arms like that.”
“Carlos is going to get a chance to pitch at the end of the game. I know you guys saw how we ran the bullpen last year. If he emerges as a guy that can finish games like that, I think there’s things in his arsenal that we’ll be able to add and help him with.”
“I know the big story is, well, he pitched in Colorado. To me that’s a lot. After managing in Reno for three years, you have that mentality, talking to Buddy Black, he wanted the ball all the time. Nothing ever phased him out there.”
Appearing in 62 games for the Colorado Rockies last season, Estévez posted a 3.47 ERA over 57 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .211 batting average. From early July through the rest of the regular season, he held a 2.03 ERA, good for top-10 in the National League.
However the bullpen shakes out, Tepera, Loup, Jimmy Herget, and Estévez will attempt to lock down games better than a season prior.
Carlos Estévez wants to earn Angels closer role
A hidden gem on the Angels’ roster is their starting rotation, but after trading Raisel Iglesias at the trade deadline last season, there hasn’t been a clear-cut arm to take over that role. Herget did have some success, but the second-year reliever doesn’t possess the high-powered stuff the average closer has.
However, Estévez is a different story, flashing an upper 90s fastball that provides some wiggle room if left over the heart of the plate and that can get someone out of a high-leverage spot. In the second half, he surrendered a .146 batting average, earning him a deal worth $13.5 million and a valuable option for Nevin to call on.
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