Through August 1, the Angels bullpen held a 4.77 ERA, and it felt as though Raisel Iglesias was the only reliable arm. That could have been the impetus for the Angels to trade Tony Watson, put Dylan Bundy back in the rotation, and release Alex Claudio.
The three were ultimately replaced by Jose Quijada, Austin Warren, and Sam Selman. All three came in with a significant lack of experience, but have become pivotal pieces for a much-improved bullpen. Since August 1, their ERA as a unit is 3.46, including a five-game span — 15 innings — in which they did not allow a run.
Maddon went through the new additions — and improved long-term pieces — when discussing how the Angels bullpen was able to make such significant strides in August, according to J.P. Hoornstra of The O.C. Register:
“There are more options,” Maddon said. “Obviously Warren has definitely made an impact. (Rookie Andrew) Wantz can make an impact too. (Steve) Cishek’s been throwing the ball as good as I’ve seen. (Junior) Guerra has gone from just wanting to pitch long to pitching at any time. (Mike) Mayers, here’s a guy who’s absolutely resurfaced. His last three outings are exactly what he looked like in the mini-season last year. Quijada, we know he has a big arm, but now all of a sudden he’s throwing strikes and he’s able to get righties with his changeup too. Selman is a really nice Swiss Army knife who can do things against both sides.”
Iglesias has sustained his dominance from prior months while the bullpen has improved around him. While trading him at the deadline once seemed like a no-brainer, it now wouldn’t be surprising to see him re-sign with the Angels this offseason.
Meanwhile, the young and talented players coming out of the bullpen like Warren, Quijada, and Andrew Wantz provide some hope for a solidified group in 2022. At this point, that’s all the final six weeks of the regular season are for as the team begins to build momentum towards a hopeful playoff berth next season.
Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell lead comeback effort
The Angels put together a historic comeback on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers. After trailing 10-2 through five innings, L.A. scored 11 unanswered runs to win 13-10. Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell spring-boarded this effort, as Marsh notched two triples and Adell put together several quality at-bats and hustle plays.
Moments like this from the Angels young players provide even greater glimmers of hope for 2022.