An active offseason has already made a world of difference for general manager Perry Minasian and the Los Angeles Angels bullpen with how they’ve come together as a group that can actually limit major damage.
Prioritizing both free-agent signings and keeping the best arms in the bullpen are exactly what was needed, and entering play on Wednesday, the Angels possess a top-10 bullpen. From Opening Day through April 18 of last season, their reliever group had a 5.32 FIP, the second-worst in baseball.
But Carlos Estévez, José Quijada, Jimmy Herget, Matt Moore, Aaron Loup, Jaime Barría, Ryan Tepera, Tucker Davidson, and Andrew Wantz have all contributed to their 3.42 FIP, which is sixth-best in Major League Baseball. They’re limiting homers at just a 5.6% clip, which contributes to what Minasian loves about his group, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“We like our bullpen,” Minasian said on Monday. “I think when you look at certain things that are indicators of good bullpens, missing bats is important, not walking people is important. We’ve done both to a pretty solid level. The one area where we’ve been really hurt, it’s just batting average on balls and play.”
Early in the season, the Angels pen dealt with a fair amount of bad luck, but they’ve figured out a decent amount of their issues, lowering their BABIP to .269. Among their options are a group of guys who aren’t entirely flamethrowers, but require a finesse approach and solid sequencing in order to be successful:
“You don’t have to throw (in the upper 90s) to miss bats,” Minasian said. “It’s about executing pitches. Would you want a full bullpen with guys throwing 110 that have nasty breaking balls and throw strike one? Absolutely. We all would. But we like our group.”
The Angels sought out Estévez, and Moore in free agency, while also putting their faith into Quijada, Davidson and Herget to find their stride, something the Angels GM highlights when speaking of his bullpen:
“We like this group,” Minasian said. “We think it’s going to be a productive group. We’ll just go day by day, and I think one thing about (Manager Phil Nevin) is there’s a lot of confidence there with him on the bullpen. He knows what he’s doing. We believe in our guys, and we’re going to have a productive year.”
They must continue to maintain both proper deployment and spread-out usage this season with the hope that they can keep up this production. But so far it’s an encouraging start to the season for a group that has not had much success in the past.
Angels place Ryan Tepera on injured list
Tepera was signed over the previous offseason to add an arm to specialize in high-leverage spots, and his 3.61 ERA in 57.1 innings with 17 holds provided just that. But as volatile as relievers are in Major League Baseball, the right-hander has allowed five earned runs through four innings this season, allowing opposing hitters to post a .500 batting average.
His struggles were apparent in his last outing, and it became worse when he started dealing with a shoulder injury.
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