When the Los Angeles Angels offense battled their way back into Monday’s game against the Houston Astros, manager Phil Nevin didn’t hesitate to call on Carlos Estévez to close it out in the ninth inning.
The last big-time closer the Angels had at the backend was Raisel Iglesias, whom they traded for and extended on a huge contract following the 2020 season. Since dealing him to the Atlanta Braves, they’ve lacked a clear-cut closer option because of a pure lack of consistent options or those who have underperformed.
Estévez pitched like a top-5 reliever in the second half of last season, and after a difficult Spring Training, he’s proving to be worth the investment. After setting the Astros down in order on Monday to earn the save, Nevin appears to have settled in on his main bullpen arm, via J.P. Hoornstra of the O.C. Register:
“It’s safe to say Esty is slipping into that closer’s role most nights,” Nevin said, “but still if it’s a more high-leverage (situation), in a different spot in the eighth inning, I’d go with him before I went to someone else.”
The right-hander holds a 1.02 ERA, and is a perfect 8-for-8 in save attempts thus far, allowing a minuscule.145 batting average allowed in 17.2 innings pitched.
With multiple relievers posting incredible returns, the Angels and Nevin are in a position with a few arms they can be fairly comfortable within the latter parts of games.
Angels shortstop Zach Neto dealing with finger laceration
Aside from a few injuries some of their pitchers, the Angels roster has general remained healthy and have a clear plan to get those who are out back into action.
As for their position players, Jared Walsh remains out due to insomnia and headaches but he has made continuous progress. Zach Neto also suffered an injury while trying to bunt, but it appears to be more on the minor side, which is good news for the Angels
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