After a hot start to the season, the Los Angeles Angels quickly fell out of the playoff race and decided to become sellers at the MLB trade deadline, which included them trading closer Raisel Iglesias to the Atlanta Braves.
Although Iglesias was not pitching to the best of his ability, he still had 16 saves on the season and his loss created a hole at the back end of the bullpen. Without a set closer, Angels manager Phil Nevin is likely to rely on a committee unless someone can step up and claim the role.
Among the candidates Nevin is considering is right-hander Ryan Tepera, who picked up a save on Monday, and left-handers José Quijada and Aaron Loup, he said via Sonja Chen of MLB.com:
“It made sense with [Tepera] against the righties,” Nevin said. “Quijada is going to get a lot of those chances, too. I can see Loup getting a save if there’s a left-handed lane, but [Quijada’s] kind of universal; he gets both out. Probably any one of those three, on given nights.”
Among those options, Tepera has the most career saves, although it’s a small sample of 14. Loup comes in next with six while Quijada has saved just three games. Loup and Tepera, however, both have a lot of experience in high-leverage situations with 87 and 76 holds, respectively.
Quijada has been the most effective reliever this season of the three, posting a 3.22 ERA and 2.94 FIP with 11.28 strikeouts per nine in 22.1 innings.
Loup has struggled to prevent runs with a 4.32 ERA, but his 3.72 FIP suggests he has been pitching better than the results show. Tepera has been on the other end of the spectrum with a 3.86 ERA and a FIP of 4.12.
It would make sense for the Angels to fully hand the job to Quijada and see how effective he can be full-time in the role. If they wish to contend next season, it’s unlikely Loup or Tepera will be their closer, so seeing what they have in the young left-hander would be beneficial in a lost season.
Michael Lorenzen aiming to return before season ends
Michael Lorenzen threw his last pitch for the Angels on July 1 against the Houston Astros in which he only lasted three innings and ended up leaving with an aggravated shoulder. However, his time off has given a green light that he will see the field in early September for the Angels.
Prior to his July 17 start against the Seattle Mariners, Lorenzen noted that his shoulder began giving him trouble, but in attempting to work through it, he went on to struggle over those three starts allowing 16 earned runs over those next 11 innings.
Lorenzen’s pre-injury numbers are much more indicative of his performance in 2022. In his first 11 starts of the season, he posted a 3.45 ERA with a 3.66 FIP in 60 innings.