It seems that no one can agree on the origin of the term “bullpen,” at least that is the conclusion I came to when doing a Google search last night. Some say it is because of the Bull Durham tobacco ads printed on the outfield fences. Casey Stengel is believed to have said that it was called that because the relief pitchers would sit out there “shooting the bull.” Another theory is that it was named after the holding pen where cattle were kept before being led to slaughter. This last one seems to be the perfect image of the 2013 Angels bullpen. Though not hapless victims by any means, the term “slaughter” is an apt description of the Angels’ relief pitching during this past season. Let me break down for you just how bad it was. In the AL regular season standings, the Angels’ relief staff finished:
- 11th in Wins (20)
- 5th in Losses (27)
- 13th in ERA (4.12)
- 3rd in Earned Runs (226)
- 3rd in Walks (216)
- 13th in Strikeouts-to-Walks Ratio (2.15)
- 12th in WHIP (1.35)
Granted, the Halos’ bullpen doesn’t deserve all of the blame for the team’s woes. Apart from Mike Trout, the offense couldn’t carry a win in a five-gallon bucket, and aside from slightly above-average performances by Weaver and Wilson, the starting rotation wasn’t much to write home about either. But the numbers above don’t lie. The bullpen had an abysmal season in 2013. However, it’s not all doom and gloom; there were a few bright spots in the forms of Ernesto Frieri and Dane De La Rosa. These two were the anchors of the storm-tossed ship that was the Angels’ relief staff. Here’s a look at how they finished:
Frieri saved 37 games in 41 opportunities. He had a 30/98 Walks-to-Strikeouts ratio, a Batting-Average-Against of .216, and a 1.24 WHIP. But perhaps most notably, he led the League in multi-inning saves with 7 (the next closest pitcher had only 4). Frieri is a young, strong pitcher ready to make a name for himself. He may not be the next K-Rod, but he could be solid in the years to come. If given the opportunity and the run support, he’ll be able to get the job done.
De La Rosa finished with 2.86 ERA, a 28/65 Walks-to-Strikeouts ratio, a Batting-Average-Against of .219, and a 1.16 WHIP. He filled in as a closer on several occasions, saving 2 out of 5 games, and had 20 Holds in 75 games. He, too, is relatively young and could be developed into a solid set-up man and a backup closer.
Now, two pitchers do not a winning bullpen make. But it’s a start. Mike Scioscia knows how to manage a good bullpen; hopefully Jerry Dipoto can find the necessary personnel that make Scioscia’s job a little bit easier.