Los Angeles Angels Add Weapons to Bullpen
By Griffin Gallagher
Jun 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jason Grilli (39) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Los Angels beat Kansas City 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
On a Saturday morning, Jason Grilli was washing his hands in an O’Hare Airport restroom en route to Kansas City where he would join his new team after being traded from Pittsburgh to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Ernesto Frieri.
Grilli went to go dry his hands when he saw someone who looked very familiar. Yep, you guessed it. Frieri. In the same restroom, at the same airport, also on his way to his new franchise.
“I just said, ‘Wish you luck over there, lot of good people, you’ve got a lot of good friends; make the most of it,” Grilli told MLB.com’s Tom Singer. “For me, it was difficult leaving good friends. That’s always the hard part, and it sounded like that’s what it was for him.”
Grilli received the call telling him he had been traded one hour before Pittsburg’s game on June 27. This isn’t anything extremely new to Grilli. The Angels will be his seventh team since debuting with the Florida Marlins in 2000.
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Grilli was a major contributor to the Pirates’ first winning season since 1992, earning 33 saves with a 2.70 ERA while making the 2013 National League All-Star team. His 2014 season with the Pirates didn’t go as well. He is 0-2 and has increased his ERA to 4.87.
This trade has totally shook up the Angels bullpen. Current Angels closer Joe Smith had been doing a nice job splitting the closer spot with Frieri. He has seven saves and a 3.03 ERA.
However, I believe the reason that the Angels made this trade is due to the fact that they do not believe Smith is a reliable closer. The 37 year-old Grilli certainly has experience at the closer spot, and could serve as a fantastic closer to help the Angels finish out the year. The only concern for the Halos is determining how much Grilli has left in the tank. After all, he’s 37-years-old and in his twelfth major league year.
I still believe that there is too much of an upside on Grilli to consider this a bad deal. If Los Angeles can bring him back to the All-Star pitcher that he was a year ago, then this could be an extremely successful deal for the Angels.
What Los Angeles needs is a solid closer. They haven’t had one since Francisco Rodriguez in 2008. What the Halos are hoping for by making this trade is that Grilli potentially becomes a solid closer for them.
This isn’t the only big move Los Angeles has made on their bullpen.
The Angels have traded for side-arm throwing left-handed pitcher Joe Thatcher, and he is absolutely thrilled. Thatcher has never pitched in the playoffs before. “I’ve been on a lot of losing teams,” Thatcher said in speaking with the L.A. Times, “Coming to a team like this is exciting for sure.”
The Angels aren’t any less excited, signing a left-handed pitcher in the bullpen is something the Angels desperately needed to do. The 32 year-old Thatcher has a 2.63 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 24 innings. A great arm to add to the Angels bullpen.
One move that the Angels should strongly consider is trading with the Padres for Joaquin Benoit. He is a great hard-throwing reliever and is a top set-up pitcher in the majors. Plus, if Grilli turns out to not have what it takes to be the closer, they could try to utilize Benoit in that spot, as he has shown sides of being a successful closer.