I will continue to look at the bullpen again today, this time at left-handed specialist Joe Thatcher. Thatcher came over to the Angels in July, but sustained an ankle injury in early August keeping him out a month and a half. Before the injury he pitched in eight games, totalling three innings and allowed just two runs. He made it back to the mound in the middle of September pitching in eight games for a total of three and one-third innings. In that time frame he wasn’t the same Joe Thatcher that the Angels got from Arizona. He allowed six of nine inherited runners to score, and allowed four runs of his own. He just didn’t look at all comfortable on the mound.
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Thatcher will become a free-agent at the end 0f the World Series and in my opinion needs to be re-signed to be an Angel in 2015. His best season came back in 2010 with the San Diego Padres, but bringing him back and having him pitch a full season for the first time in the American League could be an advantage.
The one thing that sticks out about Thatcher is that he allows a ton of hits, but he is able to walk the type rope and escape jams by getting the big strikeout when he needs it. Angels fans didn’t get to see too much of that, but in the past that has been his calling.
This season wasn’t his best season being a lefty specialist either. In 2012 he held lefties to a .175 batting average and .239 on-base percentage. It rose to .250 and .323 in 2013. While in 2014 was his worst season, in recent years as he saw lefties hit .289 and have an on-base against of .317. The last two seasons he has been on two clubs both years. That is in my opinion what has gotten him off track the past two seasons.
If the Angels do resign him, which I believe they should, I think he will get back on track mentally and physically. Health will be a big issue but when you look at the other left-handed relievers going on the market, none of them look to be headed to Los Angeles. The most intriguing player hitting free agency is Andrew Miller. He has spent this season with Boston and is now in the Baltimore bullpen in the ALCS. He has been great, but will he be interested in joining the Angels, or will the Orioles re-sign him? Those are questions that still need to be answered, but if it came down to it, Joe Thatcher needs to be the guy that you can sign for cheap.