What will 2015 Hold for Huston Street?


The Los Angeles Angels traded for all-star closer Huston Street on July 19th of last year from the San Diego Padres. Street wasted little time stepping into the ninth inning role in Anaheim, and proved to be a valuable pitcher down the stretch for the Angels as they marched to the American League West division title.

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Originally a first round selection of the Oakland Athletics in 2004, Street saw action in 61 games last season with the Halos and Padres. The 31-year-old right-hander cobbled together his best campaign as a pro in 2014, making his second all-star appearance in the last three seasons.

Reasons for Optimism:

Huston Street is the best closer to don an Angels’ uniform since Francisco Rodriguez left in 2008. The University of Texas alum saved a career high 41 games and posted a career low 1.37 ERA across 59.1 innings of work in 2014 with the Padres and Angels. He did a great job keeping the opposition off base, allowing just 0.944 walks/hits per inning. Street struck out 8.6 batters per 9 innings, and issued 2.1 walks per 9 innings. He registered an impressive 2.79 FIP, and his strikeout to walk ratio was 4.07. He consistently avoided the dreaded ninth inning home run, giving up just 0.6 home runs per 9 innings. Street tallied 1.0 wins above replacement combined this past season with Angels and Padres.

Huston Street is unchallenged as the Angels closer entering 2015, and figures to have plenty of opportunities to post a new career high in saves this season. With his fastball hovering around 90 mph, Street has never lit up the radar gun, but his velocity has stayed steady over the past three seasons. His slider graded out as his best pitch in 2014, tallying 6.6 runs above average, his highest total since 2009. Barring injury, it is hard to foresee a significant drop off in production this season for the 31-year-old.

Jul 23, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Huston Street (16) adjusts his cap in the ninth inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Street got the save and the Angels won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Reasons to Panic:

Huston Street was a steadying force at the backend of the Halos’ bullpen, but he was obviously not the same pitcher after the trade from San Diego. Street had 24 saves and a 1.09 ERA across 33 innings with the Padres last season. After taking the reigns as the Angels’ closer in mid-July, Street saved 17 games and posted a 1.71 ERA. His strikeout to walk ratio dropped from 4.86 with the Padres to 3.29 with the Angels. He averaged 9.3 strikeouts per 9 innings with San Diego, but only 7.9 as member of the Halos. His 1.9 walks per 9 innings with the Friars ballooned to 2.4 in the big A. He held opponents to 4.9 hits per 9 innings prior to the trade, but that number rose to 8.2 after. Most disturbing of all, he allowed just 0.758 walks/hits per inning with the Padres, but that number jumped to 1.177 with the Halos.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of these statistical discrepancies, but the spacious confines at Petco Park likely skewed his San Diego numbers slightly. The fact he had not pitched in the American League since the Athletics sent him to Colorado in 2008 did not help much either. He should be much more comfortable against the American League West in 2015.

What to Expect in 2015:

FanGraphs steamer is projecting Huston Street will take a major step backwards in 2015. The experts at FanGraphs expect Street to save 35 games and post a 3.54 ERA across 65 innings pitched. They believe he will struggle to strikeout hitters, averaging just 7.7 per 9 innings. His FIP will rise to 3.86, and Street will surrender 1.1 home runs per 9 innings.

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While it is fair to assume Street will struggle to duplicate his incredible 2014 season, in my opinion, it is unreasonable to suggest he will turn into a doormat. I believe Street will be highly productive this season, and play a critical role in the Halos’ success. Thankfully, Huston Street rarely gave Angels’ fans reason to panic in 2014, and I expect that to continue this season.

It has been reported that Angels’ General Manager Jerry Dipoto will meet with Huston Street’s representation to discuss a potential contract extension this spring in Tempe. Street is one of the most underrated closers in the game, and I would be happy if the two sides come to an agreement on a short-term extension prior to breaking camp at the beginning of April. I am very confident in Street’s ability to dance out of tight situations, and he should get plenty of opportunities to show off his dancing shoes in the big A this season.

Next: Halo Trivia: Which Angel Player Has Hit For the Cycle Twice?