The Angels need to Sign One of the Joes


Jerry Dipoto and his staff have done a remarkable job this winter of restocking the Angels’ farm system, and creating valuable depth all over the roster. The pitching staff in particular looks much stronger than this time last year, however there is still a glaring lack of left-handed relievers on the roster.

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Right-handers Huston Street, Joe Smith, Mike Morin, and Fernando Salas all figure to feature prominently in the Halos’ bullpen this season. But entering the 2015 season, the only southpaw expected to play a significant role is Cesar Ramos. There have been rumblings that lefty starter Hector Santiago may transition to the bullpen this season. That is a promising proposition, but it remains to be seen whether Nick Tropeano or Andrew Heaney can overtake Santiago for the final spot in the rotation this spring. The Angels have extended invitations to a number of left-handers to compete this spring in Tempe, but no one on the list appears likely to have much of an impact in 2015.

Thankfully, there are two effective, veteran southpaws just waiting to get a call. Joe Thatcher and Joe Beimel.

Joe Thatcher spent 2014 split between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels. Thatcher put up some of the best numbers of his career with the D-Backs, going 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA across 24 innings in the desert The Angels dealt for the veteran lefty on July 5th, but having never pitched in the American League, he had trouble adjusting to the change. The Kokomo, IN product went 1-1 with an ERA of 8.53 over 6.1 innings of work with the Halos last summer. Thatcher struck out 8.33 hitters per walk with the Diamondbacks, but that number fell to 2.00 with the Halos.

Thatcher has a strong track record of racking up punch-outs, as he has averaged 9.2 strikeouts per 9 innings over the course of his career. The 33-year-old relies heavily on his mid-80’s fastball, but his sweeping slider is his money pitch. Thatcher has done a nice job limiting self-inflicted wounds by issuing just 1.2 walks per 9 innings in two of the last three seasons. He stranded base runners 70.4% of the time in 2014, down 5.1% from his career average. Thatcher’s 34.4% ground ball rate was the worst of his career, but his career 41.2% is encouraging. It was hard to watch Thatcher in an Angels’ uniform last season, but his career numbers indicate a bounce back season in 2015 is likely.

Jul 20, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners reliever Joe Beimel delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Angels defeated the Mariners 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Beimel rehabilitated his career last season in the Pacific Northwest as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Prior to 2014, Beimel had not appeared in a big league game since 2011, so his return to relevancy came as a shock to M’s fans. Beimel posted a record of 3-1 and an ERA 2.20 across 45 innings last season with Seattle. Never known as strikeout specialist, Beimel has to hit his spots and limit base runners. The St. Mary’s, PA product did just that last year, as he held the opposition to just 1.178 walks/hits per inning. Back in December, we took an in-depth look at what Beimel would bring to the table with the Angels.

Apart from his luxurious black beard, nothing really stands out about the 37-year-old southpaw, but he is the definition of the crafty lefty. He leans heavily on his Reagan era fastball, but consistently goes to his slider and changeup to get batters out. He stranded 86.8% of base runners last season, setting a new career high. His 49.6% ground ball rate was his highest mark since 2006. While it is unfair to expect Beimel to duplicate these numbers in 2015, he could certainly be an asset to the Angels’ bullpen.

Both Joe Thatcher and Joe Beimel fall into the finesse category, but they have both proven to be very effective against left-handed hitters during their careers. Thatcher has held lefties to a .230 batting average and a .351 slugging percentage. Against lefties, he has struck out 4.49 hitters for every walk he has issued. Beimel was flat out dominant in 2014, holding left-handed hitters to a .188 batting average and a .288 slugging percentage. His strikeout to walk ratio was an incredible 8.50.

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Despite impressive resumes, both players could likely be signed on the cheap. There has been little interest in either player this winter, but there is a feeling that the Mariners are keeping a close eye on Beimel. I would hazard a guess that Thatcher would accept a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. Beimel could be a bargain on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

Cesar Ramos is a jack-of-all-trades, and has had his fair share of success during the last six seasons. He is capable of handling the bulk of situations that call for an entire inning from a left-handed reliever, but the Angels lack a true matchup lefty. The Halos need a pitcher capable of coming in late in a ballgame to retire the opposition’s most dangerous left-handed hitter. Thatcher and Beimel are the best options still available for the Angels, and Dipoto would be wise to sign one of them before the club heads east to Tempe in just over two weeks.

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