Los Angeles Angels Spring Training Battles: 7th Inning Man

By Brian Helberg
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Oct 5, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Fernando Salas (59) pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning in game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Underdog – Fernando Salas

The Los Angeles Angels acquired Fernando Salas along with David Freese from the St. Louis Cardinals in November of 2013 in exchange for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk. Salas had been overshadowed in the vaunted Cardinals bullpen, but he excelled in Anaheim last season. The 29-year-old features a low 90’s fastball, a quality changeup and a slider.

Aug 8, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels reliever Fernando Salas (59) delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Red Sox won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fernando Salas was one of the best hurlers in the Angels’ bullpen in 2014. He went 5-0 and recorded a 3.38 ERA across 58.2 innings pitched. Salas put together perhaps his best season as a pro in his debut campaign in Anaheim. He averaged 9.4 punch outs per 9 innings, and issued just 2.1 free passes per 9 innings. His 4.36 strikeout to walk ratio set a new career high and ranked third on the club. Salas registered a 2.93 FIP in 2014, which speaks to his dominance. However, his 28.9% ground ball percentage is something he will need to correct in 2015.

Fernando Salas has strung together a pretty impressive five-year career. Since being called up the Cardinals in 2010, the right-hander has gone 11-13 with a 3.41 ERA across 251.0 career innings pitched. Salas has struck out 8.9 hitters per 9 innings, and allowed 3.0 walks per 9 innings. He has recorded a 2.98 career strikeout to walk ratio. He has done a nice job limiting base runners throughout his career, allowing just 1.171 walks/hits per inning. 2011 was a great year for Salas, as he went 5-6 with a 2.28 ERA and added 24 saves across 75.0 innings pitched.

The evil geniuses over at FanGraphs project Fernando Salas will go 3-2 and post a 3.69 ERA across 55 innings in 2015. They also predict Salas will record just 7.94 strikeouts per 9 innings, and he will allow 2.70 walks per 9 innings. I personally do not think Salas will regress this season in the strikeout department. If Salas has a strong spring, he has a very good chance to see significant work as the Angels’ seventh inning man in 2015.

Next: The Long Shot