Los Angeles Angels lose Huston Street will go with closer by committee
The Los Angeles Angels have caught fire in September and seem to be firing on all cylinders as they have gone 15-8 since September 1st and have climbed back into the wild-card race as they sit 0.5 games behind Houston for the final playoff spot. However, this week the team has taken a major hit in the back end of their bullpen as first set-up man Joe Smith suffered a sprained ankle that has kept him out for the past week, and may cause him to miss the rest of the regular season. Then Saturday night closer Huston Street pulls up lame attempting to back-up third base in the 9th inning and injures his groin. Preliminary reports have Street missing the rest of the regular season and possibly the playoffs as well. SO where does that leave the Angels bullpen?
Manager Mike Scioscia told reporters after Saturday night’s game that he will employ a bullpen by committee, meaning he will play the match-ups lefty vs righty and look at the situation when deciding who to bring in from the pen. This may not be as bad as some people think as the Angels do have some good arms in the bullpen, but the experience is what will be lacking as all but Fernando Salas have never pitched in the playoffs (if the Angels can qualify).
Here is my take on the Angels bullpen situation. I think they should make Trevor Gott the closer, what he lacks in experience he makes up for in his stuff a 96-98 MPH fastball with movement and a wicked breaking ball. At times including Saturday Gott has looked almost unhittable. The Angels had this dilemma before back in 2002 where they had an unproven young reliever that Scioscia decided to add to post-season roster in late September named Francisco Rodriguez and we know how that turned out. Now before you jump through my computer screen and yell in my face asking how dare I compare Gott to Rodriguez, listen up. I know that K-Rod was a very special case that post-season, but my point is that late September playoff roster additions can pay big dividends in October. Next as a set-up man I would use Mike Morin as he has shown the past month that he has his mojo back and he is deceptive (similar to Joe Smith) that make him tough to square up.
Trevor Gott is the most viable option for the Los Angeles Angels at closer with Street and Smith out. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Morin has pitched well as of late and may be a short-term solution as a set-up man for the Los Angeles Angels. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
I would sprinkle in a little bit of Jose Alvarez and Cesar Ramos to face a tough left-handed batter or two if needed, but as a whole I would give Morin the 8th inning duties. The 7th may be the trickiest as Fernando Salas may have the experience and even the stuff to some extent to be a viable option, but he has been majorly inconsistent this season so he would be an iffy choice as would rookie Cam Bedrosian. My thought is this where the games could be won and lost so how Scioscia handles the 7th and possibly the 6th when necessary could have the most impact on the Angels playoff opportunities. So what do you do with this situation, I think you rely heavily on match-ups you can use Ramos and Alvarez in this mix if needed and in the playoffs even use a Matt Shoemaker or Jered Weaver (whichever you don’t put in the starting rotation). Cory Rasmus and possibly Nick Tropeano could be a wild-card in this mix, but I doubt either of those two pitchers make the post-season roster. They could however, pitch a couple of key innings down the stretch this next week.
These are my thoughts, and as much as I would love to have Mike Scioscia hear my opinions and follow what I think would be the best for the Angels, I know that is why he gets paid the ‘big bucks’ and I’m writing on my computer while contemplating my lesson plans for my middle school this week. Hopefully Scioscia will push the right buttons and we will be celebrating a playoff berth this time next Sunday afternoon.