Los Angeles Angels have hidden gem in Greg Mahle

With his funky delivery styles, Los Angeles Angels reliever Greg Mahle hopes to stick around in the majors for awhile. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
With his funky delivery styles, Los Angeles Angels reliever Greg Mahle hopes to stick around in the majors for awhile. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Los Angeles Angels’ reliever Greg Mahle has rapidly advanced through the Angels’ farm system after being drafted in the 15th round of the 2014 Amateur Draft out of UCSB, Mahle has made it to the “Show” in a year and a half.

When the Los Angeles Angels drafted a then 21-year old Greg Mahle from UCSB they knew they were getting a unique pitcher who had a funky delivery (actually three funky deliveries) and threw hard (Avg. speed 91-93 MPH).  The Angels did not expect the left-handed reliever from nearby Westminster High School (10 miles from Angel Stadium) to make such a meteoric rise to the majors.

Mahle started his career in rookie ball for the Orem Owlz in the summer of 2014.  Mahle did so well for the Owlz pitching eight innings giving up no runs and striking out 11 batters, that he was promoted to the low Single-A Burlington Bees where he finished the season.  While in Burlington Mahle pitched effectively as well a 3.38 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 29.1 innings and a 1.09 WHIP.

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In 2015 Mahle was promoted to (High) Single-A Inland Empire 66’ers where he compiled an 0-1 record with a 3.57 ERA recording nine saves in 11 opportunities.  Mahle pitched in 21 games throwing in 22.2 innings striking out 31 batters before being promoted to Double-A Arkansas at mid-season.  While in Double-A Mahle was 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA recording 16 saves in 19 opportunities.  Mahle had 36 strikeouts in 35.2 innings.

This Spring Mahle was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player and Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia gave Mahle numerous opportunities to prove himself and the former Gaucho did just that.  In 12 games Mahle compiled a 1.46 ERA allowing only two runs in 12.1 innings pitched with eight strikeouts and no walks.  He made it until the final cutdown day, but ultimately was sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake City.

“I just wanted to go in and face some big league hitters just show that I could challenge them and that I belonged and whatever happened after that I was okay with. I just wanted to pound the zone and give it my best shot,” said Mahle in an interview I did with him before the St. Louis series finale. “It was a lot of nerves as I didn’t know what was going to happen. At the same time I hadn’t been to Triple-A yet. Once it got close there and I didn’t I was disappointed for a second then I just got ready to go down to Salt Lake and win some games.”

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However, Greg Mahle’s stay in Triple-A would be very brief as the left-hander would get called up less than a week into the season. Cam Bedrosian, who beat Mahle out for the last bullpen spot had gotten sent down over the weekend in favor of A.J. Achter.  Two days later Achter was sent down and Mahle received the news that his dream of making it to the big leagues was going to become a reality.  The Angels called up Mahle on April 11th and his journey to the big leagues was complete.

“It shows you never really know once you get to that level what can happen. A lot of crazy moves can happen that can cause you to go up,” Mahle said. “I was very excited to be going up to the majors, but once I got there I was just there trying to pitch well and win games.”

What makes Mahle so effective is his ability to throw strikes and change his arm angles as he throws side-armed, three-quarters, and then traditional over the top. When Mahle was in high school he was a conventional over the top pitcher while at Westminster High School. Mahle decided to toy with his delivery while he was in college at UCSB.

“When I was at Westminster (High) I was more of a conventional lefty and starter, but when I got to college they turned me into a closer most of time. I kind of amped everything up. Coming in for an inning was different from being a starter,” Mahle said. “It was just kind of something I started doing (throwing side-armed) I would mix in a fastball from down there and when I got to pro ball they told me to develop a slider and I was able to get guys out and it just kind of kept going from there.”

In the first month of the 2016 season Greg Mahle pitched exceptionally well out of the bullpen pitching in seven innings giving up only one run for a sparkling 1.29 ERA. Mahle’s WHIP was 1.14.

Mahle is in a bit of the slump since May 1st as he has seen his ERA jump almost three full runs to 4.20 has been his control he has walked six batters in only eight innings, but even more important is that he has been constantly working behind in the count which is forcing him to throw strikes that and therefore is getting hit more. Mahle has given up six runs in only eight innings.

However, that is part of growing pains when you’re trying to make it in the majors. Mahle said that he will keep fighting to get better no matter what happens.

“It’s a great opportunity being with the best players in the world,” said Mahle about pitching in the majors. “I’m very appreciative and I’m working hard to help the team win and just continue ding my best and being the best player I can be.”

So what does the best player in baseball Mahle’s teammate Mike Trout think about his unconventional deliveries and how he has contributed thus far.

“He’s nasty! When know when he comes in he is going to get outs. When he throws the ball from all different angles he’s fun to watch,” said Trout in a dugout interview I did with him before the St. Louis series finale.

When asked about his approach if he would do have to face Mahle ,Trout laughed and said, “I would try to get a fastball early so he couldn’t throw me his side arm stuff. If not I would do whatever I could to put the ball in play.”

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Mahle said he has received tutelage from many of the veterans on the staff, naming reliever Mike Morin and closer Huston Street as guys he watches and tries to emulate their routine and work ethic.

To get a better perspective on Mahle we asked veteran starter Hector Santiago who is also a lefty, for his thoughts on Mahle.

“It was definitely weird in Spring Training when I first saw him throw like that. It’s funky! That’s what gives you that advantage especially when you face left-handers when you are throwing from three different arm angles,” said Santiago in a dugout I did with him a week ago. “I threw submarine stuff a couple of years ago and I also threw side-armed as well so I kind of knew where it was at. But to do all three at the same time, it’s helping get him some good innings because you don’t know where he is throwing, submarine style, side-armed or over the top. He’s throwing a lot of strikes too so that’s good.”

If Mahle is turning the heads of his teammates, just imagine what he I doing to opposing hitters. As the season goes along Mahle, who is being used at times as a situational lefty could be called upon to face guys like Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, Prince Fielder, Joe Mauer, or Eric Hosmer with the game on the line. So we asked Mahle who he’s toughest out has been so far.

Adam Lind has had a some success off me so far, hopefully I can turn that around,” Mahle said.

Mahle had a stretch of eight consecutive outings from April 17th to May 1st where he did not give up any runs.  Mahle has yet to get any saves after recording 27 in his first two years in the minor leagues, but he did get his first big league victory against Texas on May 1st.  Hopefully there will be more where that came from for Mahle.  However whatever happens Mahle will be okay as he has the right mental make-up for the job.

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So next time you’re at Angel Stadium watching you the Los Angeles Angels play and number 65 gets called out of the bullpen to come into the game.  Pay attention.  You just might learn something, at the very least Greg Mahle will be fun to watch.