LA Angels get big effort from rookies to take series from O’s and climb back into Wild-Card Race

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 16: Parker Bridwell
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 16: Parker Bridwell /

The LA Angels have played better in the past two weeks winning eight of their last 12 games.  They again have pulled within two games of the final wild-card spot with back-to-back victories over the Baltimore Orioles last two nights.

The LA Angels have been scratching and clawing their way back into the chase for the final two playoff spots.  If not for two catastrophic the last two Sunday’s that saw the Angels blow leads of five and six runs.  The Angels lost both of those games and if not for those two loses they would be at .500 and only one game out.

Can the Angels finally push their way over the hump and secure a playoff berth? Hopefully so, but they need to get more consistency from their bullpen and starting rotation.  The Angels got strong performances from starter Parker Bridwell and two relievers Cam Bedrosian, and Keynan Middleton combined on a gem to help the Angels break a three-game losing streak on Tuesday night.

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Bridwell gave up only one run in seven innings against his former team, the Baltimore Orioles. Bridwell was released earlier this season and was picked up by Billy Eppler and the Angels.  He has been quite a find.  Bridwell now has a record of 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA.   Out of the bullpen Bedrosian pitched very well going one inning to set up Keynan Middleton. Middleton pitched a strong ninth inning striking out two batters despite giving up a two-out solo homer to Caleb Joseph, which Cameron Maybin fresh off the disabled list nearly robbed in left.  But Middleton bounced back getting Joey Rickard to pop-up to close out his first major league save.

On Wednesday afternoon the Angels got another strong performance from a rookie. Tony Scribner went five strong innings giving up only one run o two hits while striking out four to earn his 2nd major league victory.

The Angels bullpen again came up big as four relievers shut down Baltimore in the final four innings. The Angels scored two runs in the bottom of the 6thon a C.J. Cron two-run blast to give the bullpen a 3-run cushion. Blake Parker would finish the O’s off in the 9th to close out a 5-1 series-clinching victory.

Bridwell, Scribner, and Middleton are three rookies who have come up big lately for the Angels, when they needed it the most. Bridwell and Scribner have held the fort down while Alex Meyer, Tyler Skaggs, and Andrew Heaney work their way back to health.

Skaggs is now back in the fold as he prepares to start his second game tonight in Seattle. Scribner was called up to replace Jesse Chavez in the rotation due to Chavez’s inconsistency. Scribner is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA so far in two starts.

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One would figure though that when Heaney and or Meyer are ready to return that Scribner will either return to the minors or go to the bullpen. Heaney looks to be ready to come back to the Angels after five rehab starts.  However, the Angels are being very cautious with Heaney since he is way ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

As for Alex Meyer, he resumed throwing over the weekend. If Meyer continues to progress he will be sent out on an injury rehab assignment next week.

If Heaney and Meyer are both able to come back in the next few weeks it will further bolster the Angels rotation for the stretch run.  However, then the question becomes who will be bumped out of the rotation?  Mike Scioscia always coy with his decisions, would most likely say it is a nice problem to have, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

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If I was the Angels manager I would put Heaney into the rotation and move J.C. Ramirez back to the bullpen to bolster it for the stretch run.  I also might be tempted to put Alex Meyer in the pen as well.  The reason for these decisions would be not only to bolster the bullpen, but also to limit the innings of Ramirez and Meyer as they both have never been starters for a full season.

The other option is to bump both Ramirez and Ricky Nolasco to the bullpen and possibly release Jesse Chavez.  I don’t like that idea as much, but it could be option for the Angels.  Again as Scioscia would say we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  However, it is always nice to speculate on the possibilities.

For now though the Angels hope that Bridwell and Scribner can continue to pitch well and that Skaggs will return to form.  If all this happens coupled with a favorable schedule (16 of the next 25 games with teams below .500. Oakland, Texas, and Baltimore) the Angels could vault their way to the top of the wild-card standings.

Next: Angels make changes for the better with starting rotation

This upcoming 10-game road trip that starts today in Seattle will be crucial to the Angels chances of making that final wild-card spot.  As of today Seattle is in the 2nd wild-card spot with Kansas City, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay in between the Angels and Mariners who are one game out.

All I can say it will be fun ride and hopefully our Angels will come out on top.