How Blake Parker Has Saved the Los Angeles Angels Season

By Andrew Clark
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 26: Relief pitcher Blake Parker records the save against the Houston Astros
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 26: Relief pitcher Blake Parker records the save against the Houston Astros /
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Blake Parker has always been seen as an expendable journeyman, just looking for a break. With the LA Angels in dire need of relief pitching, Parker found his match made in heaven.

Blake Parker’s path resembles that of many pitchers: a journeyman looking to finally break through. Parker, a 16th round selection of the Chicago Cubs in 2006, has been searching for that his whole career.

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As a Cub, Parker saw some success, but that also came with loads of adversity. In 2013, he seemed to crack, posting a 2.72 ERA over 46.1 innings. That was the lone glimpse of hope Parker saw. The following season he posted an ERA over five, and consequently spent 2015 injured nearly the whole season.

Over the 2016 season, Parker’s career appeared to be headed toward the beginning of the end. He bounced around with three teams over the course of that season, including the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, and Milwaukee Brewers.

Just a few days after the Angels season ended in 2016, the Los Angeles claimed Parker off waivers from the Yankees. Though this would end up being the team Parker broke through with, general manager Billy Eppler released Parker in the same offseason. The Brewers shortly claimed him, but released Parker and the Angels (luckily) managed to reclaim their soon-to-be closer. Adversity continued for Parker, as the Angels would go on the designate him for assignment yet again.

With the instability in Parker’s life over the past year, he and his wife invested in an RV in order to prepare for the likely continued trips back and forth from Triple-A and the Majors. Thus began Parker’s rise to the top of the Angels depth chart.

Then came Spring Training 2016, which would mark the beginning of the best stretch of baseball in Parker’s life.

As a Spring Training non-roster invitee, Parker burst onto the scene from absolutely no where. Initially a long shot to make the roster, Parker’s 24 strikeouts over twelve appearances proved enough to make the Opening Day roster. What helped his push the most was his 17 straight outs recorded via strikeout to conclude the spring.

Skepticism continued for Parker, as for the first few weeks he continued to pitch in low leverage roles. He continued to persevere, demonstrating his high strikeout rate and limiting base runners overall.

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As the season has progressed, so has Parker’s role and how management views him. He progressed into situations where his high strikeout ratio was needed, which was taking care of inherited runners. His .174 average with runners in scoring position coupled with his 11.53 K/9 are dynamic. That ratio along with a 0.83 WHIP and .168 batting average lead the team.

With other teammates struggling like Bud Norris and Cam Bedrosian, many fans called for Parker to assume the closing role. Since assuming the role on August 26, Parker is a perfect 5/5 with nine strikeouts.

Next: Angels Playoff Hopes Face a Daunting Schedule

It has been an abnormal year for Parker to say the least, but it has been sustained over the season. He is under team control for three more years, so hopefully this can evolve into the best bargain in baseball.

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