LA Angels Biggest Surprises of 2017: #5

TORONTO, ON - JULY 29: Bud Norris
TORONTO, ON - JULY 29: Bud Norris /

The LA Angels came into the season with many veterans fighting for roster spots. One of them was Bud Norris, who turned in a career year that no one saw coming.

Bud Norris came into the LA Angels Spring Training as a depth piece. He would compete for the fifth starter spot throughout camp. However, he ultimately lost to Jesse Chavez. Despite the tough situation, it ended up being the best possible outcome for Norris.

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Yes, Bud Norris is finishing the season with an ERA above 4.00. He is indeed 2-6 as I write this. However, like many other Halos this year, Norris played well when it mattered most for the Angels.

Coming into the season, there was a three player race for the closing job. Huston Street, Cam Bedrosian, and Andrew Bailey were all impressing in the spring. However, none of them registered more than six saves on the season. Instead, it was Norris with 19 saves who held down the job.

After all three closers ended up on the disabled list, Norris took over. He didn’t just take over the closer role, but took over the ninth inning as well. In the first half of the season, Norris recorded a 2.23 ERA. When the Angels offense would make a comeback late, it was Norris who held onto the lead. He recorded 13 of his saves in the first half of the season.

However, the All-Star break changed things. The team was as healthy as it would be all season with Mike Trout back. They were fighting for a playoff spot. However, Norris would collapse early. He allowed two games in one week that ended on walk-off grand slams. One of the best closers in the league over the first half of the season was collapsing.

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His 9.72 ERA in July would eventually begin to calm down. He was no longer the sole closer for the team, as manager Mike Scioscia began using the hot hand to end games. However, Norris would regain his composure and currently owns a 3.27 ERA in September.

Towards the end of the season, with the team in need of a starter, Norris stepped in. He was no ace, but he performed exceptionally well. He held a 1.08 ERA as a starter, but was never able to pitch more than a few innings. It was just another example of Norris doing whatever is asked of him, and doing it well.

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It is not everyday that a 32-year old starting pitcher like Norris becomes what Norris became. What Norris did this year, especially in the first half, was truly remarkable. Players like Norris are the reason why the Halos lasted so long in the playoff race.