The Los Angeles Angels made a lot of off-season moves to bolster their team. One are they did not do much to improve was the bullpen, and recently this has been an area of weakness.
For the first month of the 2018 season thee Los Angeles Angels bullpen had been pretty solid. The Angels bullpen only blew two save opportunities in the first month and this was a big reason why the got off to such a good start at 13-3 and overall they were 14-11 in the month of April.
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However in the month of May the Angel bullpen has already blown three saves and allowed a few games to get out of hand in the late innings. Overall the bullpen has the third-highest ERA in the American League at 5.37. So the question is what do the Angels do about fixing the problem.
The first thing and definitely the most important is to keep the bullpen arms healthy. The Angels have already lost early season closer Keynan Middleton to a torn UCL in his elbow. Blake Wood was being used as a set-up man in both the 7th and 8th inning also has been on the disabled list for the past three weeks, and today it was announced he has UCL damage and could be done for the year.
When you couple this with the inconsistency of Jim Johnson (4.13 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) and Cam Bedrosian (4.19 ERA, 1.71 WHIP) and you have a recipe for disaster. Thankfully Jose Alvarez has had the best year of his career (2.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and Middleton was very solid while healthy (2.04 ERA, 1.30 WHIP with six saves in seven opportunities).
In addition Noe Ramirez has been solid with a 3.86 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, rebounding from a slow start. Blake Parker has also come on as of late lowering his ERA to 2.78 with a 1.24 WHIP after having close to a 5.00 ERA a month ago.
The wildcard in all this is young fireballer Justin Anderson. Although Anderson has had his bad games, most times when he is called upon he and his 98 MPH fastball have been lights out against some of the league’s elite teams the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
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Right now Angel manager Mike Scioscia is not naming a closer since Middleton was lost for the season. But Parker and Anderson are probably best suited for the job. My opinion is that Anderson should be the eighth inning set-up man with some help from Alvarez when there is a tough lefty or two to get out. Then let Parker close it out in the 9th.
On days when Parker is not available due to pitching consecutive days give Anderson the shot to close to get his feet wet and become more comfortable with the closer role. This may take the rest of the season or just a few months. When he is ready gradually give him the closer job and have Parker move back to being a set-up man.
As for the rest of the bullpen Ramirez, Johnson, and Bedrosian can be used at times when necessary. The Angels have also done a good job at calling on a few Triple-A arms when needed to give the main bullpen guys a break. This will hopefully increase the depth of the Angels bullpen.
If this does not work, and the Angels closer by committee is not working they can look to make a trade to get a reliable closer. However, beware this option will cost the Angels some prospects which may not be worth it in the long run. We will just have to wait and see.