The LA Angels have numerous options this season when Brad Ausmus decides to make a call to the bullpen. This has not been the case over the past few seasons.
The LA Angels bullpen has been in area of concern in the past few seasons with no definitive closer and pitchers who could be amazing in one outing and then horrid in their next appearance. In their defense the Angel starters have not made it easy for the bullpen failing to go more than five innings in many their starts.
This year the Angel starting pitchers have been very lackluster again with the exception of Griffin Canning. The Angels have used an opener strategy that has helped one Angel starter Felix Pena and has lessened the load on the bullpen on these nights.
The difference this season has been the emergence of the Angels bullpen. Hansel Robles has taken over as the closer when Cody Allen was hurt and also ineffective on many instances. Ty Buttrey has emerged as the set-up man and has also closed a few games.
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Justin Anderson as well as Buttrey has pitched anywhere from the fifth through ninth innings. Luis Garcia, Noe Ramirez, and Cam Bedrosian have all filled in the cracks and they have been also used as openers on multiple occasion in 2019.
In addition there have been several Angel pitchers who have shuffled from Triple-A Salt Lake to Anaheim and back again when the Angels bullpen needs some reinforcements. Guys like Dillon Peters, Jaime Barria, Jake Jewell, and Luke Bard have also played key roles for the Angels in 2019.
The Angels bullpen has 18 of the team’s 34 victories this season with three of the top five in victories coming from the Angels bullpen (Buttrey 4, Robles 3, and Anderson 2). Tyler Skaggs has five wins and Felix Pena has four wins, but all with the help of an opener.
In an interview in mid-April with Fox Sports West Brad Ausmus talks about not overusing the bullpen in 2019.
In 264 innings pitched the Angels bullpen has a 3.88 ERA with 18 saves with seven blown saves which is a 72% success rate. Compare this to the Angels starting pitchers who have pitched a total of 347 innings with an ERA of 5.80 wth only 16 wins compared to the bullpen’s 18 victories.
So if not for the Angels bullpen in 2019 the team would be well out of the AL Playoff race already and we are not even to the All-Star break. The credit should go to Angels general manager Billy Eppler who has increased the Angels bullpen depth and also pitching coach Doug White and manager Brad Ausmus for knowing how to use this crew of relievers.
If the Angels starters can step it up in the last 92 games and shoulder more of the pitching load. The starters have averaged right at five innings per start (5.02 IP) (this is including the innings that Felix Pena, Jaime Barria, and Trevor Cahill have pitched following an opener).
Trent Rush, who covers the Angels for AM 830 and Fox Sports West had this to say about the keys to the Angels success.
With the Angel starting rotation getting stronger with the addition of Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning along with recent addition Jose Suarez the starting rotation is looking more like a rotation that is built to last. Felix Pena and Tyler Skaggs round out the Angels current starting rotation.
These five pitchers along with possibly a couple of others that may be used from time-to-time like Nick Tropeano, Dillon Peters, and Jaime Barria. Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill could be inserted in the rotation when healthy and J.C. Ramirez could also be put in the rotation upon his return from the IL which could be anytime.
For now let’s be happy with the depth, versatility, and overall effectiveness of the Angels bullpen in 2019 and hope for it to continue for the rest of the season.