In a move that didn’t garner much coverage, the LA Angels added pitcher Parker Markel to their organization.
There’s a good reason as to why LA Angels fans weren’t celebrating in the streets with this addition. The Halos only sent cash considerations back to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the right-handed pitcher.
The reason why fans didn’t pay much mind to this trade was because Markel has posted a 7.77 ERA and has been worth -0.4 WAR in 20 games last year. While that number is somewhat misleading, Markel just hasn’t cut it in the big leagues.
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In the minors, the Newport Beach native has flourished in the minors. In 228 games (54 starts), Markel has posted a 3.81 ERA across the minor leagues.
This is the type of move that Billy Eppler has loved to make as general manager of the Angels. A pitcher with a mid-90’s fastball and above-average spin rate is exactly what Eppler falls for when examining the trade/free agent market.
Has it been a perfect algorithm to find the Angels bullpen help? No, not at all. These moves have almost always been low-cost additions, and have a low success rate. Nobody cashes out every time they go to the casino.
As for Markel, his ERA was inflated by a tough stint in Seattle to start the season. An ERA north of 15 with the Mariners is a tough look. However, he turned into a somewhat respectable once he was shipped to Pittsburgh.
In 15 games as Pirate, he posted a 5.71 ERA in 15 games. Obviously still not great, but marked improvement for Markel. He also encouraged teams at the end of the season, with five straight scoreless outings to close out 2019.
Going into 2020, he’ll be a candidate for a bullpen spot in Spring Training. There’ll be no guarantee for him to be on the Opening Day roster, and if they had to decide today, the Angels would likely place him in Triple-A Salt Lake. There is one aspect of the game that might give Markel an advantage, though.
The 2020 season will be the first year in which pitchers have to face at least three batters (or finishing an inning) before coming out of the game. That requires a more extensive workload for relievers, and with Markel’s history as a starter, he may be find himself at a disadvantage as he can handle the weight of more pitches over the course of a season.
Maybe Markel is a career journeyman reliever. Maybe he’s closer to the pitcher we saw at the end of the season with the Pirates. Whether he’s the former, latter, or somewhere in between, Billy Eppler and the Angels are going to find out.