Is the LA Angels bullpen good enough?
Last season, the LA Angels lack of rotation caused what was a solid bullpen to falter in the latter half of the season.
And honestly, the amount of innings that LA Angels relievers pitched last season was ludicrous. To answer the “are they good enough” question, this is the same exact group from last year, so no. But to be fair, there might not be a group of relievers outside of the Bronx who could handle that big of a workload.
However, with the Angels free agent additions, along with Shohei Ohtani being medically cleared, there should be a much larger share of innings pitched by starters this season. Julio Teheran is as reliable as they come, and Dylan Bundy is an absolute innings eater for the backend of the rotation. The Angels also have enough money to continue their pursuit of starting pitching.
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So let’s go ahead and assume (dangerous, I know) that the Angels will have a semblance of a normal rotation next year. If that’s the case, I honestly believe this bullpen has what it takes to lock down games late, open games, or come in during high-leverage situations at a moments notice.
Let’s break this down. Hansel Robles is the obvious choice to close games. He has proven himself ever since being claimed by the Angels, and is the closer until he does enough to lose that role. Cam Bedrosian was exceptional all season long last season, and if not for two poor back-to-back outings in July, would have posted a sub-3.00 ERA on the season.
Ty Buttrey was probably the reliever hurt most by being overused. While he still finished with a 3.86 ERA last year, it was a season that could have been exponentially better. A 2.57 ERA in the first half was ballooned by a 5.93 ERA in his final 31 games of the season. Buttrey had to be used far too often throughout the span of his first 41 games, and it eventually caught up with him. An offseason of rest and a better usage plan in 2020 should be enough to return Buttrey to dominant form.
Those three are the main returnees to the bullpen. One name who can truly make the group elite though is Felix Pena. If the Angels add enough starting pitching, Pena could be the team’s go-to multi-inning guy to form the bridge from starter to late-inning relievers.
This team has more than enough bullpen talent to get by, and even thrive. As long as the rotation holds up, the bullpen will be able to close out games efficiently.