3 steps to fix the Angels season: Settle on bullpen roles
In dropping two of three games against Seattle, the Angels fell victim to their own undoing in the two losses. In those games, the Halos got seven innings combined from their bullpen, but the results were less than encouraging.
7/29 – 4 IP, 8 R, 7 ER, 3 K
7/30 – 3 IP, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 K
Those two outings have been devastating for the Angels over the last two nights, turning potential wins into losses and potentially changing the course of the season in one fell swoop. However, they also raised one significant question:
Where are Keynan Middleton and Cam Bedrosian?
Both pitchers have turned in scoreless outings to date, but seem to be relied upon less by Joe Maddon and Mickey Callaway, making just two appearances each. Bedrosian hasn’t pitched since July 26th against Oakland. Meanwhile, Mike Mayers and Ty Buttrey have been thrust into play.
Mayers is a guy that Maddon seemed high on to start the season. However, prior to Thursday’s game, he owned a lifetime 7.24 ERA, a 5.25 FIP, and has surrendered home runs at a rate of 1.73 HR/9. His results in 2020 largely fall in line with his career marks.
Buttrey, who was solid for the Angels over the last two seasons, also seems to be someone on the hot seat in the pen. Aside from Andriese, Buttrey leads all Angels relievers in innings, but the results have been less than encouraging. In 3.1 innings of work, he’s surrendered four hits, three walks, and three runs, while striking out only a single hitter to date. While he’s getting groundballs at a rate of 54.5%, he’s also giving up an astronomical hard-hit rate (81.8%) and his BABIP sits at .364 as a result.
The lack of results from the bullpen is no secret to Maddon either. He admitted that the team would have to look at the relief corps and determine how to fix things.
"“We’ve played relatively well enough to be in a better position record-wise. Me, (pitching coach Mickey Callaway) and (bullpen coach Matt Wise) have to spend a lot of time to get this proper and right, because you really can’t get anywhere without a substantial bullpen.” – (h/t Jeff Fletcher, Orange County Register)"
To this point of the season, it feels as though Maddon is still trying to determine what he has in the bullpen and is experimenting with roles as a result. However, the need to determine who is going to get the bulk of the work in the pen is upon the Angels. While some of that can be reduced by extending the starters deeper into games, the Halos’ bullpen needs to become less deep and more productive.