The glaring issue for the Los Angeles Angels has been the bullpen and it sticks out like a sore thumb.
With the Angels now having 10 games under their belt in the 60-game season, they sit at 3-7, tied for the worst record in Major League Baseball. While there have been some encouraging signs from the club, there has been one that rather apparent issue.
The Angels pitching staff have one of the worst Earned Run Average (ERA) in the league topping at 5.04, with most of that accredited to their bullpen. Joe Maddon, the Angels manager, has been questioned often about his use of the bullpen in certain situations, often taking out the starter way too early based on a pitch count. Maddon has made it known that he is aware of the bullpen issues by stating in a postgame interview “It’s easy to realize we have to be better out of the bullpen, and if not it’s going to continue like this.”
He has used Hoby Milner, Jacob Barnes, Mike Mayers, and Noe Ramirez frequently as each pitcher has been used in at least 4 out of the 10 games this season. Based on when each pitcher is used in each game, it is clear that Maddon likes to put pitchers in specific roles, using struggling closer Hansel Robles exclusively in the 9th.
Hansel Robles has given up nine earned runs (10 total) in 4 games pitched already, costing the Angels much-needed help late in the game. Additionally, 6 of the Angels pitchers have an ERA+ below the league average of 100. These pitchers include Matt Andriese (90), Jacob Barnes(71), Kyle Keller(63), Ty Buttrey(58), Mike Mayers(39), and the recently mentioned Hansel Robles(21). Maddon can certainly go to other options that have shown success which include Cam Bedrosian, Keynan Middleton, Ryan Buchter, and Felix Pena.
Of course, during a series, seeing a pitcher one too many times can impact their performance which is something the Angels need to proceed with caution about. Maddon can let his starters go longer and deeper into innings based on how well they are performing in their start, which is something he has been reluctant to do based on his belief in roles. A strategy Maddon could use is bringing his bullpen into key situations, rather than based on roles which is something that has cost his team.
According to an article from Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register, a statement from Maddon was made to which he said “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.”
This clearly shows that the coaching staff is aware of the problems, however, time isn’t on the team’s side as they only now have 50 games left. If the Angels want to improve and grab one of those playoff spots, they will have to start with their bullpen problems.