For the second straight game, the Los Angeles Angels have turned to a new closer over incumbent Hansel Robles.
Los Angeles Angels’ manager Joe Maddon has already shown that he isn’t one to tip his hand. Rather, he’s let actions speak louder than words, something he showed again on Tuesday.
Clinging to a two-run lead with two outs in the eighth inning, the Angels were staring at another potential bullpen meltdown. With the tying run coming to the plate in the form of Evan White, Maddon opted to his bullpen for the fourth time and summoned his closer.
For the second straight game, it wasn’t Hansel Robles.
Instead, Ty Buttrey made his way to the mound and induced a groundball from White to end the eighth. He would return for the ninth, getting a pair of groundball and a flyout to seal the win for his first save of 2020.
The outing marked the second straight save opportunity for Buttrey. However, unlike Sunday in Houston, the right-hander was able to hold back the Mariners.
The decision to use Buttrey in the role likely indicates that Robles is no longer the team’s closer. Maddon indicated as much prior to Tuesday’s game, noting that the team would go with a closer by committee for the foreseeable future.
After saving 23 games in 2019, we spotlighted Robles as someone that could excel in a shortened schedule prior to the season. However, Robles has been rocked in 2020. In four outings and 3.2 innings of work, he’s surrendered seven hits and 10 runs (nine earned). While the fastball and the strikeouts are still there, the strides in the control department have hurt Robles as he’s walked three and surrendered three home runs by leaving the ball out over the plate in key situations.
While Buttrey appears to be getting the first shot at claiming the hot seat, he’s hardly been an ideal candidate. The right-hander has been solid over the past two seasons, posting a combined 3.86 ERA, a 2.8 BB/9, and a 10.6 K/9 since 2018. However, Buttrey’s five appearances in 2020 have been rough, with a 5.68 ERA, a 4.26 BB/9, and just a single strikeout over his 6.1 innings of work.
The Angels have other options in the bullpen as well, and it appears they will all get tryouts before the Halos are willing to name another closer. One of those options, Cam Bedrosian, was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right-abductor strain on Tuesday. Felix Pena, Ryan Buchter, and Noe Ramirez could also get a shot at the throne.
The change from Robles was a necessary move, but the bullpen woes are hardly something that sits on his shoulders alone. As a team, the Angels have blown five saves (Buttrey has three of them) and the unit is surrendering a league-worst .279 batting average against.
At this stage, Maddon is doing what it necessary, mixing and matching until he finds a formula that works for the Angels.