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LA Angels add Statcast stud Alex Claudio to bullpen

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PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 27: Alex Claudio #58 of the Milwaukee Brewers in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates during Opening Day at PNC Park on July 27, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 27: Alex Claudio #58 of the Milwaukee Brewers in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates during Opening Day at PNC Park on July 27, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Angels have signed relief pitcher Alex Claudio to a one-year/$1.125 million deal.

Since being hired as General Manager, Perry Minasian has made bolstering the bullpen a priority. First, he traded for established closer Raisel Iglesias, and now has acquired Alex Claudio via free agency.

Claudio, the funky-throwing left-hander who will be 29-years-old in 2021, enters his 8th year in the big leagues. he began his career as a Texas Ranger, where he spent 5 seasons. During that stretch, he compiled a record of 13-6, a 3.20 ERA, 1.262 WHIP, 3.34 FIP, and a 6.2 K/9 over 230.2 innings pitched. He was then traded to the Milwaukee Brewers where he spent two seasons recording a 4.11 ERA, 1.296 WHIP, 4.73 FIP, and a 6.6 K/9 over 81 innings pitched.

Those numbers do not stand out by any means, which could be a strong factor in how the Angels were able to sign him to such an inexpensive deal. However, before you write him off completely, let’s take a deep dive into his 2020 season. He recorded a barrel % of 3.4, which puts him in the top 8%, average exit velocity against of 81.7 which ranked first in the MLB, and a hard hit % of 25.4%, placing him in the top 3% of the league. While his standard stats may not jump off the page, his Statcast numbers certainly do. In addition, he also had an expected batting average against of .220 and an expected on-base-percentage against of .264.

Claudio’s Major League success can be largely attributed to his funky delivery and pitch arsenal. He is nearly an exclusive junk pitcher, in fact, he only threw his fastball 4.2% of the time last season. Even more strange is the fact that this was the first season in his career that he even threw a fastball. Part of the reason he stays away from his fastball is that he averages 85.5 MPH on the pitch. His best pitch is his changeup, which he throws 38.1% of the time. He also has a sinker (34.4%),  and a slider (22.7%). His elite deception keeps batters guessing and off balance.

Throughout his career, he fulfilled a lefty-specialist role. However, prior to the 2020 season, a wrench was thrown into the spokes of Claudio’s career when the MLB implemented the 3-batter minimum rule. Claudio’s efficiency and viability as an MLB reliever was put into question. This season he largely put those questions to rest, as he limited right-handed batters to a slash line of .268/.364/.390. He silenced the doubters and secured a contract with the Halos.

Claudio joins Dillon Peters as the only left-handers in the Angels bullpen thus far. With Peters projecting to fill a long-relief role, Claudio figures to get a job opportunity for playing time, and if he can translate his Statcast numbers into his standard stats, he is a huge break-out candidate.

Angels fans should be extremely happy about this move. Getting Claudio at low-cost not only solves a problem in the bullpen, but it also allows them the financial flexibility to land a big free agent starting pitcher.

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