Angels Opening Series: The revamped bullpen is very formidable, and could be elite.
For years, the Angels have lacked the pitching, both out of bullpen and in the rotation, to compete at a high level. In the past two seasons, the Angels ranked 18th in the MLB in bullpen ERA (4.64), and 29th in starting rotation ERA (5.61). More specifically, the bullpen ranked 21st in the MLB in strikeouts per nine innings (9.09), consistently failing to get swings and misses in big win or lose moments.
Over the weekend during the Opening Series, Maddon put a completely overhauled bullpen on display, featuring new comers Raisel Iglesias, Aaron Slegers, Steve Cishek, Tony Watson, Junior Guerra, and Chris Rodriguez.
New closer Raisel Iglesias looked filthy closing out the White Sox on Opening Day, featuring a mid-to-high 80s slider, low-90s changeup, and mid-to-high 90s fastball. This sequence to Luis Robert put his wipeout slider on full display:
Highly-regarded youngster Chris Rodriguez dazzled in his debut, featuring a high-90s fastball upper-80s to low-90s cutter, and mid-80s curveball. His athleticism, mechanics, and confidence gives him all the looks of a future back end of the bullpen stud, if he sticks to a relief role as opposed to starting. In his debut on Friday, he struck out Yoan Moncada on a 97 MPH fastball with dramatic running action, and made Adam Eaton look silly on a breaking ball:
In addition to the newcomers, Mike Mayers performed exceptionally well in the setup roll, getting the win on Opening Day and coming back to throw 1.2 shutout innings the next day, pitching both days in high-leverage scenarios.
If everyone stays healthy, this bullpen has every piece necessary to put them in a bunch of top-five bullpen categories.
Want your voice heard? Join the Halo Hangout team!
From the lineup production to the pitching success, the Angels have a lot of positives and a 3-1 record to take out of the opening series. The red hot Astros will put the Angels staff and bullpen to the test and show if they truly do have the arms needed to compete against a winning ball club.