LA Angels: Raisel Iglesias’ usage is more concerning than results

Los Angeles Angels

Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Last season was rough for the Angels bullpen to say the least. Their stable of arms was tied for the league lead with 14 blown saves, leading to a complete overhaul with Mike Mayers as the only returning player. The big name brought in to fix the problem in 2021 was Raisel Iglesias, but as it turns out, he has struggled the most amongst all Halos relievers.

In four games, Iglesias has given up four earned runs on five hits, while walking one and striking out seven through four innings. The right-hander looked sharp against the White Sox on Opening Day, retiring all three batters faced to earn his first save of the season.

In a non-save scenario on Saturday, Iglesias allowed a solo home run to Tim Anderson and recorded just one out before allowing a single to Jose Abreu, ending his night after seven pitches.

Angels: Raisel Iglesias will be overused at this rate.

Manager Joe Maddon went back to Iglesias for the third day in a row in a save situation on Sunday, where he hit a batter, allowed one base hit, and committed a throwing error which tied the game. His blown save was bailed out after Jared Walsh’s walk-off three-run homer gave him the win.

It would’ve been another save scenario on Monday, but Mayers got the call to give Iglesias a breather. Instead Iglesias entered a tie game in the ninth on Tuesday against the Astros where Yordan Alvarez led off the inning with a bloop hit. The tough luck was followed by a Carlos Correa go-ahead two-run homer to give Houston the lead.

“The plan was if we got to an 0-2 count situation was to attack with the fastball up in the zone, and if he took, then attack with a slider low and away,” Iglesias said. “Unfortunately, my fastball kind of stayed in the middle of the zone, and he was able to put a good swing on it.”

His stuff has looked good, but his lack of pitch execution is when Iglesias has struggled. His 15.8 K/9 rate is an encouraging sign, and you have to tip your cap to Correa who took a 98 MPH fastball the other way for a home run. Despite his hiccups, Maddon hasn’t lost any confidence in Iglesias.

“I think he actually looks pretty good. Just got to stay with it and work through it, Maddon said. “Probably more than anything it’s just pitch execution. But his stuff is, I think, really good.”

Igelsias’ career numbers back that confidence up. A 3.20 ERA, 1.126 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 rate in seven seasons is more than enough reason to believe he will be effective in 2021.

If there is any questions, I think it comes with his usage. The 31-year old has already been used in four of the team’s six games, one of which was a non-save scenario.

Maddon is notorious for overusing his top relievers rather than trusting others in the bullpen. In the 2016 World Series, Maddon used Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman for an eight-out save in game five, then again for four outs during a seven-run blowout in game six. By the time Chapman was used in game seven, he was worn out and allowed the infamous home run to Rajai Davis.

Iglesias has previously said he prefers being used exclusively in save scenarios, although he is willing to be used in any situation. He and Maddon have not spoke about this, but it’s clear that communication is going to be needed the more his number is called.

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If he keeps getting used in non-save scenarios, Iglesias will be taxed by the All-Star break. I wouldn’t be worried Iglesias’ abilities, I’d be more concerned with Maddon’s choices.