LA Angels: Joe Maddon makes questionable bullpen decision in loss vs. Rangers

Joe Maddon, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Joe Maddon, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
Los Angeles Angels
Mike Mayers, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

All was right for the Angels during Wednesday afternoon’s rubber match against the Rangers, until it wasn’t.

No.4 prospect Chris Rodriguez entered the top of the eighth inning and retired one batter before walking the next Texas hitter he faced. With one out and a 3-1 lead, Angels manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen for his most reliable reliever thus far, Mike Mayers.

Normally, it’d be a no-brainer move. Mayers entered Wednesday’s contest with a 0.93 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in eight games this season. The only problem I have with this is Mayers threw 27 pitches in 1.2 innings the previous night.

Angels: Joe Maddon was trying to do too much using in Mike Mayers on short rest.

The effects showed, as the right-hander failed to get an out in the inning. Mayers walked his first batter, Joey Gallo, before giving up a three-run homer to Adolis Garcia. That was followed by a solo home run by Nate Lowe before Mayers was pulled.

The Rangers took the lead and went on to win by a final score of 7-3.

Overall, Mayers ended his day allowing three earned runs on two hits with one walk without recording an out.

Mayers hadn’t pitched in the previous three games, but 27 pitches for a late-inning reliever on a half day’s rest is still a lot, regardless of how dominant they’ve been. Maddon said he spoke to Mayer’s who assured him he was feeling fine. Obviously he’s going to say that, he’s a competitor. I’m not sure you’ll find any pitchers at an MLB level who aren’t going to want the ball in that spot.

"“You trust the guy,” Maddon said. “Don’t forget he had three days off before that. There’s all kinds of considerations. When you’re talking to a veteran pitcher, you listen, and I listened to him.”"

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Maddon said he liked the matchup of Mayers’ cut fastball against the left-handed Gallo. Opposing lefties were batting just .176 against Mayers this season. Again, on a normal day’s rest or significantly less pitches than Mayers had in his previous outing, I don’t have a problem with bringing him in against a lefty as his numbers prove his success in those spots.

That being said, the Angels did have left hander Tony Watson who last pitched on Monday and eventually came in the game and threw 0.2 scoreless innings.

It’s one of those situations where I think Maddon was trying to do too much and outsmart the game. I’ve always regarded him as one of baseball’s best managers, but he does have a tendency to do a bit much with his thinking outside of the box at times. We’ve discussed similar situations earlier this season with the decisions to overuse closer Raisel Iglesias. 

At the end of the day it didn’t work, but it’s not the end of the world and I still believe Maddon can lead this team to success.

When looking the big picture, the Angels are in the midst of 23 games in 24 days. They can’t afford to use their best relievers consistently on short rest.

Next. Angels' biggest strengths and weaknesses so far

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If Maddon doesn’t trust going to other arms in the bullpen in certain spots, what’s the point in having them on the roster?