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LA Angels: The case for bringing back Mike Mayers and Steve Cishek

Steve Cishek, LA Angels. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Cishek, LA Angels. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, TEXAS – APRIL 28: Mike Mayers #21 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the eighth inning at Globe Life Field on April 28, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS – APRIL 28: Mike Mayers #21 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the eighth inning at Globe Life Field on April 28, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The case for the LA Angels bringing back Mike Mayers

Right off the bat, Mike Mayers had a 3.84 ERA in 2021, which is probably a lot better than you’d expect. Removing his two starts this number improves to 3.53. And before you say that he just got lucky or doesn’t really deserve that mark, his FIP and RA9 (basically ERA minus the E) are remarkably 3.84 as well.

The fact that he maintained this over a massive workload of 75 innings is even more impressive. In fact, he actually got better as the season went on, posting a 2.78 ERA in the second half versus 4.64 in the first half.

Going a little deeper, the advanced metrics show that Mayers actually could have been better last year if the Angels had a better defense (where have we heard that before). His .217 xBA represents a huge improvement over his normal .248 BA, as does his 3.39 SIERA.

Add on his solid strikeout numbers (10.8 K/9) and a decent whip (1.293), and suddenly the case for bringing back Mayers looks pretty sound.

Also, let’s not forget his excellent 2020 campaign where he put up a 2.10 ERA, 2.19 FIP and 12.9 K/9.

The only place where things get a bit iffy with Mayers is with his inherited runner numbers. On one hand, his 83.8% LOB rate ranks him seventh in the American League in 2021.

On the other hand, by virtue of his massive workload, he did ultimately allow 14/34 inherited runners to score. While stranding 58% is decent, it doesn’t exactly scream clutch. The disparity between his stats in low leverage situations versus high ones further accentuates this point.

In 37 low-leverage innings, Mayers held opposing batters to 10 earned runs and a .246/.291/.415 slash line. In 13.1 high-leverage innings, these numbers jump to 15 earned runs and a .300/.397/.560 line. If you want to distill this down even further, when pitching with men in scoring position, Mayers allowed an atrocious .872 OPS.

Thankfully, none of this should really matter as long as the Angels use Mayers properly. He’s not someone you bring in during important moments, but rather someone reliable who’s there when you need them for pretty much any other situation.

If his current arbitration projections of a $2.2 million salary are accurate, he could be an absolute steal at that price.

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