The Los Angeles Angels bullpen has been surprisingly excellent through the first six weeks of the season. Their 3.24 bullpen ERA ranks sixth in all of baseball, and their 2.6 fWAR is tied for first in the league. What was expected to be the team’s biggest weakness is now arguably their most consistent strength.
The bullpen is being led by Carlos Estevez and Matt Moore, both of who have been excellent late in games. The rest of the bullpen, however, has a lot to be desired. They’ve been good so far, but overworked.
Just in the last couple of weeks, the Angels lost both Jose Quijada and Austin Warren for the season. Ryan Tepera was on the IL, and Aaron Loup is currently on the IL. Chase Silseth is likely going to move to the rotation with Jose Suarez going on the IL. The team's pitching depth was limited to begin with, and it's even thinner due to the injuries. Bringing in an external arm was needed.
Reyes Moronta gives the LA Angels much-needed bullpen depth
The Angels signed right-hander Reyes Moronta to a minor league deal. The five-year veteran was pitching in the Mexican League before getting this opportunity.
At one point, Moronta looked like he'd be a fixture in the Giants bullpen. In 2018, he appeared in 69 games and had a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings of work. The following season saw him post a 2.86 ERA in 56 appearances and 56.2 innings of work. He racked up 27 holds in those seasons. Shoulder surgery ended Moronta's 2019 season prematurely and cost him the entire 2020 campaign and all but four appearances in the 2021 season.
In that 2021 season, Moronta's average fastball velocity dipped from around 97 mph to 93.9 mph. Last season he appeared in 39 games splitting time with the Giants and Diamondbacks and posted a 4.30 ERA in 39 appearances and 37.2 innings pitched. He struck out 9.1 batters per nine which is a good mark, but the 4.3 walks per nine left a lot to be desired. Command has always been an issue for this right-hander but he often worked his way out of trouble thanks to his high velocity.
Moronta averaged 95.3 mph with his fastball last season which is a major improvement from 2021, but also not close to where he used to be. Moronta did still get good results on his slider, holding opponents to a .218 average with a .118 xBA and a 46.5% whiff rate.
The Angels are making a very smart decision to bring in the 30-year-old on a minor league deal. Let's see if he can continue to regain some of his velocity and effectiveness. If he makes any sort of positive impact in the Angels bullpen, the deal is a resounding success. If he fails to resemble the solid pitcher he once was, it's no big deal.
The Angels have gotten some good results out of Chris Devenski who was brought here on a minor league deal this offseason. Let's see if they can get something out of Moronta.