The bullpen was an area of concern for the Los Angeles Angels heading into this season. There was no Raisel Iglesias, and the Angels once again had to rely on free agent signings to carry the unit. We saw how that went last season with Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera, and weren't really thrilled to go through it again.
Expectations were low, but the bullpen has exceeded them in my eyes. Angels relievers are seventh in ERA with a mark of 3.54, and they're fourth with a 2.4 fWAR.
ERA and WAR especially for relievers aren't the end-all-be-all, but last season the Angels were 18th with a 3.95 bullpen ERA and 25th with a 1.7 fWAR. They've already exceeded last year's WAR, and it's May 20th. This unit is much better, but is still not perfect or close to it. Here're some encouraging and discouraging takeaways so far.
Encouraging: The back-end of the LA Angels bullpen is unbelievable
Last season, the pitchers the Angels brought in were Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera. Both had solid ERA's but blew games late, particularly early. This season Loup and Tepera have been even worse. Loup is now on the IL while Tepera has already been DFA'd. That's how bad he was.
When the Angels signed Carlos Estevez and Matt Moore I was excited, but you really never know what you're going to get. Relievers are so volatile and can be awesome after a horrible year, or can be awful after an amazing year. Both Estevez and Moore were coming off of fantastic seasons, so it was easy to fear the worst, especially after witnessing Loup and Tepera falter after their great seasons in 2021.
Now, I must ask, where would the Angels be without Moore and Estevez? I have no idea what their record would be, but I do know it'd be nowhere near what it is right now. They've been that good.
Estevez has a 1.29 ERA in 21 appearances and 21 innings pitched. He's converted 11 saves in 11 opportunities. The strikeouts are up, and the big right-hander is enjoying a career year pitching away from Colorado for the first time.
Moore was fantastic last season for Texas and has been even better this season. The southpaw has a 1.17 ERA in 20 appearances and 23 innings pitched. He can get both righties and lefties out, and he has a 0.739 WHIP.
Moore and Estevez have been the only two fully reliable arms in this bullpen all season. It's an issue, but they've also been absolute dynamite late in games. Estevez has 11 saves, Moore has ten holds. It's working beautifully.