Last season at the trade deadline the Los Angeles Angels decided to move on from Raisel Iglesias, effectively waving the white flag on another disappointing season without a playoff appearance. This allowed the Angels to get rid of his remaining contract of 3 years and $16 million per, and gain some flexibility for the team. In doing so, this also left a huge hole in the closer role. That is where Carlos Estevez steps in.
This off-season Carlos Estevez was signed on for a two-year deal worth $6.75 million annually to come to Anaheim. Coming off a solid season for the Colorado Rockies logging 62 games with a 3.47 ERA, Phil Nevin decided to try him out for the closer role, and it has worked amazingly. Through 35 appearances Estevez has logged 21 saves in 34 innings pitched, with a minuscule 1.85 ERA. His first-half performance closing games even earned him a nod in this year's All-Star Game in Seattle.
Being a closer in baseball is one of the hardest roles you can have. It is very difficult to be a good closer, but it is nearly impossible to be a great closer. Great closers have to demonstrate they have the poise and confidence to walk into a game and dominate the team in front of him, amid all the pressure of getting those final 3 outs, night in and night out. Estevez boasts a fastball that sits in the high 90's, a great slider, and a solid changeup that when located can stimy any offense, but that can be said about any pitcher with any mechanics. The part that has separated him from the rest of the pack this season has been his ability to handle any high-pressure situation he's been put in, recording saves in every save opportunity he has handled this year, but can that continue?
LA Angels closer Carlos Estevez has been everything they hoped for. Can he stay consistent?
The reality of the closer situation is that these stints of immense success typically don't last. It has been really huge for the Angels to have a great arm coming out of the bullpen to lock down wins, but sustaining this for years is difficult, some may say impossible. As we move into the second half of the season, it will be interesting to continue to see how Carlos Estevez performs since the Angels season is currently at an inflection point. His ability to sustain his first-half success could very much be the difference in the Angels making or missing the postseason again this year.
As if Estevez doesn't need any more pressure on him entering each save outing, with an Angels possible win being in the balance, every win could also flip the scales of the Angels postseason odds. This fact is very apparent and should highlight Estevez's performance in the second half. If he succeeds and dominates again like he did the first half, he will be put on every MLB fan's radar as an elite closer for years to come, otherwise, his first half success could fade away with the Angels season.