The Los Angeles Angels are a team built around Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Nobody would ever deny that. They're two of the best players in the game today and are two of the best players of this generation. Trout and Ohtani are the centerpieces for what should be one of the better lineups in baseball, but the Angels offense has been wildly inconsistent this season, especially against quality competition.
The lineup was supposed to be much-improved thanks to the additions of Hunter Renfroe, Gio Urshela, and Brandon Drury. While it's certainly better, it's far from perfect. The Angels continue to struggle in big spots, particularly with runners in scoring position, to break games open.
Another strength of this team was supposed to be the starting pitching. Led by Ohtani, the Angels rotation was sixth in all of baseball in ERA last season. They added Tyler Anderson and you assumed young pitchers would develop. Anderson has been a bust so far while the young staff has mostly regressed.
The weakness of this team was the bullpen. It was full of unknowns and definitely had its issues early in the season. As the campaign has gone on, it's fair to say that the bullpen has gone from the team's biggest weakness to arguably its biggest strength.
Has the LA Angels bullpen gone from the team's biggest weakness to biggest strength?
Two of the major signings Perry Minasian made this offseason were bringing Carlos Estevez and Matt Moore in. Those two were expected to be key pieces out of the bullpen but nobody could've expected what the Halos have gotten. Estevez has a 1.32 ERA in 27 appearances and has 16 saves without blowing one. Moore might be on the Injured List now, but he has a 1.44 ERA in his 22 appearances.
Estevez and Moore have been the backbone of the Angels bullpen, and it's hard to know where this team would be without them.
Chris Devenski, a guy brought in on a minor league deal, has a 2.11 ERA in 16 appearances to go along with an extremely impressive 0.469 WHIP. He's been used in just about any scenario and has come through virtually every time.
What's made this Angels bullpen much-improved of late is the additions of some young fireballers. Ben Joyce, Jose Soriano, and Sam Bachman all throw in the upper 90's or even higher in Joyce's case, and have brought some much-needed electric velocity to the bullpen. These right-handers have combined to allow just three runs in 14 innings of work.
The Angels bullpen ranks seventh in all of baseball with a 3.48 ERA and sixth with 2.3 fWAR. This is with some of the dead weight brought from guys like Ryan Tepera, Aaron Loup, and even Tucker Davidson of late.
The bullpen has two established late-game arms in Estevez and Moore (when healthy). They have their swiss army knife who can do it all in Devenski. They have three fireballers capable of striking anybody out in Bachman, Joyce, and Soriano.
The Angels can look to add a reliever at the deadline to make it even better, but the bullpen has gone from a unit that felt like a mess to one that can get a whole bunch of outs on any given night.
With the rotation incapable of giving consistent length and the offense incapable of hitting with runners in scoring position, the bullpen has carried a heavy burden. They're not close to 34-30 without the bullpen being a good group, especially of late.