Have the LA Angels found a somewhat improbable gem in the bullpen?
By Evan Desai
Andrew Wantz had a tough season for the LA Angels last year. He threw for the team 21 times in 2021, and gave up 1.6 home runs per nine innings. He had a pedestrian 4.94 ERA and 90 ERA+ (10 points below average). He struck out a lot of hitters (38 K's in 27.1 IP), but walked a bit too much (3.6 walks per nine innings).
So there wasn't a ton of clarity when it came to what Wantz would bring to the table in 2022. He was a seventh-round draft pick, so there was plenty of hope, but how fast he could rise remained to be seen.
It was somewhat improbable for him to make a major jump in just his second season in the Bigs. Of course, it could happen, but the Halos were likely to temper their expectations. That's a big part of why they were aggressive in the bullpen market this past offseason.
Andrew Wantz has answered the questions so far, though, for the LA Angels.
Andrew Wantz, through eight appearances with the LA Angels, has a sub-3 ERA at 2.92. Of course, it's a very early sample size, but he's doing a lot of things right. He's only walking 1.5 batters per nine innings right now. While he has just 10 strikeouts in 12.1 IP, it hasn't been a problem since the walks are down.
His BAA is down to .217, and 7.3 hits allowed per nine innings isn't bad. The WHIP went from a so-so 1.244 to a great 0.973. The reality is that baserunners aren't getting on too often when Wantz takes the mound.
The 138 ERA+ is very solid (all stats in article are as of just before the series finale at Seattle), and those who liked Wantz last year due to his 3.26 2021 SIERA are enjoying what they've seen so far.
In a bullpen that hasn't been as good as the front office was hoping, this homegrown talent is currently making strides to becoming a better pitcher. Has he established himself as a gem just yet? No, not yet. He'll need to do a better job keeping the ball in the park (three home runs allowed so far this year) to be considered a sure thing.
He has, however, shown that that he has it in him to continue developing into a strong and reliable piece for this pen in the perhaps not-so-distant future.