How can Ron Washington fix the Angels' woeful bullpen?

Philadelphia Phillies v Los Angeles Angels
Philadelphia Phillies v Los Angeles Angels / Harry How/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Angels were rather fortunate in their Wednesday win over the Astros. Teams generally don't win games where the offense only collect three hits, but one of them was Kyren Paris' first big league home run, and those two runs were enough for the Angels to take down one of the best teams in the American League (with a big helping hand from starter Tyler Anderson).

Anderson's 2024 season doesn't get talked about enough, because he has been kind of awesome. Through 10 starts this season, he boasts a 2.52 ERA while easily averaging six plus innings a start despite not missing a ton of bats. The eight innings he gave the Angels against Houston were especially helpful because the Angels' bullpen has be quite bad in 2024, and staying away from them as much as possible is currently the best option.

The Angels' bullpen is quite bad and they really only have one pre-trade deadline option to try and fix it

Looking at the 2024 numbers, LA's relief corps has been a huge weakness for the team. They rank 26th in all of baseball in fWAR (-0.1), 29th in ERA (4.94), 28th in FIP (4.56), 23rd in walk rate (4.02 BB/9), and 28th in home run rate (1.27 homers per nine innings pitched). They walk too many guys, get hit a lot, and get hit hard ... and all of that is bad (although their strikeout rate does seem to be improving at least over where it was earlier in the season).

Right now, the only reliable reliever the Angels have is Hunter Strickland, which is not exactly a place you want to be in, nor is he a guy that anyone should bank on continuing to stay as good as he's been. If the Angels manage to hang around in the AL wild card race, which is theoretically possible, they are going to have to go out and get multiple quality relievers to stand a chance, especially with Robert Stephenson out for at least this year with an elbow injury.

This doesn't feel like a problem that Ron Washington is going to be able to manage his way around. There just isn't enough talent in the bullpen and choosing between multiple subpar options in key spots during close games isn't going to work out regardless if the choice is right or wrong. LA just needs better arms and their farm system is lacking in that department.

One option that the Angels could entertain before the trade deadline, though, is Ben Joyce. While his history of command issues is true and completely fair, Joyce has looked much better lately down in the minor leagues. He is never going to be the bullpen version of Greg Maddux, but if he can just keep the walk rate reasonable, that high octane fastball plays anywhere and could be the jolt of upside that the Angels' bullpen desperately needs.

Given that LA is well under .500 and their bullpen is a huge reason why they are struggling this season, anything is worth a shot at this point.

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