The Los Angeles Angels desperately needed a closer after trading Raisel Iglesias away at the 2022 trade deadline. Jimmy Herget was the team's closer down the stretch that year, but he hadn't done much of anything prior to that in the majors. The Angels turned to a pitcher who had little closing experience but was coming off an excellent year pitching half the time at Coors Field.
The Angels signed Carlos Estevez to a two-year deal with the expectation that he'd be the team's closer. He, like the rest of the Angels, had some good times and some bad.
Carlos Estevez deserves a B for his 2023 season
After a rough Spring Training, Estevez showed that games that don't count don't matter by flipping a switch and having one of the more dominant first halves an Angels reliever has ever had. He had a 1.80 ERA in 36 appearances, recording 21 saves without blowing one and adding on two holds. The Angels went 30-6 in those outings, showing just how valuable he was.
Unfortunately for Estevez, his second half took a complete turn for the worse. He had a 6.59 ERA in 27 appearances, and converted just ten saves in 14 tries. He blew crucial saves against the Mariners and Giants in their seven-game losing streak in August, and never quite looked right.
Obviously Estevez isn't the only Angel to blame for their second half collapse, but that game in particular against the Mariners in which Estevez gave up the go-ahead Grand Slam was a real back-breaker for this team.
The Angels will presumably head into next season with the right-hander as the team's closer, but with several young options like Ben Joyce, Jose Soriano, and even Sam Bachman showing signs of being really solid relievers, plus the potential of the Halos adding another arm or two in free agency, the leash should be short.
Overall for Estevez, his first half helped keep the Angels afloat and in the race. He deserves a ton of credit for how awesome he was in save situations, especially considering the fact that this was his first season as a full-time closer. However, his second half was abysmal. That lowered his grade from what would've been an A or even an A+ in the first half to a solid B.
Baseball is all about adjustments, so it'll be interesting to see how Estevez does in 2024 and see if he makes any adjustments after getting rocked down the stretch.