What to expect from newest Angels reliever Robert Stephenson

The Angels finally made their first big move of the offseason.

Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Guardians
Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Guardians / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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It was recently reported that the Los Angeles Angels landed relief pitcher Robert Stephenson for 3-years/$33 million. He was arguably the second-best reliever on the free agent market behind Josh Hader who went to the rival Houston Astros.

It was also reported that the Dodgers, Mets, and Phillies were interested in him which makes the move even sweeter. With the Angels being roughly $70 million under the first luxury tax threshold before this signing, this can easily be considered the first big signing the team has made.

The Good

Overall this move should be considered a good signing as the Angels are getting a quality relief pitcher who seemed to have figured it out after being traded from the Pirates to the Rays in 2023. With the Rays, he tossed 38.1 innings with a stellar 2.35 ERA and a staggering 13.2 strikeouts per 9 innings which was 6th best for all relief pitchers.

He also is in the middle of the pack when it comes to leaving runners on base with 74.4% which shows that can be counted on in high-leverage situations. Another thing of note is when watching him pitch, his pitches all seem to come out at the exact same arm slot and release point. This is called tunneling which makes pitchers really effective as hitters will have a hard time predicting his pitches.

The Bad

For as good as Stephenson pitched in 2023, there is some concern that is warranted. He'll be going into his age 31 season and velocity usually dips as pitchers get older, he was averaging 96 to 98 MPH in 2023.

Another reason for concern is that he won't live up to the contract, relievers are extremely volatile and the Angels are no strangers to it. Remember the signings of Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup? Yeah, Angels general manager Perry Minasian hasn't been afraid to spend money in the bullpen but it hasn't worked out the times he's spent.

The last reason this deal could not work out is that the Rays already got the best out of him and he won't pitch well. The Angels have been known to pay for players that have already put up great numbers in the past and they fail to repeat or even come close to what they once were. Hopefully, this comes out differently.

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