Andrew Wantz has been a bit of a controversial figure with the 2023 Los Angeles Angels. He made the Opening Day roster as the last reliever over Ben Joyce which is something Angels fans did not like.
Then, after a good start to the season, he was sent down so Griffin Canning could join the rotation. Another thing Angels fans did not like. Most recently, Wantz has had some struggles and has been used in big spots. This, again, is something Angels fans have not liked.
On the surface, it looks like Andrew Wantz has been really good for the Angels. He has a 2.89 ERA in 12 appearances. He's a guy who can go for more than an inning at a time as he's thrown 18.2 innings for the Halos this season, and he was also really good last season. While a 2.89 ERA is good, Wantz certainly has his faults and has not been quite as good as the numbers suggest.
Why LA Angels reliever Andrew Wantz is having a worse year than the numbers say
Andrew Wantz is not the worst reliever on the roster. Let me make that abundantly clear. He has his uses and can contribute just like we saw last season. The problem is, his 2.89 ERA isn't exactly indicative of how he's performed.
One important quality for a reliever is to come into the middle of an inning and get out of a mess. Last season, Wantz, despite not many opportunities, shined in this area. Of the 17 runners he inherited, only three scored. This season though, has been a completely different story. Of the 14 runners he's inherited thus far, 11 have scored. 79% of the time Wantz inherits a runner, he allows that man to score. He isn't allowing many of his own guys to score, but not picking up whoever you're relieving isn't good either.
Last night, Wantz came into the game with runners on second and third with nobody out. Even the biggest optimist would be fine if Wantz gave up one run, which he did on a sacrifice fly to extend Baltimore's lead to 5-3. Wantz, however, couldn't limit the damage. A two-run homer to the next batter gave the Orioles a 7-3 lead, and took away pretty much any hope the Angels had at coming back against a dominant bullpen.
After the bases were empty, Wantz got the next two batters out in that inning and pitched a perfect seventh to keep it at 7-3. That was good, and allowing one earned run in two innings looks fine on the surface, but in reality, Wantz allowed both of the inherited runners to score as well.
In a game in late April against the Royals, Wantz came into a bases loaded one out situation against the Royals. The Angels were ahead 4-3 in the sixth. Wantz would allow an RBI single to tie the game, and an RBI groundout to give Kansas City the lead. He'd then get the next batter out, followed by a scoreless seventh. The box score reads 1.2 scoreless innings, but he gave up the lead.
Just two appearances later, Wantz came into another bases loaded jam in Milwaukee. The first batter he faced, he gave up a two-run single on an 0-2 pitch to make a 4-1 deficit 6-1. He'd hit the next batter, but get the following man to fly out to shallow right. This gave the Angels a path out of the inning as there were two outs in the frame. Wantz unfortunately would end up walking the Brewers catcher to score another MIlwaukee run.
Wantz would get out of that inning allowing no earned runs while recording two outs, but he allowed all three inherited runners to score. This looks good in the ERA, but the Angels would lose this game 7-5. Had Wantz not allowed all three inherited runs to score, maybe they come back to win that one.
It's clear that Phil Nevin shouldn't continue to put Wantz into these situations where there are runners on base as he continues to let them score at an alarming rate, but Wantz also simply hasn't gotten the job done.