Billy Eppler realized that the glaring problem the Angels face is pitching. He’s an analytics guy, so it’s pretty safe to say that the statistics prove that is the biggest issue on the Angels. As a team the Angels had a 4.15 ERA which was good for 19th in the league. The Halos had 79 quality starts (18th). Their opponent’s batting average against was .246 (15th), they gave up 546 walks (19th), struck out 1386 batters (15th), served up 205 home runs (5th most), surrendered 1353 hits (11th) allowed a .322 on base percentage (18th), and blew 26 saves (5th most). They did all of this while saving only 35 (26th). Their lone bright spot was how many stolen bases the Angels gave up (46) stolen bases, which was the second best in Major League Baseball. You can give credit to Martin Maldonado for that, but he’s gone. The Angels will be on the lookout for a catcher that can hit and play better defense than Fernando Arcia or Jose Briceno. But that’s another issue.
Let’s get back to the topic for today. It’s no secret that the starters were inconsistent and unhealthy, so the Halos will do their best to pick up an arm for their rotation. On the other side of the pitching coin, what can we say about the bullpen? Who should the Angels build their team around? Of the 17 relievers who signed deals worth at least a guaranteed $5 million last winter, nine finished with adjusted ERA’s that were below major league average. Seven of them were more than 20 percent below average. The Angels want to get a deeper rotation but it seems as if Eppler will be looking for bargain relievers if his acquisition of 26-year old Austin Brice (2-3, 5.79 ERA in 33 games) is a sign.
To address the reliever dilemma, let’s see how the current roster did in 2018 and will we expect the following Halos relievers to return?
Who Will Definitely Be Back?
Jose Alvarez (29)- Jose was the most consistent Angels reliever in 2018, which was pretty surprising since he was very unreliable prior to 2018. However, he had a breakout season by compiling a 2.71 ERA in 76 games with opponents batting only .217 against him. He also had 59 strikeouts in 63 innings. Overall, he had an outstanding year.
Ty Buttrey (25)- Buttrey, another rookie, was picked up from the Red Sox along with Williams Jerez after Ian Kinsler on July 31, 2018. He was virtually unhittable for his first game on August 16 against the Texas Rangers on the road all the way until September 18 at Oakland. During that stretch, he had an ERA of 0.59 with opponents just batting .185. Similar to Anderson however, he struggled in his last two games of the season. On September 22, he failed to record an out by giving up three hits, a walk, and four earned runs. Then he followed it up by getting a save opportunity at home against Texas on September 24, but he blew that chance. If you look at the big picture, he had a good start to his Halos career and I expect him to have a successful 2019.
Blake Parker (33)- Blake was supposed to be the everyday closer in 2018, but Buttrey was given a chance to close in August since Parker wasn’t lighting it up like he was in 2017. He had given up a home run on August 3 and August 13 and his numbers were disappointing in July (4.32 ERA and 1.44 WHIP while giving up 2 home runs in 8.1 innings). However, he finished the season strong and ended up the season with 14 saves and a 3.26 ERA.
Justin Anderson (26)- He had a decent rookie season, but had problems with his control especially at the end. In his last two appearances before the season was over, he pitched 0.2 innings and gave up two hits, four walks, and five earned runs. When he throws strikes, he’s nasty, throws very hard, and gets swings and misses. When he doesn’t, he loses confidence and gets wild in a hurry.
Cam Bedrosian (27)- Cam had his best chance to close in 2017. He had a great April while converting his first three save opportunities. He blew one save, but still ended the month with a 0.00 ERA. He got injured and came back in August while converting four saves that month and receiving a 2.08 ERA. However, his last two appearances in 2017 were duds especially his last appearance in 2017. In his last appearance of that year (September 30) against Seattle at home, he didn’t retire a batter, gave up five hits (including two home runs), and five runs. In 2018, he blew his first two save opportunities, but got a chance against Houston on the road (April 24). He did well but then subsequently blew his next 5 save opportunities after that. Bedrosian has the talent, but he continues to play below his expectations. He’ll be in the bullpen, but may not get an opportunity to close again. Let’s see if 2019 can finally be his breakout season.
Who Will Probably Be Back?
Taylor Cole (29)- Cole played for the Toronto Blue Jays and was signed to a minor league contract on March 5, 2018. He had a solid season except for a couple of hiccups in August against Oakland and Texas. However, he finished strong in September and had a solid start to his Halos career. In 18 games, he had a 2.75 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings.
Hansel Robles (28)- The Mets designated Robles for assignment on June 24. The Angels decided to pick him up and give him a shot. Despite him failing with the Mets, Robles did pretty well with the Halos. In 16 games with New York, he had a 5.03 ERA and gave up seven home runs and 10 walks in 19.2 innings. However with the Angels, he had a 2.97 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 36.1 innings while only giving up just two home runs.
Noe Ramirez (28)- Despite only having a 4.54 ERA and giving up 15 home runs in 83.1 innings, the Angels will probably bring Ramirez back. He has a lot of potential, but the results haven’t materialized yet. He has great stuff, but has a tendency to leave some breaking pitches over the middle of the plate, which turn into souvenirs by opposing teams.
Jim Johnson (35)- He was supposed to replace Yusmeiro Petit in the bullpen before Petit bolted for Oakland after the 2017 season. Unfortunately, Johnson couldn’t come close to duplicating Petit’s numbers. He gave up 64 hits in 63.1 innings, had a 3.84 ERA, and a batting average of .268 against him. The numbers aren’t amazing, but if the Angels are trying to save money in the relief pitching department, he should be back.
Williams Jerez- (26)- Jerez came over to the Angels with Buttrey but didn’t have quite the same success as Ty. He started off well before getting hit hard in five consecutive games between August and September 12. His ERA jumped from 0.00 to 6.35 in a span of four innings. He gave up three home runs during that stretch as well. He was okay after that until September 28 against the A’s at home. During that appearance he gave up four runs (two earned), two walks, and two hits in 0.2 innings. Jerez is young and he has great stuff, but it’s still too early to see if he’ll pan out. However, he’ll get a chance to prove himself in 2019.
Who’s Up in the Air?
Keynan Middleton (25)- Middleton was a solid reliever during the beginning of 2018 with an ERA of 2.04 and an opponents’ batting average of .233. However, he had issues with his arm and had to get Tommy John surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. Although he was activated from the 60-day Disabled List on November 2, 2018, will he be ready in 2019? We shall see.
J.C. Ramirez (29)- The reliever/starting pitcher (11-game winner in 2017) only pitched in two games in 2018 before finding out that he needed Tommy John surgery. He then missed the rest of the season and is still recovering. It remains to be seen if he’ll be ready in 2019.
Who Will Start the Season in AAA?
Eduardo Paredes (23)- Although the Angels outrighted him, he cleared waivers and is back in AAA. Due to the fact that he put up great numbers in the minors, Paredes might get one more chance to prove himself. But after a horrific 2018 audition, it might be the last chance he gets. In 2018, he pitched 18.1 innings, gave up 25 hits, 14 earned runs, and an ungodly .325 batting average against him. That’s frightening.
Who Probably Won’t Be Back?
Blake Wood (33)- Ironically when Middleton began his Tommy John surgery, that was also the same day that Wood found out that he had the same injury as Middleton (May 22): an ulnar collateral ligament problem in his arm. He missed the rest of the season. Wood is now a free agent and will probably not be back with the Angels.
Deck McGuire (29)- McQuire played for the Reds in 2017 and started a couple of games while appearing in four others. He did pretty well, so the Blue Jays signed him in 2018. With the Jays, he appeared in four games and gave up six runs with two home runs. He didn’t fare much better with the Angels although the Halos gave him many more opportunities. in 29 innings, he gave up 20 runs and seven home runs while having an ERA of 6.07 ERA. He cleared waivers and is back in AAA.
Jake Jewell (25)- Jake got a chance to appear in a few games in 2018. He pitched a total of two innings, gave up two runs, and hit two batters. Although he’ll be in AAA, I can’t see him making an impact in the majors in the future.
Who Definitely Won’t Be Back?
Miguel Almonte (25)- The Royals traded him to the Angels on April 4, 2018 for cash considerations. In eight games with the Angels, he pitched seven innings, gave up nine hits, eight earned runs, and three walks.
Akeel Morris (25)- He’s young but has already played for the Mets, Braves, and Angels. In 2018 with the Angels he pitched 14 innings, gave up 18 hits, nine runs, and eight walks to the tune of a 5.79 ERA and a .316 batting average against him. He’s a free agent this winter.
Junichi Tazawa (32)- Splitting time between the Marlins and Angels, Tazawa ended up with a 7.07 ERA, while giving up 35 hits and 22 runs in 28 innings. He also walked 16 batters and gave up a .302 batting average to his opponents.
Who’s Gone Already?
Luke Bard (27)- Bard now plays for the Minnesota Twins.
Oliver Drake (31) – Drake is now a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
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