Angels Spring Training: Relief Pitchers Make All the Difference

Feb. 12, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA: Los Angeles Angels pitchers throw in the bullpen during spring training at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels missed the playoffs last year, even with the MVP who didn’t receive the MVP trophy Mike Trout. Their starting pitching was inconsistent despite the big names, and a no hitter from Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver. But Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno revamped the staff this offseason. But regardless of how their new rotation performs, they will win a significant amount more this season with an improved bullpen.

The Angels bullpen was horrendous last year, especially the first half of the season. The Angels were 22nd in the MLB in bullpen ERA at 3.97. They were 24th in bullpen wins, 21st in saves, 2nd to last in strikeouts, and their batting average against was .245–all of this thrown in the 4th least amount of innings in the league. That does not spell a World Series trophy.

But the 2013 bullpen should have a different story if they want to be the best team in the league and not the 21st best. Ernesto Frieri, acquired from San Diego in May last season, held a 26 1/3 innings scoreless streak to begin his Angels career in the closing role. But he isn’t slated to be the closer  for long this season. The Angels signed free agent Ryan Madson from the Phillies for 1 year $3.5 million. The Long Beach native brings World Series experience, and if healthy could be the Angels most important player in 2013, seriously. Madson is currently still recovering from his elbow injury, but if the starters and set up men can get to Madson, he’s about as steady as they come.

Besides Frieri, the Angels also added left handed reliever Sean Burnett from the Nationals to help get to their new closer. Burnett sported a 2.38 ERA while appearing in 70 games for the NL East winning Nats. Another left-handed option Scott Downs returns from last season, along with righty Kevin Jepsen rounding out the bullpen. In 2011 Downs recorded a 1.34 ERA in 60 games, and his 2012 ERA was respectable in almost as many games, despite it being more than double 2011′s average. Jepsen is entering his 6th year in the majors, all of which have been with the Angels. Jepsen should round out the bullpen, with whomever of Joe Blanton, Jerome Williams, Garrett Richards, and Brad Mills doesn’t make the rotation in the long relief role.

Despite his arm, the Angels will be happy to by virtue trade the inconsistencies of Jordan Walden which they sent to Atlanta, for the steady effectiveness of Madson and Burnett. The Angels bullpen should be light years better than last year. That is the facet of the game the Angels were worst at last season, and on paper the Angels well be headed to the World Series.

LA Sports Hubsters, is the Angels’ bullpen gonna cut it in 2013?

Topics: Los Angeles Angels, Relief Pitchers, Spring Training

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