The Los Angeles Angels are going to be buyers this winter and one of the things the team should buy in on is an elite, lockdown closer.
The Los Angeles Angels undoubtedly have some things to address, whether it be externally or internally, in order to make a proper playoff push next season. One thing that the team really lacks that practically every postseason team has is an elite lockdown closer.
Nine different pitchers recorded a save for the Los Angeles Angels in 2018 with Blake Parker leading the way. Parker recorded 14 saves in 17 chances and had a 3.26 ERA in 67.1 innings pitched.
If the season were to start tomorrow, Parker would be the team’s closer and would be a decent choice. There are definitely worse closers in the MLB and Parker had a decent year last season.
However, Parker is better suited as a bridge guy that can get holds out of the bullpen. If the Angels were to be a playoff team he would easily be the worst of the playoff closers. Every playoff team has a great lockdown closer. If they don’t, they don’t get far in the postseason.
Keynan Middleton is another internal option to be the closer. However, like with Parker, he is much better as a bridge guy rather than the closer.
There are some option in the free agent market this winter with the best fit being Kelvin Herrera. Herrera is coming off of a split season between the Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals in which he seemed dominant at times at decent in others.
Herrera finished the year with a 2.44 ERA, however, did not have great numbers in Washington. In 21 games with the Nationals, Herrera had a 4.24 ERA.
Although in the American League, Herrera was quite dominant. In 27 appearances prior to being traded, Herrera had a 1.05 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 25.2 innings pitched. He converted 14 of his 16 save opportunities.
Herrera is 17th in FanGraphs WAR for relievers with at least 240 innings pitched since 2015 with the 14th-lowest ERA. Herrera does not walk a lot of batters, having the seventh-lowest BB/9 as well.
Herrera has that electric two-seam fastball/slider combination that is unhittable when he is firing on all cylinders. Hard-throwing relievers have become a huge part of baseball and a huge part of a successful playoff team. Herrera fits that billing for the Angels perfectly.
Not only does it help the closer position, allowing Middleton and Parker to have established setup roles deepens the bullpen exponentially. Either way, the Los Angeles Angels need to transition to an everyday closer and Kelvin Herrera should be that guy.