The Halos had a surprisingly solid and deep bullpen last season, headlined by Blake Parker, Bud Norris, Cam Bedrosian, and Yusmeiro Petit. The group as a whole posted a 3.92 ERA, the 5th best in the American League. This upcoming season, we’ll see a different look, but will they be as effective? Let’s see what they have to offer.
First, let’s see who will be back, and who’s gone.
Returning RPs: Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian, Blake Wood, Jose Alvarez, Noë Ramirez, Eduardo Paredes, J.C. Ramirez*
Additions: Jim Johnson, Dayan Diaz (waivers), Luke Bard (Rule 5)
Subtractions: Yusmeiro Petit, Bud Norris, David Hernandez (traded at midseason)
*could be in rotation mix
This offseason, the Angels placed their priorities mainly on offense, adding Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart, re-signing Justin Upton, and landing the coveted two-way player, Shohei Ohtani. While the bullpen didn’t get any major additions, we could see Jim Johnson play a fairly significant role next season. He had a brutal 2017, posting a 5.56 ERA with the Braves, but they believe a change of scenery and some sabermetrics can reveal a more solid pitcher. Unfortunately, the Angels lost their most consistent reliever via free agency. Petit was solid out of the ‘pen with a 2.76 ERA, as well as closing some games out in crunch time. He signed a two year deal with the Oakland Athletics, who plan to use him in the rotation and/or bullpen. Luckily, they have a possible swingman in the wings – J.C. Ramirez. Ramirez took on an unexpected role in the Angels rotation, and delivered with a 4.15 ERA. Even though Ramirez himself had a season ending injury, he could eat innings from the decent but frequently hurt rotation out of the ‘pen. The other bullpen losses were Bud Norris and David Hernandez. Norris was excellent as the closer, until he hit a wall lost the keys to the 9th inning. Hernandez was traded at midseason, but carried an exceptional 2.23 ERA as an Angel. He signed a two year deal with the Cincinnati Reds, so they’ll hopefully find another diamond in the rough like he was.
Heading into the season, there seems to be 3 locks – the aforementioned Jim Johnson, Cam Bedrosian, and Blake Parker. Parker seems the most likely to close, as he was a dominant force last season coming off the waiver wire. Bedrosian could follow, but he’ll have to adjust better to finishing his innings. He struggled last season when there were two outs, so if he can turn it around, he could be a good set up man. Johnson figures to swing around the bullpen, and could end up as the closer or mop-up reliever based on his performance. If he can revert to his pre-2017 form, his production could soften the blow of Petit and Hernandez leaving. While he isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, Keynan Middleton should be on the opening day roster in a fairly significant role. The young flamethrower made strides last year with a 3.87 ERA, showing flashes of brilliance. Mike Scioscia and company could use the youngster in more high leverage situations thanks to his speed and energy.
This leaves us to the question marks. These guys could certainly crack the roster, but a poor Spring Training could leave them in the minor leagues. This group will likely consist of Blake Wood, Eduardo Paredes, Noë Ramirez, and Jose Alvarez. Of these relievers, Jose Alvarez is most likely to have a spot locked down. He has been here and there as their sole left handed reliever, and this season should be no different. He’ll likely continue being their specialist, coming in to face one or two lefties at a time. The next likely candidate is Blake Wood. Wood had some rough patches last season, but has closer-type stuff that they hope to unlock. The final candidates are Noë Ramirez and Eduardo Paredes. Ramirez, acquired from the Red Sox late last season, did well in high leverage situations with a 2.16 ERA, albeit in a small sample size of just 10 games. Paredes was a September call up, and did a decent job as well.
Now that I’ve broken down the options for next season, here’s what I expect the bullpen to look like:
CP: Blake Parker
SU: Cam Bedrosian
RP: Jim Johnson
RP: Keynan Middleton
RP: J.C. Ramirez
RP: Jose Alvarez
RP: Blake Wood
With spring training within reach, the Angels figure to go with the same group, but could add some depth pieces such as Tony Watson or they could go big with Greg Holland. Regardless, they should have a solid bullpen that eats innings whilst the rotation sorts itself out.
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