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OC Register: Angels’ Ty Buttrey believes he’s learned from 2019 rollercoaster season

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TEMPE, Ariz. — One of the lessons Ty Buttrey learned during his first full season in the Angels bullpen was that being a dependable big-leaguer is all about adjustments.

The better players make them quickly.

He didn’t.

“Cody Allen told me last year, with these top pitchers, when something is going wrong, they can figure it out in one pitch or at least one game,” Buttrey said before a spring training workout this week. “They don’t let it go for two or three months, like I was.”

Buttrey was one of the mysteries of the 2019 Angels. During the first three months, he was the team’s best reliever. Then, for a couple months, he was one of the worst.

He finished strong in September, though, and took that into the winter.

“Reflecting on it now, I think it was mostly mental,” Buttrey said. “I came up and had a lot of success for the first two-and-a-half, three months. And then I just kind of hit a roadblock in the middle. Then the next thing you know, you are doing something different mechanically and you don’t know how you got there.”

Buttrey, who was used frequently when he was pitching well, insists fatigue wasn’t the issue.

“It was just lack of experience,” he said. “It was a growing period for me.”

Buttrey, who turned 26 at the start of the season, posted a 2.20 ERA through July 5, with 49 strikeouts and 12 walks in 41 innings. Former Manager Brad Ausmus used Buttrey often in the sixth or seventh innings or even earlier, whenever he felt the game was in the balance.

However, things began to go wrong for Buttrey in July. For the next two months, he had a 7.66 ERA over 23 games.

Part of the issue, Buttrey believes, is he was tipping his pitches. He said the way he held his hands – and even the way he was breathing – would give the hitters an idea what pitch was coming. Buttrey got those issues under control down the stretch, when he gave up three runs in his final nine innings, including scoreless appearances in eight of nine games.

During that time, Buttrey also began throwing his changeup slightly more often than he had in the first four months of the season. It had been a pitch that was sporadically effective throughout his minor-league career. Buttrey said an adjustment with his grip on the pitch suddenly made it more useful.

He has spent the winter continuing to refine it.

“I’m getting that hard splitting action, like I used to in the past,” Buttrey said, “so I’m very excited to use it this year.”


Griffin Canning, who missed the end of last season with an elbow issue, said he has been throwing since November and he is 100%.

“I think (the elbow issue) was just something they need to monitor,” Canning said Friday. “I need to watch my throwing program. Even when I’m feeling good, I need to tone it down a little bit.”

Canning goes into camp as the leading candidate to take the fourth spot in the rotation to open the season, behind Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran.


Left-handed reliever José Quijada joined the team Friday after missing the first couple days of workouts. Quijada had been been at home in Venezuela when the Angels claimed him on waivers from the Miami Marlins on Monday…

Patrick Sandoval returned to the ballpark Friday after being out a few days with the flu.

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I think working with Callaway will do wonders, plus having Castro behind the plate.

He's a great reliever. The back of our pen is legit with Buttrey/Middleton/Robles. We also have Pena coming back and guys like Noe Ramirez and Andriese who should be great for the middle part.

I like our bullpen. I think it's going to surprise a lot of people this year. Tons of depth and tons of upside with plenty of guys who can eat innings (Pena, Suarez, Barria).

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35 minutes ago, Angel Oracle said:

Could be a very nice trio in the late innings (Undertaker, Middleton, and Buttrey).    Hopefully, Bedrock Jr., Ramirez, Andriese, and Pena can be solid enough before the late innings.

AO's dream has come true where the universes of Angels baseball and WWE have crossed-over. :D

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