Jump to content
  • Welcome to AngelsWin.com

    Join The Internet Home for Angels fans today! We're Unraveling Angels Baseball ... One Thread at a Time.

  • AngelsWin.com's Charity of the Month

AngelsWin.com Today: 2021 Angelswin.com Primer Series: Bullpen


Recommended Posts

TheBullPen.jpg.c15248ecfdbcf9ce94fe0e017555b225.jpg

By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer

Special Request: Hope for Education is a small, targeted charity sponsored by Angelswin.com. I am humbly requesting a small donation as we enter the New Year and hope that you are in the giving mood as these kids need help to learn in a safe environment from this very deadly pandemic. Please lend a hand, even if it is only a couple of bucks, it does make a difference. Thank you for your time and attention!

Important Note: First of all I would like to say Happy New Year! I hope all of you and your families are implementing best-practice safety guidelines as outlined by the Center for Disease Control, including wearing masks out in public, washing your hands often, and exercising physical distancing protocols. Not only is COVID-19 potentially life-threatening there are now reports of long-term physical and psychological damage to those that survive. Take care of yourselves out there both physically and mentally, the Angels family needs to stay strong so all of us can enjoy Mike Trout now and in the future!

 

At this point in the off-season, it is easy to say that the Angels bullpen is already revamped and, in fact, may continue to evolve even further, prior to Opening Day, after a dizzying array of non-tendered contracts and Rule 5 and trade additions.

The previous administration placed a lot of emphasis on acquiring relievers through the waiver wire, minor trades, and the rare free agent signing. By focusing resources in other areas, Eppler and company actually did a fair job of building a Major League bullpen, albeit it lacked a true, sustained closer type. Eppler’s front office focused a lot on high spin rates and acquiring arms that threw a good fastball and curveball; the latter is a good pitch that works against both sides of the plate, negating some of the need to find those lockdown lefties.

Minasian’s reign has yet to give us a lot of information on how he will approach building a good relief corps but there are three data points to discuss here.

First of all, the quick strike and addition of Raisel Iglesias is significant, as it adds a clear, proven back-end bullpen arm that is capable of closing out games on a regular basis for the Angels. Raisel is stronger from the right-side with his fastball, slider, and changeup combination which can shutdown a right-handed heavy team. Per FanGraphs, out of all qualified relievers in 2020, Iglesias was in the Top 5 of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). In fact, over the last two seasons, he ranks 8th with only lofty names like Nick Anderson, Taylor Rogers, Aroldis Chapman, and Brad Hand, ahead of him. Despite the fact that the Halos, currently, only have him for one season, there is a lot to like about bringing him into the fold for 2021, particularly due to the fact that the Angels are projected to have a fairly tight 5.12 Runs Scored per Game (RS/G) versus an 4.82 Runs Against per Game (RA/G), which means the team may find itself in more close games, where they will lead by a small amount of runs, creating a high leverage situation that Iglesias can help solve.

Additionally, the Halos front office struck during the Rule 5 Draft, acquiring Jose Alberto Rivera, a young arm from the Astros organization. Rivera features a big fastball, averaging in the high-90’s, curveball, and splitter. Clearly the new Angels front office is gambling that the heater/curveball combination is mature enough to fit in middle relief and, just like the Eppler era, this feels like a worthy gamble, despite the fact that the Angels will need to keep him all season or send him back to Houston if they cannot keep him on the active roster.

Also, the team recently signed left-hander Alex Claudio to a one-year deal, for $1.125M. Claudio is the pure definition of “soft-tossing lefty” and, as expected, gets left-handed hitters out at a pretty good clip, although he does okay versus right-handed hitters as well. This should give Joe Maddon a specialist option out of the bullpen on an as-needed basis.

Finally, we can glean some information about the players Minasian non-tendered/traded versus the players he kept on the 40-man roster. Guys like Noe Ramirez, Hoby Milner, and Matt Andriese were lower velocity types, whereas arms like Gerardo Reyes, Luke Bard, Ty Buttrey, Mike Mayers, and Kyle Keller all throw in the mid-to-upper 90’s. High velocity appears to be a real draw for the new Angels GM.

Notably most of these bullpen arms that were retained have fastball/slider combos in their repertoire lending to the idea that Minasian and company may be making a point to go with guys whose 2nd pitches are sliders, which is a notorious same-side strikeout weapon, i.e. pure strikeout potential seems to be preferred, over creating poor contact or pinpoint control by the new front office.

Basically, it appears, on the surface, that the initial emphasis is on strong strikeout capability. High strikeout rates are an important element in Major League Baseball so it is a bit refreshing to see a little more importance placed on it, although it did appear that Eppler’s group was on to something regarding high spin rates (difficult for hitters to see) and targeting guys with good curveballs (ability to get batters out on both sides of the plate). We will see how this plays out moving forward with Minasian, but the route he is initially focusing on is also a good path to run prevention, i.e. less hitters on-base results in less runs scored.

Moving beyond the philosophical discussion, the Angels currently have, as of Dec. 31st, 2020, the following pure, bullpen arms on the 40-man roster (number of Minor League options remaining are in parentheses after each name):

  1. Luke Bard (1)

  2. Ty Buttrey (2)

  3. Alex Claudio (0)

  4. Raisel Iglesias (0)

  5. Kyle Keller (1)

  6. Mike Mayers (0)

  7. Jose Quijada (1)

  8. Gerardo Reyes (1)

  9. Jose Alberto Rivera (R5, 3 after the 2021 season)

In addition, as mentioned in the Rotation article, Dillon Peters (0), Jaime Barria (0), Felix Pena (1), and Hector Yan (2), may be viewed as starters but they could also, possibly, work out of the bullpen, too. In fact, Barria and Peters are out of options so they will need a home on the active roster if they are to play in 2021.

So to start, it should be noted that the Angels may or may not retain all of these names. Player’s can always be designated for assignment, so none of this is set in stone yet. Trades, signings, and waiver wire acquisitions could still change the landscape, quickly, too.

All that being said if you were to take what the Angels have now and line it up into a group of eight relievers to start the season, it may look like this:

Raisel Iglesias (Closer)

Mike Mayers (Setup)

Ty Buttrey (Setup)

Alex Claudio (Specialist)

Gerardo Reyes (Middle Relief)

Luke Bard (Middle Relief)

Jose Alberto Rivera (Middle Relief)

Felix Pena (Long Relief)

Now, certainly, you could substitute Keller or Quijada in middle relief, if you like, but these two, as well as Reyes and Bard, have a Minor League option remaining and the Angels will need Minor League bullpen depth, so a couple of them will start the season down in AAA or AA. Additionally, Peters could easily be the long reliever with Pena starting the season in the Minors, as well.

When you look at this projection, on paper, the back-end of the bullpen seems fairly strong, particularly with the addition of Iglesias. However, it is the middle of the bullpen that leaves some room for doubt. Reyes, Bard, and Rivera have some good stuff but they are mostly unproven in the Majors, particularly Rivera.

It might be useful, then, for Minasian to acquire one more quality middle reliever with some experience in the Majors and a pedigree of success. Yes, that is not always easy to find in a relief arm, considering their year-to-year variance, but it is not impossible. Really if we can find one more back-end or good middle reliever, the bullpen will be in pretty good shape and could possibly absorb the loss of an Iglesias, Mayers, or Buttrey, if they were to go on the Injured List for an extended period of time. Additionally, it could allow the Halos front office to option down someone like Bard or Reyes to create more depth or even flat out replace a borderline relief candidate, with a preferred choice, on the 40-man roster.

Considering how many relievers and Minor Leaguer’s were cut loose, due to financial impacts, finding another impact arm, at a reasonable price, should not be terribly difficult. Based on the Angels own payroll restraints, this will either be a trade, for an inexpensive, controllable, upside-type, or a simple less-costly Major League signing, not dissimilar to Alex Claudio.

Certainly, Minasian could do more and perhaps he will when it is all said and done, particularly if we do not net a guy like Bauer or some other expensive starter, utilizing the old approach of spending on the bullpen if the market for starters is too overpriced to play in. In the end, the Angels bullpen was a bit above average in 2020 and, with the addition of Iglesias, it likely improved, despite the subtractions, so another addition now or later, at the Trade Deadline, could push the Halos bullpen into the Top 10 in baseball, potentially.

Expect: It really feels like the Angels can make room for one more solid reliever by possibly trading one of their current relievers (maybe Bard or Peters) or even designating them for assignment, to create space on the 40-man roster. This addition could literally come from anywhere at this moment, through free agency (maybe Brad Hand or Archie Bradley, if the Angels lose out on Bauer, a mid-tier guy like Shane Greene, or perhaps a veteran like Darren O’Day or Mark Melancon) or trade (perhaps someone like Chris Stratton or Richard Rodriguez from the Pirates in a Joe Musgrove based trade or Rowan Wick, Hector Neris, or Scott Oberg, for example).

Surely, Minasian and company could stand pat and add another arm closer to the Trade Deadline, but the opportunity to strike now, under a new regime that is remaking the team in their own image, may afford a more aggressive, fresh start to our relief corps, heading into 2021.

View the full article

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's interesting that Minasian (and the Angels as a whole) have yet to make a single waiver claim this offseason.

Like you said, waiver pickups were a common occurrence for Eppler. Maybe it's partially because the Angels didn't have a GM when most players got placed on waivers (at the end of the World Series after teams cleared their 40-man rosters).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't forget Patrick Sandoval, who may be the odd man out in the rotation if the Angels acquire another starter, which they're obviously expected to do. 

I'm OK with the bullpen as-is, although would like to see them acquire one more good reliever. If they don't sign Bauer, which seems unlikely considering he's allegedly asking for $35-40M AAV, I could see them spending a bit more on two quality bullpen arms.

By the way, awhile back I suggested a trade for Musgrove and Rodriguez, but it would require a substantial package, probably something like Marsh and Barria.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pena, like Canning in your Rotation article, is definitely starting in the Majors. 

I understand they have options and that’s useful but they’ve also established themselves as productive major league regulars and they will be on the Opening day roster.

Pena is also likely Higher on your pen hierarchy.

Iglesias - Closer

Mayers - Setup

Buttrey - Setup

Pena - Setup/MR

Reyes - MR

Claudio - MR/ Specialist

Rivera - Long Relief


Bard / Keller / Quijada  / Sandoval all have a shot at that last spot, but most likely they and even possibly Reyes start in AAA, as they all Have options.

Barria is in the rotation right now. If not in the rotation and not traded in a package for a more established starter, then he could factor into the pen but his role would be TBD.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, Hubs said:

Pena, like Canning in your Rotation article, is definitely starting in the Majors. 

I understand they have options and that’s useful but they’ve also established themselves as productive major league regulars and they will be on the Opening day roster.

Pena is also likely Higher on your pen hierarchy.

Iglesias - Closer

Mayers - Setup

Buttrey - Setup

Pena - Setup/MR

Reyes - MR

Claudio - MR/ Specialist

Rivera - Long Relief


Bard / Keller / Quijada  / Sandoval all have a shot at that last spot, but most likely they and even possibly Reyes start in AAA, as they all Have options.

Barria is in the rotation right now. If not in the rotation and not traded in a package for a more established starter, then he could factor into the pen but his role would be TBD.

 

 

 

 

 

I doubt Felix Pena is going to get another shot at setup after completely collapsing under pressure when given the chance in 2020. I think he's at best a long reliever and spot starter. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pena gave up 5 of his 12 runs in two starts against the Astros in September.

He had two blown saves and of the 12 runs and a few were other pitchers allowing guys he let on base to score.

I’d say he was a competent reliever in a year where so much was terrible, but he really only had two bad games. He was pretty effective.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Hubs said:

Pena gave up 5 of his 12 runs in two starts against the Astros in September.

He had two blown saves and of the 12 runs and a few were other pitchers allowing guys he let on base to score.

I’d say he was a competent reliever in a year where so much was terrible, but he really only had two bad games. He was pretty effective.

But for the record I do think the Angels should get another high leverage reliever (preferably a high velocity lefty) and push everyone except Iglesias down a spot. Then you’d see Felix in Middle Relief along with Reyes, Barria (likely) and Claudio. Rivera is the wildcard and the likeliest long reliever since I doubt he’ll be used in close games as he hasn’t pitched above A Ball.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sean Doolittle or Justin Wilson would fit for what I think they need to add, or Brad Hand. 
 

Dolittle will be cheaper than the other two, but all relievers salaries are gonna be down.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There's lots of upside there, but with accompanying question marks. Iglesias should be good - not quite an elite closer, but in the second tier. Pena is a solid middle/long reliever, and Claudio seems decent if more of the standard LOOGY than anything special. But the players that will make or break the bullpen are:

Buttrey - can he recapture the form he showed in 2018-19?

Mayers - can he continue at his 2020 level?

Rivera - will he reach his potential quickly?

Reyes - will the stuff translate?

If all of those are answered positively then the Angels will have an excellent bullpen. If half, then it still should be pretty good.

Link to post
Share on other sites

How about going the full 2002?

Sign Sugano and Walker to start.

Sign Hendricks and Bradley, and go full ham on the pen.

Sign Pillar and YaMo.

That puts them about $15 million over threshold.   Year from now, get back $24 million and re-sign Bundy.    No key prospects lost for another year

Bundy, Sugano, Heaney, Canning, Walker, and Barria/Ohtani

Iglesias, Hendricks, Meyers, Bradley, Claudio, Pena, Buttrey, Reyes, and Rivera

Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Angel Oracle said:

How about going the full 2002?

Sign Sugano and Walker to start.

Sign Hendricks and Bradley, and go full ham on the pen.

Sign Pillar and YaMo.

That puts them about $15 million over threshold.   Year from now, get back $24 million and re-sign Bundy.    No key prospects lost for another year

Bundy, Sugano, Heaney, Canning, Walker, and Barria/Ohtani

Iglesias, Hendricks, Meyers, Bradley, Claudio, Pena, Buttrey, Reyes, and Rivera

Nice plan, although likely a bit too much money.

I like Hendricks a lot, but he'll get $12-14M AAV and the Angels already have Iglesias, who won't want to lose the closing gig.

Yadier is 38 and will require $12M or so. I'd probably rather spend half that much for Zunino, Castro, Avila or Flowers.

I was indifferent about Sugano, but am now on the train. Walker seems like a solid, cheapish risk. I don't love the FIP (4.56) which implies regression, but he's only 28 and shouldn't be too expensive. I also still like Odorizzi or maybe Archer as a cheaper option.

It could be interesting to sign Tanaka and Sugano to have a Nipponese triumvirate.

Edited by Angelsjunky
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the Angels still need to add at least 1-2 more quality bullpen arms.

Last season, it seemed like they had a solid back-end with Robles, Buttrey, Middleton, and Bedrosian. Then Bedrosian got hurt and the other 3 collapsed. There's a strength in numbers, and I think the Angels still lack numbers. If you have 6 quality bullpen arms and 3 regress but 1-2 show improvement (like Mayers and Peña did last season), you are still in decent shape.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Angel Oracle said:

How about going the full 2002?

Sign Sugano and Walker to start.

Sign Hendricks and Bradley, and go full ham on the pen.

Sign Pillar and YaMo.

That puts them about $15 million over threshold.   Year from now, get back $24 million and re-sign Bundy.    No key prospects lost for another year

Bundy, Sugano, Heaney, Canning, Walker, and Barria/Ohtani

Iglesias, Hendricks, Meyers, Bradley, Claudio, Pena, Buttrey, Reyes, and Rivera

It's hard for me to see the Angels going over the luxury tax period, let alone to go over the luxury tax for a collection of good- but, besides Hendriks, not star players. I think Arte might go over the luxury tax threshold if it means they get Bauer and complementary pieces, but I can't see him going over for 5-6 average to above average free agents.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

Don't forget Patrick Sandoval, who may be the odd man out in the rotation if the Angels acquire another starter, which they're obviously expected to do. 

I'm OK with the bullpen as-is, although would like to see them acquire one more good reliever. If they don't sign Bauer, which seems unlikely considering he's allegedly asking for $35-40M AAV, I could see them spending a bit more on two quality bullpen arms.

By the way, awhile back I suggested a trade for Musgrove and Rodriguez, but it would require a substantial package, probably something like Marsh and Barria.

I suppose Sandoval could play in relief but I personally see him as a starter all the way.

Yeah, the only reason I even suggested Rodriguez was that when I ran my FanGraphs top relievers search over the last two years his name popped up and the Pirates are a team that is selling. His FIP has been pretty good over the course of that period. More specifically I suggested he would be a second piece in a Musgrove trade because I feel like the Angels may not necessarily reach out to the Pirates just for Rodriguez alone and since we are looking for a starter, it makes more sense in a larger trade for me. Have no idea what it would cost but I agree it would almost certainly include Marsh, probably, some type of bat (Rengifo, Walsh, or Thaiss), and yes, I think Barria is a likely candidate there or perhaps Suarez.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Angel Oracle said:

How about going the full 2002?

Sign Sugano and Walker to start.

Sign Hendricks and Bradley, and go full ham on the pen.

Sign Pillar and YaMo.

That puts them about $15 million over threshold.   Year from now, get back $24 million and re-sign Bundy.    No key prospects lost for another year

Bundy, Sugano, Heaney, Canning, Walker, and Barria/Ohtani

Iglesias, Hendricks, Meyers, Bradley, Claudio, Pena, Buttrey, Reyes, and Rivera

This is certainly a scenario if the Angels find themselves struggling to find a front-of-the-rotation starter.

I actually think that if they do struggle they may pivot to the trade market and pick up a Jon Gray or Vince Velasquez type that only has one or maybe two years of control left and then see where they are at the Trade Deadline. That would allow them to compete effectively and, if they are out of contention, they could potentially sell off one or two starters (Bundy, Heaney, or this hypothetical acquisition of a Gray/Velasquez type of player), sell off Iglesias and Claudio, and any other spare parts that Minasian doesn't want to retain long-term. The acquisition of these players may not be too much and it would allow Minasian to move out some of the players/prospects he doesn't want/like and then, if he has to sell at the Trade Deadline, he can bring in targets he prefers.

Hopefully though any potential acquisitions will help the team win, which they are perfectly capable of doing with the current cast and anything they add. Just got to perform! 😄

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like Pena in the pen. We need guys like that who can pitch 3-4 innings in garbage time, but also pitch solid middle relief. To me, he's 100% in the bullpen to start 2021.

Barria is difficult, because he could be a solid starter, but if we get 2 starting pitchers he's the odd man out with no options. I don't see him going to the pen. I think he'll be traded for a bullpen piece. But I don't know how Minasian/Maddon view him. I guess we'll see.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, AngelStew43 said:

I really am hoping that Archie Bradley wants to pitch here.  Iglesias is nice, but to have Bradley, Mayers, and Buttrey as set up guys, or in Bradley's case, an additional ninth inning option, that would make a very nice bullpen.  

Yeah I'd love to add Bradley or Hand to really bolster the bullpen. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, AngelStew43 said:

I really am hoping that Archie Bradley wants to pitch here.  Iglesias is nice, but to have Bradley, Mayers, and Buttrey as set up guys, or in Bradley's case, an additional ninth inning option, that would make a very nice bullpen.  

Same. I think the Angels need one more quality bullpen arm they can count on, such as Bradley. Then add a couple cheap arms that you can gamble on, just like they've done in the past with guys like Mayers, Norris, Hernandez, Petit, etc.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, AngelStew43 said:

I really am hoping that Archie Bradley wants to pitch here.  Iglesias is nice, but to have Bradley, Mayers, and Buttrey as set up guys, or in Bradley's case, an additional ninth inning option, that would make a very nice bullpen.  

 

4 hours ago, Chuckster70 said:

Yeah I'd love to add Bradley or Hand to really bolster the bullpen. 

If the Angels were able to sign/acquire 2-3 starters, they could move one or even both of Bundy and Heaney and that might free up enough money to pick up another higher quality bullpen arm. Again another reason why I think this off-season has a lot of paths to victory for Minasian.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, ettin said:

 

If the Angels were able to sign/acquire 2-3 starters, they could move one or even both of Bundy and Heaney and that might free up enough money to pick up another higher quality bullpen arm. Again another reason why I think this off-season has a lot of paths to victory for Minasian.

I just think that's unrealistic and far too complicated.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Dochalo said:

I just think that's unrealistic and far too complicated.  

Actually I agree, but I was giving the people who want to sign an extra bullpen arm like Bradley a path to that actually happening because of the money that would free up by moving one or both of Heaney and Bundy.

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Revad said:

Agreed.  But could we get Sugano and Gray with enough left to do the bullpen?  Meh.

They can do this, I think as Gray is due around 10, Sugano might get 12, and then you can address RF, C, and add 2 BP arms without going over the luxury tax line. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...