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OC Register: Angels 2021 spring training preview: bullpen

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Angels pitchers and catchers are scheduled to have their first workout of spring training on Wednesday. As we count down to the opening of camp, we’re doing a breakdown of the different position groups on their roster. Today, we conclude the five-part series with a look at the bullpen. Previously: catchers, outfielders, infielders, starting pitchers

2020 RECAP

When the season began, the Angels thought they had three potential closers, with Hansel Robles, Ty Buttrey and Keynan Middleton. They combined for a 7.04 ERA. Robles lost his closer job about a week into the season, and Middleton never really got much of a chance to pitch in high-leverage spots before he was dispatched to the alternate training site in Long Beach. They were part of a bullpen that collectively posted a 4.63 ERA and blew 14 saves. Amid the rubble of such a lousy season, the Angels did get quality seasons out of two relievers: Mike Mayers and Felix Peña. Mayers, who had been claimed on waivers, never did much in the big leagues until he saw a photo on Instagram of Roy Halladay’s cutter grip, and it changed his career. He had a 2.10 ERA and was closing games by the end of the season. Peña had been used as a starter for most of his Angels career, but he had a 4.05 ERA out of the bullpen, including a couple of saves.


The Angels tore apart the bullpen over the winter. They released or non-tendered Justin Anderson, Matt Andriese, Cam Bedrosian, Hoby Milner, Middleton and Robles. They lost Jacob Barnes on waivers and they traded Noe Ramirez. That left only Buttrey, Mayers and Peña among the relievers who pitched even 10 innings. They added closer Raisel Iglesias in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. Iglesias is one of five pitchers in the majors with 100 saves since 2017. They also signed lefty Alex Claudio as a free agent. Claudio has been one of the best pitchers in baseball at preventing hard contact in recent years. The Angels also made a trade for Aaron Slegers from the Tampa Bay Rays, and they signed Junior Guerra to a minor-league deal. They selected Jose Alberto Rivera from the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 draft. Jaime Barria has been a starter for most of his Angels career, but he’s out of options so he seems ticketed for the bullpen if he can’t find a spot in the rotation.


Gerardo Reyes, Luke Bard and Kyle Keller and left-hander Jose Quijada are all on the 40-man roster, and all have options. It’s likely that all four of them will be up and down at some point this season. The Angels don’t have any top prospects among their relievers, but that’s because most pitchers don’t move to the bullpen until after they’ve already failed as starters. Reid Detmers and Chris Rodriguez are the Angels’ top starter prospects, but it’s possible either could get his first crack as a reliever.


The best reliever left on the free-agent market is Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal had a 1.90 ERA and 11 saves last season with the Padres. If the Angels did sign Rosenthal and pair him with Iglesias, they’d have two closer-caliber pitchers. That could create a big of a juggling act for Manager Joe Maddon, but if the pitchers were OK with splitting the job, or with one giving way to the other, the Angels could have one of baseball’s better late-inning duos.

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2 hours ago, Angels 1961 said:

Plenty of bullpen pieces out there. I like Jose Alvarez to come back plus one more. I'm concerned about Buttrey last half pf 2019 and short season 2020 he did not look good.

If you’ve read one 1961 post, you’ve read them all.

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