The LA Angels bullpen in 2018 was a major sore spot as they blew a league-leading 25 saves and not only did the bullpen blow saves they many times allowed runs to be tacked on to their deficit. So the Angels need to revamp the bullpen in order to protect leads in 2019.
The LA Angels don’t totally need to blow up their current bullpen as there were some effective relievers they still have in-house. Let’s look at what the Angels already have and then what they need to acquire to complete a solid bullpen.
In-House Bullpen Options
Justin Anderson or Ty Buttery will most likely start the season as the Angels closer and both have tremendous stuff, but limited experience in this role that they got in the second half of the 2018 season.
Anderson has a 96-99 mile per hour fastball and a nasty slider to go with it which helped him to strike out 67 batters in 55.1 innings. His major issue was his control as Anderson also walked 40 batters in those 55.1 innings. Anderson allowed opponents only to hit .214 batting average. He has great potential however the control issue and Anderson’s lack of experience may be a little too risky.
Buttery on the otherhand showed a little more consistency in the closer role posting a 3.31 ERA with four saves in six opportunities striking out 20 batters in 16.1 innings pitched. However, the question again is Buttery’s lack of experience.
Both Anderson and Buttery could be good set-up men for the Angels, but would the Angels be ok with one of the two as closers could be a little iffy.
The X-Factor could be Kenyan Middleton who looked primed to assume the role last season before being lost to a torn UCL in his right elbow. Middleton already has a year of major league experience as he went 6-1 with a 3.86 ERA and three saves in 2017. In 2018 Middleton pitched in 17.2 innings nailing down six of seven save opportunities with a 2.04 ERA.
Middleton struck out 16 batters in 17.2 innings and held opponents to a .233 batting average, but his nine walks in those innings is also a little alarming. The other issue is when Middleton will be ready and be full-strength. So this makes the bullpen situation a little more cloudy.
Middle Relief –
We mentioned both Justin Anderson and Ty Buttery as potential closers, but if the Angels decide to pursue a closer in free agency or a trade they could be 7th and 8th inning guys. The Angels also acquired lefty Dillon Peters and Luis Garcia to potentially be part of the bullpen mix along with lefty Williams Jerez and righty Noe Ramirez and now you have the makings of a decent bullpen.
You could also possibly add in Austin Brice and Taylor Cole as well as Parker Bridwell too. These three could also possibly be used more as long-relief too.
Free Agent Options –
If the Angels decide to bolster their bullpen with a few different free agent pitchers. The high end would be Adam Ottavino or Craig Kimbrel, however both of their price tags of close to 20 million or more per season would probably not be in the Angels price range.
David Robertson Is another option who has been a closer with both the White Sox and Yankees as well as a set-up man, but will still probably cost 15 million per year. Zach Britton is also someone that has been linked to the Angels and the fact that he is a lefty makes him intriguing, but he will still probably be around 13 million dollars per year.
So lets look at some lower cost options that could work such as the Rays Sergio Romo would be a more cost effective option for the Angels. Romo could anchor the Angels bullpen as a closer for a year or two until the young guys like Middleton, Buttery, or Anderson are more prepared to fill the role.
Another lower cost option is 29-year old Kelvin Herrera who has a live arm and has closer experience with the Royals. Both Romo and Herrera could be had for 2 years at seven million dollars per year. Both Romo and Herrera have not had much interest as of yet and could be signed without going into a bidding war.
Whatever the Angels decide to the do the bullpen needs some work and adding a reliable arm to be the closer would go a long way to solidify a bullpen that has a lot of potential.