Maniac Ball

Because you have to be a maniac to be an Angels fan

I have a lot of problems with how this bullpen was constructed and how it has been used.  Anyone can look at the 2014 season and point out what’s wrong but with the small sample size, I’d rather go back a year, especially since there’s the same relievers. So, let’s take a in-depth look at how the Angels’ relievers faired in 2013.

Analyzing the Stats:

Angels 12th in MLB for relievers K/9 ——-8.48
Angels 25th in MLB for relievers BB/9 ——3.94

Angels 19th in MLB for relievers HR/9 …. 0.93
Angels 27th in MLB for relievers GB% – — – -41.4%
Angels 15th in MLB for relievers in HR/FB …. 9.6 %

Angels 25th in MLB for relievers in LOB% – - – - – 71.9%
Angels 19th in MLB for relievers in BABIP – - -  – .293

So as it turns out, Angels relievers were pretty decent in K/9 but everything else was awful. Walks per 9 innings, ground ball percentage, and LOB% were the worst of the Angels problems. Walk per 9 innings and GB% are a by-product of poor development/coaching and the type of reliever is brought in to the bullpen.  Having a low GB% is not a bad thing, especially when you have Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos in the outfield, however the latter is no longer in the picture. Now the outfield consists of Hamilton, Trout, and Calhoun  (Hamilton and Calhoun are now on the 15 day DL, with J.B Shuck and Collin Cowgill filling in). Not a bad fielding outfield but not a great one either. Sure, a flyball is usually an out but there’s also a chance of a homerun occurring. We’ll get into the homerun problem later. If you’re interested in learning more about LOB% and BABIP, I recommend these two videos.

Analyzing the Number of Appearances and Leverage Situations

Angels pitcher with most appearances
1.  Dane de la Rosa 75
2.  Ernesto Frieri 67
3.  Michael Kohn 63
4. Kevin Jepsen 45

Since DDLR had the most appearances last year, I was concerned for his health since relievers who get used a lot (many appearances) or throw many innings tend to get hurt. Angels fan can look no further for evidence in the case of Sean Burnett.  Burnett averaged 71 appearances and 59 innings over the 2010-2012 seasons (3 seasons total)  and then he got hurt. Ryan Madson averaged 68 appearances and 68 innings over the 2008-2011 seasons (4 seasons total). Now these are just two cases and there are others but I’ll save that for my thesis when I graduate medical school. Continuing on, for AAA Durham, DDLR average 52 appearances and 69 innings over the 2011-2012 seasons (2 seasons total).  His next year he bumped up to 75 appearances and 72.1 innings and during Spring Training was put on the DL with a right forearm strain and after being called up to the Angels he averaged a fastball of 89 MPH, down 6 MPH from 2013.

This means that in 2014, everyone will be bumped up a notch in appearances, except that would be the case if Dipoto hadn’t signed Joe Smith. Smith was signed to stabilize the late innings and create a bridge of DDLR and Smith to the closer, A.K.A Ernesto Frieri. Now let’s go into how Scioscia used his bullpen with the context of leverage.

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The Angels’ bullpen has been a joke for the last few years, and the rough start that closer Ernesto Frieri has gotten off to has not helped at all with the concerns that fans and the organization have. The first thing to remember is that 8.2 IP is not a very large sample, so there is still a chance that Frieri can turn it around. In the short amount of time he has pitched in 2014, Frieri has posted a K% of 28.6%, lower than his career norm but a number he can still be effective at. His BB% is actually less than half of his career norm, currently 7.1% compared to his career mark of 11.3%. Then again, you have to realize that is only in 42 batters faced, so the walks will probably start coming back. The biggest issue throughout his career with the Angels has been the homerun, as his HR/FB% has been over the league average of roughly 10% each year. Right now, it is sitting at a staggering 38.5%. If you believe this will eventually normalize towards his career mark, which it should to some sort of extent, you may not be overly worried about Frieri’s future performance. Although I do expect that, I decide to look at some data and images to see if anything has changed about Frieri that could be the cause of his early homer problems.

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Albert Pujols reached his 500th home run in style on Tuesday April 22nd. Pujols came into the game at 498 home runs, meaning he needed 2 home runs to reach a very tough milestone to reach. Pujols hit a 3 run home run in the first inning off of Nationals’ starter Taylor Jordan. In the 5th inning, Mike Trout singled to set the stage for Albert to do something historic. Pujols got a mistake 1-2 pitch from Jordan and demolished it 430 feet to left center field for his 500th home run of his career.

As Angels fans, this was an exciting feat as many players don’t reach this milestone. Although a vast majority of the home runs Albert hit came with St. Louis, it’s hard to not acknowledge and enjoy what milestone was reached. With this in mind, it brings up the discussion of the best hitters of all time. The idea that Albert Pujols is an all time great hitter is no joke. This guy has done some huge damage in the major leagues.

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Albert Pujols, Nakai Green

Photo by Nakai Green

After a series versus the Tigers that included a favorable slaughter, a tip-of-a-cap defeat, and a defeat that had aspects of a little league game, the Angels move onward to the second of three road series. They will be facing the Nationals today in the first series of the year for them under National League rules. First pitch for all three games with be at 4:05pm PST. Here’s what to keep an eye on during the series:

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Photo by Nakai Green

Photo by Nakai Green

After ending their homestand with a bang with a walk-off homer from Chris Iannetta, the Angels embark on a three-series road trip. Their first stop is at the Motor City as they visit the Detroit Tigers starting today at 4:08pm PST and ending on Sunday (both Saturday and Sunday’s game start at 10:08am PST). Here’s what to keep an eye on during this series:

Probable Pitching Match-ups:

Fri 4/18 Jered Weaver 0-2 5.79 18.2 17:7 1.13
Drew Smyly 1-0 0.00 6.0 6:1 0.50
Sat 4/19 C.J. Wilson 2-1 3.92 20.2 24:6 1.16
Max Scherzer 0-1 2.70 20.0 25:5 1.05
Sun 4/20 Hector Santiago 0-2 4.96 16.1 13:7 1.47
Rick Porcello 1-1 4.15 13.0 8:2 1.15

Keep An Eye On…

  • Jered Weaver has not looked crisp in any of his starts so far this year. However, the fact that he’s going to be pitching at one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks combined with that the Tigers players have not hit particularly well recently against him is a bit encouraging. We can potentially see Weaver snap out of this funk that he’s been in.
  • Weaver’s counterpart, Drew Smyly, is making his first start of the year after pitching two 3-inning relief appearances. It’s likely that Smyly won’t be pitching past the 5th or 6th inning, which bodes well for the Angels since outside of Smyly, Ian Krol, and Evan Reed, the Tigers’ bullpen has not done well so far.
  • Two-time reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera has not gotten off to a smooth start by any means. He’s had a slashline of .250/.294/.396 and has only hit one home run while drawing only three walks (one of which being an intentional walk). He has not fared too well in recent years against Weaver (.231 in 13 ABs in last 5 years) and Santiago (.200 in 5 ABs in last 5 years), but he has hit well off of Wilson (.308 with one HR in 13 ABs in last 5 years).
  • Speaking of Wilson, along with Cabrera, former Angel Torii Hunter (.310 with one HR in 29 ABs in last 5 years) and everybody’s “favorite” second baseman (and former teammate of Wilson) Ian Kinsler (.444 with one HR in 18 ABs in last 5 years) have all hit well against Wilson. C.J. is coming off of back-to-back splendid outings with two wins to show for it, so he’ll be bringing some good momentum into this start.
  • The Angels will see a couple of familiar faces as they will be reunited with recently-traded infielder Andrew Romine and fan favorite outfielder (and mentor of Mike Trout) Torii Hunter. Sadly, neither one of them has been hitting well so far this year. Romine has one hit in 12 at-bats with his new team and Hunter has gone 3-for-18 since hitting a home run in three-consecutive games against the Baltimore Orioles. We wish both of them well (but not too well against us, of course).
  • Rick Porcello has had a bipolar start to the season so far as his first start went well against the Orioles (6.2 innings pitched while giving up 3 hits and only 1 earned run), but his last start definitely did not go so well against the Padres (6.1 innings pitched while giving up 10 hits and 5 earned runs). With Angels’ hitters having recent success versus him, it could look pretty promising for the Angels.
  • On the flip-side of the optimism against Porcello, Max Scherzer presents a frustrating challenge. The reigning AL Cy Young is sporting an impressive 2.70 ERA and an even-more-impressive 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Though he’s coming off a loss versus the Padres, where he only went five innings and gave up four earned runs, he still struck out 10 batters in those five innings. The Angels will need to jump on him quickly, otherwise he’ll get into a groove and the Angels’ hitting will likely be shut down.
  • Speaking of the Angels’ hitting, coming into today, the team is leading the majors in home runs (24) and is third in the majors in runs scored (83). On the flip-side, Angels’ pitching is 23rd in the majors in ERA (4.31) and have given up the third most home runs in the majors (20).
  • With Hamilton and Calhoun both out for awhile, J.B. Shuck will be getting the full-time nod in left field while left-handed-hitting Brennan Boesch and right-handed-hitting Collin Cowgill will be platooning in right field.

Be sure to check out our Series Recap of the series VS Oakland!!!!!

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Record: 1-2

Runs Scored: 16

Runs Against: 17

After a good series against the Mets, the Angels potentially gave away 2 games in the series from poor bullpen performance. A 1-2 record against a division rival at home doesn’t look great but the fact is they lost the first 2 games in 1 run fashion. Outside of Kole Calhoun’s sprained ankle on Tuesday, the series was an exciting one that was close throughout the games.

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Though there have been many struggles from the bullpen, looking to minor league depth may not be an option at the moment. While the thoughts of seeing such prospects as Mike Morin and R.J. Alvarez may fill Angels fans with anticipation, calling them up too early could hinder their progression. In order to make a more immediate impact of the Angels’ bullpen, a trade or two might be in order.

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Photo by Nakai Green

Photo by Nakai Green

Coming hot on the heels of an offensive explosion in their series finale against the New York Mets, the Angels now face the division rival Oakland Athletics in a three-game home series starting tonight and ending this Wednesday (all three games start at 7:05pm). Here’s what to keep an eye on during this series:

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by Bliss Drive Review