Tuesday at the GM meetings, Billy Eppler said he told Huston Street he needed to "win that closer job". This might come as a bit of a shock to Angels fans who are used to Mike Scioscia calling the shots and choosing "veteran grit" over talent. It's a Billy Eppler world we are living in and I've been liking the looks of it.
So who closes for the Angels in 2017?
"Bedrock" has been the player that Angels fans have loved to hate - until this year. Bedrosian had very unsuccessful callups in 2014 and 2015 and left fans wondering how many chances they were going to give this train wreck. Having an All-Star/Cy Young father doesn't automatically mean you will be a good pitcher - right? Enter 2016, and we saw a whole new Cam Bedrosian. One of the problems that didn't really show up in stats last year for Bedrosian was his incredibly high rate of allowing inherited runners to score (44%). Put Bedrock in with a runner on second or third and you are probably going to give up a run. Of course this didn't show in his 1.12 ERA.
In high leverage situations, his OBP was a staggering .467 and with runners on base it was .345. Both of these numbers are significantly worse that Huston Street. But also remember that Bedrosian is a rookie (well not anymore) and nerves probably played some role in this. When you put him in with no runners on base, opposing hitters had only a .169 BAA. Bedrosian is a high K pitcher who struck out the side for his first career save. He is best suited for a clean inning appearance in the 8th or 9th so may be the guy to beat for the closer role this spring.
Street had a troubled 2016 that was cut short due to injuries. He posted the worst numbers of his career wtih a 6.45 ERA and 1.925 WHIP. His BAA was also pretty horrendous at .333. He was basically throwing batting practice. Unfortunately his troubles go back further than 2016 and seemed to have started around the All Star break in 2015. During 2015, Street went from a first half of having a 2.27 ERA, 0.925 WHIP, and ,181 BAA to the second half were he put up a 4.39 ERA, 1.463 WHIP, and .282 BAA. Something happened to Street in 2015 where he quickly shifted from a solid, reliable closer to a complete wild card. Street got noticeably worse in key situations and in high leverage and situations with men on base, his OBP was over .300.
Street will turn 34 during the 2017 season and there are some definite concerns as to if he can find his old form (he was an All-Star in 2012 and 2014), or if he is a victim of that dreaded aging curve. There are plenty of relievers who can remain effective into their late 30s, so I'm not saying Street is done yet, but if his 2017 looks anything like his past 1.5 years, Street's career may be reaching a dead end.
The Angels recently re-signed Bailey to a 1-year million dollar contract. Billy Eppler worked his magic last year and pulled him out of the dumpster in Philadelphia. With the Angels, Bailey saw a resurgence and in his 11.1 innings had a 2.38 ERA and 0.971 WHIP. That isn't a lot of innings to work with, but Bailey looked very promising in those 12 games. Bailey has struggled since his time with the A's when he was a 2-time All Star early in his career. He had a good year in 2013 for the Red Sox, until he had season ending shoulder surgery (torn labrum and capsule).
Bailey also had TJ surgery in 2005, but was able able to recover, work his way through the minors and become Rookie of the Year in 2009. Bailey racked up 75 total saves for the A's in 2009-2011 so he is no stranger to the closer role. He saved 6 games in 6 attempts for the Angels in 2016 as well. He might be a longer shot of the three for the role, but is definitely not out of the question.
I'm pretty happy to see a competition for the closer role in 2017 and it can only make each of these three guys better. One of them will land the role, and the other two may end up the 7th and 8th inning guys. You fill in the bullpen with some good middle relief and the late innings don't look as bleak for the Halos in 2017.
Who are you rooting for to take the closer role next year??