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Angels bullpen report, Week 1: Roles?

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A closer look at who was used when, why and how after the club’s first week.

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Going into the Angels’ 2017 season, all the biggest question marks centered around the bullpen. Comprised mostly of fringe players and swingmen, I was fascinated to see how the traditionally rigid Mike Scioscia would incorporate this rag-tag group into games. Considering Scioscia’s bullpen management has been a heated topic around Halos Heaven for years now, I thought you all might be just as interested.

Every week this season, I want to take a deeper look at all relievers who appeared in a game for the Angels and break down how they were used, hopefully uncovering some patterns that will allow us to get a deeper look into Scioscia’s plump noggin. The season’s first week brought plenty of intrigue, to say the least.

Cam Bedrosian

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
4-Apr 9 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 1, 14 1 0 0 0
8-Apr 8 in, 1st, 1 out, up 2 1.2, 31 4 0 1 0

What better place to start than the end? While never officially crowned the ace of the pen, it has been clear going back to last season that Bedrosian was a cut (OK, several cuts) above the rest of his mates. Something clicked last year, as we giddily watched his major league performance finally match his minor league promise.

Nothing about that perception has changed thus far. Though he has appeared only in two games, he has been nothing short of sensational. In his first appearance, he pitched a tidy ninth inning to put away the A’s following Danny Espinosa’s dramatic three-run home run in the top of the ninth. In his second appearance, Mike Scioscia had us falling all over ourselves as he brought him in to pitch with a runner on in the eighth inning, a glimmer of hope that he was finally open to expanding the roles of his relievers.

While Cam would leak that base runner, narrowing the lead to a single run, he slammed the door in the ninth, striking out the side. Now, I am not ready to crown Mike as the next Terry Francona just yet. After all, we have seen Scioscia bring in his closer to finish the eighth inning before. Cam had also only appeared in one game up until that point, with three days of rest, so it was not much of a stretch to ask him to record two additional outs.

Still, it showed us that Mike recognizes Bedrosian as the undisputed ace of this relief corps, even if he’s paying lip service to a “committee” when pressed by the media. Cam certainly looks the part, maintaining mid-90’s heat to go along with his filthy slider. And it is more than just pure stuff. He is locating his pitches well, continuing his trend from last season of throwing strikes and generating ground balls to complement all those strike outs. Just as importantly, his body language looks like he knows he belongs out there. A far cry from what we saw his first two seasons, he is undoubtably the glue to this pen.

Andrew Bailey

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
4-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 0 out, down 2 1, 8 0 0 0 0
7-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 4 1, 14 1 0 0 0
9-Apr 9 in, 0 on, 0 out, down 6 1, 13 1 0 0 0

Following his impressive run at the end of last season, the Angels and Bailey were more than happy to continue their relationship for the 2017 season. Thus far Bailey has rewarded their faith, throwing three perfect innings this week and gobbling up two W’s along the way.

Bailey hardly looks impressive on the bump, but hitters have had a hard time squaring up his cutter/curveball combo since the moment he arrived in Anaheim. Jeff Sullivan saw him as a potential sleeper this offseason thanks to the spin rate on that cutter, noting what a great job he has done of throwing strikes and generating foul balls.

It is pretty clear that Mike Scioscia views him as the pen’s primary set-up man, though he did get in some mop-up work in the ninth inning on Sunday, where he was the beneficiary of the Angels’ epic comeback in the bottom of the inning.

Blake Parker

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
4-Apr 6 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 2 1.1, 27 3 0 2 0
6-Apr 6 in, 1st, 1 out, down 4 .2, 9 2 0 0 0
7-Apr 9 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 4 1, 20 1 0 0 0
9-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 0 out, down 5 1, 22 1 0 1 0

No one really knew what to make of Blake Parker following his run of dominance this spring. Including, apparently, Mike Scioscia. Still, you can’t ignore 17 consecutive strike outs, so Mike will seemingly try Parker everywhere he can to see if he can keep up this in-human strike out pace, as he leads the club in appearances on the young season.

We discovered quickly he is not a multi-inning arm, as he dominated the A’s initially in his first game this year before allowing a run in his second inning of work. Since then, he has only appeared in low-leverage situations, not yet earning the trust of Scioscia. To be fair, his struggles in his first appearance could be placed squarely on Mike’s big shoulders, as Parker’s fastball/slider combo should scream “short reliever” loud and clear.

Parker has maintained his whiffing ways of spring training, striking out an absurd 7 of 17 totals batters faced on the young season. It is also encouraging that he has yet to allow a single free pass. His velocity ticked up last season and he has maintained that thus far, sitting 92-93 MPH with a legit swing-and-miss slider. He has missed bats his whole career, with middling control. If he continues to command the strike zone, expect to see him used in higher-leverage situations before long.

Bud Norris

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
3-Apr 7 in, 0 on, 0 out, down 1 1, 22 2 1 0 0
4-Apr 7 in, 1st, 1 out, up 1 0.2, 24 1 0 3 0
7-Apr 7 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 2 1, 13 1 0 1 0

Until Parker convinces Scioscia he’s the real deal, expect to see the veteran Norris get those important innings, instead. Obviously the 7th inning is where Norris should expect to come in most nights, as that is the only inning he has seen thus far. Most saw him as a swingman coming into the season, though Scioscia is probably justified in limiting the exposure of his underwhelming stuff.

It has been a bit of a mixed bag with Norris thus far, as he is missing some bats but also leaking base runners. If he keeps getting outs, Scioscia will continue to trot him out to protect leads in the seventh inning. But if he blows a game or two, let’s hope he is on a very short leash.

J.C. Ramirez

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
3-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 0 out, down 1 1, 23 0 2 2 1
5-Apr 6 in, 0 on, 1 out, up 5 2.2, 38 2 0 2 0
8-Apr 7 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 1.1, 21 1 0 3 0

Ramirez has been the pen’s utility knife thus far, pitching in various innings and game situations. Like Parker, Scioscia does not know what to make of the hard-throwing righty, most recently giving him an opportunity to protect a one-run lead in the seventh inning.

Ramirez throws too many meatballs to be truly trusted in a high-leverage role, though his ability to pitch multiple innings makes him a more useful version of Fernando Salas.

Jose Alvarez

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
3-Apr 6 in, 1st/2nd, 2 out, down 1 0.1, 6 0 0 0 0
5-Apr 5 in, 2nd/3rd, 2 out, up 5 0.2, 15 1 0 0 0
7-Apr 6 in, 1st/3rd, 2 out, up 1 .1, 3 1 0 0 0

The most senior member of the Angels’ pen, Alvarez has seen his role become more specialized as the lone lefty in Mike’s stable of relievers. In three appearances, he has yet to pitch a complete inning, with half the batters he has faced swinging from the left side.

Thus far he has done the job, not allowing a base runner and striking out two batters (one lefty). Over his career, he’s fared equally well against batters from both sides of the plate, though has never been dominant against either. Expect him to continue to see minimal work in the middle innings.

Yusmeiro Petit

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
5-Apr 9 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 5 1, 17 0 0 1 0
6-Apr 7 in, 0 on, 0 out, down 4 2, 26 4 1 0 0

We now enter clear mop-up duty with swingman Yusmeiro Petit. Considering the relatively wide gaps we have seen on the scoreboard thus far, you can make a case that Petit has been under-utilized. Despite modest stuff, he throws strikes and misses enough bats to keep hitters honest.

Mike Morin

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
9-Apr 5 in, 1st/2nd/3rd, 1 out, d 5 2.2, 39 2 1 1 1

Just under the wire, Morin only makes an appearance here thanks to the injury to Garrett Richards. He arrived just in time to soak up a few innings in what looked like a sure loss on Sunday. Morin is what he is at this point and will likely find himself chartering back and forth from Salt Lake City all season, especially with the advent of the 10-day DL.