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Angels bullpen report, Week 3: Everything plus the kitchen sink edition

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New faces, roles emerge as the Angels’ injury situation turns desperate less than a month into the season.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we learned that primary set-up man Andrew Bailey would be sidelined with shoulder soreness. Since then it had been announced that Cam Bedrosian, the one stabilizing force in an increasingly unstable bullpen, would also be placed on the DL with a groin strain.

Nothing more to do but push forward and try to put the remaining relievers in a position to be successful. Let’s examine how Mike Scioscia deployed what is left of his bullpen.

Bud Norris

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
18-Apr 7 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 3 1, 13 1 0 1 0
20-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 0 out, down 2 1, 12 1 0 0 0
21-Apr 8 in, 0 out, 0 out, up 1 0.1, 16 0 2 0 0
22-Apr 9 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 1, 6 1 0 1 0
24-Apr 9 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 1, 18 1 1 1 0

Blake Parker

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
19-Apr 6 in, 3rd, 2 out, down 1 0.1,13 0 1 0 0
21-Apr 9 in, 0 on, 0 out, tied 2,33 2 0 0 0
23-Apr 6 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 1,20 3 0 0 0

Raise your hand if you thought Bud Norris would be closing out games for the Angels less than a month into the season! The veteran had a busy week, clearly earning the trust of Mike Scioscia to handle the the most important innings in the absence of Bailey and Bedrosian. For the most part he has acquitted himself nicely, save for one poor outing that led to Bedrosian’s first blown save of the season.

While it is unclear whether Norris has an established wingman for his newly found late inning responsibilities, Blake Parker continues to overwhelm opposing hitters. At 9.1 innings on the young season, Parker has struck out 15 batters while walking only 2. Of his 8 hits allowed on the season, 4 have come via ground ball through the infield. He has allowed only one extra base hit thus far, a double.

Scioscia still does not seem to fully trust Parker. While he saw some high leverage work pitching the 9th and 10th innings flawlessly on April 21, he was brought in in the sixth inning with a one-run lead two days later to face the bottom of the Blue Jays line-up, which he promptly mowed down, striking out all three batters. That left Deolis Guerra of all people to protect the lead in the eighth inning, with predictably disastrous results.

When I first started this project, Unipony, a member here who’s opinion I have always had immense respect for, took me to task for bemoaning Scioscia’s decision for putting Norris ahead of Parker in the bullpen pecking order, citing the former’s good peripherals and poor batted ball luck. Now that we have a bit more data, let’s take a look at how the two stack up against each other in those controllable categories:

Norris vs. Parker

2017 IP BAbip Contact% K% BB% GB%
2017 IP BAbip Contact% K% BB% GB%
Norris 10.2 .296 71.6% 27.3% 9.1% 40.7%
Parker 9.1 .348 70.7% 37.5% 5.0% 45.5%

While 10 innings is hardly enough of a sample to tell us much, contact rate tends to stabilize very quickly. Scioscia is justified in elevating Norris to his current role, as the data continues to show that batters are struggling to square up his pitches. What is not acceptable is a continued lack of faith in the abilities of Parker, who has been even more obviously dominant by every measure, save for a few ground balls that squeaked by the infield.

Jose Alvarez

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
18-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 3 0, 5 0 1 0 0
19-Apr 6 in, 3rd, 1 out, down 1 0.1, 7 0 0 0 0
21-Apr 4 in, 1st/2nd/3rd, 1 out, up 1 0.1, 2 0 0 0 0
23-Apr 7 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 1, 11 1 0 0 0

Alvarez continues his strict deployment against lefties, enjoying the platoon advantage against just over half the total batters he has faced thus far. He did earn a hold in his most recent appearance, pitching a rare complete inning against the Blue Jays, in which he struck out Jose Bautista swinging before setting down switch-hitters Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak, showing he is capable of more than strict LOOGY (left-handed-one-out-only-guy) duties.

Cam Bedrosian

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
18-Apr 8 in, 1st, 0 out, up 3 2, 26 3 0 2 0
21-Apr 8 in, 1st/2nd, 1 out, up 1 0.2, 16 1 0 1 0

This one hurts. Scioscia continued to be aggressive with his closer, bringing Bedrosian into the game in the eighth inning twice last week. The first time he earned a two-inning save. The second instance saw him called upon to try and bail out Norris after he allowed back-to-back walks. Cam allowed a hit, getting tagged with his first blown save of the season.

With him not coming back out to pitch the ninth inning of a tie game, it is safe to assume his groin injury likely occurred during that eighth inning. Keep you collective fingers crossed that it is a mild strain and the team is just being cautious here. Of course, when was the last time we’ve had anything but the worst-case scenario play out with our pitching staff’s health?

Deolis Guerra

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
19-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 0 out, down 4 1, 12 0 0 1 0
21-Apr 11 in, 0 on, 0 out, tied 2, 32 3 1 1 0
23-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 0.2, 15 0 1 1 1

After an effective two-inning performance to hold down the fort in extra innings, Mike Scioscia allowed recency bias to rule the day and enlisted Deolis Guerra to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning. Walks and home runs are two things you want to see any reliever avoid and Guerra promptly allowed both, blowing what could have been a huge win for this team against a dominant Marcus Stroman.

Guerra has survived the waiver wire and has provided the Angels with some depth when they needed it the most. This is fine when you need someone to soak up an inning here and there, but he is most certainly not a guy you want to see on the bump with the game on the line.

Yusmeiro Petit

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
21-Apr 5 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 3, 49 4 0 1 0
24-Apr 7 in, 0 on, 0 out, up 1 1.1, 23 0 0 2 0

Petit continues to deliver as a reliable multi-inning reliever. In hockey, there is a term for a certain kind of role player, where they say he plays “low-event hockey”. It’s a guy who isn’t going to give you much offense, but generally plays responsible and does not allow the other team to generate momentum.

That would seem to describe Petit perfectly, as he throws strikes, stays collected on the mound and can handle throwing a few innings without letting the game get away. As opposed to...

Brooks Pounders

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
23-Apr 8 in, 0 on, 2 out, down 1 1.1, 47 3 1 5 2

Pounders was called upon to reliever Guerra after he blew a one-run lead and promptly turned the game into a laugher. While we saw flashes of what his power arm could do for the pen, five hits allowed in just 1.1 innings of work — including a walk and two home runs — is not going to get it done.

Jesse Chavez

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
21-Apr 13 in, 0 on, 0 out, tied 1, 25 2 0 4 1

We all assumed Jesse Chavez would eventually see some work in relief. This was a case of the perfect storm, as he had three days of rest and Mike Scioscia had already used up the rest of his relievers. Chavez let the game get away, but bounced back to earn the win on Monday with six strong innings.

David Hernandez

Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
Date Situation IP, Total PIT SO BB H HR
24-Apr 8 in, 1st, 1 out, up 1 0.2, 7 0 0 0 0

Who? If you blinked, you probably missed that the Angels acquired this journeyman reliever from the Braves just hours before the start of this game. Yet desperate times means he found himself pitching the eighth inning of a 2-1 game for his new team. He is a veteran and throws 94 MPH, so expect to see him get a few more looks in the Angels’ depleted pen.

Kirby Yates also saw his first action for the Angels, giving up two home runs as they nursed a four-run lead. Mike Morin had one appearance last week before going on the DL from “neck stiffness”, likely caused by constantly cranking his neck every time one of his pitches leaves the yard.