It’s been a year of chanting “Bring in Raisel” during every close-call 9th inning, and while Halo fans wait with bated breath for the closer’s decision regarding the Angels extended qualifying offer, now feels like the perfect time to reminisce a season of saves, impressive stats and powerful relief performances.
Raisel Iglesias first joined the Angels in December 2020 from the Cincinnati Reds, and in his first year as an Angels relief pitcher, he made his mark with career bests, earning recognition as one of the top tier closers in major league baseball.
The right-handed pitcher closed out 2021 with an impressive 2.57 ERA and several career high statistics including a 37.7% strikeout percentage and a 4.4% walk rate. He finished 59 games and recorded 34 saves after 70 innings pitched.
While Iglesias proved that he could pitch more than one inning — as he did 16 times this season — the Angels opted for a more careful but effective approach. His performances were usually left down to one inning, and when September rolled around, the bullpen restricted him to no more than three outs. And while fans may have been saddened to see their favorite closer take the field less and less, it was a strategic move that further confirmed that the Angels are not afraid to play the long game this year, opting to preserve Iglesias for his possible 2022 debut in a Halos uniform.
General manager Perry Minasian has made it clear that the offseason is going to be one of reconstruction for the Halos bullpen, and with Iglesias as a closer, that would be a solid foundation to build on.
2021 Stats & Accomplishments
7 Wins / 5 Losses / 2.57 ERA / 65 Games / 59 Games Finished / 70 Innings Pitched / 103 Strikeouts / 12 Walks / .929 WHIP / 2.8 WAR* / 53 Hits Allowed / 25 Runs Allowed / 11 Home Runs Allowed / 37.7% Strikeout Percentage* / 4.4% Walk Rate*
2021 AL Reliever of the Month for August
On the mound, Iglesias’ speed and consistency came in clutch with a variety of different pitches, but nothing quite compares to his four seam fastball which averaged about 96 MPH and always left both batters and fans staring in amazement.
This sequence by Raisel Iglesias was unfair pic.twitter.com/xcjX1dHYMr— MLB (@MLB) April 2, 2021
Behind his fastball, a quick 85 MPH slider and changeup kept batters on their toes before the occasional sinker threw off their rhythm entirely. His diverse range of pitches combined with that consistent speed factor provided perfect shutdowns for the Halos, especially in close-call situations.
Best Performance of the Year
There’s no way we can pick one moment. Watching Iglesias secure a Halos win has been a highlight multiple times during this season, and it would be a shame to pick just one.
The Month of August
Iglesias received the AL Reliever of the Month Award after recording 7 saves and 3 wins.
August 15 vs. Houston Astros
Iglesias earned his 26th save of the season with three strikeouts in the 8th inning— an instrumental performance that gave the Halos a chance to score 2 more runs and walk away with a victory against the future World Series contenders.
October 3 vs. Seattle Mariners
In the final game of the season, Iglesias shut down the Mariners to earn a 7-3 victory for the Halos, their second win against the Mariners who were one game away from postseason baseball.
What to Expect in 2022:
In qualifying offer history, only 96 players have been offered one since the rule’s implementation in 2012, making the Angels decision not only rare, but historic, given that they are willing to pay $18.4 million for one year — a higher salary than is usually committed to closing pitchers.
Iglesias has until Nov. 17 to make a decision, but if he declines, he’ll most likel
y enter into negotiations for a multiyear deal. With no other closing pitcher options on the current bullpen roster, it’s clear that this qualifying offer is the first step in keeping Iglesias around as a solid foundation for the bullpen. If keeping him in Anaheim is their number one priority in pitching, then we’re confident that a multiyear deal is around the corner, even if the qualifying offer is rejected.
If Iglesias does reject the offer and signs with another team, the Angels would receive a draft pick compensation. The Halos might also look to the free agency market in hopes of finding a veteran pitcher that can match Iglesias’ energy and power.