The 2021 season was a wild ride for a good portion of the 38 different pitchers that the Angels used this year, but perhaps none could top the journey that veteran reliever Jake Petricka took on his way to Anaheim.
Once an important member of the Chicago White Sox bullpen in the mid 2010s, the 33-year-old Petricka found himself on the fringes of organized baseball heading into this season. He had been released by the Blue Jays near the end of the 2020 season without appearing in a single game for the major league squad, and when Spring Training rolled around back in February, he found himself without a team altogether. This led the former second-round pick to sign with the High Point Rockers of the independent Atlantic League with the hopes of earning another shot in the major leagues.
As it turned out, this shot came after just one appearance with the Rockers, as the Angels purchased Petricka’s contract on June 1 in a move made primarily to increase the organization’s depth. Petricka was subsequently assigned to AAA Salt Lake, and after a pretty good two-month stretch where he pitched to a 3.69 ERA in 31.2 innings, he was selected on August 25 to fill one of the roster spots vacated by Reid Detmers and Austin Warren due to positive COVID-19 diagnoses.
Unfortunately, though, Petricka was not able to keep the positive momentum rolling upon his arrival in Anaheim, as his tenure with the Halos went south rather quickly. In his first appearance with the team, Petricka allowed four earned runs in just 0.2 innings pitched and was the losing pitcher in the game that snapped the Orioles’ 19-game losing streak. The very next day, he allowed a grand slam on the first pitch of his outing, capping off a six-run fifth inning in what was yet another embarrassing loss to Baltimore.
Petricka pitched in five more games after this and allowed five earned runs in five innings before being designated for assignment on September 16 in order to clear a roster spot for the returning Alex Cobb. He returned to the Bees after this, where he made three appearances before the end of the season.
6 IP, 6 H, 10 ER, 7 BB, 8 Ks, 15.00 ERA in seven relief appearances with the Angels.
4.25 ERA in 36 innings across 23 relief appearances with AAA Salt Lake
Best Performance of the Year
From a statistical perspective, Petricka’s best outing of his Angels career would be the two scoreless innings he threw in an appearance against the Yankees on September 1. His most memorable outing came a day earlier, however, when he was brought on to protect a two-run lead in the eighth inning against New York with the tying run on base and just one out. He got out of this situation unscathed, striking out both Gio Urshela and Luke Voit to strand both inherited runners and keep the Halos in the lead.
Petricka is currently a minor-league free agent following the conclusion of the 2021 season, and it is unclear whether he will be back in the organization for 2022.