The neverending cycle of the pitching carousel was ruthless this season, but somewhere in that whirlwind of new names came the Angels debut of right-handed pitcher Aaron Slegers. After an impressive run with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020, there was hope that Slegers would be the clean-up power that the rotation needed, but his 29-game performance as a Halo wasn’t the right fit, and the young reliever left Anaheim with a rough 6.97 ERA.
Before he joined the Angels, Slegers played 11 games with Tampa Bay in 2020, and he yielded a 3.46 ERA while also logging one game saved and 19 total strikeouts. He was traded to the Angels in February of 2021, and he took the mound for the first time with the Halos on April 1 when he pitched one inning against the Chicago White Sox and contributed to a 4-3 Halo victory.
During the month of April, the bullpen kept Slegers on a relatively tight schedule, capping his mound appearances at 1.1 innings. His highest pitch count in April was 29 pitches against the White Sox.
He kept up a similar stride in May, extending his longest stint on the mound to 1.2 innings and earning his best ERA – 2.84 – after throwing 21 pitches against his former team, the Rays.
By June, Slegers’ time on the mound had drastically dropped to only two games for the month, and he held the same record with two more in July and another two in August. His best ERA from those three months fell unimpressively at 5.79, but the majority of the time, he left the field with an ERA over 6.00. His last game on the mound for the Halos bullpen was on August 19 against the Detroit Tigers. In one of the longest runs in his Angels career, the righty threw 76 pitches, allowing 7 hits and 4 runs after 3.1 innings of work.
During his time as an Angel, Slegers’ favorite pitch was his sinker which has been one of his most used pitches since 2017. Next in his pitching arsenal was the slider which put away about 26% of batters. His four-seam fastball, although rare, averaged about 91 MPH and was mostly used against left-handed batters. And rounding out his most-used pitches is his changeup, which only made up about 9% of his throws this year. With all of these pitches, despite showing some promise every now and again, Slegers’ final 2021 line fell short with only 25 strikeouts, an even 2-2 record, 15 walks and a 1.87 WHIP.
Ultimately, Slegers’ run with the Angels failed to get going before he was sent back to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees on August 20. And while fans hoped that he would gain more experience in the Angels minor league system, that hope was short lived as Slegers elected free agency on August 29 before being signed to a minor league deal with the Rays a couple of days later.
Slegers had all of the potential to be a great reliever within the rotation, but the deal never clicked into the place the way everyone hoped, and it feels like moving back to Tampa Bay’s minors was the best move for the young pitcher. As for the Halos, it was a nice try, but it looks like we’re still chasing that right fit.
2 Wins / 2 Losses / 6.97 ERA / 29 Games / 31 Innings Pitched / 25 Strikeouts / 15 Walks / 1.87 WHIP / -0.5 WAR / 42 Hits Allowed / 24 Runs Allowed / 6 Home Runs Allowed
Best Performance of the Year
May 9 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
In a matchup against the Halos’ crosstown rivals, Slegers stepped in as relief for Jose Quintana in the top of the 5th inning to pitch 1.1 scoreless innings for the bullpen. He recorded a win for his record after the Angels defeated the Dodgers, 2-1.
What To Expect in 2022:
Well, it would appear that despite his stay in Anaheim, Slegers’ true goal was to make it back to Tampa. After electing free agency in late August, Slegers signed another deal with his former team from the 2020 season. This time, he signed a minor league contract, indicating that he’ll most likely be putting in more pitching work before he takes the field in a major league jersey anytime soon. As of now, he’s playing with the Durham Bills, the Rays’ Triple-A team, and if he can capitalize on the talent that peaked through his performance this season, it’s possible that he’ll be ready for spring training with the Rays next year.