From the very beginning of the 2021 season, the Angels’ bullpen was the definition of a revolving door, cycling through a whopping 32 different pitchers as the year went on. One of the first players to get a crack at things was submariner Ben Rowen, a veteran journeyman who the Halos signed to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training last December.
Rowen was assigned to the Angels’ alternate training site after not making the team out of Spring Training, but it didn’t take long for the righty to make his debut with the big league club, as he was recalled on April 12 to take the roster spot of Jaime Barría. He made his first appearance in the majors since all the way back in 2016 the same day in a game against the Royals, where he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to finish off a win.
Over the next few weeks, Rowen was mainly used in mop-up duty, coming in primarily when the Halos found themselves trailing and wanted to save their high-leverage relievers for more competitive games. He found some pretty decent success in this role to start, only giving up one earned run in 8.1 innings over his first six games. His last two appearances, however, did not go as well, as he gave up a two-run home run in a game against the Mariners on May 1 and two longballs in his next outing against the Rays just a few days later.
Following this last outing, Rowen was designated for assignment and subsequently outrighted to Triple-A Salt Lake in order to make room on the active roster for the returning Mike Mayers. He spent the rest of the season in Salt Lake (aside from a brief two-game rehab assignment in the Arizona Complex League), where he posted a 6.82 ERA in his 21 games in the notoriously hitter-friendly Triple-A West.
11.1 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 5.56 ERA in eight relief appearances for the Angels
6.34 ERA in 32.2 innings across 23 games for AAA Salt Lake and the ACL Angels
Best Performance of the Year
Rowen’s best performance of 2021 from a statistical standpoint was the 2.1 innings of scoreless ball that he pitched against the Astros on April 22, but his most memorable would absolutely be his first game in an Angels’ uniform against the Royals back on April 12. This was Rowen’s first game in the big leagues in nearly five years, and he marked the occasion by tossing a scoreless ninth to secure a 10-3 Angels victory.
Rowen retired from baseball following the conclusion of the 2021 season, so he will not be appearing in uniform for the Angels in 2022. He’ll still be a member of the organization, though, as he was brought on as a Major League Advanced Scout with the Halos back in November.