At the beginning of the 2009 season the Angels mission was to stay afloat until their rotation returned healthy. For the most part the Halos have played that part to near perfection. Saturday in Detroit Kelvim Escobar made his first MLB start since 2007 completing the Angels vaunted starting rotation. Mike Scioscia can now throw out Lackey, Saunders, Santana, Weaver, and Escobar as his starting five. Together and healthy they form arguably the strongest rotation in the AL. With their pitchers intact the Angels sit 4.5 games out of first in the AL West and four games behind the Red Sox/Yankees for the Wild Card. (2 games behind Toronto) At the start of the season I think most Halos fans would have taken that margin. Especially considering the AL East will ideally beat themselves up the Angels seem comfortably placed to at least make a return to the postseason. But a troubling pattern has emerged for the Angels. Their bullpen simply cannot seem to bridge the gap between the starters and closer Brian Fuentes. Even Fuentes hasn’t been stellar.
The Angels bullpen in a word has been brutal. After yesterdays implosion in Detroit (three walks, followed by a grand slam) the Angels bullpen has the worst ERA in the majors. Everyone knew there would be some drop off after the loss of Francisco Rodriguez, who is 15 for 15 in save opportunities this season, but K-Rod’s former set up man have fallen apart without him. Last season it was so routine Scot Shields to Jose Arredendo to K-Rod and ball game over. Now Shields is on the DL and the Arredendo’s control is nowhere to be found. Last season on June 8th the Angels were 13-8 in one run games, this season just 10-9. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is the primary reason the Halos are closer to last place than first. The Angels and Mike Scioscia have traditionally preached the importance of filling holes from within but last night even Scioscia admitted it might be time to look for help. The Angels have blown 11 of 25 save opportunities this season and that simply isn’t going to get it done.
To compound the Angels dilemma it appears as though the Rangers are a legitimate contender in the AL this season. This past weekend they took a rare road series victory from Boston and now sit ten games over .500 and tied for first in the AL. Now that the Angels rotation is healthy it is time to address the issues with the bullpen before it is too late.
The Angels get the day off today as they travel into Tampa Bay for a three game series starting Tuesday evening.
Tuesday- 4:08 PT
Weaver (5-2, 2.26) @ Shields (5-4, 3.40)
Wednesday- 4:08 PT
Lackey (1-1, 5.13) @ Niemann (5-4, 3.77)
Thursday- 4:08 PT
Santana (1-2, 6.75) @ Price (1-0, 2.45)
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Written by Nich Hall