The Los Angeles Angels acquired Hunter Strickland from the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon, hoping to improve their bullpen. The Angels relief corps has struggled in the early going with a 5.32 ERA and eight blown saves as the team sits in last place in the highly-competitive AL West. The Rays are to receive cash considerations or a player to be named later in the deal, according to multiple sources. The Angels will be Strickland’s sixth team in eight seasons after playing his first five with the San Francisco Giants.
After struggling through 2019 and 2020, Strickland seems to have rebounded in 2021 despite the continual decline of his fastball velocity. In 13 appearances, he has thrown 16 innings with a 1.69 ERA and 1.250 WHIP. While he is definitely outperforming his peripherals, even his 3.04 FIP would be a major addition for an Angels bullpen that can’t seem to get big outs. With Raisel Iglesias firmly entrenched as the team’s closer, Strickland will likely slot into the seventh inning for Joe Maddon‘s club. Wherever he ends up in the bullpen pecking order, Strickland will be an asset.
Strickland has been best known for his dust-up with Bryce Harper in May of 2017. However, he is definitely a needed improvement for the Los Angeles Angels. He has a career 3.14 ERA in 269.2 innings over 298 relief appearances in his career. Yet, Strickland will have to improve on his walk and strikeout rates if he hopes to attain those numbers while in Anaheim. The reason for this is simple. The Tampa Bay Rays have a Top-5 to Top-10 defense, depending on the metric. As we have written previously, the Angels are nearly last in every statistic on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, this definitely needs to change. The return of Anthony Rendon can only help. Hopefully, Strickland will be ready.
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