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Influx of Young Fireballers Could Fix Angels’ Bullpen

The Los Angeles Angels bullpen has had an influx of young fireballers in the last few days, which is good since the bullpen has been a mess in the first 50 games. The bullpen has been very disappointing outside of Matt Moore (currently on the IL) and closer Carlos Estévez. Surprisingly, though the Angels are seventh in bullpen ERA. This seems shocking with how often it feels like the pen has blown a lead almost every night. 

The Recent Influx of Young Fireballers Could Save The Angels’ Bullpen

What Was Wrong

Every team has its quirks, and within that, there are generally some anchors that hold it together. The Angels’ bullpen had none of that to start the season. No defined closer, no bridge to the back end of the pen, and no guy to get out of challenging situations. Some teams might not have a good fit for every role but will have a general idea. The Angels seemingly had none of that to begin the season.

Two relievers who underperformed last year were Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera. Before Tepera’s release on May 19th, he had an ERA over 7.00 in 10 games. That’s not suitable for a guy who, coming into the season, was supposed to compete for the closer role. Loup, on the other hand, had reason to think he would rebound. In 2021 he had a microscopic ERA of 0.95. His 2022 season was more typical, with a 3.84 ERA. In 2023, though, he has an ERA of 7.15 in 14 games. 

The rest of the bullpen could have been better early this season. Guys who were supposed to be in more prominent roles crumbled. The Angels were flipping guys between Triple-A Salt Lake and Anaheim almost daily in April and May. Until recently, there were no pitchers in the bullpen who could handle high-leverage situations effectively.

Enter Sam Bachman and Ben Joyce

The two young fireballers who may fix the Angels’ bullpen were recently down on the farm with Double-A Rocket City. Sam Bachman, the first flamethrower to get the call-up, was the team’s first-round pick in 2021 out of Miami University of Ohio. If you look into his numbers this year in Double-A, they might be head-scratching: an ERA of 6.15 and a WHIP over 1.000. The numbers are a bit wacky for an odd reason. The ball used in Double-A is different from MLB’s. It’s an enhanced ball that has Dow Chemical in order to establish an alternative to the Delaware River mud currently applied to major league balls.

Bachman showed promise in his two innings pitched on Saturday night. He consistently hit 96-97 mph with his sinker and mixed that pitch with a cutter and slider. He struck out four batters and got two outs on a double play ball. The only hard-hit ball was off the bat of Jonathan Davis of the Miami Marlins. Everything else was soft contact. The command was iffy, but that could possibly be pinned on nerves and adrenaline.

Ben Joyce was hitting 105 mph on the radar gun in college last year. Joyce would be exceptional in this day and age of young flamethrowers. He would be on the fast track to the major leagues with that velocity. He debuted on Monday night, hitting 102.2 mph on his first pitch in his career. The only pitch under 100 was an 89 mph cutter. He should be fine in the majors once he gets his footing. 

The Outlook Going Forward

Even though the Angels feel like an average team so far, basically every stat suggests they’re above average. The bullpen is in the top 10 bullpens in baseball. Guys who aren’t living up to their potential and don’t help the team are being removed and replaced.

Chris Devenski signed a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, has found his changeup again, and has become the go-to guy with runners on in the late innings. This find could be helpful since, as mentioned before, this was something the Angels didn’t have before he got a shot in the majors. He and Matt Moore could be the bridge to Estévez late in games.

Getting young is always a good strategy in baseball. Younger players tend to bring new life to a team, a sense of competition, and excitement. Plus, if their essential tools can be refined, it can help boost a team. It happens almost every season; a few young players come up and have an impact immediately. Though the season is still young, there is some reason, however small, to be optimistic about the Angels’ bullpen going forward.  


Photo Credit: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

Players Mentioned: Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Sam Bachman, Jonathan Davis, Ben Joyce, Chris Devenski



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