Anaheim Has Angered Someone

Heading into the season, the Angels were the favorites to win the AL West, but they were overwhelmed by a tide of bad fortune. Half their pitching staff is on the disabled list, they’re mourning a fallen teammate, Vladimir Guerrero got injured… even top prospect Jordan Walden hasn’t been able to shake the injury bug. It’s crazy how much adversity they’ve had to face in a single month.

So, it’s understandable that they sit at 9-12, in third place and 3 1/2 games out of first in the AL West. Given the losses they’ve sustained, that they’ve been able to stay afloat is a minor miracle. But if you’re an Angels fan looking for hope, I’ve got some goods news – your bullpen is going to get a lot better.

So far, the Angels bullpen has been the worst in the American League, posting a -2.30 WPA and a 7.07 ERA. Only the Nationals have cost their team more wins, and they aren’t exactly the standard you want to compare yourself to. The Angels pen has always been a source of strength for them, and they had reasons to believe that their high leverage group (Brian Fuentes, Scot Shields, Jose Arredondo, and Justin Speier) would again be an advantage in close games.

So far, all four of those guys have been giving up runs in bunches. However, take a look at the respective ERA/FIP for those four.

Fuentes: 5.63 ERA, 3.68 FIP
Arredondo: 5.40 ERA, 1.18 FIP
Speier: 5.00 ERA, 3.29 FIP
Shields: 8.64 ERA, 5.82 FIP

Shields is the only on who has pitched in a way that should be concerning to his future. He’s struggled mightily with his command early in the season, but has shown signs of improvement in his last four outings. The other four just have to be going nuts as balls continue to find holes. Fuentes’ BABIP is .460. Arredondo’s is .441. Speier’s is “only” .328, but that’s still 50 points above his career mark. The Angels defense isn’t good, but it’s not that bad.

You just have to chalk some of it up to a total fluke. The Angels bullpen has a 4.19 FIP, 8th best in all of baseball. There’s just no way that they keep giving up runs at this rate. I guess it wouldn’t be the 2009 season in Anaheim if even the relatively healthy portion of the team wasn’t the victim of bad luck, however.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

15 Responses to “Anaheim Has Angered Someone”

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  1. alskor says:

    Im convinced Gary Matthews is trying to sabotage Fuentes. He’s made at least two major boneheaded bad reads that Ive seen – didnt go as errors – that would have gotten Fuentes out of the inning (and less 5 runs or so) if he had just made the routine play.

    Fuentes’ periphs are solid and he’s looked good every time Ive seen him. Its been bad luck, bad fielding and broken bat bloopers, etc…

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    • Nick says:

      What’s scary is Fuentes is having this bad luck, even though he’s striking guys out at a rate he can’t sustain. And batters are making better contact on all his types of pitches thrown so far this year. Just wait until his K rate drops, and even more balls get put into play for that defense to field.

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      • alskor says:

        Why the hell would his K rate drop? I think its more likely the defense behind him stops sucking and he stops giving up these unlucky weak contact hits.

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      • alskor says:

        I realize his K rate so far this year (13/9 or something) will drop, but his career is around 10. Im saying it way more likely his hit rate comes back down to his career norms. The hit rate is what is badly out of whack, not the fact he’s gotten one or two extra Ks so far.

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      • Evan says:

        More Ks plus more solid contact?

        Sounds like Ryan Franklin. Some guys just have hittable stuff, so if they’re throwing a lot of strikes they’re going to get hit.

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      • alskor says:

        But he’s not giving up more solid contact – that’s the whole point. His stuff looks very good, too.

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      • Uh, no says:

        Hitters are making contact 75.7% of the time (73% last year and 73% for his career). That’s down from 78% just a few days ago.

        Moral of the post: Small sample size.

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  2. DMZ fascism victim says:

    Hooray for ‘goods news’!

    Just giving you a heads up ;)

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  3. Brian says:

    The Angels defense is not very good at all. With or without Vlad, they have subpar defenders in the outfield corners. Replacing Kotchman/Teixeira with Kendry Morales is a defensive downgrade. And Aybar has misplayed at least three popups behind short this season. The bullpen FIP numbers are nice, but they aren’t a guarantee that things will get better.

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  4. Rally says:

    If everything that a batter makes contact on falls in for a hit, a pitcher will (eventually) strike out 27 batters per 9 innings. If his defense improves, his K/9 will go down, but K as a percentage of batters faced will remain the same.

    No, this isn’t a good defense. Aybar doesn’t hit, so he either needs to stop making the bone-headed plays, make some great plays that save runs, or be replaced. If the Angels are going to get crappy SS defense, they might as well at least get some homers out of the deal and play Wood.

    The outfield is old. Don’t think there is much they can do about that.

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  5. Brian Kick me in the GO NATS Jones says:

    Being a NATS fan, you guys have never seen a real bad defense or real bad luck. The Nats between 2006-2008 were the unluckiest team in history for injuries. We lost our true ace three years in a row. We entered each season with one pitcher being called an ace, one of the best in the game, only to have that pitcher never pitch again after a handful of awful starts. And our best offensive player played 38 games over that entire time period. We lead the league in days on the DL three years in a row. By huge margins! All time bad luck there. And this season the Angels defense is much better than the NATS.

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    • alskor says:

      Yeah… its almost like there is driving force linking all this “bad luck.”

      …perhaps something like “bad management.”

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  6. Tom says:

    More troubling than the pitching injuries is the way Scioscia has set the lineup. Maicer Izturis has not only DH’ed but batted 3rd this season. Brandon Wood never plays yet Kendry Morales is penciled in everyday as the starting 1B. The management hasn’t shown that it has the flexibility to get away from what has worked for them in the past.

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  7. Alex says:

    I think the Angels will turn it around and still win the division. Shields is declining it was quite obvious in the 2nd half last year when he walked batters to regurlaly. But when this team gets healthy their pitching staff is to good to not keep them in games.

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