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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