The Angels came into the 2013 season with a bullpen that included 2012 holdovers Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs, and Kevin Jepson. Frieri, though inconsistent, had at times been brilliant as the new closer, Downs was the perfect situational lefty, and Jepsen a solid set-up guy. Over the winter the team added an additional veteran lefty, Sean Burnett, and signed injured closer Ryan Madson. That sounded like the core of a solid relief staff, especially if Madson would be able to pitch.
But, it was not to be.
The Angels’ 2013 season has been a disaster, and the bullpen has shared in the blame.
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|Frieri’s inconsistency has continued, and though he has converted 26 of 30 save opportunities, half of those blown saves and three of his four loses have come in his last seven appearances, during which in 4-2/3 innings he has allowed 12 runs, raising his ERA from 2.76 to 4.79. Downs provided solid performances all year, but he was the first to go in a sell-off once it became a reality that the team would not make the playoffs. Burnett pitched in only 13 games, and was brilliant (0.93 ERA) until sidelined by an elbow injury. After months of rest and rehab, only now has the decision been made to proceed to|
surgery. Jepson, too, missed some time, six weeks early in the season, but has been reliable since his return.
The Angels have turned to the minors and “rescued” a couple of minor league journeymen, without whom the season would have been far worse. 30-year-old Dane De La Rosa, who prior to this season had pitched in 324 professional games, 312 of which were in the minors, has been the most dependable arm out of the bullpen, followed pretty closely now by a July acquisition, 30-year-old J.C. Gutiérrez, who has been up-and-down between a couple of major league teams and various farm systems for a decade.
Who did not pitch for the Angels in 2013, or ever, was Ryan Madson. The former Phillies’ closer was signed to a one-year, $3.5 M contract last November, with high hopes that he would return in early 2013 after Tommy John Surgery in April, 2012, and missing the 2012 season, Angeles’ GM Jerry Dipoto was quoted as saying “Our medical team has spent much time, effort and resources in the effort to facilitate a healthy return. It’s been a long and difficult process for all involved,” when announcing Madson’s release.
I wrote a few weeks ago that the Angels post-All-Star-Game schedule plus returning players could give them a shot at entering the playoff race (“Can the Angels Turn Around their Disappointing Season?”). Their first 20 games were to include 13 against Oakland and Texas. Well, today, August 7, Albert Pujols is gone for the season, Howie Kendrick has been injured, and players are being sold off and released as their post-All-Star-Game record is 7-12 before playing Texas tonight.
The question – “Can the Angels Turn Around their Disappointing Season?” – was answered with a resounding No!