The LA Angels are silently competing in the AL only being a game back of the second wild card spot as of 6/28. With Trout being sidelined for the previous month and not returning anytime soon, it is surprising the success of this team. There is no “I” in “team” yet most of us say that there is an exception and that would be with Mike Trout and the Angels. They have proven us wrong for now. Their success hinges on the great success of their bullpen. They currently rank 8th in all of baseball in reliever ERA, but rank 5th in FIP. Lets just take a look at their top three guys for now which include Cam Bedrosian, Blake Parker, and Yusmeiro Petit.
Cam Bedrosian was the Angels first round pick back in 2010. He was out the entire month of May with an injury but has come off the DL and done well. He possesses a two pitch mix with a 4 seam fastball and a slider. Cam has made a lot of adjustment over the past few seasons as you can see from this table:
His most significant change was this year when he is nearly using a 50/50 split with his two pitches. In 2016 he had a borderline top 20 slider among relievers. He is using it more this year and having success with it. Cam currently has a 1.64 ERA and .59 FIP in 11 IP this season.
Blake Parker has arguably been the biggest surprise for the team. He has a very good 2.06 ERA and 1.37 FIP in 35 IP. Parker uses a four seam fastball, a sinker, and a curveball. With a 13.11 K/9, Parker ranks 15th among relievers in that category. His fastball is becoming an elite pitch. Among relievers, his fastball ranks 12th just behind Cory Knebel. The reason his fastball is having success is because he has above average vertical movement along with a spike in velocity. He is throwing his fastball nearly 2 mph faster this year than last averaging 94.4 mph. Parker needs to continue this success if the Angels want to continue to compete for the Wild Card.
The last pitcher is Yusmeiro Petit. He is a familiar name from his days with the Giants. He struggled last year with a 4.50 ERA in 62 IP with the National last year. This year he is starting good with a 2.31 ERA in 46.2 IP. His 10.03 K/9 is the highest it has been since 2014. What is concerning about Petit is that he is allowing more hard contact that previously in his career which may be due to the fact that hitters are pulling the ball more against him this year. In addition, his BABIP this year is nearly 40 points lower than his career normal. On the other hand, Petit is better locating pitches this season. Here are his heat maps from his past 2 seasons:
On the left is 2016 and on the right is 2017. Petit is throwing much more inside to lefties this year than last year when he struggled. This is resulting in a lower out of zone contact by over 11%. Therefore, he is striking out more batters and finding more success this year.
The Angels also are finding great success in pitchers Keynan Middleton, Bud Norris, and Huston Street. The Angel’s front office didn’t break the bank with any of these players. With Trout out for a while longer, they need all these pitchers to continue their success for any chance of a Wild Card spot. Don’t worry Angel’s fans, Mike Trout will be back soon.