There has been one focus for the Los Angeles Angels in 2014 and that is to make their bullpen into one of its strength. It’s a theme that has continued throughout the season most recently with the franchise acquiring All-Star closer Huston Street from the San Diego Padres in exchange for four minor league players including Taylor Lindsey.
Prior to the season starting the Angels signed Joe Smith who has taken on the closer role, which will certainly go to Street and acquired reliever Fernando Salas and third basemen David Freese from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for outfielderPeter Bourjos and minor league outfielder Randal Grichuk. Also, in June traded then closer Ernesto Frieri to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jason Grilli who was unable to retain his closer role after a stellar 2013 season.
Street has appeared in 33 games in 2014 and has a record of 1-0 with a 1.09 era, WHIP of .76, 24 saves in 25 chances and has struck out 34 while walking seven. He has spent the last two plus seasons in San Diego and has recorded 80 saves in 84 opportunities. He was the 2005 American League Rookie of The Year in 2005 when he pitched for the Oakland Athletics picking up 23 saves in 27 opportunities with a 1.72 er. Smith who is one of the few side-armed pitchers in MLB has done well as the closer registering 15 saves in 19 opportunities and hasn’t blown one in eight opportunities since the Frieri trade. He’s got an era of 2.27 has struck out 47 while walking nine and as closer/setup man thrown 43.2 innings in 45 games.
Salas has pitched in 31 games and in 30.2 innings has an era of 2.93 and has struck out 30 while walking 12. He also has closing experience in 2011 with the Cardinals recorded 24 saves in 30 opportunities and had an era of 2.28 and made 68 appearances. Grilli since being acquired has made nine appearances and has an era of 1.13 in nine games and has struck out seven while walking two in eight innings of work and has registered four holds.
With the bullpen becoming its strength the Angels are now 1.5 games back of the A’s for first place in the American League West.
Manager Mike Scioscia now has his bullpen that will have clear defined roles. Street as the closer, Grilli and Smith in the setup role and Salas for the seventh inning. With the moves there’s only one weakness for the Angels and that is not having a lefty in the pen.
As for the Padres it’s a team that has under performed in 2014 and has clearly become a team that is looking to sell and strengthen its core by acquiring prospects. Lindsey got ranked prior to the season as the 93rd best prospect by Baseball America. The second basemen is in Triple-A and has hit .247 with eight home runs, 30 rbi, 13 doubles, four triples, seven stolen bases and a OBP of .323.
The Padres also received Jose Rondon, Elliot Morris and R.J. Alvarez.
Rondon a 20-year-old shortstop played in Single-A where he has hit .327 with no home runs, 24 rbi, 17 doubles, five triples, eight stolen bases, a OBP of .362. Morris is pitching in High-A ball and has made nine starts and has a 3-3 record with an era of 4.17 in 45.1 innings, he’s struck out 40 while walking 28.
Alvarez has dominated in Double-A in 21 games he has an era of .33 , has finished two games, picked up one save, thrown 27 innings while striking out 38 and walking 10 and has a WHIP of .852.