Halos' bullpen not bitter about heavy workload

Five relievers combine to hold lead in 5-4 win over Twins

June 15th, 2016

ANAHEIM -- Veteran closer Huston Street could barely move his limbs as he waddled his way to his locker late Tuesday night, moments after his Angels held on for a 5-4 victory over the last-place Twins. An ice pack was wrapped around his right shoulder, another covered his left side and two more enveloped each of his hamstrings.

The entire Angels bullpen is feeling it like that.

"It's been a heavy workload," Street said. "That happens. You go through stretches like that."

Five relievers -- Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Mike Morin, Fernando Salas and Street -- combined to record the final 12 outs in what became only the Angels' second win in the last nine games, holding the Twins to four baserunners in four innings.

Jhoulys Chacin's sinker was flat and his slider lacked bite, so he completed only five innings in the second of a three-game series, charged with four runs on seven hits and a walk. The Angels have received only one quality start over the last 11 games, and so their relievers have had to absorb a Major League-leading 41 innings in that stretch.

Morin called that "exciting," which is, well, one way to look at it.

"The opportunity to hear your name on a consistent basis, for everybody, is all that you can ask for," Morin said. "Everyone wants their starters to go the length of the game; that's ideal. That just hasn't happened, unfortunately, the last couple weeks. But at the same, it's given guys opportunities, and put them in roles that they haven't been in before, in a good way."

Five of the eight starting pitchers who arrived in Spring Training are currently dealing with injuries, a list that includes Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, C.J. Wilson, Tyler Skaggs and Nick Tropeano. Two of them (Wilson and Skaggs) haven't pitched all year. Two others (Richards and Heaney) may not pitch for what remains of it.

And through it all, the bullpen has felt the brunt of it.

Twelve different relievers have already been used. Since the start of May, seven have been designated for assignment. Five of the Angels' eight relievers -- a list that does not include Joe Smith, who is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury -- have had at least one stint in the Minors this year.

The Angels' bullpen ranks seventh in the Majors in innings pitched, trailing six teams -- the Padres, Reds, A's, D-backs, Twins and Astros -- that are a combined 74 games below .500.

"It's not ideal," Morin said, "but at the same time, it's part of the game. That's just the way it is. But no one is bitter about it. I think everyone is excited about the fact that they're getting a great opportunity."

Street added, "There will be times where our starters go two or three weeks and we're not going to pitch at all, and we're all going to be wanting to pitch."

It's hard to envision with the current makeup of the rotation, however. Jered Weaver is throwing his fastball in the low 80s and has a 5.71 ERA; Hector Santiago has given up 25 runs (23 earned) in 17 innings over his last five starts; Matt Shoemaker's ERA sits at 4.76 despite a dominant five-start stretch; and Chacin has completed six innings in only a third of his starts this season.

But Tim Lincecum is expected to join the rotation on Saturday, Tropeano should follow shortly thereafter, and the Angels can look forward to a scheduled day off on Thursday.

"Every season is different, and within every season there's stretches," Street said. "But that's why you're a team. You pick each other up."