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Bullpen the biggest battleground for Angels

@RhettBollinger
February 7, 2020

ANAHEIM -- The Angels were set to have a few position battles this spring in right field and the back of the rotation, but their pending trade for Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson and right-hander Ross Stripling changed the equation. Brian Goodwin and Jo Adell, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the

ANAHEIM -- The Angels were set to have a few position battles this spring in right field and the back of the rotation, but their pending trade for Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson and right-hander Ross Stripling changed the equation.

Brian Goodwin and Jo Adell, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Angels' top prospect, were set to compete for the job in right field, but now the Angels will use a combination of Pederson and Goodwin in right. Pederson is likely to see most of his action against right-handed pitching while sitting against lefties. Stripling joins a rotation that includes Shohei Ohtani pitching once a week to go along with Andrew Heaney, Julio Teheran, Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning.

With the rotation essentially set, barring injury this spring, it leads to the question of how the bullpen will shape up. The Angels are expected to have an eight-man bullpen, especially with pitcher limits expected to capped at 13 this year. Here’s a look at the bullpen situation heading into camp:

Closer: RHP Hansel Robles
Robles will return as closer after an impressive year: a 2.48 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings and 23 saves. Robles has a 2.64 ERA with the Angels since being claimed off waivers from the Mets in July 2018 and has the makeup to turn in yet another solid season.

Locks: RHP Ty Buttrey, RHP Cam Bedrosian, RHP Noé Ramirez, RHP Keynan Middleton
Buttrey and Bedrosian served as the primary setup relievers last year and will be back in that role. Ramirez was solid last year with a 3.99 ERA in 67 2/3 innings and served as a long reliever. He’s out of Minor League options. Middleton returned late last season after Tommy John surgery but has the stuff of a potential future closer. Middleton, though, does have options, so he can be sent to Triple-A, if necessary.

Starters who could switch to relief: RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Félix Peña
Andriese was acquired in a trade with the D-backs this offseason and will head to camp stretched out to start but is likely to move to the bullpen, which is the role he has mostly pitched in the last two seasons. Peña is coming off right knee surgery and was just cleared to throw off the mound this week, so there’s a chance he might not be ready for the start of the regular season. But he has experience as a reliever and could be utilized in that role. Andriese and Peña both have Minor League options, so if the club prefers to keep them stretched out as starters, they could head to Triple-A.

In the mix: RHP Justin Anderson, RHP Mike Mayers, RHP Taylor Cole, RHP Kyle Keller, RHP Luke Bard, RHP Parker Markel, LHP Hoby Milner
Anderson struck out 60 batters in 47 innings last year but posted a 5.55 ERA and needs to work on limiting walks. Bard also has impressive stuff but had a 4.78 ERA in 49 innings last year. Cole showed promise but faded late and finished with a 5.92 ERA. Mayers, claimed off waivers from the Cardinals, has a career 7.03 ERA but is out of options, which could work in his favor. Keller was acquired in a trade with the Marlins and posted a 3.38 ERA in 10 appearances as a rookie last year. Markel, acquired from the Pirates, had a 7.77 ERA in 22 innings as a rookie in 2019. Milner isn't on the 40-man roster but is the lone lefty among the group. Right-handers Jacob Barnes and Neil Ramírez are also non-roster invitees. If placed on the 40-man roster, they're both out of options.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.