ANAHEIM -- The Angels managed to build an effective bullpen without a ton of flashy names or big contracts last season, and they seem likely to try to replicate that model in 2018.General manager Billy Eppler and his staff have shown an ability to procure pitching talent through inexpensive avenues,
ANAHEIM -- The Angels managed to build an effective bullpen without a ton of flashy names or big contracts last season, and they seem likely to try to replicate that model in 2018.
General manager Billy Eppler and his staff have shown an ability to procure pitching talent through inexpensive avenues, as demonstrated by the success of right-handers Yusmeiro Petit and Bud Norris, who emerged as two of the Angels' most valuable relievers last year after joining the team on Minor League deals.
With Petit signing with the A's, however, and Norris also expected to depart via free agency, the Angels will need more talent to emerge to fill the holes in their bullpen this year. They've already made a few moves to replenish their depth this offseason, acquiring veteran Jim Johnson from the Braves and Felix Pena from the Cubs, and selecting Luke Bard during the Rule 5 Draft.
MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpen of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the Angels might stack up:
BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
RHP Richard Parker
RHP Jim Johnson
RHP Cam Bedrosian
RHP Blake Wood
RHP Keynan Middleton
LHP Jose Alvarez
RHP Noe Ramirez
The Angels largely eschewed traditional bullpen roles in 2017, preferring to deploy their best relievers in high-leverage situations rather than save them for specific innings. It's unclear if they'll have an official closer in '18 or keep the role fluid as they did last year, but they'll have a few ninth-inning options in Parker, Johnson and Bedrosian.
Middleton made some key strides as a rookie and could continue to develop into another late-innings relief weapon for the Angels. Wood and Ramirez, who were claimed off waivers in August, impressed in their limited stints in Anaheim last year and could become important arms in 2018.
Johnson, a longtime closer, struggled to a 5.56 ERA with the Braves in 2017, though the Angels believe he can perform closer to his 3.79 career mark with the help of some analytical data that the club has uncovered.
"His arm is still really good," manager Mike Scioscia said during the Winter Meetings. "I think there's some things from an analytical basis that we feel we can do to help him."
The Angels are also hoping for a bounce-back year from Bedrosian, who looked like the club's closer of the future after recording a 1.12 ERA in 2016 but saw his ERA spike to 4.43 last season. The Angels could also use more left-handed relievers, as Alvarez is currently the only one on their 40-man roster.
WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Bard, who must be offered back to the Twins if he doesn't stay on the Angels' 25-man roster for the entire 2018 season, will be in the mix for a bullpen job during Spring Training, along with Pena, Dayan Diaz and Eduardo Paredes. JC Ramirez, who is out of options, could also land in the bullpen as a multi-innings reliever if he's healthy and doesn't earn a rotation spot.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.