Bridwell flashes potential as confidence grows

Angels' rookie righty beats Red Sox, allowing 2 runs in career-high 7 innings

July 24th, 2017

ANAHEIM -- The Angels didn't know what to expect when they acquired from the Orioles in exchange for cash considerations back in April.

"None of us ever saw him throw a ball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had heard about him, but I know that [general manager] Billy Eppler was excited when we had an opportunity to get him, because he saw the upside, and you're seeing that right now."

Bridwell, 25, flashed the potential he bears and that the Angels hope to fully uncover during their series-clinching 3-2 win over the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander tossed a career-high seven innings, holding Boston to just two runs on five hits and one walk.

He struck out three batters, but for what he lacked in strikeouts, he made up for in efficiency; Bridwell needed just 78 pitches (55 strikes) to work the most innings he's ever managed in his career.

"If I just execute pitches," said Bridwell, "they'll go that way most of the time."

Rightfully, the rookie pitcher's confidence is growing. Bridwell has been charged with just four runs across 19 1/3 innings in his last three starts (1.86 ERA). He's relinquished two or fewer runs in five of his last six outings.

"He's figured some things out," Scioscia said. "I think he's made some great adjustments, and uses his experience to move forward."

Sunday is a prime example. With the game tied at 1 in the sixth, he threw a 91-mph, first-pitch fastball over the heart of the plate to , who took it a projected 434 feet out of the yard, per Statcast™, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.

"I've got to stop doing that at the end of my outings," said Bridwell, ranked as the Angels' No. 10 prospect. "It's a pattern now."

Trial by error, however, has served him well. To this point, Bridwell's trial runs have bred success along with a budding maturity that's not only apparent on the mound, but also increasingly evident in how he carries himself in the clubhouse.

His mentality after both good and bad performances, he says, is to live in the moment, resembling that of some of several veteran pitchers on the team.

"You always feel good about an outing that you do good in, but it's baseball, and it's a humbling game, so you can't really look at the good ones too much," Bridwell said. "I'll enjoy this one for the day on the plane, and then tomorrow I'll get started for my next start."

A level head and a clean slate is what the trade to the Angels has provided Bridwell. The results have been encouraging to say the least: In seven starts and one relief appearance he's 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA.

"I think it's just I've got a clear mind and a fresh start," Bridwell said. "I think me being traded was a good thing for my career. I just wanted to pick up and get going with them."

Each start has offered more insight into what kind of pitcher the Angels have in Bridwell. Scioscia said he sees a young right-hander whose best skill is his willingness to attack the zone, who can generate late movement on his pitches and locate the ball well.

"I think as he gains confidence, you're seeing a guy that's getting an opportunity to do something," Scioscia said. "He's kind of learning on the fly how to be a Major League pitcher. This kid's got great makeup. He's not afraid to go out there and challenge hitters, and he's making good pitches and getting good results."

Bridwell, who says he's growing more confident each day, is simply hoping to build on what he's set as the foundation for what he and the Angels hope is a grand career.

"Happy with the way it's started," Bridwell said, "just need to keep going."