Bevy of lefties vying for spot in Angels bullpen
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels camp is stacked with southpaw relievers who have a history of being effective against left-handed hitters, and that's no coincidence. With lefty-swingers Robinson Cano (Mariners) and Prince Fielder (Rangers) joining the American League West, and Sean Burnett coming back from August forearm surgery, lefty specialists are of particular need this time around.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn't feel compelled to pick one.
"We're not going to take a left-handed arm that we don't feel is as effective just to have a lefty," Scioscia said. "We went for a number of years without a lefty and had great success with it. We have some really talented right-handers in our bullpen who get lefties out. If we get a lefty, it's a definite tool we'd like to have. But we're not going to do it at the expense of losing a good arm."
From 2002-08, a stretch in which they made the playoffs five times, the Angels ranked no lower than seventh in the Majors in bullpen ERA in six of seven seasons. During that span, they never really had a second lefty, and in two of those seasons -- '04 and '05 -- they didn't even deploy one.
Now they can make an entire bullpen of lefty relievers if they really wanted to.
Burnett -- still only playing catch from 90 feet, but also still targeting Opening Day -- has a guaranteed spot late in games if healthy. Then there's Buddy Boshers (a product of the Angels' system), Robert Carson (claimed off waivers by the Mets), Brian Moran (Rule 5 Draft pick) and Clay Rapada (signed to a Minor League contract), all of whom are fighting for a spot as a second lefty -- and hoping Scioscia even wants one.
Moran is the most interesting, because if he doesn't make the Angels' Opening Day roster, he must be offered back to the Mariners. If he makes the 25-man roster, he'd be the first Rule 5 selection to stick with the Angels since Derrick Turnbow in 2000.
Moran, 25, had a 3.45 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP and a 4.25 strikeouts-to-walk ratio in 62 2/3 innings for the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate, but it was mostly the righties who did damage against him. Lefties hit just .235/.272/.322 against him.
"There is no doubt that he has a chance to help us as more of a situational lefty," Scioscia said. "I don't think he's going to wow you with a lot of his stuff, but there is no doubt that he's very effective against lefties."