Morin has been solid out of Angels' bullpen

May 13th, 2016

ANAHEIM -- Buried beneath the flurry of injuries to the Angels' pitching staff lies a silver lining -- 25-year-old reliever Mike Morin.

Morin, who entered play Thursday having posted a 1.84 ERA in 18 appearances this season, is pitching arguably the best he has in his three-year career. He had two perfect innings of work in the Angels' 5-2 loss Wednesday, extending his scoreless-innings streak to 10 1/3. He entered Thursday having retired 31 of the last 35 batters he'd faced.

One of the secrets to the right-hander's success has been balancing his pitches, notably by increasing the frequency of when he throws his slider. According to PITCH f/x, Morin threw 30 total sliders in April, something he accomplished in just two months last season. Through five May appearances, he's already thrown 17.

"He's evolving as a pitcher," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Morin's development. "He understands fastball usage. He understands the secondary pitches and understands how to put pitches together. He's having a terrific season."

Morin, whose four-seam fastball averages 91.38 mph according to Statcast™, said the slider presents a solid "in between" pitch to complement his best pitch, a changeup. The reliever said his feel and ability to locate the slider for strikes have made it an incredibly effective pitch.

"I'm just not trying to do too much with it and make it too nasty, along with my fastball and my changeup," Morin said. "That's why my changeup is effective -- I don't try to overthrow it or throw it hard."

Morin said he benefits from a lot of the experience he's gained during his time in the Majors, particularly during a stretch last season when fellow relievers Joe Smith and Huston Street were each dealing with injuries. He came in against Seattle on Sept. 27, logging a perfect inning and earning his first career save. Reflecting on the moment, Morin said he was forced to learn how to control himself and avoid overthrowing in high-leverage situations out of the bullpen.

"It's pretty tough when you see fastball away to not to try to make it 95 or 98 or however hard you throw," Morin said. "It tends to be a common theme, especially with that adrenaline rush when you come out of the bullpen. You just try to harness that energy and use it correctly."

Morin's production, along with that of the bullpen as a whole, has been much-needed. Entering play Thursday, the unit had posted an ERA of 2.00 since April 20.

"You can't ask for more from what these guys have done from the volume of innings and that the quality that they've pitched with," Scioscia said. "It's been terrific."