With the MLB regular season here, this is the time of year where literally every team has a chance and hope of tremendous year. The Los Angeles Angels came into the past two seasons with the highest of hopes and expectations and those quickly evaporated.
After the first two games of their opening series versus the Seattle Mariners, things look exactly the same as they have been the past two seasons for the Angels and that is not a good thing. They have been outscored 18-6 to a subpar Seattle offense who’s best hitter, Robinson Cano, has yet to drive in a run.
The biggest need for the Angels the past two seasons has been pitching, bullpen pitching in particular and they have gone into the offseason each failed years with improving their pitching in mind. Somehow, some way, general manager Jerry Dipoto seems to have once again failed at accomplishing that. It may be too early to tell but this team looks just like they did the past two seasons.
Dipoto pulled off two big blockbuster trades this past offseason and they may have improved the team but what it did not do is help their biggest weakness, the bullpen which has already imploded in the first two games of the season.
The Angels traded away speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos to the St. Louis Cardinals for third baseman David Freese which helps the offense but their third base situation last year was serviceable at least. They also brought in reliever Fernando Salas in the trade, who may be a strong arm out of the ‘pen but that’s a big ‘May’.
With one big trade asset gone and not having filled their biggest hole, the Angels traded away their only other trade asset in slugger Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a couple of young left-handed pitchers in Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago who will fill up the back end of the rotation. This was a good trade for the Angels which helps the rotation but their rotation last season was also serviceable at best.
The Angels traded away their two biggest bargaining chips in good deals but failed to fill their biggest weakness in the ‘pen. The trades have improved their offense and their rotation for sure but what good are those improvements if the bullpen can’t hold a lead or can’t keep a game close as they have been unable to do so in the first two games already.
A great, even just good bullpen will win you games, divisions and championships, a terrible bullpen will get you to a place the Angels have been in the past two seasons, out of the postseason. The biggest signing to the bullpen for Dipoto was right hander Joe Smith this past offseason, who will be a good addition and can be their set-up man to closer Ernesto Frieri.
The problem is getting to the eighth inning as the bullpen has already allowed eight runs on seven hits in just six innings. Right hander Kevin Jepsen has had the roughest outing so far as in 0.2 innings, he has allowed five runs on three hits and two walks.
This showing by the bullpen just brings a lot of bad memories for Angels’ fans who have watched the bullpen on too many occasion be unable to protect the lead or keep things close the past two seasons when the team was poised to have great seasons.
Dipoto better hope things turn around quick or it will be another forgettable April for the Angels and another forgettable season for their fans.