Good Article on Angels Bullpen from Scott Miller

Scott Miller breaks down how replacing K-Rod (traded to Mets) with Brian Fuentes (24 saves – leads the Majors) did not cause the Angels’ bullpen to hold 3rd-to-last place (behind Cleveland and Washington) as of Wednesday 7-8-09.

Mainly, it’s injuries and the unfamiliarity of roles that young pitchers have faced when filling-in for the injured.

-Scot Shields was a key set-up man until knee surgery (left) ended his season in June.
-Jose Arrondondo has elbow inflammation, and has been sent to AAA Salt Lake to work through his turnabout from last year’s impressive debut.
-Darren Oliver and young Kevin Jepsen have been on the DL since April.

“The result was that some relievers pitched out of their roles and some younger arms were pushed, by necessity, into situations they shouldn’t have been in in the first place,” Miller explains. Furthermore, Angels’ starters have struggled, taxing the already-depleted pen. He quotes pitching coach Mike Butcher saying that lack of leadership is not a factor with Fuentes, whose bullpen has had so many challenges to face. He does acknowledge the tremendous confidence that K-Rod’s presence had contributed to the other bullpen pitchers, however, and starter John Lackey referred to an early “‘adjustment period.'”

The up-side:
-Bullpen performance has improved since June 12: 6-1, 10 saves, 2.82 ERA.
-Justin Speier is keeping righties to a 1.64 batting average.
-Jepsen (RHP) has learned a cutter and has shown improvement.
-Jason Bulger (RHP) is young but coming along.
-Darren Oliver is now ok.

Halos bullpen faces critical test down stretch – by Scott Miller – CBSSports.com Baseball
http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/11934832

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