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Tag:brian fuentes
Posted on: May 11, 2009 3:58 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2009 6:52 pm
 

Halos streaking, reinforcements coming

The Angels won their fourth straight game (and 6th of last 7) yesterday in completing a sweep of the Kansas City Royals. They are now 16-14 and just a half game behind the Rangers for the top spot in the AL West. The makeshift starting rotation has been one of the best in the AL all season without studs John Lackey and Ervin Santana, who are both set to make their debuts later this week. Fill-ins Shane Loux, Matt Palmer and Anthony Ortega have performed very capably, especially Palmer (pictured left) who has gone 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA. His solid work has probably earned him a chance to remain in the rotation when Lackey and Santana return, with Loux probably heading back to the bullpen and Ortega, who got roughed up by the Blue Jays in his last start, heading back to Salt Lake.

While the youngsters have been doing their part, it's been mainstays Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver who have led the way. Both sport tidy 2.66 ERA's with Saunders going 5-1 and Weaver 3-1. These two were counted on to hold the rotation together with Lackey and Santana out, and both have answered the bell. It's beginning to look like Saunders' All-Star 2008 season was not the fluke many made it out to be. He's beginning to remind me a bit of Mark Buehrle, a guy who's not everpowering, but just knows how to pitch and get guys out. On Saturday night, he outdueled Zack "Cy Young" Greinke, matching him pitch-for-pitch and making a single Angels run hold up in a complete game shut-out. Greinke had all the headlines coming in, and he was as good as advertised, but Joe did what top of the rotation guys need to do. It was an impressive start to say the least. Weaver is also coming off a CG, his perhaps even more impressive than Saunders's, as he surrendered only 1 run to the scorching hot Blue Jays in a 6-1 win. All the Blue Jays did the previous night was score 13 runs on 15 hits. Weaver cooled them off in a hurry.

The bullpen has looked better as of late, but still not the rock-solid, lock-down pen of past Angels teams. Closer Brian Fuentes has looked better of late, though he got bailed out big time yesterday by Torii Hunter, who snatched what would have been the game-tying HR off the bat of Miguel Olivo 2 feet over the centerfield fence. If you haven't seen it, YouTube that action...it was AWESOME. Fuentes has 9 saves in 11 chances, and while his 15 K's in 11.2 innings is nice, his .298 BAA is not. He hasn't walked a ton of guys, but his location isn't quite where it needs to be. Closer-in-waiting Jose Arredondo has looked better lately as well. He's K'd 19 in just 13.2 innings of work, but also has an Saunders and Weaver have led the way.uncharacteristically high BAA of .288. His ERA has been slowly shrinking, but still stands at a putrid 5.27. It looks like Arredondo will be just fine, though. Scot Shields, on the other hand doesn't look fine. He had a nice outing yesterday, but has not shown any semblance of consistency. In 11.2 innings, he's issued 12 BB while striking out 8 batters. His .195 BAA suggests he still has the stuff to get guys out, when he's not issuing walk after walk, after walk. Jury's still out on Shieldsy, and the team desperately needs him to turn it around.

With Seattle coming back to reality and the A's not hitting, the Rangers have emerged as the Angels chief competition in the division. While not entirely unexpected, the offensive powerhouse Rangers have gotten solid work from starters Kevin Milwood (hello, contract year) and Vicente Padilla, along with Matt Harrison. They've also been without slugger Josh Hamilton, who returns this week. Look out.

Along with the returning pitchers, the Angels offense should get a shot of Vlad in a few weeks. He's going to be the team's full-time DH when he returns, it appears, which is the right play in my opinion. Keep Vlad as healthy as possible. The offense continues to be OK without him, as Torii Hunter and Mike Napoli have been hot. Also, there's been a Gary Matthews sighting...he's playing very well lately and will probably continue to start somewhere in the OF when Vlad returns.

So the Angels weathered the storm of injuries and are playing the best ball they've played all season. If the return of the starters can help to settle the bullpen, with Loux and Palmer heading down, the team should look like the Angels teams we've seen the last few seasons. It won't be a cakewalk, however, as the Rangers don't look like they're going to fade anytime soon and the A's bats have woken up a bit lately. The AL West is more up for grabs than it has been the last few seasons, and it could be a 3 or 4 horse race all season.                                                                                                                                     

Posted on: May 4, 2009 12:57 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2009 1:12 pm
 

Bullpen bullied in the Bronx

The Angels arrived at the new Yankee Stadium with a three-game win streak, and it looked like the bullpen was starting to settle down a bit. Well, looks can be deceiving. With the first game deadlocked at 4 in the 8th inning, Justin Speier took one more step toward his outright release, surrendering 3 runs and letting a pretty gutty outing from rookie Anthony Ortega go by the wayside. In a positive note, Scot Shields got a few batters out earlier in the game, so, there's that...I guess.

Game 2 in the series was an epic bullpen meltdown in what has been a season full of them. Apparently a 5-run lead heading into the 8th inning isn't quite enough of a cushion for the Halos bullpen. The Yankees scored 4 in the 8th and then 2 in the 9th off of Brian Fuentes to complete the collapse. This game ruined my night. My perfectly seasoned, perfectly grilled NY steak couldn't even salvage it for me. I went to sleep counting Yankees crossing home plate instead of sheep leaping over fences. OK, slight exaggeration, but it was bad.

Well, the team did establish the next day that a 7-run lead heading into the 9th was enough of a cushion to scratch out a win. Rookie Matt Palmer pitched his ASS off and earned the win and the offense was great in the late innings. The Yanks looked like they were going to make it interesting again in the 9th, but even a blind bullpen finds a nut every now and then. It's probably just as well that Sunday's finale was rained out. The team needed an off day. Now off to Oakland for another 2-game series. What's with all these mini-series?
Posted on: February 25, 2009 7:26 pm
 

2009 Angels Season Preview, continued...

Now for the pitching, the strength of the club the last few seasons.

This looks to be the Angels strong suit, once more, with three starters who ended last season with an ERA under 4.00 and four guys who won 10-plus games. Both Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders enjoyed breakout seasons in '08 and were probably the biggest reason for the team's success, as ace John Lackey missed the first month or so the season. While I think Saunders will be hard pressed to repeat his success, I think Swervin' Ervin is the real deal. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he improved on his outstanding 2008 numbers, but I think he'll do about the same. The bullpen looks to be one of the stronger ones in the AL, even with the departure of Francisco Rodriguez. Let's take a look at the numbers.

Rotation

John Lackey (R): 2008-12-5, 3.75. 2009 Proj.-15-7, 3.65

Ervin Santana (R): 2008-16-7, 3.49. 2009 Proj.-18-5, 3.40

Joe Saunders (L): 2008-17-7, 3.41. 2009 Proj.-13-10, 4.05

Jered Weaver (R): 2008-11-10, 4.33. 2009 Proj.-12-8, 4.20

Dustin Moseley (R): 2008-2-4, 6.79. 2009 Proj.-6-8, 5.00

Big John is still the ace of the staff and the leader of the pitching corps, but I think Ervin will establish himself as the club's best pitcher this season. Saunders will probably come back down to earth a bit, but still be very effective. Weaver is what he is - a 5-6 inning guy who is gonna battle and keep the team in games. He's one of the better #4 guys in the league. As of now, Moseley is 'penciled in' as the 5th starter, and I'm not too thrilled about it. He has a below average sinker and a way below average breaking ball and not much else. He's better suited as a long man and a spot starter, but unless someone like Nick Adenhart, Nick Green or Shane Loux really has a great Spring, we're gonna be stuck watching Moseley every fifth game. Ugh. Still though, not a bad rotation...easily the best in the division.

Bullpen

Brian Fuentes (L): 2008-2.73, 30 SVS. 2009 Proj.-2.25, 42 SVS

Scot Shields (R): 2008-2.70, 31 HLDS. 2009 Proj.-2.60, 30 HLDS

Jose Arredondo (R): 2008-1.62. 2009 Proj.-1.90

Darren Oliver (L): 2008-2.88. 2009 Proj. 3.10

Kevin Jepsen (R): 2008-4.32. 2009 Proj.-3.75

Shane Loux (R): 2008-2.81. 2009 Proj.-3.20

Justin Speier (R): 2008-5.03. 2009 Proj.-4.15

The Angels are going to play a whole lot of close games, so the bullpen will again be tested and called upon to hold many a 1 or 2-run lead. They should be up to it. Fuentes was signed to replace Franky as the closer, and he is very capable. Health has been a bit of a concern the last few seasons, but with Shields and Arredondo waiting in the wings, the Halos have other options. Arredondo is easily the best arm in the pen, and really, it seems like only a matter of time before he takes over the closer role. It actually wouldn't even surprise me if that happens this year, if Fuentes struggles or gets hurt. The middle-inning guys are solid with Oliver, Jepsen and Loux. Speier might be done. He looked horrible last season and really, couldn't get anyone out. I'm hopeful he'll bounce back though and be serviceable. The bullie should be solid enough to get the job done. I'm anxious to see the younger arms like Jepsen, Arredondo and Loux for a full season.

 

As for the AL West, I still think the Halos have the most complete club in the division and will ultimately win it again. The A's are improved with the additions of Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi, but much depends on how healthy Justin Duchscherer can stay. The Rangers are the Rangers. They'll score a ton and give up a ton and a half - not a factor. The Mariners are a mess, but if Erik Bedard can stay on the field, they shouldn't be too horrendous. Here's how I see it finishing:

Angels: 91-71

Athletics: 86-76

Rangers: 78-84

Mariners: 70-92

Feel free to comment and to pick my projections and predictions apart. Let me know what you think.

And Go HALOS!!!

 

 
 
 
 
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