by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Los Angeles Angels appear primed to enter the spring with a competition for ninth inning duties with three candidates in the mix. While they may not yet be ready to name a closer, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a clear leader, or should we say “best option”. Of course when it comes to closers the best candidate isn’t always the one who gets the job. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three options and who is the most likely to get the job:
If circumstances had been different he would likely be entering the 2017 campaign with the closers role. Just when he was about to get his chance in 2016 injury struck, ending his opportunity to claim the job before it even started. That said, a long hyped “closer of the future” Bedrosian checked all the boxes in regards to the skill set we look for:
- 11.38 K/9
- 3.12 BB/9
- 49.5% groundball rate
It would be fair to be concerned about his walk rate, considering a 26.6% O-Swing% and history of issues (4.5 BB/9 over his minor league career). The strikeouts are for real (19.52% Whiff% on his slider) and he’s always shown an ability to generate groundballs (1.34 GO/AO in the minors). If the development in his control is for real he has the upside of an elite option. If not he still has the stuff to thrive, he may just be more of a CL2 as opposed to an ace.
He has experience and a track record, but he’s also 33-years old (he’ll turn 34 in August), battled injuries (22.1 IP) and when he was on the mound looked like a shell of his former self. There is generally an expiration date on closers, and while Street has done the job for a long time has he finally reached his?
His fastball velocity has consistently dropped, with an average of 88.2 mph last season. His slider has generally been his put away pitch, but that too lost his effectiveness with a Whiff% of 11.81% (leading to a career worst 8.7% SwStr%). We can’t say that the two things are connected, as he’s averaged under 90 mph on his fastball for a few years, but the continued drop could have an impact (and he was never an elite strikeout artist).
There are a lot of things that went wrong in 2016, from home runs (2.01 HR/9), to control (4.84 BB/9) to luck (.351 BABIP). That’s a lot of issues to correct and it’s hardly a guarantee he gets there. While the Angels could give him the first shot at the job due to his experience, he’d be more of a place holder.
This time last year Bailey was in a similar spot as a member of the Phillies, where he promptly imploded (6.40 ERA). He did post a 2.38 ERA over 11.1 innings with LA, though that was more luck based (.235 BABIP, 84.9% strand rate). It’s been a long time since he was a viable MLB closer and it’s simply impossible to imagine him returning to that type of role.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com
*** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!! Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! ***
Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|