Cody Allen has been removed from the Angels’ closer role, and it’s possible that he never regains it. That leaves a significant void at the back of the bullpen, and while the team could move forward with a committee approach (something they will likely use in the near term), is there an obvious favorite to assume the role? Let’s take a look at the options:
It’s easy to argue that he has the highest upside of the alternatives, as he’s shown an impressive skillset over 28.1 IP split between the past two seasons:
- Strikeouts – 11.44 K/9 (courtesy of a 14.1% SwStr%)
- Control – 2.54 BB/9
- Groundballs – 54.1%
He has been hit hard this season (43.3% Hard%), but that’s not a number that’s going to hold him back from closing. The bigger issue, and it shouldn’t be one for a team looking to challenge for a World Series title, could be future cost. We all know that compiling saves at an early age could lead to significant cost in arbitration. Buttrey also has 3 blown saves in 7 opportunities over the past two seasons, something that also may hang over him.
There’s no question that he has the upside, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t also questions.
Over the course of his career Robles has shown control issues (3.90 BB/9), but that hasn’t been a problem this season. Over 12.0 IP he owns a 12.00 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9, as he has shown career bests in both SwStr% (13.2%) and O-Swing% (30.2%). Can he keep those marks going primarily utilizing just a fourseam fastball and slider? That remains to be seen, and he also could be plagued by home run issues considering his 25.0% groundball rate.
That said his veteran status could give him an edge in the short-term, assuming he can continue missing bats and throwing strikes. Are we willing to bank on that? Probably not in the long-term, but in the short-term absolutely. The Angels already tried one veteran over Buttrey (when they added Allen), and it’s easy to envision them doing it again.
Maybe Luis Garcia belongs in the discussion as well, but with 11 BB in 10.1 IP that’s a tough sell. Anderson is also hard to envision over the other two options, though he does own a 2.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 9 K over 7.2 IP to open the year. He has had control issues (4.70 BB/9), something that he showed in the Majors last season (6.51 BB/9 over 55.1 IP), and also is hardly a groundball expert (36.8% groundball rate this season). He was better in the latter last season (50.8% groundball rate), which would give optimism, but is it enough?
The control is a red flag, and if he doesn’t start generating groundballs home runs will also be an issue. That’s simply not a recipe for success.
- Hansel Robles
- Ty Buttrey
- Ty Buttrey
- Hansel Robles
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com