Could Alex Meyer be the Closer of the Future?

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Updated: February 7, 2017

When the Angels traded fan favorite Hector Santiago to the Minnesota Twins, there were many fans scratching their heads, wondering how they could part with the only healthy pitcher the Angels had. When they learned prized prospect Alex Meyer was coming back in the trade, though, it appeared as though the Angels were making a shrewd move, adding a player with years of control who had such high upside, higher than any pitcher the Angels had in their system. Alex Meyer has some seriously impressive raw stuff, with a plus fastball and decent curveball, but has failed to put it all together at the major league level up to this point. Once a top fifty prospect in all of baseball, he has fallen, mostly due to injury, and just hasn’t shown the ability to consistently put it together over a full start.

Meyer had a few promising starts for the Angels at the end of the season, but only a few innings at a time here and there, and still has much to prove as a starter. Many scouts just don’t foresee Meyer as a starter, picturing him as more of a bullpen piece. That would be a disappointing if Meyer failed as a starter, but his raw stuff may actually translate better to the bullpen. Meyer has failed to show much stamina in his starts, and it’s possible his arm just can’t hold up enough to pitch many innings. If he were put in the bullpen, where he could air it out more often to raise his velocity a few notches, he could be a very useful and dangerous weapon. With more velocity and less need for more than one or two plus pitches, he could reach his potential in a specific role.

The one place where he could reach that potential and make a true impact would be as a closer; with Meyer’s live arm and huge fastball, he could be an intimidating force in the back end of the bullpen. With incumbent closer Huston Street coming off the worse season of his career, and potentially being a free agent at the end of the year if his team option is not picked up, the Angels could use some young weapons in their bullpen. Cam Bedrosian is coming off an impressive year, but he also ended the year injured and didn’t pitch all that well in his small showings prior. If Bedrosian builds off of last season and Meyer fills a role in the bullpen, it could become a huge strength for the Angels.

Obviously, the desire is for Meyer to reach his potential and pitch well from the rotation; even a serviceable starter is more valuable than the best closer. Angels fans shouldn’t be upset if Meyer does end up in the bullpen, though. He has the ability to truly be an impact bullpen piece, a la Andrew Miller; as a starter he could pitch multiple innings at a time. Meyer will probably never be as good as Miller, but he certainly has shown enough in the past to make it a possibility. We could be looking at the next great bullpen ace, and the bullpen is the likely destination for Meyer. That shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, as he could still impact games in a number of roles. As long as he stays healthy, Meyer will make an impact at the big league level this season.

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