Mike Scioscia Showing Flexibility in Bullpen Usage.

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Updated: April 8, 2017

Last night was a great game for the Angels for a lot of reasons. Home runs from Kole Calhoun and Cameron Maybin, solid defense, and good pitching. There was another positive last night for the Halos, though, one that might have gone unnoticed. Starter Jesse Chavez pitched a tremendous game, but got in trouble in the sixth and had to be pulled. With the bullpen tasked with finishing the game, it was up to Mike Scioscia to play the matchups. The Angels made a few additions to their bullpen this offseason. There’s some concern over how much length their starters will give them. Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, and Matt Shoemaker are coming off injuries. Jesse Chavez has never pitched over 157 innings. You never know what you’re going to get from Ricky Nolasco. So having pitchers like Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit, and J.C. Ramirez capable of pitching multiple innings out of the bullpen is a huge plus for this team.

Mike Scioscia has said all along that the close situation would be fluid. Scioscia is known for not giving straight answers, and we all assumed that Cam Bedrosian would get the save opportunities. It played out that way up in Oakland, when Bedrosian locked down the first save opportunity. Last night, though, with the heart of the Mariners order due up in the eighth, it was Bedrosian warming up. The logic here is obvious; bring in your best reliever against their best hitters. The Angels were only up by two runs at that point. Bringing in Andrew Bailey, who is a fine pitcher but no Bedrosian, is subpar strategy. Saving Bedrosian for a save situation that might disappear if Bailey blew it against Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager makes no sense. Instead, you bring in Bedrosian to shut down the heart of the order and have Bailey pitch agains lesser hitters.

This kind of progressive thinking is a huge step forward for Scioscia. He has generally stuck to traditional reliever roles, so having flexibility like that is good. The Angels ended up scoring a couple runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach, but it’s still a good sign for the Halos. Having those versatile relievers is capable of pitching multiple innings helps them have a more fluid bullpen. When Huston Street returns, the Angels should have an even deeper bullpen. If Scioscia is willing to deploy Bedrosian in a more fluid role, matching him up against the other teams’ best hitters, than the Angels will really have a formidable bullpen. So far, there are some real positive signs this season. Mike Scioscia thinking outside of the box is one of the better ones.

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