Cam Bedrosian put together one of the more impressive seasons by an Angels‘ reliever last season, compiling a 1.12 ERA with fifty-one strikeouts, a 1.091 WHIP, a 358 ERA+, and one home run in forty-five games.
That was good for 1.3 WAR, better than all but two Angel pitchers. Some of that is a symptom of how bad the Halo pitching staff was last season, but that doesn’t take away from what a magnificent season Bedrosian had. In limited major league time, he had not shown any sign of being capable of pitching that way. The potential was always there, though, as Bedrosian was a highly-regarded relief prospect, and he has the pedigree as the son of former Cy Young winner Steve Bedrosian. Bedrosian finally had the type of season that was always expected of him.
There are still question marks surrounding Bedrosian, however, as it’s just one season and relief pitchers are notoriously fickle. He also ended the season on the DL, so he’ll have to prove his health, as well. If Bedrosian can truly build off of last season, though, the Angels could have a ‘bullpen ace’ on their hands, and the makings of a strong bullpen.
The ‘bullpen ace’ is starting to catch on after Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, and Andrew Miller took their respective teams deep into the playoffs. The idea of a pitcher in the bullpen who can come in at any time, as early or late as necessary, to get a team out of a tight spot or put down the middle of an order in a close game is as valuable as the rotation ace who can win an important game or stop a losing streak.
Having your best reliever locked into a specific inning regardless of score or who’s up to bat just doesn’t extract the most value out of that pitcher as possible. Having your best pitcher available and ready to pitch in the seventh inning of a tie game with runners on second and third and Bryce Harper up to bat is exactly how he should be used, instead of using an inferior pitcher in a spot that ended up being more important than the ninth inning.
With Huston Street expected to resume his role as closer if healthy, that frees up Bedrosian to act as that ‘bullpen ace.’ That’s good, because it looks like Bedrosian is far and away the Angels’ best reliever, and having him available for that role instead of stuck in the ninth inning makes the bullpen better all around, and allows the Angels to match up well in those all-important sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.