There’s no doubt the Angels have some holes in their pitching staff. One area the Angels will not be lacking will be potential closers, with three different pitchers with closing experience and several others with the raw stuff capable of stepping into the role. Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, and Cam Bedrosian all combined to fill the closer role last season, with Street and Bailey having years of closing experience. Let’s take a look at all three, and their chances of seizing the full time closer role.
Huston Street – The most likely candidate, Mike Scioscia has said that if healthy and available Street would be his closer. Barring any type of injury or extreme bout of ineffectiveness, it appears likely that will hold up. Street is, however, coming off a poor and injury-riddled season, and has a history of being unable to stay healthy. Street may head into the season as the closer, but how long will that last? If Street is effective, it’s also likely the Angels may look to move Street, who is a free agent after this season. Street seems to be the front runner for the job, but don’t be surprised if he’s not the closer by the end of the season.
Andrew Bailey – Bailey was a waiver wire pickup after he struggled through much of last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, but ended the season on a high note as the Angels closer, picking up six saves in six tries and generally pitching well. Bailey also has experience as a reliable, shut down closer, although that was years ago and he has mostly struggled to stay healthy and pitch effectively since then. Counting on Bailey for a full season may not be the smartest move, and at first glance he may be the least likely candidate.
Cam Bedrosian – Bedrosian probably has the best stuff of any pitcher in the Angels’ bullpen, and last season he finally seemed to put it all together, compiling a 1.12 ERA and fifty-one strikeouts in only forty innings before having his season cut short with an injury of his own. There is a lot to be gained, however, by leaving Bedrosian as a sixth, seventh, or eighth inning guy instead of locking him up into the ninth. Putting Street or Bailey in the closer role would free up Bedrosian to pitch in multiple high-leverage situations, instead of being locked into one specific inning as the closer. Using your best pitcher as often as possible, when the game is tied or close in more important innings, or against the opposing team’s best hitters instead of whoever happens to be batting in the ninth, is a much smarter use of your assets. If Bedrosian is able to build upon his breakthrough season last year, he could be the biggest weapon this team has had in its bullpen since K-Rod.
The Bottom Line – Barring an injury in Spring Training, Street will most likely open the season as the closer. Don’t be surprised if the Halos move him at the deadline, however, regardless of where they happen to be in the standings; even though GM Billy Eppler and Scioscia are not going to concede any season and are trying to win, they’re also in a retooling phase, and with no more draft pick attached to potential free agents, the Angels won’t want to lose Street for nothing. My prediction is that Street starts the season as the closer, but Bedrosian finishes as both Street and Bailey are moved for future assets after putting together solid starts and young, intriguing options such as Deolis Guerra, Jose Valdez, and J.C. Ramirez emerge in the bullpen for the Angels.